All posts by Mike

A bit cool but wow, what a beautiful day to be on a bike!

This was one of those very late, almost chasing-the-sun days. Kevin wasn’t feeling great and didn’t want to ride in the cold, so with some difficulty we set him up on his Tacx trainer to ride Zwift, while I did a solo run to the coast.

It wasn’t absolutely required that I stick to the original plan; it would have been easy to rationalize not heading out to the coast and north into a headwind solo, but I figured I could just take it easy and see how it played out. Definitely glad I didn’t wimp out; it was one of the most beautiful days ever, with the light breeze and rains of the past couple days clearing out the skies so much that distant mountains looked like you could reach out and touch them.

I intentionally took it easy on Old LaHonda, saving something for Haskins. How easy? According to the Strava upload on my Garmin, I was literally running half the speed of former pro cyclist Phil Gaimon’s record time. Pretty sad to be reminded, as you start the climb, how fast it’s humanly possible to ride. Could not have saved enough to keep up with the gang-in-black though. Three dressed in black head-to-toe, no lights that I recall, coming up behind me at the base and passing me about 1/4 of the way up. Looking at their Strava times there was no way I could have kept them at bay, so glad I didn’t try. At least not too hard.

Good news- the first days of rain haven’t toppled the Pescadero Mastadon yet! He was standing tall, held in place by guy wires while tending a flock of geese. Yes, headwinds going towards the coast as well as north to Tunitas, but nothing too bad.

Food in Pescadero? I don’t know what’s going on there. Maybe it’s because I arrived pretty late? No cookies, literally a less-than-half-filled case with stuff I wasn’t too interested in. Settled for a raspberry ring (which actually was pretty decent) and a Macaroon. Plus a Mtn Dew, of course. Even though it was just 50 degrees it still felt surprisingly nice in the little mini-park in back of the store; no doubt a bright sun with few clouds makes a big difference.

Tunitas? Yeah well, I was thinking, briefly, that maybe it would be OK with a mild tailwind, but it ended up being almost 54 minutes! Yikes. I really thought it felt more like 50, maybe even upper end of 49. Nope. There just wasn’t much left to push on the upper part. The declining temps could have been a factor; it was 38 degrees for most of the climb, and didn’t warm up to a toasty 45 until back into Woodside. Definitely a good thing I brought two pair of winter gloves, one for milder temps, the other heavier-duty. Needed the heavier-duty gloves descending Kings for sure! And of course, I saw a fair number of people out there not even wearing leg warmers.

Winter in California. Even when we hit a patch of rain, just wait a few days for some really nice cycling weather. This was one of those days.

Riding the BRB (Big Red Blob)/Bill Watterson understands me

I was thinking about Calvin & Hobbes as Kevin and I descended 84 in Monsoon-like conditions (except that aren’t Monsoons usually warm?). That BRB (Big Red Blob) in the weather radar map? At 9:05am this morning, it was right on top of us.

Finally, everything lines up for the almost-perfect rain ride. Or so it seemed last night, with the Big Storm dominating the new. Rain bikes checked out, lights charged, wet weather gear laid out. We were ready!

Except, at 6:50am this morning, there wasn’t much going on outside. A bit of wind, light rain bordering on drizzle. I felt like Marvin the Martian in the Bugs Bunny cartoon, wondering “Where is the Kaboom? There was supposed to be an earth-shattering Kaboom!” Many past potentially-epic rain rides have fizzled out, and I was afraid this might be one more. Nevertheless we put on our “epic-ready” gear and headed out.

It was pretty warm as we approached the base of Kings, and the drizzle upgraded to a legit light rain. We climbed… methodically. Nice talkative pace, also aware of the need to ride consistently so, if things did become epic, or even semi-epic, we wouldn’t freeze. From bottom to top we saw a gradual decrease in temp, and a gradual increase in rain & wind. 40 degrees on Skyline and we were still pretty comfortable, but I did make a point of going to the front and burning some fuel to stay warm.

The first sign of good things to come? The roadwork at Bear Gulch is complete! No more one-lane traffic control. A very good thing today because that’s exactly where it began to really rain as well. Descending towards Sky Londa we could tell we were immediately entering a darker-green territory, and thinking we just might see yellow. Little did we know we were about to very quickly move through the full spectrum, dark green, yellow, orange and, we couldn’t be sure, we’d have to verify later, but about a third of the way down 84 it felt like we found the BRB. The Big Red Blob, the way the weather radar depicts the very heaviest of rains.  Victory!

Of course, when you’ve found the BRB on a descent, you really don’t feel the need to spend a lot of time in it; it was very nice to get to the bottom of the hill and be able to burn some fuel again. The rain gradually decreased as we rode home, which normally would take away a lot from the ride because it’s the beginning, and the end, that provide the benchmarks for those who think you’re nuts to be out there. But not today; we have proof! Proof that, at 9:05pm, we were solidly within the real of the Big Red Blob.