All posts by Mike

A Big Day in 5 Parts

IMG_0650broom_wagonThere are times when it’s easy to relate to the picture at the right, showing the infamous “broom wagon” that follows major bike races, the last vehicle in the entourage, whose job is to make sure there are no stragglers and to pick up those who have lost hope. Those days you wonder why you’re out there; the climb seems to be winning out over your efforts to get to the top. Your memory becomes your worst enemy, as you start to think about days in the past when it wasn’t so tough, it was even fun, you were beating everyone else. But not today. Today you find yourself wishing for that broom wagon to come along and put you out of your misery.

I would love to tell you I’ve never had days like that, but that would not only be a lie but it would also reinforce the ridiculous notion that life should be without struggle, that life should be about, as Calvin (of Calvin & Hobbes) would say, jumping from peak to peak, each day better than the day before.

I wish!

We have a choice. We can embrace the broom wagon as a way out, or we can do everything possible to keep it at bay. I prefer the later, and I motivate myself, on those days where climbing Kings seems to be an exercise in futility, by remembering that Kings is just one hill, early in a ride, and things will get better.

Today was one of those days things got better. It was just myself and Kevin this morning; everyone else was heading directly to the Tour of California. I wasn’t doing that badly, but not that great either. Cold mornings (down to 37 at one point) don’t bring out the best in me. But once we started descending towards West Old LaHonda it began to warm up a bit, and things just got better and better.

But that was just the first part of the day. Instead of spending the day at the shop, today I took the train to San Jose and rode another 22 miles (some of them quite hilly) to the Tour of California’s stage finish. Two guys in Stanford kit were heading the same way and tagged along with me, thinking I knew where I was going (which was true, since I’d programmed a course into my Garmin). Those 22 miles were a lot tougher than expected, especially a couple of steep climbs (which, carrying camera gear, you really feel), but perhaps not as tough as the 12 miles battling a headwind back into San Jose to catch the train home. Funny thing though; headwinds don’t cause me as much grief as they used to. 18, 19, 20mph… sure, it would be easier to go slower, but it makes sense to go faster and get through it more-quickly.

And the train ride back was interesting too! The conductor turned out to be a big fan of our website and my writings, and had some good conversations with quite a few other cyclists on the train.

The toughest part of the day? Probably the 3 miles home at the end. Might have had something to do with not having any food since breakfast? No matter, running on empty, you just put one foot down, then the other, and climb the hill back home. By the end of the day it was something over 70 miles, with some quality climbing and quality headwinds!

The world is back in order; Pescadero’s Mastadon back in place

IMG_0593_DxO1200Being Mother’s Day I was supposed to get out early on a ride with Kevin, but being Mother’s Day also meant having to head out and get coffee for breakfast. So the early start I’d hoped for got later and later, and by the time we could finally get going (10:30) Kevin has having issues of the sort that Immodium AD is used for. Solo ride for Dad.

The original plan was the usual “reference” ride. Up Old LaHonda, down the other side, past the LaHonda Duck Pond, over Haskins Grade to Pescadero, then north on Stage and return via Tunitas. No reason not to stick to the plan, and it gave me an opportunity to see what my legs and lungs could do.

You’re never really sure how it’s going to go until you get out there and face down the hill first-hand. You might feel sluggish, you might feel good, You just don’t know for sure until you start climbing the hill, and even then, it might take a couple of minutes to know if you have it, or not. Even though you know this, you’re still playing through the hill in your mind, before you get to it, thinking this is going to be a 24-minute climb or something like that. And that’s pretty much exactly what I was thinking, in the few miles before Old LaHonda this morning, that it would be around 24 minutes. But, I hit the 3 minute timing point just a few seconds ahead, and the halfway timing point indicated I might get just under 22 minutes. Which, of course, I did. “Of course” because I’m nothing if not consistent or predictable; this 59-year-old body rarely pulls a rabbit (really fast time) out of a hat, nor does it unexpectedly fail to deliver the usual (semi-mediocre) effort.

No long stop at the Duck Pond for photos this trip, since I needed to get back as quickly as possible, but I did pause long enough to see the turtles are back, or at least one turtle, made nearly-invisible because it was covered in whatever-it-is that’s growing on top of the pond. Then it was on to Haskins, which I hoped to get under 10, and did. It wasn’t pretty; you’d think, on my own, that I could do it more-efficiently, instead of trying to keep up with someone else’s pace. Doesn’t seem to work that way.

“Lunch” in Pescadero was a Pepsi (they were out of Coke) and one of their oversized chocolate-chip cookies. Couldn’t do a face test because it was too fresh (wouldn’t hold shape) and tough to do by yourself. Then it was into the headwind heading north on Stage, which didn’t seem as tough as expected.

Tunitas? The legs felt like they’d been done-in by the prior climbs, but you do what you gotta do. No tailwind to help with the climb, but I pushed anyway, and then, just a bit before the real climb starts, my Garmin tells me I’m approaching a segment and gives me my best prior time for that segment, and adds insult to injury by giving me a real-time indication of how I’m doing today vs then (how far ahead or behind at any given time, today showing times only in red, which doesn’t mean you’re doing well). Still, I finished the Tunitas climb in 47-something, so overall, it was a pretty good ride. Just got to figure out where and why those segments mysteriously appear as I ride!