Monday, June 1, 2009

5/30/09 Coached Mountain Bike Ride

The skies were grey and rain was falling on Saturday morning when we all met in La Jolla for a coached mountain bike ride. We were all disappointed because, unlike the East Coast or Pacific Northwest where rain doesn't deter you from your appointment with the trail, in San Diego you don't ride when the trail is wet.

Because of the quality of the soil, bike tires leave ruts that destroy the trail. We wanted to ride, but knew we couldn't do so anywhere near the coast that morning.
Laurie suggested that we head east to Mission Trails, near where she lives, since it wasn't raining there when she left. So we all caravanned to Mission Trails.
Laurie, Marlene, Rebecca, Randa, Kathy, Erica

Mission Trails is very beginner-friendly, with wide double track as well as flowy singletrack. Before leaving the parking lot, we discussed equestrian right-of-way, and what I call the mountain bike basics, or the beginner's mantra: "Pedals level, weight back, arms relaxed, shoulders square."

Horses on the trail
May of the trails in San Diego are multi-use trails, and cyclists often come upon hikers and horses. Because it's important to foster good relations between cyclists and other trail users, no one should ever hesitate to practice good trail etiquette. When coming upon horses from behind, I always call out: "Ride leader! There are four of us mountain bikers. May we pass?"

There is always a ride leader, even if it's an informal ride; someone will answer you. Calling out to the ride leader 1) lets the horse riders know you are coming so you don't surprise them, 2) identifies you as a person, since you do not look like a person to a horse, but a head on top of a bike, and 3) empowers the horse riders and shows them respect.

Slowing down or even dismounting and calling out to a group of horse riders may seem unusual, but it's important to remember that in addition to having the right-of-way, equestrians often have a lot more money and power than the mountain bikers. It's in our best interest to make sure we do all we can to foster good relations and practice good trail etiquette at all times.

Mountain bike instruction
Pedals level: Unlike on a road bike where you can coast with one foot down, you should get into the habit on a mountain bike of coasting with your pedals level. Not only does it keep you from striking obstacles like rocks and roots with your downward-extended pedal, it also facilitates you standing on your pedals, giving you greater control and allowing you to shift your weight as needed.

Weight back: This is mostly a reminder to shift your weight back on descents or when going over obstacles. More accurately, you push the handlebar away from you over obstacles, but
weight back is the same idea. If you have your weight back, you have less of a chance of going over the bars.

Arms relaxed: Too many riders find themselves in the middle of a ride employing the "death grip" to the handlebar. You should be able to wiggle your fingers at any moment on the bike. Having a vice-like grip on the handlebar will only impair steering and bike handling. Your front wheel will often find the best path through a rock bed or sand. If you apply a light grip with your weight off the handlebar, you'll be more successful at navigating those tricky sections.

Shoulders square: If you keep your shoulders square to the trail and where you want to go, you'll have an easier time of actually going in the direction you want to go. With your head up, and your shoulders square to the trail, you and your bike are centered and where you need to be.

We rode for a bit on the doubletrack, then practiced getting our front tire over a stick - the beginnings of jumping with the bike. If you get your front tire over the stick, the rear tire will naturally follow. Those who mastered this early were encouraged to use their clip pedals to lift the rear tire over the stick as they went. The motion mimics that of a rabbit hopping over a log. Once you can pop the front tire up and the back tire up, you put the motions together. We didn't have time to work very long on bunnyhops, but everyone did really well and will be able to practice on her own for next time.

We only practiced two difficult climbs and descents. Most of the coaching involved helping the girls approach a hill in the right pedaling gear, knowing when to shift, knowing when to stand up, and refining the balance required so that you don't spin out before you reach the top. The descending skills involved reading the terrain, remembering to stay relaxed, proper body position on the bike, and the importance of not getting ahead of yourself (keeping your head up).

The response to the ride and the coaching was really positive, and I know everyone was proud of her efforts at the end of the ride. Everyone challenged herself and came away feeling more confident. :)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mission Bay to La Jolla

Great ride this morning from Mission Bay, around Fiesta Island, up to La Jolla, and back. We used little-known bike paths that allow you to stay off major roads but still maintain a direct route.

Our route.

It was a cool, foggy, chilly morning in San Diego as we met for a road ride from Mission Bay. In our pre-ride announcements, I took the opportunity to spread some of the word handed down from the Breast Cancer Fund, and mentioned the potential harmful effects of some sunscreens that contain parabens. We often don't think about the chemicals we put into our bodies via lotions, but transdermal absorption is very concentrated and should never be overlooked. To see whether the sunscreen you use is potentially harmful, go to and enter the type you use. You'll be surprised.

Announcements out of the way, we made our way around Fiesta Island, a low-traffic area that affords cyclists and joggers a beautiful view of Mission Bay. Exiting the island, we headed north on Mission Bay Drive dodging the numerous joggers that seemed to be out in force! We must have seen 300 joggers throughout the course of the ride. It was great to see so many people getting outside to play.

At the northernmost point of Mission Bay, the cleverly hidden Rose Canyon Bike path exits the road and skirts the marshy inlet that leads to Pacific Beach. We followed the bike path to the end, crossed under I-5, the continued north on Santa Fe Street which dead ends at the bottom of the 52 Bike Path (right at CA-52). Closed to vehicular traffic, the 52 Bike Path takes you from the northern end of Mission Bay Drive all the way up to La Jolla/UTC, where you can then access roads that will take you to UCSD. We went up to the UC Cyclery Bike Shop to pop in and take a look around, then headed back to Fiesta Island.

Before leaving the bike shop, we took a minute to talk about proper shifting, making sure everyone understood the term "cross-chaining," and the importance of keeping low gears up front with low gears in the rear and high gears up front with high gears in the rear. It's a simple thing to do, but if no one has ever explained it to you, you figure that clicking noise coming from your front derailleur is just the way the bike is. At least, I did before it was explained to me.

On the way back, we had to go up a curb to access the bike path from the road. Most cyclists dismount and carry their bikes up the curb, then carry their bikes down the steps to the bike path, as the ramp is very steep and turns sharply. The first time I took this ride, I rode with three guys who all popped their front wheel up the curb and then rode down the ramp. I made a point to learn how to do it for the next time, and was soon popping my front wheel up curbs without thinking about it. Today I did this, hoping the other girls would either follow or say, like I did, "Hey! Are you allowed to do that?! Show me!" Sure enough, Rebecca was intrepid enough to ride down the steep ramp, looking through the turn and making the corner without issue. Triumph! As a bonus, when we returned to the parking lot she wanted to learn to pop her front wheel up the curb. Cool! A convert. Bwahahahaa!

It was a great ride at a social pace that was fun for our girls who had not been on the bike for a while, as well as provide some new challenges for our seasoned riders. No matter what ride you're on, there's always a skill you can practice or learn.

-Laura D.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Great cycling articles!

With the new season starting up, I thought I'd post some great articles about group riding.

Basic Skills for Group Riding
By Gale Bernhardt

You don't have to be a competitive cyclist to enjoy the benefits of group rides. Utilized correctly, regular group sessions can motivate you, improve your fitness and make any ride more enjoyable. However, if you lack the technique or the fitness to ride with a group, the experience can be frustrating and leave you riding alone. In a worst case scenario, lack of skills causes you to crash, perhaps taking others down with you.

To help you get started, let's look at a few group ride basics... more

Riding in a Paceline is a Basic Cycling Skill
Edmund R. Burke, Ph.D. for

Why do many cyclists choose to go it alone when riding in club rides or centuries? Many group rides can turn into survival of the fittest, where the novice is quickly sent off the back.

Ideally, a group should contain both novices and experienced riders who don't feel compelled to prove themselves on every ride. The key is riding safely and effectively in a paceline... more.

10 Rules to Group Ride Like a Pro
By Simeon Green
PezCycling News

There are a series of basic rules to follow in order to ride properly in a group, and yet it is often surprising how few people know these rules.

You might think this doesn't apply to you; after all, you are a Cat. 1 and winner of the Thursday night or Saturday morning World like I said, it's amazing how many people don't know how to ride in a group. If you are new to the sport, this will help for your next group ride, if you are old to the sport, this should be a useful recap of what you already know... more.


I found these articles really helpful! Hopefully you will too. More great info can be found at

See you at a group ride! :)


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dancing the Night Away 4

One of the things that we as Team LUNA Chix do besides get outside and play is raise money for the Breast Cancer Fund. Our big fund raiser of the year is an event called Dancing the Night Away. Being new to the Team, I had no idea what to expect when we started planning this.

This past Saturday we held Dancing the Night Away - 4, and raised $3900 for the Breast Cancer Fund. Wow. Many many thanks to all the people who came out for the fund raiser, to Tony and Sue Farrow who opened their home to all of us, to Papa C's Catering for all the great food, to the band Coastal Eddy for the great music, to
David Vasquez & Ingrid Valdna of Start Dancin' San Diego for teaching Salsa lessons, to Stone Brewery World Bistro for supplying our beer, to Greenline Construction Inc., RBF Consulting, and Scripps Ranch Swim & Racquet Club, for making the tables and chairs magically appear. We couldn't have had such a huge success without you!

Here are pictures from the day of set-up Friday morning.

Back of the house.

Front of the house.

Cathy, Randa, and Rhonda

Friday morning work crew.

Saturday evening the festivities began about 6pm. Because our team is spread out from just north of the border all the way up to Carlsbad, Saturday was in fact the first time all nine of us had ever been together. Cool!

Team LUNA Chix San Diego: Bevin, Chris, Randa, Darlene, Laura, Rhonda, Monica, Denise, Leah

Much of our fund rising came from the gracious donations to our silent auction.

The food was amazing!! There were five stations featuring different cuisines of the world. My favorite was the Mexican. Mmmmm....

The band Coastal Eddy played while people ate dinner.

Our bartender Tom

Shortly after dinner, the dancing began. Salsa dance lessons were offered by David Vasquez & Ingrid Valdna of Start Dancin' San Diego.

Denise and Barry

We've determined that wherever Denise is, well, that's where the party is.

One final look at the silent auction items before the auction is closed.

Socializing before the end of the auction, while the band Coastal Eddy plays.

Aaaand you know it's really a party once the police show up. I got them all bottled water and we took a photo together.

It was a great evening, with good food, dancing, and fun and interesting people all around. Again, we couldn't have done it without the efforts of our whole team of people. If you were there, thank you for coming out and being a part of it. If you weren't there, well, we hope to see you next year!

These are the businesses and individuals who have given their time, goods, or services in support of the Breast Cancer Fund. Please support them, and thank them for their generous donations.

Steve Anear
of Swami's Surfing Association for signed surfing prints
Armstrong Garden Center for a “Gardener’s Basket” gift basket
Bella Dora Spa in Carlsbad for a spa gift certificate
Christine Baumann for a gift certificate for reflexology
Cal Pacific Orchid Farm of Leucadia for a beautiful living orchid arrangement
Clif Bar for the "I Love Clif Bar" gift basket of nutrition products and clothing
Rhonda Darling for a Ladies Coach Purse
Bruno Desrochers for two handmade surf racks

Encinitas Fire Department for their generous financial support
Encinitas Surf Boards for the great clothing gifts
FM 94.9
"It’s About the Music” and Brian Musick for tickets to the Padres game.
Fuel Factor Nutrition for Race Day Nutrition Analysis
Greenline Construction Inc for their time, man power and trailer to transport tables
Bill Hughes for 2 tickets to see Dancing with the Stars
Alex Long for beautiful handmade pottery
Luna Vineyards for a magnum size bottle of Sangiovese wine
Mary Lynn
for private in-home salon gift certificate
Randa Milljour for the several elaborate gift baskets
Robbie Nelson's Happy Barrels Surf School for gift certificate to surfing lessons
Papa C's Catering for a Catering Party for Ten
Doc Dorian Paskowitz for 2 autographed copies of his book “Surfing and Health”
RBF Consulting for donating tables to our event
L.J. Richards for autographed surf poster and photo

Saris Cycling Group for three 3-bike Car Racks (in Breast Cancer Awareness Pink)
Scripps Ranch Swim & Racquet Club for the use of the chairs
Stone Brewery World Bistro for a dinner for two (and four cases of beer for our party!!)
Deborah Strauhal for 2 gift certificates for massage
for volunteering to be our bartender for the evening!
Superslow Zone
for “Minutes a Week – Shape for Life” gift basket
Pat Weber
at San Diego Surfing Academy for a 2-hour group of 3 surfing lessons

From the whole San Diego LUNA Chix team...
...thank you.

(Now get outside and play!)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Aug 16 LUNA Mountain ride

The San Diego Team LUNA Chix girls are primarily roadies and triathletes. I'm primarily a mountain biker, and have threatened to take the girls out and bring them over to the dark side... BWAAHAHAHA! Well, my desires have finally come to fruition!

On Aug 16, we take our first official San Diego LUNA Chix mountain bike ride in the Eucalyptus Grove over at UCSD.

UCSD is a great place for a beginner or intermediate ride because there's something for everyone. Whenever someone needs beginner or even interdmediate coaching, I suggest the Eucalyptus Grove, for the wide doubletrack, the winding singletrack, the occasional ruts, and the climbs that go from easy to really challenging.

Leah is my LUNA partner in crime. She has agreed to "lead" this ride with me, even though, God bless her, she's never been on a mountain bike before. Before she even shows up, she has got so many rad points in my book, that I need more pages just to make more entries under her name. Before the end of the ride, I need another volume.

We meet at UC Cyclery in La Jolla and ride over to the UCSD campus. There are five of us, with Leah, Britney, Joy, and my mechanic and good buddy Steve who comes along with us for support.

Before we go, I talk to them about body position. On the mountain bike, you want to have your shoulders square to the trail, your pedals level when you're coasting, your arms relaxed, and importantly, you want to be ready to get off the saddle and stand on your pedals at any moment.

We enter the trail and find a wide area to practice popping the front wheel off the ground. This skill will help them get over obstacles like logs or ruts. Joy is clipped in, and is a bit more experienced than Britney or Leah, so I show her how to pick up her rear tire using her clip pedals. She's on her way to bunnyhopping.

Area where we practice popping our front wheels up.
We continue our ride, and head down the main trail to a section with winging singletrack. I tell the girls to remember: shoulders square to the trail, pedals level, arms relaxed with no death grip on the handlebars, and keep your head up. We stop to look at tricky sections, walking through them before attempting them on the bike.

Steve and Britney


Joy tackles the hill.

Britney and Leah.
We continue the ride and get to the fun part - the bridges!

Joy on the bridge - she made it all the way across!


At the very end of the trail, there's a log we have to jump over. To give some persepctive to how far everyone progressed, here's Leah at the beginning of the ride, learning to pop her front wheel over a stick...

...and Leah bounding over the log at the end of the ride!

WOW! Leah, you totally rock! Leah is a traithlete and this was her first time on a mountain bike. She was a little intimidated by the dirt at first, but by the end of the ride she looked completely comfortable.

Great job everyone!!

Big thanks go to Steve from UC Cyclery who came with us and helped on the ride. Thanks Steve!!

Aug 9 Cabrillo Monument ride

One of the fun things about riding with women from all over San Diego County is that you get to ride in a number of different places. This ride we did followed the San Diego International Triathlon route from Spanish Landing near downtown up to Cabrilo Monument on Point Loma. Here are a few pictures from our ride.

Although it looks like we're doing a "ride in a straight line" drill, I think we all just happened to be on the white line at that moment because there was no traffic behind us.

Climbing up to Cabrillo.

We take a slight detour down to the tide pool.

Chris waves hello!

The group down at the tide pool area: Caitlin, Chris, Bevin, Joanna, Cindy, Laura

At Cabrillo: Joanna, Caitlin, Chris, Laura, Cindy, Darlene

Overlooking the bay.

Joanna at the monument area.

Cabrillo monument at Point Loma.
A few notes about the ride:
Be sure to cross Rosecrans at a traffic light. Traffic is unpredictable and can be dangerous in that area.
Entrance to Cabrillo: $3 per person one day pass if you are on foot or bicycle; or $15 for an annual pass. Additionally, the annual pass will allow you to bring 3 people in with you. If you plan to come back, get the annual pass.
There are restrooms and a rest area at the top of the hill near the gift shop.