Fast, slow, fast, slow… pretty uneven tempo for me this morning!

img_1269wolhSummer is clearly gone; we’re at that time of year where we’ll still get a few really nice days, but they fit into the “bonus” category, something not to be counted on. More common are darker mornings (which will continue to get darker until daylight saving time ends) and overcast skies. Leg warmers, base layers and long-fingered gloves have become the norm. Summer, where did you go? Seems like I barely knew you!

That also means that any chance of a decent time getting up the hill this year is over. I had fun riding this summer, but never got fast, at least not fast in any way that I’d recognize. It’s tough to say whether my breathing did me in, or I gave in to my breathing. My mileage was fine though, despite having ridden 100 miles only once (the Sequoia Century) and not a single Santa Cruz loop. There’s still some time to rectify that, although not a whole lot.

This morning wasn’t too cold, nor too wet. It was fast at times, slow at others. Karen, Eric, Kevin, JR… no Marcus, no older Kevin today. Karen’s in high form, peaking for the Cyclo Cross season, and it showed as she flew off the front up Kings. Not sure why but I took after her, chasing her as far as the park entrance before dropping back to check up on Kevin and Eric (JR was right behind me). I rode up with Kevin for a while but quickly wondered why I waited… he just got faster and faster. I’m kind of used to that by now.

Karen took off again on West Old LaHonda, and again I found myself, for reasons unknown, trying to keep up with her. JR, Eric and Kevin had fallen behind, or so I’d thought. I wasn’t even looking back until the “U” at the far end of the valley, and there was Kevin, right on my wheel. I was gassed so let them ride on, but I’m now wondering if maybe I could have kept up if I’d given it everything. Trouble is, I’ve lost track of what “everything” really is. But just being in the game, even for a little while, at least gives me a chance to think about it.

OK, that Santa Cruz thing. Realistically I’ve only got two Sundays left to play with; after that, two weeks on vacation with my wife, no bike. This coming Sunday looks like it might be wet, and Kevin’s got something planned for later in the day (and right now, a Santa Cruz loop would consume pretty much all available daylight in a day!). The following weekend? We’ll see. It would be quite the challenge, especially for Kevin. Me? Lots of miles, I can probably get through it, and generally get stronger as the day goes on. Kevin hasn’t ridden more than 70 miles all year. We’ll see.

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Back to an almost-normal Sunday ride

img_1251_dxo1200Finally, a “regular” Sunday ride again! Nice weather, no health dramas, and who knows how many more days this nice we’ll have?

Kevin and I had actually planned to do this ride last Sunday, but for some reason or other he wasn’t able to ride (wouldn’t be too hard to look at last Sunday’s ride entry to figure it out). Up Old LaHonda (like nearly every Sunday ride), out to the coast via La Honda & San Gregorio, then south on Stage Road… hoping to catch favorable winds this way! Lunch in Pescadero, then back via Haskins (the hard way) and finally the “kicker”- West Alpine up to Skyline.

Old LaHonda… didn’t feel like either of us had legs yet. 25-something, which is fine for a casual pace. We came across quite a few first-timers on the way up; one set was happy that I was providing encouragement, telling them the hard part was behind them (actually the truth!), while everyone else had apparently convinced them the climb was endless.

As previously mentioned, I was really hoping for favorable winds, with the offshore-flow giving us tailwinds on the long haul to the coast. Didn’t work that way! Kevin gamely pulled the first half while I took over for the final part. That’s the only way it can work out (Kevin pulling first); he can go full-gas right from the gun, while it takes me at least an hour to get everything in gear. But hey, at least once on Stage, we’d have a tailwind, right? Not today. Not only that, but on the last climb & descent into Pescadero, they’d laid down more gravel. Not enough to make it dangerous to ride, but definitely meant you weren’t going to have much fun descending.

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I suppose the biggest insult was the lack of “real” cookies at the Pescadero Bakery! Very slim pickings today; there was signage for both oatmeal/raisin and butterscotch chip, but all they had were substandard-sized oatmeal/raisin. Great sandwich though. I’d hoped that the sandwich, kevin’s cookie, my berry straddle and a coke would provide the fuel we’d need for the rest of the trip, but it never really seemed to kick in.

Climbing the west side of Haskins is rarely fun and today was no exception. Sure, it’s nice being able to keep up with Kevin (possible to do because he’s missed quite a few rides over the past month), but it’s a bit sad to see him struggling a bit instead of sticking it to me. Even if he was at the top of his game, it’s still the case that I get stronger as the miles and climbs pile up. Not strong enough, but stronger. One of the few advantages for the more-experienced (older) cyclist.

West Alpine. Ouch. Slow, steady, methodical. OK, let’s just take the second two. Steady & methodical. That sounds a lot better, and it technically accurate, even without including “slow.” So that’s what I’ll go with. The climb up West Alpine was steady & methodical. About 52 minutes to the top, maybe 8 minutes slower than something really respectable. Today, that was fine.

Overall 67 pretty high-quality miles on a very nice day, leaving both Kevin and I with very tired legs. As they should be after a Sunday ride!

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