At 34 degrees, winter isn’t coming. It’s here

Kevin (pilot) making the long open stretch of Kings look quite epic!

We are running just shy of freezing on our Tuesday/Thursday-morning rides; I suspect within a few weeks we’ll cross that barrier. It seems, without any data to back this up, that “winter” temps are hitting slightly earlier this year than normal. It also feels like we’re going to have a colder-than-normal winter coming up. Can’t explain it, just feels like it. But no, I’m not willing to make any forecasts for rain. Actually I will. I don’t think it’s going to be a storm-filled winter. I think it’s going to be the typical winter, where they show a series of “storms heading our way, lining up in the Pacific” but they all get pushed north just before they arrive. Hey, fine with me if Portland gets more of what they’re so well known for!

Does it really matter? Not much, since I’ll ride anyway. I’m in a bit better shape for the really cold stuff, now that my Raynauds has been tamed (not cured, but no more permafrost hands!), so if this is the winter that brings back the ice age, I’m ready for it.

Today, I thought I was ready for Kings, but Kevin (the kid) and Lanier were more-ready. I suffered through the park but felt not-so-bad afterward, at least until close to the long straight open stretch. Kevin and Lanier rode on, while I circled to make sure the other (pilot) Kevin was doing OK at the rear. He’d blown himself out on the “Dave Stohl” ride yesterday. Karen was in-between, riding whatever pace she determined was appropriate for the day. I don’t think she rides slower if she’s tired or faster if not. She rides according to her own plan.

It was nice riding at such a slow pace up the hill; I could actually carry on a conversation for once. A very unusual thing, that, as I’m usually gasping for air anytime the road tilts up.

Perhaps the oddest thing today was that my peak power was recorded descending 84 into Woodside! There are a couple turns where I push hard coming out; I just didn’t realize I was pushing 800+ watts doing so. Too bad I can’t make use of that power going uphill.

Print Friendly

They just might kill themselves off first…

cars_behaving_badlyWe’ll start off with Sunday’s ride first. Nothing big; the plan was to head out to the coast with Kevin, but Kevin was beginning to come down with a cold and didn’t feel up to it. I had a lot to take care of anyway, shop stuff, trying to come up with ways to get people into the bike shops for the holiday, you know, business stuff, that I wasn’t in a big rush to get out anyway. I made good use of my time while waiting for Kevin to feel better, but that never happened, so I finally headed out at 2pm. Obviously nothing too challenging; just a version of “the loop” that I added the Alpine Road/Joaquim section onto, for fun.

Fun? Joaquim is so nasty-steep it’s just never felt like fun to me. This time was not an exception. When it gets sufficiently steep, say, over 12% or so, my ability to generate power goes out the window. You would think that 280 watts = 280 watts, regardless of how steep it is. It’s simply power. Adding insult to injury, I got a flat descending the other side. Me. A flat. Something I get maybe just once/year.

Still a good fun ride, on a really clear & beautiful day.

OK, now for this morning’s ride. Kevin skipped out again… same cold, worse today than Sunday. Obviously I told him that’s because he didn’t ride Sunday. Cold? Yeah… this time of year, that’s what it’s going to be. Hard to believe it wasn’t that long ago I could ride without leg warmers. 36 or 37 degrees and you’re into long-fingered gloves and toe warmers. The base layer has been a staple for a couple of months. Nothing heroic yet; no ear warmers, no jacket (actually, I bring the jacket, but it stays stuffed in the seat bag).

Ride roster? Lanier is keeping to his threat to show up on a regular basis; with his ability to pull us along on the flats and slight descents, it’s a threat we’re happy he’s made good on. JR, Kevin (pilot), Eric and Marcus. It started out deceptively easy and stayed deceptively easy and for some reason that gives me trouble. I typically get blown off the back about halfway up the hill; this morning, I lasted about 2/3rds of the way, despite the pretty easy pace. It was just prior to my exit off the back that we saw the car trying to pass us at a very bad place and time. We weren’t in danger ourselves; as you can see, we were riding at the far right, single file, and the car passing us did so with plenty of room. He just did so in a really wrong place. Why? Plenty of sections where the road straightens out. Even if he didn’t know the road, he would have figured out by that time that Kings has many curves and many straight stretches; you don’t have to wait long for either.

Maybe I can blame getting dropped by being rattled due to the bad car pass? But it wouldn’t be true; that sort of thing doesn’t rattle me anymore. Good ting, that. If you let things rattle you, you’re more likely to ride off the road, or worse. Calm is always best.

Eric stayed back with me while the rest very very very gradually increased their lead. I could write a book on the different ways you can be dropped on a climb. But once I’m up on top, I’m good. I can suck a wheel with the best of them. Keep the grades reasonable and fairly short, and I can hide my limitations.

Limitations. That’s the cool thing about cycling. There are times when experience and skill are more important than raw strength. Learning how to stay close to the wheel in front of you so you can take full advantage of getting sucked along. Knowing how long it takes to recover from a hard effort and riding in a way that’s sustainable for the long haul. Working on descending better. Just because you might not be the best climber doesn’t mean you can’t do a ride with those who are.

Of course, the day will come when everyone else is finishing a day ahead of me. Let’s hope they’ve got those miniature motor assist gadgets down to a reasonable price by then!

Print Friendly