Riding the BRB (Big Red Blob)/Bill Watterson understands me

I was thinking about Calvin & Hobbes as Kevin and I descended 84 in Monsoon-like conditions (except that aren’t Monsoons usually warm?). That BRB (Big Red Blob) in the weather radar map? At 9:05am this morning, it was right on top of us.

Finally, everything lines up for the almost-perfect rain ride. Or so it seemed last night, with the Big Storm dominating the new. Rain bikes checked out, lights charged, wet weather gear laid out. We were ready!

Except, at 6:50am this morning, there wasn’t much going on outside. A bit of wind, light rain bordering on drizzle. I felt like Marvin the Martian in the Bugs Bunny cartoon, wondering “Where is the Kaboom? There was supposed to be an earth-shattering Kaboom!” Many past potentially-epic rain rides have fizzled out, and I was afraid this might be one more. Nevertheless we put on our “epic-ready” gear and headed out.

It was pretty warm as we approached the base of Kings, and the drizzle upgraded to a legit light rain. We climbed… methodically. Nice talkative pace, also aware of the need to ride consistently so, if things did become epic, or even semi-epic, we wouldn’t freeze. From bottom to top we saw a gradual decrease in temp, and a gradual increase in rain & wind. 40 degrees on Skyline and we were still pretty comfortable, but I did make a point of going to the front and burning some fuel to stay warm.

The first sign of good things to come? The roadwork at Bear Gulch is complete! No more one-lane traffic control. A very good thing today because that’s exactly where it began to really rain as well. Descending towards Sky Londa we could tell we were immediately entering a darker-green territory, and thinking we just might see yellow. Little did we know we were about to very quickly move through the full spectrum, dark green, yellow, orange and, we couldn’t be sure, we’d have to verify later, but about a third of the way down 84 it felt like we found the BRB. The Big Red Blob, the way the weather radar depicts the very heaviest of rains.  Victory!

Of course, when you’ve found the BRB on a descent, you really don’t feel the need to spend a lot of time in it; it was very nice to get to the bottom of the hill and be able to burn some fuel again. The rain gradually decreased as we rode home, which normally would take away a lot from the ride because it’s the beginning, and the end, that provide the benchmarks for those who think you’re nuts to be out there. But not today; we have proof! Proof that, at 9:05pm, we were solidly within the real of the Big Red Blob.

A few years ago he was but the learner. Now he is the master!

I didn’t have the highest hopes for today’s ride; this winter has been crueler than most to me,  possibly from the bone marrow meds I’m on. It will be interesting to see if the recent trend of a declining hematocrit level has continued; that would be the easy explanation. I’ll know more after Friday’s routine blood test. In the big picture it’s not something to be too concerned about, given that every single test done on my bone marrow turned out as good as could possibly be expected. The fuse isn’t lit; I’m going to be around for a while. I just might not be going as fast as I’d like!

Lucky for me, Kevin has no such issues. Oh sure, Epilepsy and Kidney Stones (the latter of which caused him a bit of pain today) but he’s in pretty amazing shape considering how many rides he misses. Still, drafting doesn’t work at mere-mortal speeds uphill, so as expected, Old LaHonda was pretty tough for me. Again. I should be happy about the fact that, at 24:37, it was actually my best time since October 1 last year. That’s pretty sad.

Classic Huret Alvit derailleur
Heading down the other side we came across David K on his “Eroica” bike. Talk about classic steel; this bike even had a pre-Schwinn Huret Alvit derailleur. Something so unusual I had to take a picture of it. I have an appreciation for older bikes and their equipment, but no desire to ride them anymore. I love modern bikes with awesome shifting, fantastic brakes and comfortable shoe/pedal systems that don’t require me to position my foot- it’s all done for me. When I put it that way, can an electric-assist bike be far behind?

We did the reverse Pescadero loop today, hoping to get a tailwind on Stage Road, and we did! So much nicer than having to fight your way through the wind, which is exactly what I had Kevin doing as he headed out to the coast on 84. Mile after mile after mile, he hammered at the front, battling the wind the way I used to back in the day. It wasn’t all that long ago that we’d do a Santa Cruz loop and occasionally hit a (rare) headwind riding south on the coast, and I’d just put my head into the wind and go, for a full hour, just drilling it. I’ve got Kevin up to about 20 minutes so far.

Any ride to Pescadero would not be complete without a duck pond picture!
Pescadero was busy but we timed it perfectly and got our sandwich with little delay. The cookies were back (although they’ve definitely downplayed them, and perhaps even reduced the size a bit). 12 ounce Coke for Kevin, 20 ounce Mtn Dew for me, and we were fueled and ready. Kevin’s original idea was to finish up West Alpine after the Haskins tenderizer section, but a bit of knee pain convinced him 84 would be the wiser choice. Without realizing it, I had moved into “normal” ride mode, where I feel better as the ride goes on, which I really hadn’t expected to happen. So maybe there’s hope!