Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Tuesday ride really is faster (and age-related ramblings)

Right now, I’m thinking I’m leaving for France just in time. The Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride is definitely picking up speed, in particular the Tuesday edition, which today saw a door-to-door average speed of 16.7mph. Typical winter average would be around 14.5, and anything 16.0+ qualifies as a hard ride. If we were going for fastest-possible time, I’m sure we could hit 17 without much trouble, but this ride has always had at least some social aspect to it, and as long as I’m part of it, always will.

We were missing both Kevins today; Kevin the pilot is back in Maine, and Kevin my son had a rough night, with something from the prior day’s wedding apparently not agreeing with his stomach. I could have gotten him up anyway; after all, I only got maybe 4 hours sleep myself, but decided to be nice for some reason.

Roll call? Yeah, good luck with that; anything over 4 or 5 and I’m likely to forget a couple. But I’ll try. Jim, Don (up from Southern California and a customer of ours from the way, way, wayback days), Chris, Eric, Karl, Karen, Marcus & Andrew from our Redwood City store. Not content to simply ride faster up the hill than his boss, he also carried a backpack with him. Sigh.

Fast but not deathly pace up the hill, which I’m thinking is kind of interesting as I type this, because this same pace just a month ago would have been unthinkable. 26:54, my second consecutive sub-27 time, so I’m reasonably pleased with my progress so far. Not that everybody else isn’t riding faster too, but at least I’m maintaining my relative position despite qualifying for the 55+ menu at CoCos Monday night afte coming back from my Mom’s wedding. Interesting stories I could get to on that another time (about two high school sweet hearts getting back together when 80 years old, meeting the other side of the family for the first time at the wedding, and thinking how I’d react if her new husband expected me to refer to him as “Dad”, something I doubt would be the case but be assured I’ve got a waiting response if he did!).

Chris… 37 I think… and complaining about getting old. He simply has no idea. 37. Do I even remember what it was like, being 37? Actually, I do. I really wasn’t in the best shape at that point, probably weighed more than I do today. It wasn’t until my early-40s that I started to get serious about staying in shape, and my goal was to be in better shape at 50 than I was at 35, a goal I believe I achieved. Would I do things differently if I was 37 again? Probably. But looking at Chris, the only real evidence of age is a bit of gray. Me, I’d take more gray in exchange for better lungs & muscles any day!

Getting back to the ride, perhaps the best part about it was getting back before the rain hit. Yes, rain. June 28th and it’s raining in Northern California???!!! From about noon-6pm, yes, it rained. But from 7:32am-9:27 (my door-to-door time for the ride)┬áit was reasonably-warm and completely-dry. Hopefully France will be more of the same.

Hardest 73-mile ride ever? Bohlman/On Orbit/Black Road can do that!

With the Tour de France trip just over two weeks away, it was time to throw something at Kevin (and me!) designed to test the limits, and this ride did. Not just because it had some tough climbs, but also because it never lets you develop a rhythm. You’re never feeling like you’re ready for what comes next.

91 degrees in Saratoga. A warm day for climbing!
Climbing Bohlman/On Orbit

We started out rolling through the foothills, from Redwood City through Woodside, Portola Valley, and eventually Los Altos, where we stopped for lunch and took care of a couple of computer issues in our Los Altos store. It was hoped that eating something a good half hour away from the first real climb would be a better choice than grabbing a bite at the base (in Saratoga). I’m certain that was a wise choice, but it doesn’t really matter how you prepare for Bohlman/On Orbit… it’s a leg-breaker. 1600ft of elevation gain in just 2.7 miles. Kings Mountain climbs the same amount in 4.34 miles. A couple of spots where it exceeds 20%. And it’s exposed, with temps reaching up to 90 degrees today. Ouch. But while we had to make one unscheduled stop on the way up (Kevin had another seizure, a common thing for him during intense climbs), we reached the top in good spirits, ready to take on the dirt road that bridges between Bohlman and Montevino.

The End is Near!
The dirt road that bridges Bohlman to Montevino

That dirt road is actually pretty nice, with visibility extending all the way to Monterey Bay. What’s not so nice is the descent on Montevino that comes at the end, a a road the drops quickly toward Lexington Reservoir and requires full brakes almost the entire way down. It is not fun! So you hit the bottom a bit fatigued and get a brief break from either descending or climbing of… about 1000ft or so. And then you make the right turn onto Black Road and it’s up, up, up and more up. We had a planned stop at the school, but a mile or so

Kevin cleaning up and cooling off

before that we had to stop for a rare flat tire (Kevin’s) before finally making it to the school. The big attraction to the school is water. Water to make Cytomax, water to pour over your head and whatever else feels like it could benefit. I also used the opportunity to send an email to Eric, one of our regular Tuesday/Thursday-morning riders who lives in the area, asking if he could leave a couple of ice-cold cokes by the roadside for us. It was a humorous suggestion, but it wasn’t long after we got going again that we actually saw Eric driving past in a car, offering us water and energy gel (we were OK at that point). Did he get my email or was it coincidence? I’ll find out soon!

At least once you’re past the school you’re not out in the open anymore, and the temps dropped from the mid-80s to lower-70s pretty quickly. You’ve still got some pretty steep sections, but not hopelessly-so, and there’s the promise of arriving up on top (Skyline) soon.

Mtn Dew never tasted so good!

You hit Skyline at about 2400ft; Kevin thought that was pretty much it for climbing, but not quite, you’ve still got another 700ft to go. We got there, but it would be lying to say it was easy. It was pretty much survival mode at this point, with the thought of an ice cold coke from Mr. Mustard at Saratoga Gap (Skyline & 9) keeping us going. Unfortunately, our delays caused us to arrive after Mr. Mustard had left, but it’s only a short distance further on to the Saratoga Summit Fire Station with its own coke machine, dispensing Mtn Dews for just $1 each. That plus a Honey Stinger Waffle were all we needed to refuel and motivate us appropriately for the mostly-downhill run on Skyline to Sky Londa and then home.

73 miles, about 7500ft of climbing, temps as high as 91. This felt like a much tougher ride than either of our recent 100+ mile trips to Santa Cruz! Are we ready for France? Almost. Not yet, but almost. –Mike–