Hate taking a couple days off from riding, but could be worse… Kevin (pilot) was worse.

Finally, the county is repairing West Old LaHonda!
Sunday, had to do a short ride because we had a wedding in Carmel to get to (my brother Steve’s son). Monday I flew to Las Vegas for the bicycle trade show, and lived indoors for two days, missing the Tuesday-morning ride, missing my commute rides between home & work, and worst of all, on Tuesday, being in meetings from 8am-5pm. Nah, worse than that, not meetings, but a single, very long meeting (I serve on the Board of Directors of the National Bicycle Dealer Association).

But Wednesday afternoon it was time for me to jet, literally, back to reality. Just a few short hours at a trade show (after 20+ years there really isn’t that much new to see and besides, most everyting is on-line anyway, at least that’s what my customers think) and then off to the airport where, at 6:39pm, I leave for home! Except that didn’t happen. “Weather” at SFO had reduced things to one runway, so we were a bit over an hour delayed. Could have been worse; the plane ahead of us was two hours delayed, finally got out on the runway and then… got to sit there for 75 minutes. At least we were in the terminal. But it doesn’t end there; arriving at SFO we were stuck between runways forever, waiting, essentially, for a gap in the traffic to cross. But wait, the story (the wait) continues. There was still a plane at the gate we were heading to. Finally, it leaves. We pull up to the gate and… the jetway isn’t working! Another 10 minutes stuck in the metal tube before finally getting out. But eventually I arrived home, and that meant I could ride this morning!

I knew it wasn’t going to be fast, but I didn’t know it was going to be quite as slow as it was. Just myself and the two Kevins, and Pilot Kevin’s breathing and hacking was as bad as mine in the winter… and that’s really, really bad. I had planned a 32 minute ride up the hill; escorting Kevin we got up in just under 40. I haven’t felt so sorry for a fellow cyclist in a very long time, if ever. He didn’t complete the ride with us; he lives off of Skyline and left us to head to the doctor.

In a way, we didn’t complete the ride either. Despite running later than planned, we did continue down 84 to West Old LaHonda and headed up towards the concrete barriers. On the way, we came across several cyclists coming the other way, warning us we would get turned back. Turned back? This sounded exciting! Got to see what’s going on, right? And turns out they’re finally fixing the road! That’s a whole different thing than simply putting up barriers to keep cyclists out. I don’t know how long it will take, but we’ll monitor the situation and post updates. We didn’t get too close, as they were moving some heavy trucks up and down the road, and there’s not much room.

This did mean reversing course and heading back up 84, reminding us why keeping West Old LaHonda available to cyclists is so important. There remain at least three corners on 84 where the hillside continues to slip onto the roadway, eliminating the shoulder in the least-safe places possible. If you’re fairly fast and have ears, you can get through OK, but it wouldn’t be good for someone taking their time.

Unexpectedly nice ride up Page Mill

The infamous steep section of Page Mill, between gates 3 & 4.
Normally the Sunday ride is a bit longer, something between 57 miles (the regular Pescadero/Tunitas) up to 111 (Santa Cruz loop). No time for anything like that today; we had to be in Carmel Valley by 12:30 for my nephew’s wedding.

I gave some thought to doing a one-way ride in the direction of Carmel Valley, something where we’d see how far we could get and be picked up by my wife & daughter, who were driving to the wedding. Didn’t work out though, as there was no place we could be sure we’d be able to take a shower. I considered hosing off at the beach in Santa Cruz (they have rinse-off showers at the boardwalk) but it takes a lot of time to navigate the boardwalk area (cars back up for blocks) and we’d still have to find a place to actually change clothes.

So we chose a short local ride instead, leaving much earlier than normal for a Sunday ride (7:30, same time as our Tuesday/Thursday ride) and head up Page Mill. Not sure why I chose Page Mill; I’ve always had a tough time getting into any sort of rhythm on the first part of the climb, and those steep pitches, if you’re not feeling good, can really kill.

But for some reason, this morning I was feeling pretty darned good, even though it was a pretty cool morning (I saw temps as low as 47). Kevin probably could have ridden just a bit faster up the steep parts, but nicely stayed with me all the way to the top. I ended up with my 4th best time since 2009, an indication that my daily poison pills for my bone marrow issue aren’t cramping my style all that much. A good thing, that!