So what does a group of 55+ year old guys talk about on a ride?

It's not what you think. They're obviously fascinated by something down on the ground.
It’s not what you think. They’re obviously fascinated by something down on the ground.
No younger Kevin today; still having some kidney pain issues, even after having passed at least some of the kidney stone that was bothering him on Sunday. That meant myself, JR, Eric and Kevin (pilot), all over 50 with the exception of Eric, who’s a young and spritely 55+. We did hook up with Marcus for the ride up Kings, wrecking the age curve at a young… 47? I think he’s actually younger than that. Easy ride up Kings, right around 30 or so, nobody pushing it hard today. Despite what looked like a lot of low clouds and fog when I viewed the hill from home, the roads were completely dry by the time we got to the top. One of the advantages of taking your time maybe?

Up at the top, we waited while a couple of us took a moment to get rid of some coffee. Nothing unusual there; as guys get older, they’ll often find that coffee is a rental, not a purchase, and the rental time decreases with age. We headed south on Skyline, dropping Marcus off on the way… we were now pretty safely into the “older guys club.” Nobody under 55. You didn’t have to ask anybody’s age; it would have been obvious when, at the top of West Old LaHonda, it was time to deal with another rental return. That’s unusual; it’s rare that we’d ever be stopping twice on the morning ride to deal with rental returns.

From that point on we covered new territory; normally, we’d be talking about recent bike races (the Vuelta) or killer rides (JR had just done a several-hundred-mile ride down the coast over the weekend) or maybe work stuff. Things you’d likely hear in any group of serious cyclists, male, female or mixed. Not today. It was all about BPH, was anyone taking anything for it, how often do you get up in the night, that sort of thing.

Maybe I shouldn’t have burned my AARP card.

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I am so powerful rear cogs snap under the load!

Dura Ace 11-28 cassette failure stops me cold while climbing West Alpine.
Dura Ace 11-28 cassette failure stops me cold while climbing West Alpine.
The ride was screwy before it started; one of those mornings where I tried to wait out Kevin’s kidney pain (which, this time, turned out with near-100%-certainty to actually be a kidney stone, since he later expelled one), eventually figuring out he wasn’t going to end up riding at all. By that time I’d already decided to abbreviate the original ride, settling for something short & sweet… over Old LaHonda to LaHonda and up West Alpine.

I took it easy up Old LaHonda, hoping I’d be warmed up and feeling good by the time I hit West Alpine. In fact, I did. I hit the “Bridge of Death” at almost exactly 6 minutes, which is where you need to be for a decent time up the hill. Funny thing just a couple minutes earlier though; the pedals seemed to slip forward a bit on one of the small climbs on the pretty-flat lead-in to the climb. Well, just a minute or so up the real climb, right as it’s getting steep, and bam, the bike pretty much went out from under me. Loud noises from the drivetrain. Pedals turning but bike not moving. The photo above tells the story. The #7 cog (counted from the bottom-up) had broken apart. Same thing that had happened to the same cog on the same brand & model cassette last December. Almost in the same place too!

No choice but to turn back, because no way could I climb West Alpine without use of the larger cogs (in fact, the broken cog had messed up the #6 position as well), so I turned back and rode up the easy grade offered by highway 84 back up to Skyline. Just 38 miles, no epic climbing, but I did have some fun climbing up 84 with a tail wind! –MikeJ–

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