Tag Archives: cycling

Andrew Strong like Bull on Sequoia Century

First organized ride in a while, the classic Sequoia Century, put on by our local Western Wheelers club. My son (Kevin) and Andrew from the shop joined me for 100 miles of darned good cycling! The day turned out a lot nicer than forecast; it only got semi-hot (about 90) for the last 10 miles or so, with very mild temps on all of the climbs.

Kevin & Andrew crossing the Bridge of Death on China Grade

Kevin & Andrew crossing the Bridge of Death on China Grade

The climbs? Quite a few of them! Redwood Gulch, Highway 9, China Grade, Tunitas Creek… and then they tossed in some annoying little rollers in the last 5 miles.

Redwood Gulch. Not my favorite, although I think I’m wrong in my assumptions about why. It’s not just that I’ve lost power on the steepest climbs, but more importantly, I have issues on the first climb of the day. I can’t just jump on the bike and climb efficiently (fast) like I used to. But climbs that come later in the day give me much less trouble! So yes, I sucked on Redwood Gulch, but didn’t do all that badly on nearly-as-steep China Grade. And Highway 9 from Waterman Gap to Saratoga Gap? Nailed it. Best time so far by over a minute.

Andrew & Kevin strategizing the attack on the next section of the ride

Andrew & Kevin strategizing the attack on the next section of the ride

What about Andrew? After lunch in LaHonda we had a long drag to the coast, into a stiff headwind. So Andrew goes to the front and pulls. And pulls, And pulls. And keeps on pulling for the longest time, until I start feeling a bit sorry for the guy (guilty, actually) and finally go to the front myself and do a few turns at a pretty high speed, something I wouldn’t have been able to do had Andrew not sheltered us from the wind for so long.

Tunitas was taken at a fairly easy pace, as I enforced a truce… no dropped riders. Actually, the way I put it was that the time would be taken for the 3rd rider crossing the line at the top. Kevin didn’t get it, but Andrew picked up on it immediately. 3 riders, and if the time that counts is rider #3, then it does no good to charge on ahead on your own. :-)


Chain Reaction once again sponsors the "secret" soda stop at the top of Tunitas

Chain Reaction once again sponsors the “secret” soda stop at the top of Tunitas

And at the top of Tunitas came the reward… an ice-cold Mtn Dew, thanks to a local shop (you can figure out who from the sign on the truck in the background) that bought about 900 cans of soda and 400 pounds of ice to keep it nice & cold. And that local shop’s employee, Patrick, who took care of mechanical needs and made sure the tubs were filled with ice & drinks.

There is finally a feeling that I’m not going to fall apart on some of the longer rides in France next month, like I did last year. Looking back on it, it’s possible that the crash I had on my second ride, the one where they guy was flying downhill, lost control in a corner and sent my flying, might have hurt me more than I’d thought. Certainly not as much as it hurt him, since he had to be hauled away in an ambulance! But two fantastic 100+ mile rides on consecutive weekends is a good sign for my immediate future.

A great day for a hard ride!

Question of the day: Why does it feel so good, after 70 miles, to finally hit a solid climb? What is it about a climb that rejuvenates your spirits and somehow lightens the load on your legs? You would have been willing, for a good reason, to pack it in but now that you’re on a real climb you feel like you can go on forever?

Last year, by mid-February Kevin and I had already done our first 100+ miler, the classic Woodside/Santa Cruz loop (112 miles from home in Redwood City). Things got off to a slow start this year though, mostly due to Kevin’s various issues with his kidney, but early this week his stent was removed (finally!) and it was time to get back to basics.

Thank goodness the weather forecast was incorrect. I had been concerned about riding in a drizzly fog, but it was so nice out we needed (but did bring) neither leg warmers nor light jackets. It probably helped that we didn’t hit the road until 11am, definitely a bit on the late side for a run to Santa Cruz, but not unusual at all for us (obviously, our ride in February last year must have started a lot earlier or we wouldn’t have gotten back before dark!).

Old LaHonda was ridden at a moderate pace, ending up around 23 minutes for the climb after hanging back for a bit to chat briefly with one of our customers. Kevin followed the plan and rode at the same pace, rather than the sub-20 he would like to, but he’s so short on miles it didn’t seem like a good idea for him to burn too many matches too early in the ride. Yet it was such a nice day there was no way you could completely hold back, so even Haskins ended up being close to a 10-minute climb, a couple minutes faster than I thought likely.

Lunch in Davenport

Lunch in Davenport

Thank goodness the prevailing winds held out! It wasn’t a direct tailwind heading down the coast, but it was close. I’d already decided that, if we got to the coast and it was going to be a headwind into Santa Cruz, we’d be reversing course and doing a shorter ride. No need. We arrived for “lunch” at the Whale City Bakery in Davenport, downing a ham & cheese croissant, coke and a cookie for Kevin, raspberry muffin for me. That took care of us for the run south to Santa Cruz then up Highway 9 to Boulder Creek for the obligatory Mtn Dew stop before the long climb up to Skyline.

80 miles down, 32 to go, time for a cold drink and a hot-dog! Thank you, Mr. Mustard.

80 miles down, 32 to go, time for a cold drink and a hot-dog! Thank you, Mr. Mustard.

Skyline. We’ve grown to depend on Mr. Mustard’s hot-dog stand on Skyline for drinks and… yeah, hot-dogs. Mile 80 in a long ride and a hot-dog actually goes down really well. But we were in Davenport past 2pm, and didn’t leave Boulder Creek until 4:15, and Mr. Mustard leaves shortly after 5! Yikes. We had money for the coke machine at the Saratoga Gap fire station, but it’s just not the same. Fortunately, once we got onto the real climb, the legs started working again and we actually got some Strava-worthy times, personal bests (for the past 4 or 5 years; I was certainly a lot faster back in the pre-pre-pre-Strava days) for both of us. Mr. Mustard hadn’t packed up yet so we scored the usual… hot-dog and a drink!

From there it was the easy north run on Skyline to Sky Londa, returning home not much past 6:30. Plenty of light, still nice out. Great ride.