Let’s TP His House!

When Coach Keith says he “Is Not Your Buddy”, he means it! Even with the titular warning sitting in bold font at the top of the route sheet, I feel like I came into Saturday’s ride somewhat unprepared (at least mentally). Now, I did learn something from last week’s ride, and did a decent amount of carbo-loading at Mama Mia’s in Campbell Friday night. I went ahead and ate another Clif Bar on the way to the start point, and was feeling pretty good by the time we were ready to roll out.

The ride started out easy enough. Hilton, Gloria and I (about half of Team TBD) set out together from the Los Gatos High School parking lot. We made it all the way to the second step of the directions before missing the turn onto Kennedy and adding a wrong turn onto Shannon, which tacked a good 1.3 miles onto our trip without even trying. Awesome. We walked our bikes over a crosswalk, backtracked a bit and found the right road. Of course, this meant my cyclocomputer distances would never again match up with the sheet. FYI – having to add 1.3 to all written distances is a pretty good test as to whether or not you have a “case of the stupids”.

We hit our first climb on Kennedy, and overall it was not that bad. There were a couple times when Hilton said something like “that’s it?” well before the top, but I knewthat Keith wouldn’t have marked it a hill unless normal people would view it as some sort of mini-death situation. Still, all three of us made it up the hill in the saddle (with one break in a driveway for water and socializing with some other teammates). Too bad the same can’t be said for the descent.

I got to the bottom having made up my slow climb time by speeding passed Hilton on the downhill. Apparently I should have gone a bit slower, if only to watch said teammate take a tumble right into the bushes! Thankfully, Hilton came out of the situation unscathed, save for some seriously torqued handlebars. Ten minutes and some multi-tool action later, we were back on the road – handlebars once again facing front.

Gloria, Hilton and I took advantage of the wide bike lane out on Almaden to start practicing our pacelining a bit more. Granted, it was a darn short line, but it was good to get more comfortable riding close together, keeping a steady pace, calling gap, etc. We had a pretty good ride all the way out to the hill at McKean. Yes, it IS a hill, despite Coach Keith’s obvious “accidental” omission on the route sheet. Grrrrrrrr. The three of us spread out a bit on the climb, and regrouped at the top for our first rest stop. A gel packet and some water later, we were back on the road – still feeling pretty good. The miles flew by pretty uneventfully, right up until we ran into Mike and Beth Ann.

It must have just been a day for accidents. Mike’s crank had detached itself from his bike and was dangling from his clip on the descent on McKean. He magically managed to unclip and get off the road without falling, and was walking back up the road hunting a cap piece that had fallen off before he stopped. It was definitely one of those times where it’s good to be part of the team! Hilton and Mike reattached the crank while Gloria and Beth Ann hunted the missing piece down. I mostly provided color commentary in an attempt to keep Mike’s right temple vein from exploding (hey, that was more necessary than you might think!). With everything reattached, and Mike having made a successful trial run up and down the street, we all headed back out.

Everything was fine until Croy. Mike and Beth Ann had turned off – I’m sure he wasn’t feeling up to the climb on a potentially unstable bike – so it was just Hilton, Gloria and I that headed up the hill. A quick perusal of the route sheet indicated a good three miles to the summit – or so I approximated after adding on our “warm up” miles. Much like Kennedy, it all started innocently enough. There were some ups and downs, a couple spots that were easiest standing; nothing in particular that was too hard, just long. We saw most of the rest of the team making their descent about .5 miles in. Another FYI: If Coach Keith tells you “you’re almost there”, assume you have 2.5 miles left to go. Bastage.

I have to give a big thanks to Gloria and Hilton here – they were great to ride with! We talked, joked, encouraged, and poked each other up the hill, and made it all the way to that weird little Swedish village thing without stopping. Once there we ran into Ben and debated whether or not we should continue up to the park at the very top. Consensus was – we need water and potties, so…Press on! Honestly, had I walked that last little bit of Croy into the parking lot, I probably would have been fine. Instead, despite a visible warning of a BIG increase in grade, I decided I would finish the damn thing on the bike (Gloria, Hilton and Ben are all smarter than me – just so ya know). I stood and pushed up over the last bump, and then proceeded to walk circles around the parking lot…heavily debating which sounded better – passing out or puking.

In the end, I went with “hide in the shade and whimper”. I polished off a bottle of water or so, hit the potties, and refilled for the ride back. Hey, we were halfway done…it couldn’t be too hard, right? We took turns cursing Coach Keith’s name, and debating precisely how much harm we’d be able to inflict on him when we got back and couldn’t move our legs. We met up with Coach Don at the top and discovered the terminology “GOOD CLIMB” actually meant something on the order of “Prepare to die” in coach-speak. Who knew? (Keith knew! Hence Gloria deciding that we ought to TP his house. That’s right – Gloria! I am NOT the only bad one!)

This was an out-and-back ride with a U-turn at Croy. Coach Don flew by us on the descent and shot passed us again on the flats of Uvas and McKean. We caught back up with him on the backside of McKean (which, honestly, compared to Croy really wasn’t much of a hill), before losing him again on the straightaways. So the four of us – we had kept Ben for awhile – stuck together all the way back to Almaden, averaging probably 14mph the rest of the way.

There isn’t much to tell between McKean and Shannon. Ben took off on Almaden when we stopped for new water bottles, and we didn’t see him again until we hit the school parking lot. It was windy and it was HOT. I’d blown pretty much all my energy at the top of Croy, and was really struggling to keep up even on the flats. Again, I am lucky to have had some good ride partners with me, and they put up with my slow pace (ahem “energy conserving pace”) up to the last hill.

We ran into Colin, already freshly showered and in his car at the start of Shannon. I would have cursed his existence – damn showoff being faster and cleaner than me – but he had my favorite GU in hand, so I had to forgive him. I basically inhaled the thing and got back in the saddle for our last climb of the day. All was going well until about .7mi from the summit. I went around one of the switchbacks, praying for the top, to see another steeper section winding on ahead. My brain told my legs “NO”, and I struggled to unclip before toppling.

Gloria and I both walked about 10 yards or so, joined shortly by Chris and Chris from behind. I stopped in the shade trying not to be sick knowing I couldn’t walk the rest of the way in clips (or barefoot), and that I would finish this darn ride. I rested, drank some water, bitched a lot, and then walked to a flat spot from which to take off. And I rode….the rest of the way up. Yeah, it was slow. And I sweated. And kinda wanted to die. But my tail was in the saddle at the top. Woohoo! (Now if you picture me hitting the summit, immediately unclipping, and then sitting on the hot pavement with my head between my legs – you’ve got the whole story, not just the inspirational sounding bits.)

Hilton was already at the top, so we waited for the rest of the team to get there – and for me to recover – before heading out for the last 4 miles. Colin came by again in the car, this time with cold water to share, so we all refilled before the descent. The last four miles were uneventful. There was no “second wind” coming, and it was painful to finish – but we all made it (in under 5 hours…ouchie).

Coach Keith was right about one thing. It was the hardest thing I’ve done thus far, and it is entirely possible that I’ll be a stronger rider for it. And yes, I’m pretty proud of myself for finishing. I don’t yet believe Keith when he says that I’ll forgive him after Calaveras this week, but if I don’t…I’ve got some double rolls of Charmin stacked in the closet with his name on ’em. Who’s with me?

Distance: 53.19 mi

Time: 4:15:18

Avg MPH: 12.5

Max MPH: 35.5 (that’s right – broke 35 again! Woot!)


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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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