What does “The Perfect Ride” look like? It sure surprised us!

Who knew a gray day like this could produce a great ride!
Perfect ride, perfect morning, maybe what made it perfect was the unlikeliness of the day for a great ride.

It started much earlier than our normal Sunday ride; typically, we think we’re going to get out at a reasonable hour but by the time we finally get going on a Sunday “morning” it could be almost 11am. That really wasn’t an option today, because we knew rain could move in early, perhaps as early as 11am. Helping us to get motivated for an early start was the on-line coverage of the Amstel Gold Classic, one of the more-famous spring races in the Ardennes (largely Belgium).

Sure, getting up at 7am we only got to see the last hour of the race, but that’s usually where the action takes place, and no exception today. Great finish, right at 8am, and by 8:17am we were out on the road. No time to do the usual coastal loop (and besides, would the Pescadero bakery be open Easter Sunday?) so we did one of Kevin’s favorites, heading over Old LaHonda to LaHonda and up West Alpine.

Definitely no sign of the sun, but it wasn’t looking like we were heading for a soaking either. Just gray. Normally I’m not a fan of gray, but today, it just felt great to be out there, making the most of the morning, beating the rain. We even got to help a customer with a brake that I could hear dragging a bit as she was riding up Old LaHonda. Double bonus for that one- getting to help someone with a bike issue and having a good excuse to take a breather.

The Flanders flag when it used to be displayed at 8100 West Alpine. Would have been fitting to be out today!

West Alpine… oh sure, it was steep, and yes, Kevin escaped on the steeper later section of the climb, finishing a minute ahead of me. Along the way we passed the house that used to fly the Flanders flag, at 8100 West Alpine. For kicks I looked it up on the ‘net and found this. Looks like it sold recently and apparently no restriction in the deed of sale requiring the new owners to continue to fly the flag.

We were feeling the occasional sprinkle heading up West Alpine so the idea of going down Page Mill and doing “the loop” to get in some extra mileage didn’t seem like a good idea; better to head straight back via Skyline, which would have us descending 84 so we could check out the new section of missing road. Surprisingly, the rain continued to hold off, and equally surprising, the new section of damaged roadway has already been largely dealt with by carving into the hill a bit, preserving lanes in each direction, allowing them to work on the area that’s damaged without stopping traffic.

Getting down into Woodside it still wasn’t raining, so we gave thought to riding out to the end of Canada & back, but Kevin had the idea of looping around the hills above Redwood City by heading up over Edgewood and home via narrow back roads. This just happened to have us passing by the coffee shop near Canyon Inn, Emerald Hills Café & Roastery. A great way to relax for a few minutes before the last mile or two home.

And funny thing… just as we got home, like within 100 meters of our house, it started raining. Actual rain, not just drizzle. Perfect timing. Perfect ride. And back in plenty of time for Easter Sunday dinner. –Mike–

There comes a time when you gotta do something; Kings can’t be getting this much steeper this fast.

Interesting that Kaiser’s map identified only one other local business, something not always associated with healthy habits. But hey, at least it’s not the infamous “Heart Attack Grill!”

Yesterday I wrote about the potential road closure of Highway 84, where Kevin and I came across a new chunk of freshly-disappeared asphalt. We I didn’t write about was the ordeal of getting to that point in the ride.

It was wet enough that we had to ride the rain bikes, and cold enough to have to dress up a bit. Add Kings Mtn through the park to the mix, and it seemed the perfect combination to destroy me. Kevin, the other Kevin, and Karen just rode away from me through the park, and even though they waited and moderated their pace for a while up Kings, I was dying. There’s an expression that applies when you’re totally dead; you’re said to be “sucking air.” I wish. Air was the one thing I wasn’t managing to suck. Felt like I needed to be carrying an oxygen tank with me, set on tubo mode to force-feed me pure oxygen. Maybe that would help.

About halfway up I had thoughts I almost never have. Maybe just a couple times in my cycling life. Thoughts of just giving up, or maybe walking for a bit. The reality is that my speed wasn’t that bad, but for just over 800 vertical meters/hour, I should have felt relaxed, not stressed. But I kept on, picking up a bit of speed where Kings levels off, and slowing down ridiculously on the steep hairpins. But I made it, and like every other time I’ve really felt awful, I began to feel better. Better enough that, by the time we got to Sky Londa, thoughts of shortening the ride had disappeared, and I was looking forward to the views on West Old LaHonda. We even arrived home not too much later than usual.

But that ride up Kings… how many more rides like that do I have to endure? Legs and heart working fine, but lungs holding me back? Making things really frustrating is that the only time I have these issues is when I’m trying to go, as they say, full gas. If I could be content to ride casually up nasty climbs, I’d be fine. But that’s not me. I want to push. I want to finish a climb on the same day as the fast folk do.

One year of treatment with albuterol, Qvar and Singulair seems to have put me no closer to that goal. Yesterday’s ride finally drove me to take action, talking with my doctor again and getting a new appointment with a pulmonologist as Kaiser next week. I know I don’t have anything really nasty; I’m not going to drop over dead and there are many, many people who are in danger of doing just that and need serious help seriously fast. Part me of feels a bit guilty that I’m wanting to have something “optional” (not life-threatening) taken care of. But the other part of me believes there’s more to life than just being fine, and that not being able to push my limits is killing my soul. Not the immortal part, but rather the part that keeps you happy and moving forward.

Hopefully, on Tuesday, Kaiser will help me to “Thrive” like they say in their advertisements.