Sunday, March 22, 2009

First Annual Ride to Cure Weakness

Today began no different from any of my other days at my parents' home in Half Moon Bay. I got up, ate, laid around, and then ate while lying around. Then, after watching more hours of TV than I've watched in the last month, I throw my kit on and got out the door. The plan is to soft pedal 50 miles or so to give the legs a rest.

12:20 - I'm riding down Hwy 1, soft pedaling, and going 23 with a tailwind that'd keep a turkey in flight. I ride down to Stage Road to the market. There I meet a guy named Paul who also is from Norman too but lives in Woodside. Anywho, he suggests I ride up Stage Road to Pescadero and then head over to Alpine Road.

Stage Road is amazing. Views of the ocean and grassy hills. I get passed by a car on the climb then almost catch it on the flats due to my wassive wattage...and the tailwind.

Pescadero comes and goes and I head inland. I pass Butano State Park and turn around to check it out. I find another cyclist who appears to be a farm worker in the area. I ask him in Spanish (read: Spanglish) where the road goes. He points me to a road that headed towards Skyline, Pescadero Creek Road.

A few miles later I stop at a "country store" and buy two powerbars. The box says $1.50 but she rings me up for $2.00 each. Luckily I keep my mouth shut because I won't make it without them.

After thirty minutes of tree-lined goodness I hit to Alpine road, a tiny one lane with little noticeable grade (woohoo!).

Forty-five minutes later I'm still climbing. Each ridge gives birth to another.

By this time I'm out of food again. I ate four bars on the climb just to stave off a bonk. I had planned on soft pedaling for two hours and had left the Nutter Butters at home. Good call. I'm super happy there aren't any hydrogenated oils bouncing around my otherwise empty stomach.

Finally I make it to Skyline. I see a Webcor guy across the road ask him for directions. Turns out he's the director of the Webcor team and married to Christine Thorburn. I ride along with him for a while chatting about the Olympics. We stop near Alice's at 84 and Skyline. I grab a few more overpriced bars and I suggest we drop down 84 and climb Tunitas. That's a good idea for all of 10 seconds until I feel the headwind. I have trouble just staying on his wheel. Occasionally I'll give "mini-pulls" and then he'll pass.

We hit the flats and the headwind is brutal. I'm dying just to stay on his wheel. I try to come around him a few times to pull but don't make it, the wind's so strong or I'm just too weak. I let him know I've burned most of my matches already. Gotta have some excuse.

We get to Stage Road and he asks again if I'm cold. I had told him I was taking the Allen Lim/Floyd Landis approach where you stay as cool as possible. (Note: he was wearing full leg warmers, full jersey, and thermal vest. I was wearing shorts, a light jersey, and arm warmers. I also ended up with a slight cough once I got home.)

Tunitas Creek Road. I get another bar in me and then we take off. He says he's cool with whatever pace but he's got Redlands next weekend so I tell him he might as well make it hurt. Lesson #1: Don't tell a pro, whose wheel you happen to be following, to make it hurt. And so we began.

At first I'm doing alright. Pushing a lot of watts but still hanging. A few minutes go by. I'm doing fine, in the sense I'm not dead and can still focus on his back wheel. I look down at my computer: 19 mph.

"You're doing pretty well for your 4th hour!" he says. I say something unintelligible and try not to drool.

Okay now I'm really dying. I can't hang. We're not even halfway up and I die. "Ahh!!" I let out. He says to keep on it. In hindsight, meaning from the nice, soft bed I'm in, I should have hung with him.

I continue to slog up the climb as he gets farther and farther away. Eventually he's out of site. He comes back down as it begins to flatten out. I show him I've still got something left and mount an attack, at least it feels like one. I'm not sure it counts though considering I never got out of sight and he passed me shortly after.

Eventually we get to the top. By this point I'm not thinking straight. He suggests I take a bag from one of the newspapers near the mailbox and stuff it down my shirt, for the descent. I would except I've been down Tunitas before feeling much colder (Stage 2 of ToC when I was soaked or any of the other times I rode home in the rain over the winter). Plus, when I'm freezing on the bike I just think of the Gavia (this won't actually warm you).

We said goodbye and I turned around and headed home. The descent was amazing. I'm convinced it takes a lot of endorphins to descend well.

I ride a few ridges on the way home, hunched on the descents to avoid being blown over by the eastward wind. At one point it hits me from the side. I remember my sailing days and start to tack back and forth across the road allowing the wind to push me a bit.

I make it home at 630, a full six hours after leaving. The ride clocks in at about 93 miles which makes at least 300 since Tuesday. Oh and about the staying cool, well despite my cough, I was able to ride for 6 hours on just three bottles because I wasn't sweating.

Instead of pigging out, I drink some juice and take a bath with salts. Until tomorrow...

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