Monday, December 17, 2007

Mike's Bikes Winter Ride: China Camp Sunday Dec 16

Last Sunday 8 of us showed up for the Winter ride: Kevin, Danilo, Amy, Julio, Kristy, Justine, Chad, Jeff and Celia; plus an additional addition, Staci, who was riding the same trails and didn't have another option but to ride with us.

Unfortunately I forgot my camera, so this posting is kind of boring. Celia's group finished the ride by 4:30 pm and Chad's group by 5:00 pm.

Amy, Kevin, Celia and Kristy went for beers to Marin Brew Co afterwards. Celia had their 9% alcohol beer but was lucky Sally joined for dinner and ended up being the designated driver.

Stay tuned for the next Mike's Bikes ride, the 2007 Farewell China Camp Ride on Sunday Dec 30th.
Meeting time: 1:30 pm
Meeting place: Guard Booth in San Pedro Rd
Rolling time: 2:00 pm SHARP
Ride levels: 2 levels available, beginner and intermediate/advance.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Headlands - Sunday November 25th


The picture above shows "almost" all of the riding group of seven from last Sunday. From left to right, the cast members were: Kevin; Chad; Dan; Alan (leaning on his then healthy right knee); Celia; Dana (who left the ride due to climbs but left Cowboy with a helmet videocamera behind instead); and Kristy (a so called "beginner" rider who was doing an intermediate/advance ride for the first time).

When Dana found out about the route and realized we were going to climb the steep Coastal fire road she decided to leave. I was quite surprised as she did a great weight loss ride with me in the Headlands area before Thanksgiving. Even though she lost 4 pounds during that ride she was not happy about the 4,000 feet of climbing we did in that 19 miles/5 hours ride. But we got Cowboy instead who was wearing his Fuzzy shorts, so we went on with the ride.

I noticed everybody in the ride were loving me after every downhill section but in between the climbs I could feel their I-am-gonna-kill-you vibes. Because in the Headlands you either go downhill or uphill, there are not flat or rolling hills sections, I made sure we were going to end the ride with a fun downhill so they were going to be loving me after the ride. It turned out everybody was indeed loving me at the end of the ride but Alan, despite his last name is Loving...

Here is Dan after one of those happy climbs

Here is Cowboy showing his Fuzzy duds and videotaping the whole ride:

Here is Kevin (who never complaint about the climbing)

Here is Alan showing strong climbing skills

Here is Kristy showing she is not a beginner anymore!

Here is Chad showing his pectoral and arm muscles

After descending Diaz Ridge near the Pelican Inn, we met Julio (drinking from his water bottle like a drunken guy) and his nephew Oscar who is visiting from Mexico and already kicking Julio's butt.

Unfortunately, on the last downhill section, coming down Miwok near the stables parking lot, Alan lost control at a high speed resulting on a crash. Fortunately he didn't break any bones but he cut his right knee. My partner Sally and I drove him to the hospital where he got 7 stitches on his knee. We then picked up Thai food and had dinner and beers with Alan at his place. So hopefully he will be loving me again. :-)

Send Alan an email wishing for a fast recovery so he can ride with us again. His email is

Stay tuned for the next Mike's Bikes riding series Chad, Dana and Celia will schedule for everyone. We have to do it again so we can have the celebration dinner with white lager beer and flat bread in Mill Valley we missed due to Alan's crash.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Turkey Ride 2007 - Did it hit the 1,000 riders mark?

Around 9:00 am, Fairfax Java Hut parking lot was packed and so the Post Office parking lot across the street. Lines of cars were also parked along both sides of the streets. I have never seen so many cars gathering in Fairfax for a ride. But this was not just any ride, the Turkey Ride also called Appetite Seminar Ride or Thanksgiving Ride is an annual ride going on since 1975, quite a tradition. Based on the counting some rangers were doing at the bottom of Pine Mountain loop, I think we may have reached 1,000 riders that day. (They counted 750 around 10:00 am when we rode by).

But back to the beginning of our ride, Alan and I ended up parking across the street from Fairfax theater, got ready for the ride and pedaled back to Java Hut where we agreed to meet other friends that decided to sleep a little longer that day before the ride.

Alan and I first saw Chris.

Amy showed up with Dave (from Colorado). Greg (on a single speed), Chris brought three friends: another Chris, Cameron and Justin. Lori also showed up after a whole year without riding with her! Mario from Tahoe also decided to sleep a little longer.

My friend and neighbor Jerry sent another neighbor Greg to ride with us (great to meet another neighbor that rides!).

Lina, Susan and Ernest stopped by to say hello. Lina and Susan were doing a shorter (and probably smarter) version of the Turkey ride. And Ernest was warming up to hammer the whole Pine Mountain loop. Here is a picture of fashion queens Lina and Celia:

Also Chad and Jeff joined us to ride.

Julia stopped by to say hello, she is another one of those crazy single speeders!

I think at the start our group had about 19 riders and at the end we were just 6.

After gathering everybody, we started pedaling at 9:45 am! quite late! and did our first detour of the loop. Instead of climbing Bolinas Road from Fairfax, we went up via Deer Park to do some fire road climbing to the country club. We lost our first couple of riders so the group shrinking started right away. After some hard climbing and some fun exhilarating downhill we reached the spot where Freewheelers Jim Jacobsen and Danny Forer who were giving away Clif Shots. Our group was reduced to just 8 or 9 of us.

We finally got down to six riders at Horse Shoe Junction when we headed to finish the ride via Tamarancho to ride some singletrack instead of descending via Repack. Here is a picture of the hot sexy girls that hanged on together 'til the end: Lori, Amy and Celia:

And here is a group picture of the six of us that finished together, from left to right: Mario, Celia, Amy, Dave, Lori and Alan:

What a great tradition!!! Too bad the Marin IJ was not around to have an article of the ride. About 1,000 riders! wow! They missed a great opportunity for a great article about how much popularity mountain biking is gaining in Marin.


Monday, November 19, 2007

China Camp Ride Sunday Nov 18, 2007

This time five riders showed up for the ride. Celia, Chad, Danilo, Eugene and Hannah.

Danilo who has come to several of the rides, showed up with his brand new full suspension bike ready to ride with us for a while as he already has been riding earlier to test his bike. I think he wanted to show off his bike. Eugene and Hannah were first timers, they both learned about the rides via Mike's Bikes site.

We said hi to Karen who was going to ride with some of her high school bike team members and Staci who was going for a run as she is training for a marathon. These two ladies are moms and can kick many butts all right! Karen is a cross country racer and Staci also races cross country, triathlons and marathons!

After introductions, Danilo, Eugene, Hannah, Chad and I started climbing to the top where Danilo said goodbye. Even though the scheduled ride was at the beginner level we decided to go for a more challenging ride after assessing Eugene and Hannah's riding levels. Chad and I guided them through technical singletracks that included drops and switchbacks. With just a few tips and explanations on descending techniques they rode safely and succesfully some challenging trails for the first time. Awesome!

The last scheduled Mike's Bikes ride is next Sunday November 25th in the Headlands. We meet at 1:30 pm at the Tennessea Valley Stables parking lot located in Mill Valley at the end of Tennessea Valley Road. WARNING! Expect lots of fun and lost of Thansgiving pounds gained during the week!!! COME AND JOIN US!!!

The end.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Vote Today for More Acces to Mountain Bike Trails on Mt. Tam

Should there be more opportunities for mountain biking on Mt. Tam?
Read the article and vote today at: The Marin IJ
(Deadline December 1st)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What to do when your brake fails right before a ride

Last Thursday Oct 25 I was finally going to ride with my friend Mark and his friends. I met them at Java Hot, Fairfax. To my surprise, my front brake was not working at all. I was surprised because the night before I checked the bike and didn't notice my front brake was losing pressure.

Oh well, I went home bummed but determined to fix my brake myself. I thought the oil loss happened because some days ago, I had a rattling loose brake leveler after an over the handlebar crash I had in Tenderfoot.

I knew what to do to fix it because a couple of years ago at Sea Otter Classic, I stopped by the Magura Brakes stand to ask them to fix a rattling brake leveler. Jude and Jeff were there ready not only to fix the leveler for me but to spend hours teaching me how to maintain my brakes including how to bleed them, how to lubricate the pistons, how to replace brake pads, how to calibrate them, etc. Since then I always work on my brakes of my three bikes which I equipped with Magura Marta brakes. They are great brakes.

So back in my house I was trying to remember what Jude did to fix the leveler. I was afraid of messing up with the leveler. I went to the Magura website and found some helpful directions that served me as a refresher so I decided to go ahead and do it.

This is me. Yes, I am a total dork. I am wearing my over-forty-help-your-vision equipment for bike mechanics: good reading glasses and helmet with your night riding halogen light.

The most critical thing is to hold the central piston locked up so when you take the leveler off the piston doesn't retract. If that happens, the whole meachanism can jump off and you will need to mail the brake to Magura for them to take care of it.

The perfect tool to hold the piston for me was a giant needle I have to saw with big thick yarn. Very handy! and it works way better than the allen wrench Magura recommends.

I was with all screws out and the piston locked, but still afraid of pushing the two barrels out to release the leveler. And it was then when I called Magura to find Jeff on the line! Jeff patiently reviewed step by step the whole process, told me how to take the barrels out, bend the leveler and put everything back together. The brake is working perfectly!!! And not only that, when I told him that the piston was loosing oil he set me up with a new front piston set that should be coming in the mail soon. I didn't know Magura offers lifetime guarantee for their parts!

Thank you Jeff! And than you Jude!!

Sunday October 28, 2008 - Annadale

For today's ride we had these stellar riders: Alan (honorary Team A member); Gavin (coming from San Francisco with his chain all fixed from his previous ride in the Headlands); Jason (riding his brand new bike); Dana (showing off her Halloween outfit); Michael (visiting his girlfriend Dana from Arizona); Chadcito (who has been coming with a different demo bike in every ride); Eric (with his big shorts); Kristy (with only 3 mountain bike rides under her belt) and me.

Below is Jason toward the end of the ride. Are we bunking?....

And here is Kristy on her 4th mountain bike ride. She handled the challenge quite well, and is moving toward becoming a killer downhiller. And she is looking much better than Jason... don't you think?

The total riding time of this killer ride Dana and Eric put together was 4 hours (2 hours and 15 minutes of moving time). We climbed 2,800 ft in 18 miles. Click in the map below for more stats and a map:
Map of Annadale

Friday Oct 26 Riding in Mt. Tam - A Delightful Mountain

On the sunny Friday Octiber 26, Chadcito, Leigh, Dana, Joe, Chad and Celia did a killer 6 hours ride in Mt. Tam. Notice Dana eating my favorite cinnamon roll, but this time she didn't share with me because she still mad for the Weight Loss Headlands Ride.

Below is Leigh cleaning a technical section in one of those trails:

The end.

Sunday Oct 21 China Camp with the "Connecticutian"

The riders this week were: Alan (honorary Team A member); Sue (honorary Hot Mama rider); Eric (Alabamean friend of Chad who showed great bike skills in a ride the following day around Old Rail rd); Dana (still mad at me for the Weigth Loss Headlands ride); Chad (today's ride leader for the front China Camp loopers); Amy (who became the leader of a killer ride); Mike (who showed us some awesome bike skills dropping down from the very top of the Nike site!); Mandy (riding Leigh's bike and showing skills); Kevin the Connecticutian (who found us in the Mike's Bikes site and didn't know what he was getting into until it was too late) and me (Celia).

Here is hot mama Amy, hot papa Alan with hot Amy's new car

Here is hot papa Mike with hot Amy's new car

Here is hot mama Amy and hot mama Celia with Amy's new hot car:

And here we are doing some skinnies. Click on the picture for a close up of the Connecticutian.

Here two of the hot leaders:

And after a super fun ride, Amy, Alan, Mike, Kevin the C., Sally (my partner who joined us there) and I went to Marin Brew for beers and dinner. This is me with hotties Mike and Alan.

The end.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Oct 14 Mt. Tam / Headlands Mike's Bikes Ride

The meeing place, Muir Beach, was cold and foggy, so I was wondering if anybody was going to show up. I knew there was sun at the top of the mountain but wasn't sure if anybody else knew. However, to my surprise, we ended up being a group of nine and had a super fun ride in the Headlands. The group was formed by nine awesome riders who were (from left to right): Gavin, Nicole, Jason, Chad, Celia, Cowboy, Debbie, Danilo and Alan.

At the Muir beach parking lot, I kept watching all the riders getting their bikes ready and was wondering if I could be part of this ride's Team A since I am such a Team A wannabe and was unable to qualify for the previous ride. (to find out about qualifications for Team A and Team B membership click here). Chad was a Team A member on the last ride but he was going to be the rear rider this time so I didn't have to worry about him.

We first climbed to Pantoll via Coastal View Trail. On the way to the trail head, Gavin started having problems with his chain but it seemed Chad was able to fix it... yeah right....just keep reading and find out what happened.

The Coastal View trail climb was spectacular once we were able to climb above the fog, it was sunny and warm, it felt like flying as we were on top of the clouds.

In my opinion, the ride had four Team A members. The first one was Danilo who must be related to Speedy Gonzalez, although Speedy is from Mexico and Danilo is from Costa Rica. Alan and I were able to catch up with him at some point of the climb just because he stopped to take off his jacket and wait for us. The second Team A member is Alan, also a Team A from the ride before who reached the top quite fast. The third Team A member was Nicole because she was one of the first ones to reach the top despite being hangover from drinking and partying the night before just a few hours before the ride. She paid the consequences at the top of Coastal View, but I will refrain from saying what happened because I don't know her that well yet....). And the fourth Team A member was Jason, who didn't reached the top first but managed to get back down to the bottom of the mountain first and riding on his back wheel!!!

I was glad Debbie showed up for the ride to hear all the stories Cowboy always tells. Because she was meeting him that day, she didn't know his stories about his fuzzy cool shorts and his adventures. So she kept him entertained. Here is Danilo talking on his cell quite fresh and enjoying the sun at the top of Coastal View Trail.

The second part of the ride was about to start, we were back at the Pelican Inn when Debbie said she was bailing. At the same time, Gavin's bike came with a bent chain. I then decided to take a look and realized his chain was totally dried, no lube has been applied on that poor chain for at least 48 years! I fixed it with my chain tool, my chain link and Debbie's chain lube. Girls in action fixing bikes!

After that Gavin was really bummed since he didn't have any reason to bail. So the group said bye bye to Debbie and kept going to climb Middle Green Gulch to then descend back to the Pelican Inn via Diaz Ridge.

Here is a picture of amusing things you may encounter when you ride in the outdoors by farms and ranchs....

After a fun technical descend we ended up at the Pelican Inn for beers and dinner.

Ride Stats:
Total Time: 3 hrs 50 min (Moving time 2 hours)
Total mileage: 15.5
Total climb: 3,159 ft
Map of Mt. Tam / Headlands

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Mike's Bikes Ride Report for 10/7, China Camp - Ride Leader Dana Beckstoffer

Last Sunday October 7, a group of 5 did the China Camp Front Loop ride. Dana reported that they had a great day out. Sue , Liz , Tracy, Cowboy and Dana showed up for the ride, headed up the trail to the "stunt area" and the BMX jumps where everyone was working hard and did a great job cleaning big stunts, skinnies, ladder drops, ramps, table tops and double jumps and all sort of huge obstacles found in the front loop of China Camp.

I don't know if China Camp has that kind of obstacles, I wasn't there and there are no pictures... so I actually think Dana might be making the story up. But who knows....

Don't miss the next Sunday October 14th ride.
Meeting place: Muir Beach parking lot
Meeting time: 1:30 pm

Rolling time: 2:00 pm
Intermediate/Advance ride
For more information click here


Monday, October 01, 2007

Mike's Bikes Mt. Tam Sunday Sep 30, 2007 Ride

Yesterday Sunday Sep 30, 2007 in the afternoon, the 2nd Sunday Mike's Bikes Ride took place in the Mt. Tam area. A group of 6 met at the Depot in Mill Valley. From right to left, the riders were: Celia, Julio, Chad, Dana, Steph and Alan.

Dolores, Tom and Amy tried to join us but they were always running a little late. So I don’t think they should be counted as part of our ride. However, they should be mentioned as they did the same loop Chad planned, just about 30 minutes behind.

We rolled around 2:00 pm and as soon as we hit Old Rail Rd our group started to split in two: Team A and Team B. During the first part of the climb I was proud of myself thinking I was going to be able to keep up with Chad, Alan and Steph (Team A members) and leave Dana and Julio as Team B members. Right away though, Team A dropped me. After recovering from such humiliation, I decided that instead of suffering trying to keep up with Team A I was better off waiting for Team B to pedal at a better pace for me that also allowed me to take some pictures since the day was just spectacular, crispy, blue skies, blue waters, incredible visibility of the ocean, San Francisco and Marin.

Team A and Team B re-grouped by West Point Inn, when Tom was able to reach us after hammering up Old Rail Rd. But he needed to wait for Dolores and Amy who were climbing at a leisurely Team B kind of pace.

Team A took off, and so did Team B after waiting a bit for Dolores and Amy. And when Team B finally got to the top of Mt. Tam, Team A was fresh, ready to hit the descent via Elderidge. Instead, Team B was dying needing a little brake.

Team A: Chad, Steph and Alan.

Team B: Julio, Dana and Celia.

I realized then that Amy, Dolores and Tom were not going to join us in this ride. They ended up riding the same loop Chad planned, and they were happy at the end (I talked with Dolores that night to check in).

After Team B recovered, we descended Elderidge. Steph was right after Chad who was leading the descent, she was staying on his wheel, was going very fast until she got a flat tire. The hole on her inner tube was big which means she was going quite fast.

Since Steph, a member of Team A got the flat tire, Team B took advantage of this opportunity and went on descending Elderidge all the way to Hoo Koo E Koo. We knew this was our only opportunity to beat Team A. And we almost did! But right by the intersection Chad reached us and it was all over. After that the climb started again to get back to Old Rail Rd, so once again, Team A was in the lead.

We hit together the Tender Foot trail. This singletrack trail is challenging and it has some spots that are quite hard. Chad was showing us how it is done. Alan broke his back wheel hub and I crashed... humiliating… but I did power yoga today and put myself together again for the next ride.

Ride stats:
Riders: 6
Ride duration: 3 hours 45 minutes (Moving time 2 hours 30 minutes)
Climbing: 3,000 ft
Mileage: 17.6 miles
Mechanicals: 1 flat, 1 shot hub, 1 crash

Click below for the MotionBased GPS Ride Stats:

Map of Mike's Bikes Mt. Tam

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sunday Rides

Mike's Bikes Sunday Mountain Bike Rides

Noncompetitive, social rides guided by expert level guides Dana Beckstoffer, Chad Etheridge and
Celia Graterol

All rides meet at 1:30 pm and start at 2:00 pm
Mike’s Bikes discount coupons available to ride participants!!!

To view the list of the Sunday rides (date, riding level, riding place, meeting place and ride leader) click here.

Front China Camp: This is a quick trek into the woods. Enjoy well-maintained singletrack through the hills along San Pablo Bay. Ride toward the ridgeline and follow the contours to China Camp Village. This picturesque spot offers a piece of local history. Return along the edge of the hills near the shoreline. This is a great introduction to mountain biking. Technical features are switchbacks and a few rocky sections that are easily walked or ridden. 1.5 - 2 hours. Guard Booth is located at the entrance of China Camp at North San Pedro Rd.

Start out with a nice warm up climbing up a paved road, followed by nice singletrack climb through some narrow switchbacks and rock gardens. It levels out for some rolling singletrack. There is only one area that I would call “really technical”, the “boulder”, but the rest of the loop will keep you on your toes. 2 - 2.5 hours. Java Hut parking lot is located in downtown Fairfax across Iron Springs Brew.

Mt. Tam: Route to be determined.
Considered an Intermediate/Advance ride due to length of ride and sustained climbing. 2.5 - 3 hours. Depot is located in downtown Mill Valley.

This ride offers incredible views of the ocean and San Francisco Bay Area. It includes a steady gradual climb through Marincello followed by a fun descent via Bob Cat. After climbing via Coastal a well deserved fun downhill follows via Old Springs singletrack. 2 – 2.5 hours. Tennessee Valley Parking Lot is located at the end of Tennessee Valley Road in Mill Valley.

Annadel State Park (Santa Rosa):
This Park is a mountain bikers paradise offering over 40 miles of singletrack, plenty of climbing and fun technical descending. Dirt Parking Lot is located at 6201 Channel Drive, Santa Rosa, CA before the ranger station.

Mt. Tam/Headlands:
This ride has two sections. First section starts with an out and back climb and fun descend with gorgeous views of the ocean and the mountains between Muir Beach and Pantoll Station via View Coastal singletrack. Back in Muir Beach, the second section of this ride will go through the Green Gulch Zen Center to climb Middle Green Gulch singletrack and descend back to Muir Beach through Coyote/Miwok/Diaz Ridge or Coyote/Fox/Coastal. First Section 2 – 2.5 hours. Second Section 2 – 2.5 hours. Total 4 – 5 hours. Muir Beach parking lot is off Shoreline Hwy by the Pelican Inn.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Feb 11th, 2007 Celia's Birthday Headlands Ride

On Sunday February 11th, 13 friends showed up at my house with their bikes to ride with me on my 42nd birthday around the Headlands. Amy, Bill, Mike, Steve, Chris, Tara, Eric, Joe, Julio, Joanmary, Jerry, Nancy and a mysterious rider called Dave...

The age diversity of these group was awesome, from almost 70 to almost 20! Some came with downhill bikes, others with free ride bikes and the rest with cross country bikes. We all got together to ride, play, get safe and enjoy the mountains.

To see all the pictures Joe (thank you Joe for the pictures!), Sally and I took before, during and after the ride and during the dinner party, CLICK HERE and DON'T MISS THE PICTURE CAPTIONS!

Thank you to all of you that stayed for the whole ride! I know I promised an only 2 hours ride and it turned out a 5 hours ride... but only 3 hours were actual pedaling time. The loop was 18 miles with more than 3,700 ft of climbing.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

San Juan Trail, Orange County

Last weekend, I drove with Sally down South to participate on a leadership conference in Los Angeles, visit her family in Costa Mesa, Orange County and hook up with riders for a nice mountain bike ride around the area.

I asked Nancy Harris of Team NoBrakes, also known as the network queen, if she knew anybody organizing rides around Orange County. She immediately forwarded me an email from Mark Warrick of 3FBC riding club and also a network king, announcing a ride around the San Juan Trail.

Thanks to Nancy's connection I was able to ride a first class 18-mile singletrack cross country loop around the mountains close to San Juan Capistrano in Orange County, and get to know four awesome riders: Mark, Ken Purdy, Dave Reffert and Geof Sanberg.

And of course, after a 5-hour fun ride, we all went (minues Ken who had to go to family duties) to the local pub for beers and pizza where Sally and Geof's wife (oops I forgot her name! shame on me because she is cool) joined us afterwards. Click here to see the pictures.

I hope to ride with them again soon when I go back to visit or when they come to visit the Bay Area! Click below to check the stats and the map at the MotionBased site:

Map of San Juan Trail Orange County

Friday, January 05, 2007

Mt. Tam Delight - Another Modified Version

On Thursday December 28th, we invited Eric A.D. from the Biking Fools of Calistoga to ride Mt. Tam to "pay him back" from that incredible ride he invited us some days before called The Return of the Light.

After dealing with some issues (shoes, pedals, dog fight and even family losses) Amy, Eric S., Pete and I started pedaling with Eric A.D. from the Java Hut parking lot. We headed toward Deer Park to climb Elderidge to the top of Mt. Tam.

Eric A.D. made my life so much easier by writing a really good story of the ride and posting some cool pictures. You should check them out on this link: Biking Fools of Calistoga.

Calistoga: The Return of the Light

On Saturday December 23rd, Eric S., Dolores and Tom, Allie and Michael (the Michiganders) and Celia headed to Calistoga to meet our ride leader Eric A.D. from the Biking Fools of Calistoga, and do one of the most fun, relaxing, gorgeous, technical, challenging rides I have ever done.

The mountains where Eric A.D took us are just as spectacular as the landscape around the Tahoe area. But I am not writing more about this ride, rather I invite you to read Eric A.D.'s story and view his pictures.

The link below will give you the ride stats and a map you can download even on Google Earth! Enjoy it.
Map of Calistoga: Wild Lilac, Table Rock, Oat Hill & Options