Another monkey off my back; first 100 miler of the year (Sequoia Century)

Heading north on Highway 1, passing roughly half-a-zillion Aids Lifecycle participants heading the other way. That’s Orion in front of me, the guy who saved me from the headwinds.

So what happens when you’d normally have two Santa Cruz loops (111 miles) under your belt by the time the Sequoia Century comes around, only this year, life got in the way (mostly Kevin’s epilepsy issues and surgeries), and yeah, you feel it! Overall the legs are capable of 100 miles, no problem there, but you notice, after a rest stop, they really don’t want to get going again. Especially later in the ride. And not sure if I’ve ever mentioned here that I’m pretty much unaffected by saddle issues, but today? Today my hind end feels rather, well, raw. Curiously, more of an issue sitting in a chair than on a bike seat. Go figure!

Route was the same as last year, and, same as last year, I rode to the start (from Redwood City to Foothill College in Los Altos Hills), and finished back home. The big advantage to doing that is, no need to drive a car. I’ve gone pretty much car-free for a good three years now, and have been inconvenienced only rarely. The disadvantage to not returning to the start? No post-ride food, and at the Sequoia, that usually includes an Its It ice cream bar.

That route… even though the same as last year, it was a lot harder this year due to stronger winds. Almost always headwinds by the way. Fortunately I came across Orion, same as last year, and he did some hellacious pulls into the wind, starting with the run from LaHonda to the coast. My legs were OK for the climbs, but pushing hard into the wind wasn’t in the cards for me!

This being the Sequoia Century, we had our “secret” (not anymore!) soda stop at the top of Tunitas, and having Mike F, our service manager who was staffing the station along with my son Kevin, hand me an ice-cold Mtn Dew was rather awesome. Just the right thing at just the right time.

Overall a very good ride, and makes me feel like I can handle whatever gets thrown at me in July.

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First hard effort that felt good in a long time

There are a lot of days you’re out riding and it seems harder than it should be. Hard is good, nothing to show for it, not so good. I’ve had a lot of the latter lately; you’re really glad you’re out there (because, as we all know, the worst day on a bike is better than the best day doing a lot of other things), but it’s not like you could take that effort and mentally frame it and put it up on the wall as something you’re proud of. It was, simply, a tough ride.

Today was that rare day where it felt, a few times, like I could twist the throttle and go. That doesn’t mean I was in a position to drop Karen, Karl, Eric, Scotty or Kevin (pilot). Not for the long haul anyway. It did mean that I could ride hard through the park and be with the group up front though, and keep them in sight the rest of the way up Kings. It also meant I could push hard in the sprints again; all 3 of them. I lost the Sky Londa sprint to Karen (I’ll blame it on Eric not providing a fast-enough lead-out), uncontested on West Old LaHonda final ramp, and nailed the finale (as seen in the video).

Too bad younger Kevin wasn’t there to see it; he’s still nursing the sore knee he got sprinting on Skyline on Monday’s ride. I am finally at peace with what I can do on the bike. Sure, my breathing still leaves a lot to be desired, especially with all the pollen in the air. But I felt some real power in my legs a few times today. I like that feeling. I want more of it.

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