Monthly Archives: December 2010

Things didn’t quite go as planned…

This morning was going to be special; not just special because it was cold (and 35 degrees really isn’t all that cold), and not just special because it was the last Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride of the year, but also because it was going to be Kevin’s (my son, not the pilot) return. Towards the end of summer he’d gotten strong enough to hang in there with the guys, maybe a minute behind on Kings, but not much trouble elsewhere, then he sliced open his knee not long after school started, which kept him off the bike for a few weeks, and just as he was getting back he got hit with the kidney issues which didn’t resolve until just a few weeks ago.

So this morning we got up early enough to get a slight head start (actually more than slight; we hit the beginning of the ride 7 minutes ahead of schedule) and headed up the hill. As this was Kevin’s first climb up Kings since late summer, I wasn’t expecting much speed, and we didn’t get much. But as is usually the case with Kevin, he starts slow but gradually comes up to speed, so that instead of being passed before the half-way point (which seemed likely), we didn’t get caught until close to 3/4 of the way up the hill. Things were looking good! And the group that caught us seemed large and friendly (“friendly” in this case meant they were heading up at a casual pace and yakking away). Unfortunately, within a minute or so of being passed, Kevin tells me he’s having a seizure, stops his bike, and I get over to him probably just before he would have fallen over. Darn that epilepsy!!! This was one of the more significant ones, where he loses a bit of memory (maybe 30 seconds worth) and becomes a bit disoriented. But within a couple minutes he was back up on his bike and heading up to the re-group at the top.

Unfortunately, Kevin developed quite a migraine after the seizure, probably not helped by the 35 degree temps up on Skyline, so the group forged on ahead while Kevin and I cut out the final loop (west-side Old LaHonda, perhaps the best part of the ride!) and headed home early. We also learned why heading straight down into Woodside instead of doing the extra loop isn’t such a great idea. 7 miles of continuous descending (from the stop of Skyline near Bear Creek all the way to Woodside) gets you cold! Our ride is really about as perfect as you can get, since you have a 3.5 mile descent on Skyline into Sky Londa, then you have to work your way down the gradual descent to west-side Old LaHonda, followed by a tough ride back up to Skyline again before the final 3.5 mile descent to Woodside. You really don’t appreciate how well that works out, in terms of keeping relatively warm, until you alter the mix (like we did today).

In the end, I really have no idea who all was out there today. I do know George was there (who’d mentioned, literally in passing, that he didn’t want to miss my last ride of the year), and Kevin (the pilot Kevin), and Chris (who rode back to check up on us on Skyline), and Todd. There were at least two others. OK, I think Bob was there, and John. Who else? Don’t know. Maybe I’ll see some of them on Saturday morning for the annual New Year’s Day ride up Mount Hamilton.

Who are these guys?

The mandatory regroup at the top of Old LaHonda

It’s with a measure of fear and trepidation that I greet newcomers to┬áthe Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride, and, thankfully, most of them come without prior reputation. That was not the case today as Ted Huang, Alto Velo strongman, showed up for the first time to find out what our ride is all about. Fortunately, he’d been softened up a bit by doing the “morning” ride beforehand (the “morning” ride is a one hour hammerfest featuring the sort of folk who enjoy getting up way before the sun comes up to get their suffering in… in short, people I can’t relate to). Also making a showing for the first time in a couple months was George, now cyclo-crosser supreme, back from a 5th place podium finish at the Nationals.

So in short, I know I’m toast before the ride even started. Add to the mix James (Cat 1 racer, ouch!), Todd, John & Chris, and we had a regular wrecking crew. Missing in action were Ludo (he’d dropped by the shop a couple days ago to let us know he was heading to SoCal for a bit), Eric, Karl & Karen. Oh, right, we also picked up Millo, a former regular, up on Skyline for a brief visit (he had to take an early exit due to childcare obligations).

Tuesday=faster and that was they way it worked out. I’m sure the fast guys were having it pretty easy; for me, getting up Kings in something under 28 was accomplishment enough. Weather was nice; we were out on the road before the latest weather hit, so we had mostly dry roads. I was hoping nobody was going to contest the first sprint (Skeggs), but no, James takes off strongly from the back, instantly putting two bike lengths into me before I could even begin to respond. Dumb on my part; I should be watching for moves from the back, or pushing the pace so hard it doesn’t matter. I closed some of the gap but not enough. After the sketchy downhill (water in many corners) I was unable to get around Millo, James & Chris at the front. I could have, but it would have meant going over the centerline, and that’s something I just don’t do anymore.

Ted was being kind to us… so far. I really don’t know what happened on west-side Old LaHonda though because I came unglued where it turns back on itself. I ended up in no-mans-land, in-between the guys putting the hammer down and ahead of those taking it easy. I didn’t see any burn marks in the pavement but I’m sure it was a very fast ride at the front. Last week, maybe, I might have been there. Maybe. But for now I’m quite happy that I got a very good workout and finished on the same day as the fast guys.