Bonding with the new bike… climb, sprint, descend, it’s coming together

297wattsFinally beginning to really get it on with my new bike! This morning I came very close to getting a 26-something time up Kings (27:06), of course wondering where those 7 seconds went. I knew on the way up it was going to be close, despite losing contact with the faster guys not too far up the hill. I just kept plugging away and, at the “20 minute corner” (preceded by a moderately-straight section and followed by the road flattening out for a short distance, just before the final steep part), so-called because, if you hit it under 20 minutes you’ve got a shot at 26-something, I was right at… 20 minutes. Not quite fast enough, but overall happier with the effort than I’ve been for a while.

And the sprint into Sky Londa? Finally nailed it, as I’m supposed to (but haven’t been lately).

But what really convinced me that the bike and I are one was the 84 descent into Woodside. Just one second off my best time, and that’s after having to slow down for car traffic towards the bottom. George took off hard & fast at the top and I gradually got back up to him, something I haven’t been able to do for some time. The rest of the guys were a fair amount behind.

And finally, I get home and my super-fancy Garmin Edge 1000 gives me a screwy message I haven’t seen before. Says I’ve got a new record, 297 watts. Which means what, exactly? I think it means that, for 30 minutes, I was able to average 297 watts. But what it really means is pretty much the same thing as my just-over 27 minute time up the hill. In this case, seems like I’m 3 or 4 watts away from respectability. :-)

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Watch for the gravel on coast-side roads!

"No exit" was the theme of today's ride. On Tunitas, turn left, "Bikes not advised." Turn right, "Bikes not advised." Is there a not-so-subtle message they're sending us? And on Stage Road, if you were heading South from San Gregorio, there's no warning about the gravel until you get to the top of the final climb, where it tells you "Bikes not advised." Where are you going to go?
“No exit” was the theme of today’s ride. On Tunitas, turn left, “Bikes not advised.” Turn right, “Bikes not advised.” Is there a not-so-subtle message they’re sending us? And on Stage Road, if you were heading South from San Gregorio, there’s no warning about the gravel until you get to the top of the final climb, where it tells you “Bikes not advised.” Where are you going to go?

I paid for the Las Vegas trip today. No, not gambling debts; I didn’t even put a quarter in a machine. Couldn’t. None of the machines take coins anymore, and I did have three quarters I wanted to get rid of. But I missed both Tuesday & Thursday’s rides, I ate too much bad food, and today was… tough.

It was the regular Coastal Classic, you know the drill, up Old LaHonda, down the other side, over Haskins to Pescadero, Coke and a pasty at the bakery, Stage Road north, and return via Tunitas. I could have deliberately taken it easy, but no, that doesn’t work for me, I had to ride it hard despite that it wasn’t very fast. I even thought I was doing pretty well up Haskins until I discovered it takes a lot longer to cover the last stretch than I thought. At least it did today! Maybe it hurt a bit more because I was on my own, nobody to draft or motivate me to go just a bit harder up the climbs (my son is goofing off in Disneyland with his sister)(which he’ll pay for on Thursday’s ride).

About that gravel. The stuff they use when they chipseal roads is not good for your bike! It’s exactly the right size to get kicked up into your drivetrain, and although it rarely happens, it can cause your chain to jam in the rear derailleur and actually break not just the derailleur but your frame and even the rear wheel. It’s not pretty. Thankfully my bike came out fine, as most do, but maybe it’s 1 time out 1000 that something does, and you don’t want to be that 1.

Stage Road didn’t seem as bad as the lower section of Tunitas. The only good thing about it is that I could quickly write off any sort of Strava time for the climb (and in fact I even stopped at a few places to take picture, like the one above). They do have warning signs for bikes, but they come too late and, in the case of the intersection in the photo, you could go either way and find gravel. Go back and you face gravel. Hopefully it will be gone soon!

It took quite a while but eventually I did catch up to a couple people on Tunitas, the last of whom decided to latch onto my wheel and see if he could do a bit better than normal for the climb. I made no attempt to drop him (not that I could have…) and he did do better than any prior time on Tunitas. Hey, if I can’t go faster myself today, at least I helped somebody else!

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