Local Cycling Group: Cycle Folsom

For the second in my ongoing series of profiles of Sacramento area cycling groups and clubs, I’ll take a look at Cycle Folsom.  Before we get started, however, I want to point out that I ride with Cycle Folsom regularly myself, and in fact help lead some of the rides.  So clearly I’ve got a little bit of direct personal knowledge regarding this group!

I took the opportunity to do an email interview with Stan Schultz – who describes himself as Cycle Folsom’s “Chief Evangelist” on the groups Meetup site.  Here is what Stan had to say in response to my questions:

JustAnotherCyclist (JAC): What is the focus of Cycle Folsom?

Stan: Short Answer: Cycle Folsom exists to provide an environment where cyclists can improve their cycling skills, strength and endurance through intelligent training and nutrition.

Long Answer: Our slogan “Great Cycling Starts Here” serves as the guiding principal of Cycle Folsom’s efforts in three distinct, but complementary ways:

1. Great Cycling Starts Here—in the City of Folsom: Downtown Folsom provides direct access to the American River Trail and the more than 100 miles of interconnected paved bike trails stretched throughout the town, and all the way to Discovery Park in Sacramento. Newer riders will find both solace and a moderate challenge along the trail that surrounds Lake Natoma and continues to Discovery Park. Seasoned cyclists seeking hills can string together short, but very challenging hill rides within Folsom, or venture through adjoining towns for additional spectacular scenery and rural roads. Folsom has held the distinction of being a “Bike-Friendly City” for years, and continues to invest in bike paths and commuting conveniences.

2. Great Cycling Starts Here—in the Cycle Folsom Group: Cycle Folsom is structured with three distinct riding levels.  As such, there is typically a group for any cyclist to join and to progress to as they improve their ability. Ride Leaders and Members are usually welcoming and full of encouragement, but their also pretty serious about improving their own fitness as they work to inspire themselves and others on rides.

3. Great Cycling Starts Here—within yourself: Just about anyone who makes a commitment to ride on a regular basis with Cycle Folsom—in addition to doing some regular training on their own—can become a better cyclist. As part of the Group, individuals benefit from the encouragement, inspiration, and challenges that others in the group share. Conversely, individuals benefit when they help others by giving encouragement, inspiration, and sharing the tips they’ve learned while on the trail. All of it helps with motivation and camaraderie—which helps to make it feel more like fun than a workout.

JAC: How many people are involved with Cycle Folsom?

Stan: Cycling Folsom currently has 11 active Ride Leaders, as well as 4 or 5 highly experienced and trained emeritus leaders who join rides on occasion and provide guidance and training to active ride leaders.

This year alone, Cycle Folsom’s E-Mail List has grown from about 60 members to over 230, with about 8 to 15 being added each week (and the growth seems to be accelerating). We’ve recently started using http://www.Meetup.com/cyclefolsom to manage our ride/event calendar, messaging, ratings, and social aspects of the group. In just over a week of going live publicly, our Meetup site Membership has grown to more than 50 Members. Based on the membership numbers of other groups in the area, I anticipate that our Meetup Membership will grow to more than 500 by this time next year.

JAC: Does Cycle Folsom have a place for riders of all levels?

Stan: First, I should clarify that Cycle Folsom is dedicated to Road Bikes for now, and for the foreseeable future. We have detailed descriptions of our various groups on our Web site [link mine], but I think it’s important to note that Cycle Folsom’s “official” minimum requirement would be cyclists who are reasonably fit and comfortable on their road bikes, but who may not have ever ridden with a Group.

Our Grupetto Group (for intro or re-entry riders) is dedicated to cyclists who are new to Group rides. These cyclists are typically interested in increasing their mileage and, ultimately, buidling a base that will help them tackle hills with greater ease. The Grupetto Group has a 12-week cycle of weekly rides that starts at around 25 miles and progresses to a distance of 60 miles. This is followed by an initiation to hill training. The Grupetto Group officially rides until Fall, but many Grupetto riders would then be prepared to join the slower-paced Fall and Winter training rides of the Peloton Group.

Our Peloton Group (advanced-beginner or intermediate) is geared toward cyclists who already have a reasonable level of experience riding in groups, and who are confident in their ability to ride on rural roads—sometimes with tight shoulders and traffic. The Peloton Group starts their season with base training in the Fall and Winter months, which typically includes long, steady distance rides, followed by hill training during the Spring months, followed by more training and various goal events and rides throughout the summer.

Our Performance Group (advanced-intermediate or advanced) is filled with cyclist who are usually very fit and committed to cycling as their primary form of exercise. Performance Group cyclists relish just about any flat or hill challenge they can find. Some Group members are part of racing teams and use Cycle Folsom to augment their training efforts. The Performance Group also trains year-round.

JAC: Does Cycle Folsom have regularly scheduled rides?

Stan: Ride Leaders from all three groups collectively post 3 to 4 weekend rides, and 3 regular weekday rides. The rides, complete with details, descriptions and links to route maps, are posted at Meetup.com.

JAC: What major events have Cycle Folsom riders ridden in this past year?

Stan: Cycle Folsom Members proudly participated in a variety of events this year, and many individuals achieved major cycling milestones such as the distinguished California Triple Crown. Members joined together as teams to ride in several charity events, including the Tour de Cure, the Livestrong Challenge, Ride for a Reason, and more. Other events included the Death Ride, Davis Double Century, and the Auburn Century. Many members in the group plan to cap off the season with Levi Leipheimer’s Gran Fondo in Santa Rosa.

JAC: So Cycle Folsom continues its riding activities during the winter months / off season?

Stan: Yes. Members of the Peloton Group continue training in Fall and Winter, doing mostly long, steady distance rides of 50 to 75 miles. The Groups often ride in rain and or reasonably high wind, but weather does sometime cancel or postpone rides. As a result of winter training, many of our members come into the Spring stronger than ever, having built a cumulative base on top of their previous year’s training and experience.

JAC: Does Cycle Folsom charge a Membership fee?

Stan: To this point, Cycle Folsom has been free and is completely volunteer-driven. Because we are expanding our outreach and services to members, I expect that we will soon create a mechanism that will allow CF to accept donations and sponsorships. While my goal for Cycle Folsom is to keep it free, we may ultimately begin charging a small Membership fee, or perhaps charge a Membership fee for access to certain premium information or services.

Seattle to Portland set for July 9, 2011

Cascade Bicycle Club has set the dates for the 2011 Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic at July 9th and 10th.  Registration for the event – which does sell out – will start on January 4th for club members, and sometime in February for non-members.  While not required to ride in the event, club membership can be purchased at various levels starting at $35 per person.

After the amazing time that I had riding the 2010 event, I will definitely plan on being in Seattle for the 2011 start.

Note: Also see the updated date information here.

Riding across the Dumbarton

Part of my Sacramento to Palo Alto commute has me transferring to a bus that drives me across the bay into San Francisco.  Unfortunately, the company that Amtrak has contracted for the bus service has removed the bike racks from the front of their busses.   This is a little frustrating given the fact that they finally just got them on 6 months to a year ago.  It is further frustrating because they took them off so that they could install the FastPass transponders that tick when the go through the toll booths.  I’m not exactly sure why the entire front of the bus doesn’t allow for both the 8-10 inch transponder and a bike rack, but whatever. Keep reading →

2010 Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic: Check!

As hinted at in my uber-short, from the freeway blog post yesterday, Melissa and I successfully completed the 2010 Group Health Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic event.

Photo by Brian (@poptopvw)

It is said that over 10,000 folks started the event this year, where the 202 miles (plus or minus, due to some construction detours) is covered in either one or two days.  Given that neither Melissa nor I had ever completed a full century prior to this event, we opted for the two day option.

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The long road to Seattle

The Group Health Seattle to Portland classic is this coming weekend. What does that mean for me – it means I’m blogging from the highway (literally – while Melissa is doing the driving.) What does that mean for you? It means you can ride it vicariously through me, either here at JustAnotherCyclist.com, or by following my tweets on Twitter.

The road from Sacramento to Seattle wasn’t a straight, direct path has it has been in the past.  Started late on Tuesday night, stopping off in Medford for a few hours of sleep.  I was actually holding up on leaving Sacramento, hoping that my promised delivery of my Tour de Cure jersey would arrive so that I could take it along to Seattle.  By 7:30 pm – no jersey.  Oh well.  When I got to the hotel around midnight, I checked its shipping status:  delivered.  Figures…
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Doing three grand tours of my own this year

There are numerous races both large and small that make up the pro cycling season.  However, none get quite the attention of the three grand tours:  the Tour de France, the Giro de Italia (Tour of Italy) and the Vuelta a España (Tour of Spain).  However, this year I’ll also be doing three of my own grand tours:

* My wife Melissa will be with me on these two rides

Wait.  The Tour de Ross’s Commute?  What the heck is that??

For over three years now, I’ve been commuting an average of 3 days a week between my home in Sacramento, CA and my work in Palo Alto.  It is about 125 miles or so by car.  Of course, I don’t do it by car.  However, after a couple of the “Oh – did you ride here from Sacramento” jokes from coworkers as I rolled my bike into the office, I decided to make it so that I could actually answer “Yes!”

That’s right, I’ll be throwing my faith (and bike, and life) into the hands of Google maps and their new bike route mapping to plot my safe path the 139 miles I’ll be riding.

There are some interesting challenges and points of interest in my route:

I don’t fully know what to expect of this ride yet.  That is part of why I am so excited about it!

Seattle To Portland Ride Packets

I got home from work to find that the entry packets for next month’s Group Health Seattle to Portland Classic (STP) had arrived for my wife and I.  I’d actually been kinda looking forward to this.  However, upon opening one of the two envelopes, I was a little bit overwhelmed by the explosion of materials and promotional items that poured out.

  1. Flier for an additional 10% off of anything (including bikes) at select Pacific Northwest Performance Bicycle shops.  Also worthy of note – the Seattle location near the start line is open 24 hours on the night before the start.  Brilliant thinking on the part of the store management if you ask me.
  2. Ad from Carter Subaru.  Apparently the Subaru Outback is great for carrying mountain bikes.
  3. Flier for STP merchandise.
  4. Sample of Chamois Butt’r.  Cause there is no better time to try out a new chamois cream than on a double century!
  5. Ticket to get my bike transported back to the University of Washington from Portland at the end of the ride.
  6. Parking pass allowing me to leave my car (the Prius mentioned earlier) on the UW campus while I do the ride.
  7. Flier for Marathonfoto.com.  Apparently they will take pictures of me.
  8. Jersey number with 2 attached luggage tags.  They transport bags for you from Seattle to the end, and to the midway point if you are doing the ride over two days as my wife and I are.  My wife got number 4771, I got 4772.  Clearly she is the team leader.
  9. Handle bar numbers.  (Huh?)
  10. Helmet number (a sticker).  (OK, so to end the confusion that I had on the handlebar/helmet numbers, I read the FAQ.)
  11. 4 saftey pins.  Presumably for jersey number.
  12. 3 twisty-ties (you know – those paper-coated metal wires)  Presumably for the handlebar numbers.
  13. One branded rain jacket / wind breaker
  14. Cloth bag.  I’d like to say it is a musette, but the straps aren’t nearly long enough.
  15. Route sheet for the Personal Support Vehicles.  I don’t have one currently.  Maybe I can pick one up from Carter Subaru?
  16. And finally – the ride guide.  All 23 pages of it.

All joking aside, I’ve been very impressed with the organization of this event from the first minute I started checking out the website.  Given over 200 miles of planned route and 10,000 participants, I would hope for nothing less.

Sacramento to Portland – via Seattle

There are now only about six weeks remaining until the group Health Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic.  My wife Melissa and I will be doing the double century in two days.  This is actually a ride I’ve been waiting to do for quite some time.

Keep reading →

Orgy of cycle racing over. Now what?

Well, we’ve wrapped up both the Amgen Tour of California, and the Giro d’Italia.  Both had some amazing stages, with final results that could easily be thought of as surprises by some.  But now that I’ve gotten somewhat accustomed to catching the live Giro footage uber-early, and then following that up with the California events, I can’t help but feel like I just got fired and am now unemployed.  I mean, how will we all spend our days now?

Well, I’m sure we’ll adjust.  For me, it is time to ramp up the training for my wife and I’s Seattle to Portland ride in mid July.  And of course there is my real job.  I’m sure I can put an hour or two a week into that now that I’ve got more free time (Yes, coworkers, that was a sarcastic joke.)

I think more than anything, however, I’m going to begin plotting and scheming about the possibility of traveling to every stage of the Tour of California next year.  I learned a thing or two about following, capturing and writing about a major stage race.  I’ve got big ideas for next year – so we’ll have to see how things pan out.  So to all of those that enjoyed the california sun (and rain) with me this year – good times.  Hope to see you next year if not before then.

Safe riding, and keep those cow bells ringing.

A cyclist’s career in review

Not sure what it was exactly.  Maybe it was the new year, 2010.  Maybe it was riding home in the cold and the dark at 9:30pm.  Maybe it was the realization that the ride I do daily and casually – to get to and from work – would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago.  Whatever the impetus, I started to reflect on how far I’ve come in cycling, how far I have to go, and how quickly it has all happened.

It is the latter that really struck me.  Cycling is a big part of my life.  It is my primary mode of transportation (by time, and by miles some weeks) as well as my primary recreational activity.  It invigorates me, motivates me, and in many ways defines part of who I am.  It is such a huge part of my life that I feel like I’ve always been a cyclist.  But in fact it has been more like 3 very short years.  That’s right – three.  And it all began because of a little job I took in Palo Alto – while living in Sacramento.

Keep reading →