Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Steel Wül Brethren



Former Santa Cruz resident and friend of Steel Wüleurs, Sean Co and comrade showcasing the new kit on some Strada in the East Bay. Nice to know the Steel Wül brethren is stretching it's muscle here and beyond. Come ride with us sometime soon Sean, the welcome mat is laid down.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Steel Wül workshop





I have been logging some hours on the old trusty Bernette Sewing Machine. I took it in to the shop for repairs and the technician took one look at it and said, "whats wrong with your Bernette!"? I told him it was simply operator error and that a quick lesson would be much appreciated. He showed me how to do some basic maintenance and little did I know this machine has more stainless steel and Ti parts than a record groupo. He told me that he would buy this Swiss machine from me if I were ever to sell it. It was given to me by my sisters and mom who gave up on it after it was randomly launching needles at them. I will never forget the sight of them sewing with sunglasses on for eye protection. It works like a dream at the moment and we have been stamping out some SW ride wallets and musette bags. Mike Moore was selected to do some R&D on the first I-Phone road pocket (designed specifically for an I-phone & jersey pocket).

Favorite Climbs: Zayante Road

Maybe a new Post Section for Steel Wül - Favorite Climbs. Damn, there are so many great climbs in this county and beyond, assuming you're a mountain goat. That being said, you pretty much have to love to climb if you want to appreciate the breadth of cycling in our area.

One of my favorite is Zayante Road. Why? Because it seems like the the most "unridden" great climb around here. Every time I ride it, I most appreciate the feeling of solitude. I ask, "why is this road here." It really has no place for functionality as a commute route, etc. It's just, there. It has it all - gradual approach, a bite in the lower section, a break in the middle to recover, a next bite and the steady drag to the top. And, plenty long to contemplate why we do this s@!t. Once at the top, one has so many options to add to their route that day. And yes, the solitude. The only company you may have is a few abandoned cars down low. NO TRAFFIC AT ALL - EVER!

My ride today:

From my house on Branciforte, up Granite Creek, onto Glenwood, onto Bean Creek, across Mt. Hermon, sneak approach to Zayante, divert onto West Zayante, back onto Zayante proper, the Zayante climb, down Bear Creek to Lexington, around the resevoir on Alma Bridge, took on Soda Springs, onto Old Santa Cruz, up lower Mt. Charlie, across Summit junction @ 17, onto Mt. Charlie descent, back to Glenwood, back down Granite Creek to home. Solid 3 hour stay skinny ride. Voile! And a little post stout ride protein nourishment tip - the Bacon Burger patties from El Salchichero - downed two of em' easy- sort of. Happy pedaling my friends.

- Apple

Sunday, May 29, 2011

SufferFest 2011

Here is a little shout out to Jeff, the Caletti's and Tysen for toughing out the Sufferfest in style which included pave, heat, cold, rain and a crash or two. I for one gracefully bowed out at the gap and followed a couple of tall dudes down highway 9 for a free ride home.


Jeff and R. Hunter checking out the Empire ridge

Friday, May 27, 2011

Doping, UCI, Lance, Steel Wül, & the Future

I have had quite a few folks ask me recently what I think of this whole Lance debacle and I keep going back to my original thought that society’s appetite for sport has driven this cycling doping complex. Lance and drugs is not earth-shattering news. It is hard to stomach a former IRS investigator and now FDA investigator who is spending our hard earned money to take him down.

I was at the OTC when Rene Wenzal was giving minors cortisone and I was ostracized because I called bullshit on him and the program. If you really want to get to the root of the problem we need to recognize the fact that the sport has become too difficult. Grant Peterson nailed it when he said, "The weekend warriors look like amateurs, the amateurs look like pros, and the pros look like aliens." Where does that leave the pros?

I feel like it is a supply and demand. Now that everyone is so "linked"
in to the global information systems, the days of sports figures having some anonymity or mystique are over. For example, we can read what routes Lance is training on and how many watts of power Levi is generating while out training in California or on some obscure road in Europe. We have up to the second feeds that showcase everything they do. Unfortunately, mortals like us take that information and expect that we should be posting numbers that are similar or at least try to emulate someone who pedals for a living. I find it fascinating that you can take a 50 year old physician who races on the weekends and can post a sub 50 min 40k time trial which happens to only be a few minutes slower than the greatest time trialist in the world.

What I am trying to say is that a lot of cyclists buy into the “I am a racer” attitude. This popular attitude does not leave room for riding for the sake of riding and letting the professionals be heroes. It was not that long ago that you did not know who was going to be at the big races and how they were going to perform. Indurain and LeMond would show up for the Giro 10 lbs over weight knowing it was acceptable to managers and owners. That would never happen now a days because of all the corporate pressure to sell the ideal product which is the “ professional cyclist”. There has been a bottom up push from consumers that has left the pros somewhere in the stratosphere regarding fitness and expectation.


If the UCI had a minimum salary it would help with some of the "survival" doping. For example, you have a guy who makes $30,000 per year and living and racing away from his family 200 days a year and he "finds" a way to make $130,000 per year which means he can move his family with him. Do you think that individual is thinking of morals? I would do a lot of things if it meant providing for my family. One of the best Inmate Firefighters I ever worked with used to say, "Hey Cap, if my kids ain't eating then I am cheating".

I am not saying that Lance needed the money but I can guarantee you that Stephen Swart and Frankie Andreau are not rolling in it. If they were in the NFL or MLB, they would have retired with some serious cash even if they were mediocre players. If the big 3 (football, basketball, baseball) had as many deaths and underpaid salaries as the UCI their unions would go absolutely sideways at the owners and corporate sponsors. Our buddy, Damon Kluck was bringing home less than 20K without health insurance while riding for the USPS Team and representing the US at the World Road Race Championships. One solid result at Paris Nice or Criterium International would have bumped his salary into the 6 figures. I am pretty sure that the feds did not step in and recommend a cost of living allowance for him when he was living on a shoe string.

Who is looking out for the Pros? I guess this takes me full circle to why we started the SW club. We wanted to start a club where we got back to the roots of it all and enjoy every opportunity to ride with friends and family. Don't get me wrong I like putting power to the pedals just as much as the next guy, but I enjoy the act of chamoising up and meeting friends and chasing new roads even more. We have created an environment at Steel Wül where you can ride ego free in the spirit of heroes and scenery and still have wasted legs at the end of the day. I challenge folks to honor the pros - not try to be one so that the 15 year old aspiring racers can have someone to beat. For the record, the Steel Wül model is healthier than the racing model, I can contest to that.


We would love to hear your thoughts!

Lets give the future a sport they can be proud of.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Steel Wül Trivia for 100 please!

Question:

What cyclist was contacted the night before the opening stage of the TdF and told he was needed to replace an injured cyclist? Note: he had to drive 600+ miles to get there and was wasted from a race earlier that day.

Answer:

Nathan Dahlberg


Congrats to Mr. Wilson for posting the correct answer! He must have a family member who knows her TdF?!

Bonus Trivia:

Nathan did not have a telephone in his flat in Belgium, so Mike Neel (7-11) had to call a buddy who lived in the region to knock on the door and pitch the idea to the Kiwi. It did not take much convincing as he started to eat right there on the spot. The last time I saw Dahlberg was at the 1992 Tour of Nevada City Classic and after our race Jim Gentes took myself, Nathan, Herbert Neiderberger, Chad Gerlach, and my dad out to dinner. That was the year that Alexi Grewall (Coors Light) and Wayne Morgan (Wheelsmith) lapped the field twice.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Steel Wüleur Profile #3 - Apple



Full Name: Christopher Lawrence Appleton
DOB:
05/06/1970
Height:
6'4"
Weight:
185lb.
Occupation:
Freelance Graphic Designer (ImageTribe / www.imagetribe.com)
Bike:
Isaac Impulse / Campy Record / 60cm (in need of some ferrous metal thing too!)
Strengths: Climbing & tempo
Other Interests: Surfing, skiing. backpacking, design, coffee, beer, wine, food, humor, comradery, space, solitude, and so on

SWCC
- What got you into cycling?

Apple- Lets see,...good question, I started in the 90's with mt biking and then ended up cruising the local shops to check out some road machines and then I heard Phil Ligget's voice and the rest is history. 1st road bike was a 57cm Nishiki - yikes! 1st time I rode to the the top of Hwy 9 out of Saratoga I was hooked. No seriously, I found myself enjoying the gear and romance of it all. When I get interested in something I become a student of that discipline and strive to be as sound at it as I can be - within reason.

SWCC- Word on the street is that you played Division- 1 Water Polo for UOP. Is that true?

Apple- Yes it is! I started playing polo the summer before high school. A good friend of mine and his brother got me into it. I was a natural at it evidently and being 6' 4" I have a wingspan of an albatross. Was All-American and stuff. It was my life during the school years and I have many fond memories of those days. Great sport. Go Luke!

SWCC- What is your favorite local ride?

Apple - Hands down, The Pescadero Boogie! It captures our area like no other ride and is the most fulfilling loop you can do - assuming you have a prevailing tailwind on the return home on Route 1. There is something really special about it. Everything else is just 2nd fiddle - not that epic rides are endless in these parts. Its the best a sandwich could ever taste.

SWCC- How many Grenier Yosemite rides have you done?

Apple- 3 Gren Yosemite rides and I feel privileged and honored to be part of that ride. It is a celebration ride with friends and the state we live in. Just gotta stomach the frothing tourists in the valley post ride. I left my heart in Hornitos...

SWCC- You are one of the smoothest pedalers, is that something that you work on regularly?

Apple- Of course. Everything that I do in sport I want to be good at and have good technique and style. I have definitely worked at it. Who wants to be a hack? Study how the best do it and emulate has always been my approach. Thanks for the compliment.

SWCC- If you could travel anywhere to do some cycling where would you go and why?

Apple- Italy! Because we are going to go. It is the motherland of cycling. I think it's a must for any cycling enthusiast. Beyond that.....I would love to go back to Belgium because, well, it's Belgium - the other motherland - I'm coming back Lionel! The only drive to go to France is to ride the monuments, not so much for culture. Zee french. Zee don't like zee stinking American. Honestly though, you can't really call yourself a "cyclist" until you've ridden in the bosom - Europe.

SWCC- What is your roll with the Steel Wül Cycling Club?

Apple- Ahh,....anything that involves the Steel Wül look and feel (a natural fit due to my design background - plug for ImageTribe!) - basically help create the overall branding of Steel Wül and be a second voice for ideas we have. I feel really privileged to be a part of the organic evolution of what we are creating here. I think we're onto something. Oh yeah, pedal circles too.

SWCC- Describe a perfect day for Chris Appleton.

Apple- Waking up in some villa in the Italian country side with a group of friends - pedaling our bikes through beautiful Italy - then experience a home cooked meal for 5 hours and do it again the next day. Locally, I would say surfing and riding in the same day is also pretty cool. Balance is a good thing. Honestly, right now - a day with minimal stress is all I ask for. The above - icing my friend - Let's plan.

SWCC- Bonus question by Olive Hess - What is your favorite animal Apple?

Apple- A Dolphin! They seem like the happiest animals on earth and they are always smiling. Take Flipper for example, he seems to enjoy himself. Being a bird of prey would be pretty bitchin' though.

Steel Wül Trivia for 800 please!

Question:

What TDF rider refused to use the Campagnolo Ergo 10-speed levers (originally made for Marco Pantani's small hands) and opted for the larger
9-speed version which were converted to 10-speed by campy just for him?

Congrats to one Cameron for posting the first correct answer!

Answer:

Jan Ullrich

Winning Magazine

This magazine had the trio of power: Maynard Hershon, Edmond Burke, and Graham Watson.
I can guarantee you that there was never an article published on how to "climb like Lance in 2 weeks". This magazine showcased the inter-sanctum of the European cycling world at a time in the US when road racing was a tiny misunderstood sub-culture of society. When I hung up my Air Jordan's in 88' to race full time people thought that was crazy. Boyer who? Shapiro who?

Steel Wül Trivia for 600 Please


Question:

What Santa Cruz County resident won a stage of the Tour De France?

Congrats to Sean Coffey who posted the first correct answer! We do have a SW lid with your name on it.

Answer: Santa Cruz's one and only Katrin Tobin

Thank you Hans from Gothenberg, Sweden for giving it the old college try. (Jeff Pierce did in fact bag the Champs stage) You obviously know your TDF trivia but he does not live in Santa Cruz, Ca.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Andy Paulin

1988 Olympian and Santa Cruz resident Andy Paulin putting the hurt on 7-11's Jeff Bradey and the rest of the field on the Manayunk Wall at Phili. Oakley must have designed those tear-drop shades just for him (195cm tall, 91 kg). The classic urban legend is that Eddy B. was told that a 6'5" guy in California was time trialing at 30 mph at the Chico TT series. He flew out to see this mountain of a man with his own eyes and told him on the spot that he was on the Olympic TTT squad. The rest is cycling history which included Olympic team, Gastown Grand Prix wins, and numerous Pam Am medals. He is the only guy his size that is silky smooth.

For the record,....his Olympic TTT squad did a 100k in 2 hours 2 min and 37 seconds. That would be 62.14 miles in 122 mins average speed = Pain Cave!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

In the Spirt of Heroes and...



Steel Wül merely continues a tradition of "pure" cycling, humbly. Heroes of the past paved the way for the rest of us mortals. Col de la Croix de Fer sometime ago.

700c therapy

video

Going to California? I have a girl out here with love in her eyes and flowers in her hair and another one who has horses in her eyes and sand in her hair........

Steel Wül Bible


Originally published in Holland in 1978. This is a passionate tribute to the art of bicycle road racing!

Page 1:

Meyrueis, Lozere, June 26th 1977. Hot and overcast. I take my gear out of the car and put my bike together. Tourists and locals are watching from the sidewalk cafes. Non-racers. The emptiness of those lives shocks me.

Everywhere cars are parked or driving by with antlers of wheels and frames. A few riders are already pedaling around. Smiling, waving. There are a few I don't know. Good riders? Bad riders? You can tell good riders by their faces, bad riders by their faces too - but that only goes for riders you already know.

I pick up my number at a cafe, shake a hand on the way back.
"Good legs?"
"We'll see"
"Haha, right"

Between the bumper of his car and mine, a rider in a light blue Cycles Goff Jersey is sitting on the curb, deep in thought. Before him on the street lies a back wheel, beside him a wooden box full of sprockets. His gears: he still has to decide which one to use. There are four cols today, no one knows exactly how steep. I do: I've been over the course.
I don't recognise this guy. We mumble greetings, he muses on. Behind my car I put on my riding gear. Racing shirts, sweatshirt, suspenders, jersey. I toss my street clothes onto the back seat, look at the folds they make when they land. They'll stay that way until I put them on again, or until an official gathers them together after I've died in the race.

Leaning against the fender I eat a banana and a sandwich. Starting time is in forty-five minutes. I want to win this race.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Calfee Bicycles



A couple of friends and I toured Calfee yesterday and I left there thinking that this local company not only has one of the greatest handmade bicycle frames of all time but they played a huge role in European cycling history. The obvious advantage Calfee has over other carbon frame builders is that they are performance driven not trend driven. Mike Moore (Steel Wüleur) and Craig Calfee were able to take time out of their busy day and share some of the many racing stories (Lemond's first Calfee @ Paris Nice) and give us a complete factory tour. Mike's attention to detail relating to the frames was mind boggling. I have so much respect for this company due to the fact that they stay true to building the best frame regardless as to what flavor of the month, year, decade the cycling industry at large is chasing. We saw some "interesting" carbon frames that made there way to Calfee for repair and one of them advertised a "wavy gravy system" or something. It was so ironic to see all the mainstream carbon frames lined up for surgery by Calfee techs and meanwhile other Calfee builders were laying up custom Calfee frames (25 year warranty) by hand as if it was no big deal. If I had to come up with one phrase for Calfee to describe how they relate to the contemporary cycling industry it would be this "We do what you do, but you don't do what we do". In the spirit of heroes and scenery, Calfee gets the Steel Wül approval.

"I think this road goes through"


Apple -

"this label says that its good for 350 calories on smooth roads, how does that convert to Steel Wül roads?"



Steel Wül you find it (instant gratification)


Ok,.... If you are standing in front of this sign on the road get on your bike and pedal 17 times in a 34 X 23 or 14 times in a 39 X 23 on Fern Flat rd and then stop and look to your right and find the only Eucalyptus tree and uncover the leaf litter to find your SW treasure!

Apple, BC and I were asked a couple of times today if we were "lost" while enjoying some Aptos pave on our road steeds. We try not to use the "L" word on a SW ride. I respectfully explained to one guy that it was simply a natural progression. We use to ride Santa Rosalia on our Diamond Back Silver Streaks (CW bars) then we graduated to our Univega Alpino Uno, then upgraded to our Diamond Back Apex II, got a job and bought Bridgestone MB-1's, upgraded to the MB-Zip, then we followed Mt. Larry home one day and quickly realized that road bikes were clearly the rig of choice for Aptos dirt and we have been doing it ever since. Go Sea Dragons!

Friday, May 20, 2011

SW mussete bag

Here is our latest version we stitched up this evening equipped with a custom leather suspension kit, Velcro closure and SW patch. Our next bag will have a secure pocket for an IPhone. This one is off to Ian Moore for some R&D on some Texas Strata Biancha.

Golden Age of Cycling


Giro D'Italia 1973
Click on photo

and enjoy 5 min and 51 seconds of pure cycling bliss!

These were the days of black shorts and shoes and white socks.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Steel Wül Trivia for 500 Please


Congrats to M. Staiger! She posted the first correct answer. Only a true TDF buff would care enough to research that detail.

Question:
What former TDF rider had a father who was a POW with Fausto Coppi in North Africa during WW-II?

Answer:
Claudio Chiappucci

Bonus Trivia-
When the route of the 1992 TDF announced that the 13th stage would take the race into Italy to finish in Sestrieres, Claudio told his father he would win that stage. He would win it for him, and for the memory of Fausto Coppi, for it was on that very stage to Setrieres that the Campionissimo had sealed his Tour victory in 1952, riding solo over the last 21 kilometers of the final ascent to finish 7 minuets ahead of the second-placed rider. Exactly 40 years to the date, Chiappucci soloed into Sestrieres fulfilling his promise to his father and Coppi. The Italians went absolutely crazy!

Monday, May 16, 2011

1991 Coastal Sportive -Stars & Stripes Ride


Norm Gall (Coastal Sportiv) organized the event. He had ordered up a 70's era Super Huey helicopter for areal photography. That was my lugged Bottecchia with simplex retro friction shifters. Detlif was on his Kestral and Wilhelm was on his sturdy Serrota built lugged Specialized Allez. We pedaled to San Juan Bautista via Eureka Canyon, Hazel Dell and back.
San Andreas Sprint - Micheal Battin
Hazel Del KOM - Daryl Price
Eureka Canyon KOM - Hall Worthington


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Steel Wül you find it #5

Riddle me this folks:

If you are on a RED bike add some _____ and don't forget the RICE. Keep your head on a swivel when the road does a wiggle. First person to email a pic, gets a SW cap!


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Northern Exposure

Steel Wüler Kev McGill (jack of all trades) took this shot of Big Blue & Mt Hood while on a 2500 mile road trip. If you look close enough you can almost see the ghost of his lugged Poggliaghi in the background. Click on photo to enlarge.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Steel Wül You Find it #2 has been found!

Jedi Wilson spied this redwood well head today in the Aptos hills. I will have to check the archives to see what he gets for this one (maybe a Look KG).

I'll take Steel Wül Trivia for 400 please

I had to use my secret Steel Wül decoder ring to figure out who posted the first correct answer.

Congrats to Daryl Price (ride boss) from Colorado! We have a SW cap with your name on it.


Question:

What did Greg Lemond's mechanics use to shim his Scott clip-on bars in the final TT of the 1989 TDF?

Answer: aluminum coke can

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Steel Wül You Find it #3 has been found!

Peter Flanders is 2 for 2!
The original hint was to think of the 89' earthquake.
Loma Prieta Ave turns left off Mt. Bache Rd.

Ok, lets tally up Mr. Flanders loot:
1-SW Musette bag
1- SW cycling cap
1-Taqueria Michoacan Burrito of his choice (I recommend the BBQ chicken Super)



Hi Jake,
Not Loma Prieta Dr.
Not Loma Prieta Way,
Loma Prieta Ave.
There it is.
I knew it was 'Bike to Something' Day,
but I couldn't remember the last part...
So I rode up here.
-Peter

Monday, May 9, 2011

"The Ride Boss" circa 1988

Daryl Price (lugged Panasonic) at the 1988 Tour of Baja. He was national road and cross champ the same year.

Johnny Walbridge (vintage hairnet) was looking lean. Big Brent Marks must have had another gig that week. Willerton and Hamon in the Giro Pro Lights. That pre-race feeling is all too familiar. I can practically smell the leg balm and chamois creme.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Friday, May 6, 2011

Steel Wül You Find it # 4 has been Found!

Message:

Hi Jake,
I found it! I'd been thinking of riding up there for a while.
Every time I'd gone down Old San Jose and by Stetson I thought hmm...
what's that like?
So I figured it out from the hat clue.
I came up Eureka, Highland, up and over Skyland, and down Stetson.
15377 is not obvious from the road.
(Special bonus reconstructed former sign image for added verification.)
Thanks,
-Peter Flanders


Peter,
First of all, you have the all time greatest last name for a road
cyclist and congrats for finding the Hotel California. I look forward
to meeting you and issuing you a Steel Wül Mussette Bag. You just
raised the bar for the Wilson family because they are very good at
finding these little gems. Steel Wül you find it # 5 will be posted
soon. Thanks for participating and happy hunting!!

Note: Steel Wül you find it #3 has yet to be found.

Jake & Jess

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Big Mama's La Dolce Vita Bread


Big Mama baked it, the Steel Wülers downed it, now you can make it!!


1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 medium bananas, mashed
1/3 cup unsweetened peanut butter
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 large egg
2 Tbs. canola oil
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Coat standard loaf pan with butter or oil.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large
bowl.

2. Whisk together mashed bananas, peanut butter, yogurt, egg and oil.
Stir banana mixture into flour mixture until combined. Fold in
chocolate chips. Scrape
batter into prepared loaf pan.

3. Bake 40 to 50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes
out with a few moist crumbs
clinging to it. Cool on rack 15 minutes before unmolding. Cool
completely, then slice and serve.

Yosemite Ride 2011

This years ride was silky smooth! More photos and video on the way.

We began our trek from Brommer st. and 30th at 0732 hours on Saturday, April 30th. A very strong north wind was pushing all morning. We (shorter riders) did not worry considering the wall of cyclists to hide behind on this 240 mile adventure. Only 3 of us were under 6' tall. Honoring tradition, Doug E. Fresh hit the Panaderia hard in little Saigon and radioed back for assistance from the SW van. Like a gazzel, Cory ascended Mt. Hamilton with ease. The Steel Wül van operated by Papa Bill was stocked with food o' plenty at the top. I went for the lightly toasted salami and cheese sando with kettle chips (sea salt of course) and a dream bar from New Leaf. BC who has attacked Mr. Hamilton early on two prior occasions with great success, expressed his utter hatred for him on this round. As it turns out, he was saving himself for Old Toll Rd and the Merced River Canyon (solid recovery). Mike Moore was almost taken out by a "racer" searching for water on his way back to Mt. Diablo on a double century ride (why?). The wild flowers were popping in the San Antonio Valley floor and there must have been a half a dozen Subaru Foresters parked along the road side with folks seeking a peek. Lucky for us the Junction Bar at Mines Rd was inundated with chamois not Carharts and Berretas this year. As usual, Del Puerto Canyon looked like a scene out of Mad Max with the graffiti, tumble weeds, deep canyons, nob cone pines and buzzards soaring above us. We approached Highway 5 without incident with Big Mike testing the deep dish for speed. Our next mission that afternoon (if we were to choose it) was to link highway 5 to highway 99. This is where Apple (Gilbert Duclose Lassele) comes in. We had 100+ miles and 8000' of elevation in the old get a way sticks and 25 to go into a 15 knot head/cross wind. Apple literally took a 22 mile pull for the group. I can still hear his rear wheel gripping with each peddle stroke. We ended day 1 in true Steel Wül fashion peddling through the dirt connecting roads through a Cal Trans detour. My eyes were bigger than my stomach at dinner as I had a hard time finishing the 4 lbs burrito and chicken salad. The Tylenol pm did absolutely nothing to counter act the 2 caffeine goos I hit in Los Palmas at hour 9 as a flopped around like a fish out of water in room 205 at 0300 am. I must have snuck in some REM because I woke up feeling stronger. My teammate Estabon Fraga always said that he could tell how well he would race in the first 7 pedal strokes of the day.

Day 2 started out smooth with the Gren full of piss and vinegar. I could here him chatting it up in the middle of the group at 25 mph. I knew he was going to have a good day. Eric was enjoying all the big ring miles as we finally after 5 years found the smartest route out of Turlock and on to Montpellier Oakdale Rd (J16 & J17). Sandwiches came earlier this year (Sneiling) knowing that we had some heavy roads ahead of us. The wind could not decide if it was on our 6 or our 9 o'clock on Hornitos rd. Cory sat on the front and took a couple of large pulls on this section even though the road was clearly not steep enough for her. We rolled into Hornitos with Fresh taking both the wooden and metal city limit sprints. This is where the ride "starts" according to the Gren. We have transitioned from the coastal range to the San Joaquin Valley to the foothills of the Sierra. Old Toll Rd is so incredibly beautiful and free of traffic that you hardly notice the grade. Cathey's Valley shoots out to the south west as you climb through some of the least cycled hills in California. John Caletti who has cycled through pretty much everything you can imagine was taken back by this section of the ride. He also spied the Dolce Vida Ranch for us. Fresh forgot about the 2k climb outside of Mt Bullion Camp on our way to Mariposa and launched a flyer on a slight downhill. Big Mike, Apple, and I bridged up to him wondering if he was feeling like superman or if he forgot about the rollers. Eric was caught in no-mans-land but as usual toughed it out all the way to Mariposa. Eric later told me that he not only forgot about the rollers but he told others it was relatively flat into Mariposa. The rollers came to an end as a 20 knot tailwind helped Big Mike launch into Mariposa picking up the coveted Mariposa city sign at 54 mph. Apple and I held off knowing that a very long climb was in front of us yet. That was my excuse anyway. The SW van was so pivotal at this point in the ride offering us more food, water, sunscreen, and moist towelettes than we could ever use. I was thinking of Super Dave Reid knowing that he would have changed out the old socks for some fresh ones in anticipation of the El Portal climb (veteran move). I could picture him on the bench eating salami and almonds and busting everyones chops. We were in good hands our security blanket this year was in the form of a 2003 Euro Van with a physician at the helm not a 2006 Lugged RockLobster with a hand on our back. The Gren and BC took off early to tackle the highway 49 boogie. We just caught them at the top as we worked our way into the rollers approaching the Merced River Canyon. I told John Caletti to follow Big Mike into the Canyon. Fresh led us out at the top and Mike disappeared in front of our eyes in his signature tuck. I was simply praying for adhesion as Caletti and Apple passed me (let the record show that they don't have children). We regrouped after some high fives and such to settle in on our 20 mile approach to El Portal. The Carroll clan offered us a nice break in the action with some words of encouragement from the Sienna. AC was kind enough to paint some SW jargon on Federal Property for us (that meant allot to me!). Our last push into the valley itself is always hard and we can never remember how much climbing there is. Apple did his best Schleck impression and melted off everyone up to the kiosk. I worked my magic again with some basic verbal judo skills I picked up while working with inmate Firefighters and I talked my way out of the 90 dollar fee for all the cyclist into Yosemite National Park. The Merced river was pushing at least 5000 CFS and Yosemite Falls was absolutely going off. Gren stopped to top off the bottles with a couple of cold ones to initiate the celebration. The best part of the ride for me was pulling up to the Yosemite Lodge and seeing Jess and Olive! I can't wait until next year. Happy birthday Gren and thanks for the invitation.

Jake