“How about we don’t. It’s windy enough to be scary.” Glad we did.

Wednesday night things looked hopeful for an epic ride. High winds, rain, likely thunderstorms. Thursday morning I wake up and it’s just not all that bad. We didn’t get the massive 4am slam that had been forecast, but Kevin was apprehensive because it had been pretty windy overnight, waking him up a few times. And thus the text he sent me, from an adjacent room that said “How about we don’t. Its windy enough to be scary.” Except that it really wasn’t. But it did take us longer to get going than normal, at least partly due to his lack of enthusiasm. Besides, he was pretty sure nobody else was going to be out there. IAnd if that wasn’t enough, I had a text alert that said Highway 84 was closed due to a downed tree. I suggested perhaps riding part of the loop and heading up Alpine Road towards Joaquim. He wasn’t impressed with that idea. But I did get him out on the road with me.

You can see how nice it was heading up through the park. Even a rainbow in the distance! Clearly in the eye of the storm at this point.
We arrived at the start about 5 minutes late and, sure enough, nobody out there. A bit windy but not crazy windy, and a break in the rain. As you can see in the photo taken as we rode through the park, it appeared we might have been riding through the hole in the center of the storm. I decided we’d see what the diverted traffic might look like after we emerged from the park and either head up or down from there. What we didn’t know was that we had ridden past Kevin (pilot) without knowing it, as he’d shown up for the ride, left on time but used the Huddart Park facilities (toilets) on the way up, so we actually passed him.

Kevin (younger) and I had a nice pretty easy climb, knowing we weren’t in any big rush because we couldn’t do anything but an out & back due to the road closure. We stopped for a bit to take photos of the wildly-rushing creek on the way up, got to the top, put on the rain jackets and headed down. On the way up there’d just been a light drizzle but towards the top that turned into a legit rain. Almost immediately after starting down we see something unexpected- the flashing headlight of a bicycle making its way up the hill. It’s Kevin (pilot)! So now Kevin (younger) was glad he hadn’t skipped out, thinking nobody else would be out there. Kevin (pilot) did a more-ambitious ride, heading down Tunitas to the Bridge of Death before climbing back up. As ambitious as that sounds, it had the advantage, for him, of ending on a climb (he lives up on Skyline) while we got to descend Kings.

As usual, thank goodness for 28c tires & disc brakes. Amazing traction and control.

Overall, not epic, but reasonably windy at times (mostly heard, not felt), fun to see the creeks flowing strongly, pretty steady rain once we got to the top, and the unusual situation of the ride starting out warmer than it ended. Definitely glad we didn’t stay home.

Are we getting the band back together?

Heading up Kings between storms
It was nice getting out between the storms, being able to ride the Emonda (my nice lighter-than-light Trek vs my functional and awesome Trek Boone “rain” bike that weighs about 6 pounds more due to heavier wheels, disc brakes, fenders, beefier frame and just doesn’t feel anywhere near as responsive as the Emonda because, like, how could it?). Still a bit wet here and there, especially heading over Jefferson to the start.

And did anyone tell you it’s still COLD out there???!!! Not the absurd upper-20s cold we might see once every year or so, but rather the mid-30s sort of cold that would be fine once in a while but two weeks of it is too much. Average temp for today’s ride was 36 degrees. That means-

– Thermal tights
– Woolie Boolie socks
– Toe warmers
– Booties over the toe warmers
– Winter long-sleeve base layer
– Long-sleeve winter jersey
– Winter cycling jersey-jacket
– Winter-weight gloves

You can be comfortable dressed like that, you can even ride without overheating on a morning like this. But you’re thinking how weird it is that, at other times of the year, you might be doing this ride in a short sleeve jersey, regular cycling shorts and not even leg warmers. And sometimes I wonder why the exposed skin on my face (and for that matter, the increasingly-exposed skin on my head) isn’t an issue. But it isn’t. So you just ride and enjoy the company of the 4 others riding this morning, all content with a pretty moderate pace. Both Kevins, Karen, and JR. JR was the surprise, since he’s retired and can ride later when it’s warmer, if he so chooses. Everyone rode together, all 5 of us. Nothing like the groups of 12 we used to see, but maybe someday, in the future, it will happen again. We’ve lost some of the faster folk as a few of us (ok, maybe everyone but younger Kevin, although me more than most) have slowed down a bit over the years. Years. That’s an interesting thing to contemplate. It’s been years, dozens of years, that this ride has been going on, every single Tuesday & Thursday morning, leaving at 7:45am on the dot.

It might make sense to start “advertising” this ride with its own Facebook page, kind of like the “Noon” ride and others do. Facebook has the benefit of focusing on the here & now and making it seem attractive; Facebook’s weakness is on the past. That’s ironic, since Facebook is often used by people “my age” to locate friends from the way-back days. What Facebook might do for our ride is communicate more-realistic expectations of climbing times than I am likely to pull out of my head. Back in the day, this was a ride for people who could climb Kings between 24-28 minutes, with a 30 minute cut-off. These days, 32 minutes or so is my new norm, so we have an opportunity to welcome a whole new group of cyclists who are, er, more our aging-group’s speed. My son Kevin can entertain the faster folk. Who knows, maybe he could lead a second group up the hill 5 minutes behind us, catching up at the top.

OK, the ride. We didn’t do the full West Old LaHonda loop, not knowing if we’d be able to get through the slide section, plus there’s the ethics issue of riding through a section of road the county has declared closed and unsafe. Instead we rode across the top and down into that section, viewed the damaged section of road again, then rode back the way we came. I suspect there will be many more rides like this in our future, although we’ll likely start doing some of the one-way-descents off Skyline to spice things up.

And, just because I’m a bit nuts, I’m sad that tomorrow is a Wednesday so I don’t get to ride in the “big” storm. Hopefully something will be left over for us Thursday morning!