Avenging The Hammer of Thor!

This is where the fun really begins on Tunitas Creek, the start of the infamous “Hammer of Thor” segment. 1.7 miles of pain or fun or maybe both.
This was an interesting ride! After an extremely busy and sometimes-stressful day at the shop Saturday, I didn’t exactly feel “rested & relaxed” at the start of the ride. In fact, heading up Old LaHonda, I felt sluggish and not exactly enthusiastic. It was a struggle to finish under 25 minutes even. Kevin put up with me though, and, as usual, things got better once we got to… the other side.

Lots of lizards on the West side of OLd LaHonda, but no snakes yet. Doesn’t seem to have been much of a spring & summer for snakes, with our warm spells lasting only a day or two, and coming pretty rarely. We did see the usual turtles at the LaHonda duck pond. And then on to Haskins. I usually do OK on Haskins, but wasn’t so sure today. I did a bit better than OK, posting my best time in a bit over a year, meaning I was faster today than I’ve been since before taking the anti-EPO meds for my weird bone marrow issue. I was watching the numbers on my computer, finishing at 9:58 and trust me, 9:58 feels one heck of a lot faster than 10:00, even though it’s just two seconds difference.

Pescadero‚Ķ the usual great sandwich, cookie for Kevin, pastry for me. Stage Road? Well, our string of rare tailwinds heading north came to an end! That’s actually a bad news/good news sort of thing though; without a tailwind, you’re not busting your tail trying to beat old Strava times.

Tunitas, that’s where it got interesting. Nothing fast, in fact pretty slow on the lower flatter section. But once we got onto the real climb, I’m not sure what happened but I had legs. I was able to push down hard, in higher gears, and go. And I could keep on going too! Fastest time on that segment since April 17, 2016. Kevin even had issues and dropped back, expecting to catch me on the fast run on the top flatter part. He was very disappointed that I actually stopped, just past the segment end, to relieve myself instead of giving him something to chase. He did, however, drop me like a rock once we got past Star Hill, earning his PR for that segment. He’s going to be very unhappy when I tell him my PR on that segment is 5 seconds faster!

It turned out to be a really nice ride, and it’s possible I benefitted from the additional ride Wednesday (July 4th), beefing up my quality mileage a bit. I’m needing more of that in the days ahead; the trip to France is a week and a half away, with bigger hills and longer mountains!

First Thursday ride finishing “on schedule” in… years? And a solo ride at that!

Once in a while it’s nice having the whole world to yourself, like I did this morning.
You get so used to riding the same route with others, matching pace (or trying to finish a climb on the same day), finding common ground with the others on the ride, that you can forget what it’s like to be out there on your own, with nothing but the road and scenary keeping you company (and doing a pretty good job at it).

This morning was one of those times. Normally I’d at least have Kevin (kid) with me, but he screwed up the night prior and took a double dose of his epilepsy meds by accident, which was causing him to see double. Not a good thing on a bike. Nobody else showed up either, which is unusual for the summer, although it’s possible some were deterred by the gray morning and heavy fog that you could see hugging Skyline from miles away. I wondered where I’d find my motivation, even thinking, briefly, that maybe I ought to stay in the foothills and not head on up. Very briefly. That’s just not how I roll.

I wasn’t feeling fast, but I was definitely feeling consistent. I found a pace I could settle into and just keep going, from beginning to end. Even the fog burned off nicely just before the top, allowing for some very nice views.

Average weighted power increased from the typical 202-208 watts up to 217, with overall average, at 192, higher than I recall seeing in recent history. The higher overall average likely reflects that, without anyone to draft, I was “on” for the entire ride. Average speed came in at 15.9mph, so yes, I’ve got something I need to work on there! Too close to 16 to ignore. Back in the day, my average speed used to be 16.4-16.6 or so. But perhaps most important was getting back to the start on-time. The schedule for the ride, outside of winter when we slow down a bit, is supposed to have us back at the start between 9:18 & 9:22am. Generally Thursday rides, heading up through the park, are a couple minutes slower than Tuesday rides, so I was really happy to arrive back at the start at 9:22am. I did cut it pretty close though; it was actually 9:22 and 47 seconds. On the other hand, I was delayed 1 minutes, 8 seconds (but who’s counting?) for a bit of touch-up on the new roadwork near the bottom of 84.

I think I’m ok. I’ve given up a bit more than I’d like on the climbs, but I can still ride pretty hard, pretty long. And that occasional solo ride feels a bit like a reset button has been pushed, something that needs to be done every once in a while, just because. Kind of like how you have to reset your modem and/or router to keep your internet connection intact every couple weeks. Nobody can really tell you why it has to be done, it’s just common knowledge that it works.