Team TBD

Prep for Saturday morning’s ride didn’t really go all that well. My carbo-load dinner from the night before was thrown away half eaten (really bad). I forgot to print directions at work, and had to handwrite them on bright blue paper with pink flowers. Not a huge deal, except I somehow missed the VTA turn details, and ended up missing the road a full four times. I finally showed up for the’s ride only 5 minutes or so before roll-out, underfed and kinda stressy.

Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one running behind, and there were a good 20 min or so of announcements before we actually started. After the typical team announcements (mmmmm two extra nights of hill repeats) came one that was rather shocking – Team Tiki Tiki was being …split up! We were always a large team, numbering close to ten even without all of our people in attendance. With a “spare” coach floating around (OK – “rotating” or “floating” coach is probably the real title, but spare sounds funnier!), they decided to break us into two groups. I ended up with Coach Keith, along with the Glorias, Hilton, Ed, Michelle and Scott. Everyone else went with Coach Patrick as the newly dubbed “Team Tiki”.

Side Note: Despite the potential humor in calling ourselves “Team Tiki Two” or similar, we are currently riding under the banner of “Team Nameless” or “Team TBD”, having failed to come up with a suitable moniker over the entire 45 mile course. Suggestions are welcome.

With our new lean-mean size, Team TBD set out for what would be a nice, slightly fast, oft-challenging, ride. We set out up Alamaden Expressway at a much faster pace than normal, likely due to the a combination of the gorgeous weather and the well paved, wide bike lane. Turning onto the smaller roads into Almaden Valley, we were treated to some beautiful scenery, with occasionally rougher terrain and a complete lack of bike lane. Man…that is a bit different – those “CAR BACK” calls have quite a bit more meaning.

The first few miles of the ride were pretty uneventful. Our paceline seemed quite a bit tighter than before, something that could be attributed to the new small size, practice or some combination thereof. My second pull came right as we hit the first hill. We were cruising along at about 16mph when I hear something that sounds suspiciously like “Downshift! and possibly “Regroup at the top”. Of course, none of this makes sense to me, as the road directly ahead resembles, at worst, some false-flat action.

So, I downshift slightly, and keep attacking that “hill” thinking that I am still pulling a line. About halfway up I realize “oh shit…HILL, downshift…I get it!”, and proceed to drop gears enough to do a bit more spinning. I hit the top, having averaged between 8-10mph the whole way up, absolutely burnt. Oops! At least I looked like some form of “super climber” to the team, rather than just uninformed (although, I guess they’ll figure it out if they read this).

I was feeling pretty good as we pulled into Rest Stop 1 – around Mile 17 – despite blowing most of my energy out on Hill 1. I scarfed down a PBJ quarter, a banana piece (no muscle cramps for me!), a Clif Shot packet, and a ton of water before heading back out. Surprisingly enough, the bike didn’t break under the extra weight, and I made it back onto the road without falling. Small miracles…

The ride from Rest Stop 1 to Rest Stop 2 would have been entirely uneventful, if not for the two hills in between. Thankfully, I’d learned my lesson and actually heard the calls for “HILL! DOWNSHIFT!” well in advance of both of them. Oddly enough, I managed to be the puller into both of these hills too – but had enough sense (this time) to let people go by me as necessary. I did make it up both, although my quads were literally screaming by the time we rolled into Stop 2 (What? Your thighs don’t make noise?).

Leaving Stop 2 was mentally challenging for me. Although there wasn’t that much of the ride left, I had a hard time believing my leg muscles were going to survive the torture. Coach Keith, knowing my weakness for Mexican food, promised Chevy’s as a post-ride snack, and I was forced to continue. Darn him!

Realistically, the ride back wasn’t too tough, but the headwind into which we were plowing was. Our ride group was flying along (well, some days 16mph is flying – especially when I’m tired!), and all I could think was “how the hell did not I notice all the wind behind us on the way out?” I kept, rather bitterly, thinking of that old Irish saying “may the wind always be at your back”, and wondering if I could possibly ensure that send-off before each ride to come.

Side Note 2: Anyone willing to be my pre-ride Irish-prayer-blesser-person? It’s an unpaid position, but could have huge benefits, especially if you’re in my ride group!

Anyway, I managed to keep up with the group despite all the wind, right up until the last hill. Technically, it’s the backside of Hill 1 and not all that bad, but with the headwind and my tired legs, it felt pretty well torturous. Michelle (many e-thanks to her) hopped in front of me to block some of the wind. That plus some heavy huffing and puffing, and I made it to the summit in the saddle. Woohoo!

The last five miles or so back weren’t too bad in comparison. You could definitely feel the paceline benefits when it was your turn to pull; the wind really didn’t let up much until we turned back onto Alamaden. A word from Ed, and we’d picked it up to almost 20mph for the last stretch home (hooray for bike lanes again)…which eventually caused some gapping, so we slowed it back down some. We rolled into the VTA parking lot approximately 3hrs after we started.

I was alive, tired, but happy. Chevy’s helped. A 2.5hr nap, 4 Advil, and 1 new Harry Potter book helped more. 🙂 A huge thank you is definitely due to my teammates. They were there every step of the way with encouraging words, reminders to eat and drink, and are generally just a fun group to cycle with. As cheesy as it sounds, it definitely made the ride a lot easier and more enjoyable. Thanks Team TBD!

I forgot to reset my cyclo-computer before this ride, and realized it about 7 miles in, so I pretty much only have estimates for stats.

Distance: 45ish mi

Time: around 3hr

Avg MPH: ~14-15

Max MPH: 31.7


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What do we have here?

An often sarcastic, occasionally humorous journal of my training adventures in preparation for the Livestrong century ride. I took up cycling back in '07 in hopes of meeting new people, and, with the help of Team in Training, making my small positive difference in the world -- and haven't stopped spinning since. Follow along as my Trek road bike and I try and hash out our differences, hopefully with me upright and in the saddle.

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