Tag Archives: Somersett Loop

Signs of the end of the recession

Last week I pulled a muscle in my neck and ended up off the bike for a week. After a gym workout yesterday, I was feeling pretty good this morning and headed out to ride the Somersett Loop. I hadn’t been by the Mayberry construction in a few weeks so I was pleasantly surprised to see it completed. Between Hunter Lake and McCarran it has been put on a “road diet“, going from 4 lanes to 2 with bike lanes.

I rode out  to Mogul and took the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway bike path to Del Webb Parkway. I rode that up to Back Nine Trail. For the last two years, during the economic recession, Back Nine Trail was a wonderful ride with no traffic. But housing construction has picked up again and this is what I rode through today:

I felt good on this ride – 20 miles with 1777 feet of climbing.

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Biking weather at last and another Reno cyclist fatality

We tried to beat the rain last weekend with a 29 mile Somersett Loop ride. There were 6 of us and the raindrops started as we headed west through Mogul toward the mountains of Verdi. Two members of our party bailed out and turned around. Four of us decided to head up into Somersett where the road turns back east because it looked drier up there. We had a nice climb and the rain hit us again as we passed Somersett Town Center.  There were some giant gusts of wind that seemed to threaten to knock me off my bike. It was a chilly downhill back to 4th St. We stopped for a coffee break at Waldens. Then we headed home in the rain.

On Monday, due to a busy schedule while my son was at school, I hopped on the trainer after school and did the Tour of California workout.

I have added the Truckee River Gran Fun-Do to my ride schedule next Saturday. This ride is put on by Tour de Nez  as a fundraiser for the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway and Tour de Nez Outreach. It will be a mini fun version of Levis Gran Fondo and includes an almost metric century, an almost half metric century, and a family ride. We finally have some nice riding weather in the forecast so it will be fun to get out there this week to get ready.

Sadly, there was a bicyclist killed in Reno this week. From the Reno Gazette Journal, Tuesday, June 7, 2011:

“A bicyclist died this morning in Reno after being run over by a trash truck, the Reno Police Department reports. The accident happened at about 9:33 a.m. at Mill Street and Kietzke Lane, according to Reno police Sgt. Jim Stegmaier. Stegmaier said both the bicyclist and the garbage truck were heading west on Mill Street at Kietzke Lane. The bicyclist was in the far right lane for bicycles. “The bicyclist had a green light and was trying to go across Kietzke Lane,” Stegmaier said. “The trash truck turned and didn’t see her because she was in a blind spot and ran right over her.” The woman’s name is not being released at this time. Stegmaier said in a news release that she was 45 years old and from Sparks. The driver was 28 and from Reno. Justin J. Caporusso, a Communications Manager with Waste Management issued the following statement: “Waste Management extends our extreme sympathy and sorrow to the family and friends of the victim, and we are working closely with local law enforcement on the investigation.” Alcohol and speed do not appear to be a factor, Stegmaier said. Police continue to investigate the accident and ask any witnesses to call traffic detectives at 775-334-2141.”

Bob Mionske discusses the dangers of bicycles at intersections in his book Bicycling & the Law. One of the safety strategies he recommends is to avoid being in a motorist’s blind spot while waiting at a traffic light. He recommends waiting behind vehicles or passing on the left. In some cities, bicycle boxes are painted at intersections. These boxes place cyclists in front of other vehicles waiting at the intersection. We can’t wait for boxes to be painted, so in the meantime, avoid blind spots and be especially wary of garbage trucks because their blind spots are huge.

My condolences to the family and friends of that bicyclist. All road cyclists know the dangers we face from sharing the road with motor vehicles. It’s sad when something as fun and healthy as bike riding turns deadly.

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My Ride to Defeat ALS – the disease that killed my mom

Since my mother died from ALS 16 years ago, I decided to volunteer to help the Somersett Challenge Ride to Defeat ALS in Reno this year. I was asked to help mark the course the day before the ride. We got kind of late start, meeting up at Somersett at 3 pm. We had to wait for everyone to arrive and then had to get some volunteers who were not from Reno oriented on the part of the course they would be marking. I had my 9-year-old son and his best friend along to help. We volunteered to do the last third of the route, including Somersett Parkway up to Beaumont Parkway and down to Verdi and Belli Ranch. I volunteered for this part because there would be less traffic and it would be safer for 9-year-old boys. This picture shows arrows for the 3 different routes: 82 miles (really 88), 50 miles, and 30 miles.

Placing route markers the day before the Ride - a big job

The boys tried to get the arrows ready before we stopped by peeling them off and sticking them around the car. But I ended up with an arrow on a car window and we still can’t get the adhesive off. The best system turned out to be that I would peel one arrow off and hand it to one of them, peel another off and hand it to the other, then peel two off for me. They would place the approach arrows and I would go do the one at the turn and the confirming one after the turn. The boys were pretty patient but they got bored and they were ready to start their planned sleepover. We started at 4:45 and got all of Somersett, Verdi, and Belli Ranch done. At 7 pm I called the race director and told him that I had to quit to get eat a good dinner and get a good nights’ sleep before the long ride. Luckily, our section was the end of the ride. He said he would have time to finish the course marking (Caughlin Club to Mogul) the next morning after the 6 am registration. I decided that was not the best way to spend the day before a long ride but I was glad to help out for a good cause.
 
6 AM came quickly. Registration went very smoothly. I was pleasantly surprised at how warm it was. I decided I wouldn’t need a jacket at all. We gathered our group of riders: my husband Stan, his friend Spencer, my friend Tracy, her friend Chris, and my friend Renee’. We knew we wouldn’t see much of Stan and Spencer but the four women stayed together for most of the first half of the ride.

The first rest stop, staffed by ALS of Nevada folks, at Picollo School

We did see Stan and Spencer flying down Geiger as we slowly climbed. Tracy and Chris climbed faster, while Renee’ and I chatted the whole way up.  

Four Gorgeous Gals on Geiger: Meg, Tracy, Renee', Chris

The rest stop at the Geiger turnaround was fun. 

Geiger Rest Stop

Renee’ had to leave right away because she had to be somewhere by 1 pm. Descending Geiger was interesting because a strong southwest wind had developed and we really got buffeted around as we flew around the corners. The pavement on much of the descent had recently been scraped, probably in preparation for paving. Between the wind and the rough pavement, it was the toughest Geiger descent I have done. 

Now a group of three, we cruised across the valley. When we got to the Zolezzi/Arrowcreek intersection, the 50 mile route went up Zolezzi and the long route went up Arrow Creek. Chris headed up Zolezzi, while Tracy and I climbed Arrowcreek into the headwind. This is about when we started feeling occasional rain drops and the closest cloud was about 5 miles up wind. We climbed to another great rest stop at Sage Ridge School, which was about the mid-point of the ride. Once I started climbing into the headwind, ie, once the cycling got a little tough, I stopped even thinking about taking photos. 

After a little rest at Sage Ridge, we climbed up and around Arrowcreek Loop. Then we worked our way through the valley mostly riding into the wind to Caughlin Club, which was the next rest stop. By this time we had mostly cloudy skies and occasional rain drops.  Here my odometer read 62 miles: a metric century and the previous farthest I had ever cycled. Tracy took off here because she had to be somewhere at 4 pm. 

I rode into Verdi and saw that many riders had turned around to head back through Verdi to the finish. The course was set up with lots of options to shorten it. I had made a personal commitment to cycle 82 miles, so I continued on. I stopped at the last rest stop in Verdi at Coffee and… and then I headed up Bridge Street. From this point on I didn’t see anyone else. It was just like my training ride the week before. I told myself, “this is just another training ride”. I rode through Belli Ranch and after descending the gravel road to the river, I was crossing the bridge over the Truckee River and I startled a man on the bridge. He said, “Where did you come from?” I said, “From Belli Ranch, down the gravel road.” Then he saw the number on my back and he said, “Are you in a race?” I yelled back,” The Ride to Defeat ALS”. I was moving pretty quickly at this point. I had popped a Clif Sureshot gel at the last rest stop and I was impressed at the amount of quick energy those little gummies gave me. I wasn’t really thinking about how hard it is to ride that far – I just told myself that no matter how hard it was, it was easier than what my mom went through. 

I rode back to Mogul and back up Silva Ranch Road, again. This time I turned up Del Webb Parkway. I was watching my odometer as it approached 82 miles. I decided I would flag down a sag wagon once I hit 82 miles. I had complained that the ride was longer than advertised. And it was interesting how my whole body and brain were committed to 82 miles and no more. 82 miles was at the T intersection at Del Webb Parkway East and West. There was a nice thick patch grass where I could sit. When it became clear I was unlikely to see a sag wagon, I called the Race Director and asked him to send one. As I waited, I thought about my ride. I probably could have made it up the climb to Somersett if it hadn’t been for the headwind I fought all day. The 82 miles took me over 7 hours, which would also have been less without the head wind. The sag wagon arrived and took me up the last few miles to Somersett Towne Center. Much to my disappointment, the after ride party was over and the chairs and tables were being put away. But I was in luck because they had not yet put away the food. I had a wonderful chicken stir fry. Another nice thing is that my husband came back and was able to eat with me. He did not ride the whole route so he had already showered and he had even been out to work for a while. 

In my final analysis, I am proud that I rode 82 miles even when most others were quitting. I am pleased that I felt better after 82 miles this year than I did after 62 miles last year, when I only trained 6 weeks. And even the two days after the ride, I was not sore, just tired. I took 4 days off from riding, and felt great when I went out again on Thursday and Saturday. 

My next goal is to ride 100 miles, and I want to do it before my next birthday. I’m thinking Chico Wildflower on May 1 might be the one.

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Another Irate Driver

Another irate driver, and her car spoke volumes. Tracy and I were riding up Del Webb Parkway East yesterday morning and I was drafting behind her in the bike lane. A car approached from behind us and aggressively passed too close to Tracy and entered the bike lane in front of her before turning left into a side street. The license plate frame on the car gave us some insight into the psyche of the female driver: “Honk if you want to see my finger”. This is a sarcastic joke, but it implies a certain attitude toward society. Tracy noted the license plate number and made a police report after our ride.

Bob Mionske discusses “The Frustrated Driver” as a type of cyclist harasser in his book Bicycling and the Law. This is the driver who has been late for work or an appointment and ended up “stuck” behind a cyclist. As her anxiety rises, she projects her frustrated feelings outward to others – it’s their fault she’s late. She could be angry due to construction delays, other motorists, her passengers, or anyone or anything she feels is working against her. The “frustrated driver” has an imagined “superior legal status” on the road which she feels justifies her actions of harassment against the cyclist.  If this driver always does wide turns using the bike lane, then I guess we were in her way. Luckily she was not more aggressive, because frustrated harassers have hit and killed cyclists while attempting to intimidate them.

Lots of cyclists on a July Wed. morning, Silva Ranch Road, Mogul

 Aside from that incident, Tracy and I had a great ride on the Somersett Loop with the Back Nine corner. She just got back from a cycling trip in Italy where she did  a lot of climbing. It was nice to hear all about her trip as we rode and climbed the hills of Reno. There were lots of other cyclists out there, undoubtedly inspired by the Tour de France over the last three weeks.

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like trying to hang on to the back of the peleton, only better

Well, it’s Saturday and after riding two days in a row and three days this week, I was feeling the need for a day off. But my husband and my son invited me to ride with them – they were going on a tandem ride. It’s hard to pass up a family bike trip. We headed to Mogul and then did the Somersett Loop. I quickly saw them disappearing into the distance and pedaled hard to try to catch them. They would wait for me once in a while, only to drop me again. I felt like a Tour de France sprinter on a mountain stage. We headed west on Plumb to Caughlin Parkway to Plateau. This is another part of the ALS ride  that we don’t normally ride, so we had to check it out. I caught up to them in Mogul:

My boys on the tandem on Cliff View Drive

Stan and Andy letting me catch up

We headed up Del Webb Parkway to do the Somersett Loop. We took a right turn on Back Nine so I could show it to the boys. They smoked me up that hill of course. I was proud to climb it without stopping for the first time ever! After a pit stop for drinks at the Somersett Market we headed to Mae Anne and did the long downhill to 4th. Then back along Mayberry to the left turn on Edgewater Parkway where we hit the bike path and cruised along the river all the way to Wingfield Park.

The tandem riders cool off in the Truckee River

All cooled off, a perfect pit stop on a 100 degree day!

We headed south on Arlington in the wonderful new bike lane. We didn’t make it far because we stopped for hot dogs, drinks, and frozen yogurt at the Doggy Diner.

Lunch break on Arlington

 Then south on Arlington to Skyline, with a bike lane almost all the way home. It was a perfect family bike ride on a hot summer day! We rode 27 miles and climbed 2,023 ft.

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billboard, backnine, back to intervals

The Reno Police Department received a grant to promote cyclist and pedestrian safety. They put up some billboards to promote this effort:

"Share a peace of the road" billboard at Moana Lane and Virginia St.

The lovely idyllic photo on the billboard shows the car driver and the cyclist happily flashing peace signs to each other. I was thinking that the next time someone throws something at me or cuts me off or commits any other act of road rage, I will flash them a peace sign and smile (and note their license plate number). Right after I stopped to snap this photo this afternoon, I was driving south on Virginia. Right before Peckham there was a lot of traffic and not much room between my car and the curb at the edge of the street. All of a sudden I saw a guy on a bike coming toward me in my lane. I had the AC on so my windows were closed. If they had been open he would have heard me cussing him out. I can understand road rage toward cyclists who don’t follow the traffic laws. It startled me to have someone cycling toward me when there wasn’t room in the lane for both of us. He turned into a driveway and rode on the sidewalk  just as he came to my car – I think he saw the expression on my face and knew he was wrong.

Today I rode the Somersett Loop and started Chris Carmichael’s Time Crunched Cyclist Experienced Century Training Program because my 82 mile ALS ride is 8 weeks away. I did 3 X 8 minute Steady State intervals. I started the first interval at Mayberry and McCarran, where I could ride without stop lights for about another hour. I finished the third interval on the climb up Del Webb Parkway. I decided to turn right on Backnine Trail, which I had never done before. After a little climb, it went down into a valley in the middle of Somersett Golf Course. Then it climbed back up to Somersett Parkway, more steeply and for longer than the climb on the lower part of Somersett. It was a bit much after doing intervals and on such a hot day (75 degrees in the shade when I left home an hour earlier). I had to stop in the middle of the climb to catch my breath. I tried this route because it is part of the Ride to Defeat ALS that I will be doing on August 21. A climb like that late in the ride will be brutal! At least I can train on it. When I got to Somersett Town Center, where the ALS ride will begin and end, I found a nice shady spot to rehydrate and refuel, in a little used drive up window lane at the Town Market.

my shady rest stop at Somersett Town Center

I love hot summer rides like I had today. By the time I was climbing up to Somersett wind had picked up, but it was a nice warm wind like in Hawaii. Total miles today: 23.23, with 1593 feet of climbing.

There’s a lot going on in my life this week: Cub Scout Camp, family camping trip, and health issues with a family member. I hope to get some mountain biking in, but I don’t know when I will be able to fanagle another road bike ride.

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My Tracks Droid App as Cycling Computer

Last week I downloaded the My Tracks app for my Droid phone. I have tried it out on my last 3 rides. It works great, as long as you remember to tell it to stop recording your track when you finish cycling. Yesterday it recorded my drive to lunch and back after my ride, so the data from yesterday’s ride isn’t valid cycling data anymore. Today I rode the Somersett Loop from home, with a little detour up the Plateau climb to meet my friend Renee’. This was the first time I rode with Renee’ and the great thing about riding with someone new is how it takes you out of your routine. Renee’ likes to do the Somersett Loop backward, so we started the loop with the climb up Mesa Park Road and then straight up Mae Anne, and then up Somersett Pkwy. There is no gradual climb like the other way.

Here are some photos of the data screens I get on my phone when I’m done cycling (apologies for the photo quality):

Google Map of my ride

Elevation (green) and speed (blue) profiles

Data output screen in My Tracks

I can send this track to Google docs and Google Maps to have access to them on my computer at home. Since I won’t ride without my cell phone for safety reasons, why not have it do some work for me while I ride? I was afraid that My Tracks would suck the battery like navigating with the GPS does, but it does not. After almost 2.5 hours I still have about 3/4 of my battery strength.

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