Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Party in Flat City

Saturday's ride was (unlucky) number 13 in the South Bay Blaze series; 75 miles with just about 4200 feet of climbing. I thankfully made it through every mile and actually added one.

Before the rides the TRL's have been doing various teach-backs. I have only joined one other teach-back because normally I'm busy getting my stuff together and then trying to sell my fundraising items. This week's teach-back was about mental prep for ALC. I wanted to join this teach-back because I figured that there would be some good information, and I was right. There was an acronym for MENTAL:

Mental preparation
Enjoy the ride
No negative thoughts
Training is key, embrace it.
Let go of what you cannot control

I feel like I got a lot of good information from the teach-back. I know that with ALC, the mental aspect of the ride is most likely going to be just as challenging as the physical aspect. I have been starting to practice different things out on the road to help get over the mental blocks and I can tell it is really helping make a difference.

So after our usual stretching, route review and safety speech we headed out on the road. We made our way towards Saratoga where our first rest stop was. Before getting the the rest stop we needed to climb Mt. Eden and Pierce. Mt Eden is no longer a difficult hill for me, it is still a good climb, but I know that I can make it up without much problems. While I was climbing up Mt Eden I saw a little deer hanging out on the side of the road.

Next up, the challenging climb up Pierce. I love that I can tell I am getting so much strong each and every time I do this hill. On Saturday I was able to make it up the steepest part and keep on going after I got to the top. Last time I did Pierce, I had to stop at the top to catch my breath. I did stop a bit further up the road, but it was because I wanted to check on a first time rider that had just walked up the last hill. I wanted to make sure that he was doing OK and knew that there was no shame in having to walk a hill. I had to walk up that steep portion of Pierce my first time as well. After a short break, I continued up the rest of Pierce. Luckily, once I got to Mountain Winery, it was all down hill to the first rest stop.

I made rest stop 1 a quick one and headed back out on the route with my friend Scott. I ended up riding the rest of the route with him on Saturday and I am glad I did. It was great having a friend to ride with, especially on a long ride like this. We headed out of Saratoga and made our way south towards Los Gatos on Hwy 9. We climbed up Kennedy and Scott waited at the top for me. I climb slower than he does, but he always waits at the top for me. We cruised down the back side of Kennedy and thankfully turned right onto Shannon. Turning left takes you uphill back towards Los Gatos. After Shannon came Camden, my favorite part of the day. Getting to the top of Camden isn't too hard, it is a more gradual climb. What I really enjoy is the downhill. Camden has a great downhill for trying to hit speed because it is a fairly straight road with a good slope. As I started to get to the crest of the hill I geared up and tried to get as much momentum as possible. On the down hill I got into my drops and got as low as I could. I felt like I was pretty much laying on the top bar of my bike, but it was all worth it when I looked down at my Garmin and watched as I ticked past 40 mph. I FINALLY broke my 40 mph barrier!!!! I was so excited! I've been trying so hard to break 40 mph. After I uploaded my route I realized that I actually hit 43 mph. So my next barrier to break will be 45 mph. :)

There was an optional rest stop between the first stop at Starbucks and the next one at Spina Farms. However, we couldn't find it. The stop was supposed to be at Parma Park. I was down to only one water bottle so we wanted to stop to fill up my other bottle. We pulled into a park (not the right one) and headed to the water fountain. Unfortunately the water fountain didn't work. Good thing the next rest stop was only 10 miles away.

Not much happened between the park and about a mile before our next rest stop. I took this photo along McKean. The hills were so green.

We cruised down Bailey road heading towards our rest stop at Spina Farms. On the flat stretch before the rest stop I looked back to make sure that Scott was still behind me. I thought that I saw him in the distance so I kept going. I made it to the light where Spina Farms was and waited for him to catch up. However, the rider that was behind me wasn't Scott. I asked if he had passed Scott and he mentioned that he didn't know Scott but there was a rider that was pulling his bike off the side of the road. I decided to go back to see what happened. A half mile back, there was Scott, on the side of the road with a flat tire. :( The not so great thing was that he wasn't able to get his tire off, because there was still too much air in the tube (it was a slow leak) and the little nut that is on the stem wouldn't come loose. We tried to call the SAG car (which we knew was just up the road at the rest stop) but they didn't answer their phone. We were just about to walk our bikes to the rest stop when another rider stopped to make sure we were ok. We explained our situation and luckily he had a wrench and was able to just break off the part of the stem that was causing the issues. So Scott was finally able to take the tire off and get a new tube into the tire. Also, our other SAG car came up and helped us out by providing us with a floor pump. Soon enough we were on our way and got to the rest stop a half mile away.

At Spina Farms we were greeted by the fabulous D'Bree.

About a half mile after the rest stop, I looked down and realized I had a flat. I called out to Scott and we stopped off to change my tube. Since I knew that our SAG vehicle was close by I gave him a call so that I could use the floor pump. Thankfully we were on our way in no time at all.

We were up against more headwinds on Malech, but since the road is pretty flat as it parallels highway 101 I was able to keep a decent speed. Right after we turned onto Metcalf we got onto a paved path that took us over to a neighborhood. Only a mile or two after we got off the path Scott called out, he had another flat.


As you can see, Scott wasn't too happy about flat number 2. Thankfully I carry two spare tubes with me so I gave Scott my last spare. A few of our TRLs stopped with us to keep us company while Scott fixed the flat. Mayor Bob told us how he always carries a pair of tweezers in his bike bag to help remove debris from his tires. I hadn't heard of this before and it makes so much sense. Sometimes you get a little piece of glass or a thorn in your tire and it is difficult to get out. Once we were on our way he headed north towards Hellyer Park. We have had a rest stop at the Velodrome there on previous rides, but on Saturday we were just passing through. We eventually turned onto Yerba Buena road and only had about 3 miles till our lunch stop. Those were the longest three miles! I was starving and didn't realize that there was one more hill with almost 300 feet of climbing. That isn't a whole lot, but when you are tired and starving, it was more than enough. I had to stop once on the hill to eat a little something so that I could make it to lunch. We finally made it to lunch and gladly relaxed for a while.

After lunch we had some more climbing. We made our way to Mount Pleasant road. I had a feeling that the word 'mount' was very telling, and I was correct. When we came up to the stop sign we realized that we were heading straight up the large hill to our right. One of the TRL's with us decided to rename the road Mt. Un-Pleasant. Seemed pretty fitting. The climb up wasn't easy, but I was surprised that it wasn't as difficult as I thought it might be. The views from the top of Mt Pleasant Rd were well worth the climb up there.

The downhill was a nice relief, until I realized that Scott was taking it slower than normal. He felt like his front tire was a little too bouncy. We took it easy but a few miles down the road Scott pulled into the Quick Mart on the corner where our next turn was. He had his third flat of the day. Good thing a teammate had given us her spare tube at lunch, because otherwise were would have been out of luck. I went into the store and bought a pair of tweezers for each of us, so that from now on we would have them with us. While Scott was fixing his flat tire I inspected my own. I found a small piece of glass and was able to get it out using my new tweezers. Good thing I found that, it could have caused another flat and we wouldn't have wanted that. We had enough flats for the day.

The last climb of the day was at Alum Rock Park. It wasn't a steep climb, just a gradual incline. I was rolling along and as I got toward Mount Hamilton Road there was a group of cyclist that were hanging out at their car on the left side of the road. They started to cheer me on as I was approaching. I always find it interesting when strangers cheer me on. I know that I'm slow on hills, so it probably looks like i'm struggling more than I actually am. Still, it is nice to have a little boost mentally.

Our last rest stop was at Alum Rock Park. We made this a quick rest stop since we were so ready for the ride to be over. The last 16 miles were pretty flat. While we were on Berryessa Road, there was a guy on a bicycle with his dog running along side him. It was such a cool thing to see. The dog looked like he was just loving it and had a blast running alongside his owner.

On the final stretch on Homestead I got behind the group because I started to slow down a little bit and ended up stuck at a light. This was a test of my mental toughness, because the last time I rode Hamilton at the end of a long ride, it was very challenging to keep going; we were so exhausted and ready for the ride to be over. I kept my thoughts positive and didn't struggle at all to keep going. I was so happy when I finally pulled into the Starbucks parking lot and saw my teammates waiting for me.

That was one LONG day. I spent about 10 hours out on the road.

As we enjoyed some nice cold chocolate milk we counted out a tally of the day's flat tires. I think for our entire group we counted about 19 flats. That is a LOT of tubes!

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