Sunday, March 23, 2014

To the Velodrome

Yesterday's training ride was number 11 in the South Bay Blaze series. We did 64 miles with a little over 3,000 feet of climbing. The nice thing was that all the climbing was before lunch, which meant the last half of the ride was pretty smooth sailing. At first, I thought that this was going to be great, but then I kind of forgot that when you ride flat, you pretty much have to pedal the entire time. At least with hills, there is usually a good downhill you can coast on. Either way, this was no easy ride, but it also wasn't the most difficult. I managed to get a good average speed from the day, 13 mph. I also hit a max of 39 mph. I just can't seem to break past 40 (one of these days I will succeed!!)  

When I got to the start point I got all my gear gathered up and ready to go. I managed to sell a couple items for my ALC donations. I'm slowly closing in on $5k. I can't believe I've been able to raise as much as I have so far. Anyway, after the route review, safety speech and some warm-up stretches we were ready to hit the road. I headed back over to my car to but my merchandise away. I barely got my stuff in my car before I heard people start calling out "ROLLING". So, needless to say, I didn't get to roll out with the first group of riders. I hurried up and got my Garmin going so that I could head out. There was no way of catching up, but no worries, its a ride, not a race. At least riding out on my own made for a nice solo shot of my on my bike in the parking lot.

When I was stopped at one of the red lights, another rider came up behind me and made the comment, "man that's a lot of red, even your tired are red."  Yes I know, I like it. Even though I didn't get a say in the color of my bike, I really love how it looks. And yes, I bought those tires specifically because they have red on them. :)

The first hill we hit was Stonebrook. It has been a while since I've gone up Stonebrook. I definitely did better this time than the last. Granted, this was the first hill of the day and my legs were still fresh. After Stonebrook we made a right onto Magdalena. I don't know if I have even gone that way before. It was nice to ride on some new roads that were in the Los Altos Hills area.

We made our way back to Foothill Expressway and cruised on down to Stevens Creek Reservoir. I made it to our first rest stop just fine. When I was hanging out I was telling my friends how I had a Lonely Island song stuck in my head. Some of them didn't know what song I was talking about, and unfortunately I didn't have cell service so I couldn't pull it up on YouTube. It was going to have to wait till we got back to civilization. After a quick trip to the restroom and a refill on my bottles I rolled out with my friends Jamie (our captain) and Scott.

I thought for sure that they were going to drop me on the upcoming hill. However, I keep decent pace with Scott for a while. Either way, they both waited for me at the top. It was nice to have people to ride with because I often loose the group when we get to the climbs. I am a slow climber, but I can usually make up for it on the downhill.

After the climb and decent on Mt. Eden we headed up the dreaded Pierce Rd. I hate making that right turn onto Pierce, because it means a short 11% grade hill. I feel like Pierce often shows me my level of strength. The first time I did Pierce, I had to walk the steep hill and part of the following portion that isn't as steep. Now I am capable of biking up the hill without needing to walk any of it. I still have to stop at the top of the steepest part to catch my breath and allow my legs to stop pushing for a minute. It is great to have these reminders of how far I have come in my training.

After descending down the other side of Pierce, we turned onto Big Basin Way and headed towards Saratoga. It's always fun to ride along this road towards Saratoga because it has a slight downhill slope which makes for an awesome pace (I got a 30 mph average). For the most part this road isn't too windy. There was one section that had a bit of an S curve to it and since I was cruising along at a good speed I ended up taking one of the bends a bit wider than I really wanted to. I ended up heading out to the middle of the road and actual ended up on the double yellow. Not a great thing when there were cars coming towards me. Luckily I didn't panic and leaned my bike into the turn, so with some effective counter steering I was able to get myself out of danger. Never fun to have a close call, but thankfully I kept my cool and corrected my path. Once we rode through Saratoga, we turned onto Saratoga Los Gatos Road and headed down to Los Gatos (as the road name implies). This is yet again another great road for hitting good speeds. There are a couple little up hill sections, but for the most part it is downhill. I hit my max speed of the day on this road, 39 mph.

Once we got into town we turned onto a side street and headed towards our next rest stop. We didn't get very far before my friend realized that he had a flat tire. So, like they says, it takes at least three people to change a flat, and luckily we were a group of three. As you can see below, I supervised. :)

Since we got held up with a flat, we decided to blow through the next rest stop and just keep going. Up next were Kennedy and Shannon. I usually can make it up Kennedy and only need to stop once to catch my breath and give my legs a break. Once again my friends waited for me at the top of the hill. We descended down and started to tackle the next hill. Last week, Shannon was not my friend. I struggled to get up the hill and actually stopped several times and walked a portion of it. Not this time. I made it up Shannon without stopping (except at the very top where my friends had all gathered to wait). With those two hills out of the way, that meant the majority of the days climbs were done and over with. That was an awesome feeling!

It was pretty smooth sailing from there till lunch. When we got to the lunch stop several other riders cheered us in. It was nice and yet felt slightly sarcastic at the same time. We knew we were at the back end of the pack, but we didn't care. We could tell it was a 'it's about time you guys showed up' kind of cheer. Oh well, c'est la vie.

At lunch I finally took the opportunity to play the Lonely Island song that was stuck in my head out loud for my friends to hear. Nothing like a little jam session to take our minds off the remaining 30 miles. After fueling up and reapplying sunscreen we rolled on out. For the most part, the remaining miles were fairly flat. There was one climb that snuck up on me and I wasn't too happy about it. That is what happens when you ride on roads that are unfamiliar, you never know what's coming up.

We made it to the last rest stop and did some stretching and got back out there to finish the rest of the route. Those last six miles along Homestead felt like 20. Its amazing how tired you can feel, but yet your body just keeps on going. We decided that we may be dying, but at least we were dying together. We made it to Mary and knew we were so close to the end. As soon as I hit Mary I picked up the pace a bit. I thought it was just my body pushing to be done, but looking at the elevation chart closely I can see that as small as it may be, there was a slight incline on Homestead so once I turned onto Mary, we hit the slight downhill. When we pulled into the parking lot we made the decision that there was no way we were ending this thing without hitting our 64 miles. So, as they crazy cyclists we are, we did two laps around the parking lot to hit our numbers. Yes, we are NUTS!!!! :)

We had a nice little surprise waiting for us at the end.... Homemade treats!!

Thank you Aaron! You Rock!! 

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