I guess it's been a while since I last posted. :) Between work and exercise, I havenn't have a lot of time for anything else. The weight-loss plan over the past few months has been basically "eat less beer/donuts/other-sugar and more vegetables, and ride my bike as much as possible", which is working pretty well, in the sense that I'm at least trading fat for muscle even if the scale isn't moving much.
My second-ever(*) long bike ride was in mid-May, for Bike to Work day: San Francisco to Mountain View. At that point my bike odometer had about 550 miles on it (got the bike in October, so that's ~70 miles per month or so, almost all commuting to the transit stop). To make a long story short, that was an incredibly tough 33 miles, where I didn't eat enough, didn't drink enough, got dehydrated, and my muscles were very unhappy with me 3 hours later when I got to the office; and this was my first real ride on the new clipless pedals, which it turned out had springs that were too tight, so my right knee was acting up all day afterwards.
(*) The first long ride, in the hills of Marin a month earlier, resulted in a crash at 35 mph in which I ended up in a ditch.
But it was really satisfying to have ridden that far, so I started doing more of it, mostly just with Andrew as it was clear I wasn't really fast enough to ride with other groups. We've explored lots of San Francisco, Marin County, and San Bruno. One of my favorite routes in Marin is Paradise Loop, which is about 40 miles with a little bit of hills. The bike odometer is now at 1250, which works out to about 60 miles per week since Bike To Work Day.
As I spent more time on the bike, what I realized is that I like riding up steep things better than riding back down them, and prefer both to riding in urban traffic with stoplights. Fortunately SF has no shortage of hills - the one I live on has blocks of >15% grade - so it was easy to just take the "short way" to wherever I was going instead of the longer, flatter way. So, a detour up Twin Peaks on the way from Noe Valley to Golden Gate Park, which is maybe a mile or so of 5% grade, with a great view at the top. And if you go out to Marin and ride around the headlands, the climb from the Golden Gate Bridge to Hawk Hill seems like a little less than 2 miles at 6% grade, with nice views the whole way up.
I've recently started exploring the area around Mountain View on my bike as well. Last Friday I rode up Old La Honda. Which is really why I'm blogging now, to brag about that. :) It's 3.3 miles averaging 7.2% grade (see Lucas's measurements, and it took me 43 minutes to get to the top, after which I needed a good long sit before riding back down. (I also learned a valuable lesson: Do not eat a clif bar immediately before starting the climb, or you will spend fifteen minutes in the middle of the ride wanting to throw up.) This is not a particularly fast time - several groups of color-coordinated bicyclists passed me, and according to the Western Wheelers classification my time is "group B", or one step above novice - but I want to emphasize that I am excited about having made it all the way to the top without throwing up at all.
Now that I have a little GPS gadget thingy I will try to blog more often with the routes I'm doing, assuming I can figure out how to upload its data.