All posts by Mike

Amazing that Kevin rode at all today

The big horse-shoe curve descending West Alpine.
The big horse-shoe curve descending West Alpine.

Once every few months Kevin has what you might call a “kidney event.” He starts feeling pain on his right side during the day, which goes on for a few days at moderate intensity, until one evening it decides it wants to kill him. Not quite literally, but what he goes through often puts him in the ER for 4-6 hours, pumped full of very serious pain meds until it’s under control, usually getting to go home around 1:30am. It’s not fun. Last night was one of those nights, only he wasn’t taken to the ER, he had to deal with it at home. This was partly one of those mean-Dad things, because Dad has noticed this pattern that, whether he goes to the ER or deal with it at home, the episode mostly ends about the same time, 1:30am, and he can finally go to sleep.

A pair of cyclists stranded when one of their chains had broken. Fortunately I carry a chain tool and was able to get them back on their way. Note to self: Carry one of those individually-packed hand cleaning wipes we sell at the store!
A pair of cyclists stranded when one of their chains had broken. Fortunately I carry a chain tool and was able to get them back on their way. Note to self: Carry one of those individually-packed hand cleaning wipes we sell at the store!

Truthfully, I was surprised that Kevin was in any shape to ride this morning. It did take a bit to get going, and he did have a moderate amount of background pain, with the occasional spike to something nasty. We started out thinking of doing a mostly-flat loop down to our Los Altos store & back, but as we passed Old LaHonda, forcing our bikes to not take the right turn up the hill (they’re kinda programmed to do so), Kevin suggested riding up Page Mill as far as Moody, and then heading back down to Los Altos. I said yeah, we could do that, but if we survive OK that far, why not just keep going?

So that’s what we did, we kept going up Page Mill. Certainly not at a very fast pace; Kevin’s pain increases when he stands. But he made it to Skyline, and once there, continued down the other side to LaHonda, then back up 84 & West Old LaHonda before descending back down into Woodside and home.

Not a big ride; just under 50 miles, less than 4800ft of climbing. Nothing like last week’s ride to Santa Cruz! But if you measure success not by what you actually accomplished but rather by minimizing the difference between the best you could have done and what you actually did, then this was a very successful ride.

What’s a picture like this worth? Maybe a 7:45am ride up to Skyline?

IMG_6763_DxO1200Not even sure where to start; the picture kind of upstages the ride by a country mile. The picture certainly helped frame the rest of the ride.

JR, Eric, and… Keith. Ouch. Super-fast Keith. Neither Kevin; the pilot was flying to London, the kid at home with another round of kidney pain. It was a bit cool, a bit foggy, actually more foggy than Tuesday’s ride. Eric had already been most of the way up the hill (he does that, when he has time before the ride, guess he just can’t get enough of Kings) and reported that the fog cleared higher up the hill. A good thing, that; my lungs work a lot better in dry air.

I was dumb enough to follow Keith’s lead, while JR and Eric took it a bit easier. I actually felt not-so-bad heading up through the park, yet was hoping Keith would circle at the top and wait for JR & Eric. No such doing; I don’t think Keith’s wired to “idle.” I did what I could to stay on his wheel, and he did what he could to not accidentally ride away. I think this was the first time he’s been exposed to my heavy breathing for any length of time, not realizing that I’m not on the verge of hyperventilating, but rather just doing my best to suck in enough air to keep going.

I made it to the top, with JR & Eric less than a minute behind. The run along Skyline was relatively-brisk and uneventful, but the following gradual descent on west 84 towards West Old LaHonda wasn’t much fun at all, heavy fog having moved in. I was quite happy to have not one, but two flashing tail lights!

Keith started pushing the pace on West Old LaHonda, with Eric jumping on, and I was in that mode of wondering, do I pick some particular point where I figure it’s ok to fall off the back or do I just hang on until I die? I chose the latter, and just kept hanging on for dear life, not knowing if Keith planned to turn on the gas at any moment or would just keep riding tempo. It’s at this point where you realize it’s up to you, nobody else, whether you hang on until the end. You just have to decide there’s nothing more important than hanging on to that wheel in front of you.

We regrouped at Skyline (where the photo was taken) and then semi-gingerly descended damp roads into Woodside. “Semi” because Keith doesn’t really know how to take it easy. We arrived back at the start at 9:22am, a good, in-season time for the “park” version of the ride. And it’s nowhere near “in-season.”