It was the usual Sunday ride, but with a twist; Larry, the guy I’d ridden in France with this past July, was out here from Houston for a conference, so he joined us (myself and Kevin). Houston. Ever see a topographic map of Houston? You know, those maps that have contour lines showing hills and mountains? Well, there aren’t any. Contour lines that is. Because it’s all flat (which is my the heavy rains they had caused such a mess; all that water with no place to go). So you take a cyclist from Houston, put him on a hill and what happens? Well, the good news is that most cyclists know how brakes work, even cyclists from Houston, so they don’t slide backward back down the hill. But they don’t climb really fast either.
But maybe that’s not so bad, once in a while, to not be charging up the climbs? It gave me a chance to ride more strongly on the flat sections, and, a few times, “play” on a few climbs by riding really hard for a short period of time, basically at a pace that’s going to cause you to blow up and have to spend a long time recovering.
It was a beautiful day to ride, but frankly, the cooler temps caught me a bit by surprise. Kevin asked before we left if we should bring some long-fingered gloves and I told him no. Yes would have been a better answer. Cold toes by the end too; the Kings descent was fast & chilly.
It was the best of times, it was the… best of times. And I can’t even tell you why. One week off the bike, due to flying out to Wisconsin for Trek business meetings, had me thinking the ride would be a bit of a drag and certainly not fun. And when you add in the numerous delays we faced for road work (including both new ones and extended delays for older ones), it doesn’t add up.
Kevin, Kevin & JR showed up this morning despite this being the darkest morning of the year for this ride, along with being slightly cold and, looking up at Skyline from the start, possibly quite foggy. But I didn’t fear the ride up through the park. Maybe it was because last night I got more than 4 or 5 hours sleep for the first time in 4 or 5 days? Whatever it was, my heart rate scaled nicely with my effort, the way it’s supposed to. 275 watts felt like 20% more than 250, the way it’s supposed to (I know, technically it’s 10% more so 20% doesn’t sound good, but it would usually feel like 50% greater effort, maybe more!).
We didn’t ride very fast, but just a bit faster than pilot Kevin was up to, so I hung back with him when kid Kevin and JR picked up the pace a bit. We climbed out of the fog a few minutes past Kings, and for reasons unknown, the pavement was never wet, so our bike didn’t get trashed. Yet another nice thing.
Since you still can’t get through West Old LaHonda on a weekday, we rode up across the top and descended WOLH to the scenic overlook, checking out the work being done not just on the main section of missing road, but also noticed that they’re getting some work done on the upper section where it slid away a few years ago.
Of course, getting to just about anyplace on Skyline ’round these parts involves delays. There’s the roadwork near Bear Gulch Road (which finally has people working on it again; it had been in limbo for maybe a month or more), and then another spot on Skyline between 84 and Old LaHonda/West Old LaHonda (we did that one twice today). Descending 84 into Woodside there’s the spot they’ve been working on since, when, March? Today that one wasn’t controlled by a light, but rather a flagman, because they needed the whole road blocked off and told us it would be a 10 minute wait. Yikes, we were already running late. Pilot Kevin suggested we ride back up to Skyline and bypass this section using Skywood, which, even though I thought that would be more than a 10 minute delay, we did. Turned out to be just 7 minutes, 35 seconds, so a smart move. And now, yet another section descending 84, no, make that TWO more sections of one-lane road heading into Woodside! A total of 6 in one ride! No wonder we rant about 20 minutes late getting home.
Somehow it all added up to a fantastic morning on a bike.