Just myself and Kevin today; the other Kevin (pilot) is claiming to have a back issue. We’ll be doing the new loop up through the Huddart Park Entrance for some time; the guy we saw today confirmed we’re likely looking at a road closure all the way through winter. How ironic that we don’t get the road back until it starts raining and people don’t want to ride! Except that, for some time, people don’t seem to have been interested in this ride anyway. Think the word got out that I’ve gotten old & slow. But truth is, I’ve actually gotten quite a bit faster this year. Just not getting any credit for it.
Fortunately Kevin’s knee was feeling better this morning; it may also have helped that I made sure he used leg warmers, since it’s becoming a bit cooler in the mornings. Not cold, just cool. Very, very few other cyclists out on the roads. Even the Strava flyby showed only a few cyclists; we’ve seen far more on really miserable days!
But OLH. Wasn’t sure how I was going to be feeling, but lately I’ve been feeling pretty good on morning runs up OLH. Heart rate climbing to where it ought to be, legs seeming to work, lungs, well, best I can say is that they’re there. Was not happy to have lost 28 seconds having to stop just 150 meters (maybe less) from the top! In fact, my Upenough-to-top time was just 17 seconds off my best in many years, despite those 28 lost seconds. But, as you can see in the photo, there was no way to get around.
There are days that don’t go quite as planned but apparently for a reason. Today was one of those days. Just myself and Kevin on an interesting morning… fog! Despite the past few days of hot weather (and more hot weather later today), visibility was low as we started towards the beginning of the ride. It did feel quite nice; who cares if you can’t see where you’re going.
We knew ahead of time there was a chance Kings Mtn Road would be closed; we’d heard it would be at 8am. Well, we get to the bottom at 7:50am right? And nobody to stop you as you head up the initial ramp. Looks good! Until you get to the park entrance, where it’s barricaded and two friendly guys explain the rules to you. Basically, you have to be able to make it to the Archery Range hairpin by 8am. It’s 7:59am when we pull up to that barricade. One minute to make it to the archery range. Not going to happen. You start doing the mental calculations in your head; what time would you need to start the ride to make it before the road closure? Probably 7:20am. Not being morning people, that’s not going to happen.
So after the roadblock we headed back via the park (something I think we’ll avoid in the future; it’s a pretty bumpy ride at speed) and then south towards Old LaHonda. On the way there, just before 84 heads up to Skyline, we spot a small black cocka-something wandering onto and off of the road, in front of a a whole lot of fast-moving traffic. A dog that absolutely had zero street smarts and wouldn’t be alive much longer. So we pull off to the side and Kevin goes to grab the dog and inspect his tags. There’s a phone number for a dog finding service! Umm… yeah. “You are caller #12 in line. Please hold for the next available operator.” Then Kevin discovers another dog tag, with an address! And another phone number! And we’re about to call the phone number when I point out to Kevin that the address is across the street.
Kevin figures out how to get past their gate and down the driveway to deliver their dog back. I guess it made sense to do that, rather than just put it back into the yard, since the dog did, of course, escape from that same yard. A young woman thanked Kevin and we were back on our way.
It’s strange, thinking about heading up Old LaHonda on a Tuesday morning. Not quite in the negative way I’d think about heading up Kings on a Sunday (because I ride up Kings so often, every Tuesday & Thursday morning, why would I want to do it again on a Sunday?). But I was wondering what it might be like, doing Old LaHonda hours earlier than normal, and after a short warm-up climb on the first part of Kings. It was actually pretty nice! I didn’t set the world on fire but did manage to keep VAM above 1000.