Stranded


This post actually changed names in my head four times before I started writing it. Now none of my cute/catchy titles seem to fit, but I wanted to list them out anyway (entertainment value?)

  • Now I Know how my Car Feels
  • Shannon was Still Worse
  • Down for the Count
  • Thank god for Coca-Cola

I write this post today from my house, stranded with no mode of transportation other than my own two legs. Well, theoretically I could rig up some sort of dog sled system that utilizes the wheeled cooler…but that sounds like an awful lot of work, and my dogs are kinda lazy. Moving on. As of today, I am out one bike, one car, up 6 bruises, and down (likely) a few hundred dollars. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Calaveras ride Saturday morning started out much the same as any other. We rolled out around 8:30am, feeling good and enjoying the cool morning air. After a quick pit stop around mile 12, Team TBD was back on the road and ready to attack our first climb – Palomares. Just looking at the route sheet, I knew the ascent was going to be tough. Our hill repeats on Mt. Eden are a whopping .7miles up each time; Palomares looked to be almost FIVE MILES long. Holy owie! We all downshifted into granny gears and tried to keep up the chatter as we started to climb.

Surprisingly, our team stayed together pretty well for the first couple miles. Everyone was talking and joking, and the overall mood was pretty upbeat. After the 12th or so “just around the next corner” joke…it ceased to be quite as fun. Still, I’m proud to say, despite the rising temperatures and demoralizing, deceptive turns, our entire team made it to the top in the saddle – and very close together. It was one of those “gah coaches are evil or obviously insane, but we CAN do this” type moments. This euphoria was to live about halfway down the descent.

After a quick rest stop at the Palomares summit (thanks SAG!), our team set off down the backside of the hill. I’d heard that this was a pretty fast descent, and was really looking forward to topping that darn 35mph mark. Rolling down the hill went something like…32
…34
…35
OW Mother @!#@!#!!! (bug to the forehead at 35 mph. That freakin’ HURTS! No wonder my car always makes that unhappy “bonk” noise when big bugs smack its face.)
…37 – almost there!!
…39 – oh I’m so fast!
…Zero. Stupid shiny new Garmin flew off right at the 40mph marker. Had to stop, reverse (in the highest, most painful gear ever) and spend a full 5 minutes hunting. Thanks much to Gloria for finally locating the thing – before it managed to be squashed by oncoming traffic!

And so, with the best part of the descent behind me, I got back on the bike and tried to get up some speed. Somewhere around 32mph, I had to slam on the brakes again! I narrowly missed hitting a baby spotted bambi, which would have been bad for him and as well as me (not to mention the fact that Mike Squirrel-Bane would ever let me live that down…assuming I survived!). Again came the mental comparisons to a car – I mean who ever heard of a bike hitting a deer?

Compared to the five preceding miles, the next ten were all but boring. The ride from the bottom of Palomares to rest stop two was interrupted only by a potty stop at a hotel, and a dropped chain on the way out. Oh. There were those soul-sucking “flat tire” (aka false flat) miles which, in the full-on sunshine, all but crushed the remainder of my spirit. Hooray for riding a whopping 10mph and wondering the whole time why the hell it feels so hard! Temperatures had risen significantly by the time we hit that second rest stop, and I was definitely feeling a bit…wilted…in the heat. I scarfed down a full four pieces of watermelon, drank an absolute ton, and got ready to head out again.

The paceline started to fall apart by the time we hit Calaveras – even before the hill. I think everyone was tired, and there was absolutely no cover from the sun. Those 6-8 miles were punctuated with a lot of “gap” calls as people’s energy levels wavered in the heat (not to mention distance). We did manage to get it pulled back in line and hit the Calaveras climb together.

Calaveras was tough. I had to stop once to loosen my shoes, as my feet had swollen with the heat and sweat, causing them to go completely numb (not a fun feeling). I got back in the saddle, determined to finish the damn hill on the bike. Everyone had really spread out on this climb, which was probably better for me as I needed to count in my head to keep my breathing steady (weird, but true). The hill has minimal tree cover at best, so the entire 4ish mile ascent was a combination of super slow pedaling in the shade followed by a quicker cadence in the sunny patches – speeding up to the next piece of shade. I thought I was going to pass out on the bike from the heat, just as I saw the blue tent of rest stop three.

I gave myself an mental shove, and all but crawled into the rest stop. Food and drink were helpful. I had no idea how much I adored Coca-Cola until that first swallow at the top of the hill. Seriously, it’s the best thing ever. Soda, oranges and a couple well-placed ice cubes, and I started to think that maybe I could finish this ride afterall. Gloria and Gloria both decided to stop the ride there – I’m sure the heat was a big factor in their decision – but with newly filled (and iced) water bottles I was determined to go on.

My muscle control wasn’t great coming out of the parking lot. I dropped my bike (and half of me) into the dirt trying to get back on the road, but rationalized that it didn’t count as a fall, as my top half hadn’t really gone down. Hey! Only my one leg was even really dirty! My brake hood was seriously jacked up, but everything shifted properly, so I felt OK to continue the ride. Little did I know…

What no one really tells you about the Calaveras climb is that you still have a good ways to go up even after the rest stop. You do this entire hill, take a break, only to have more hills to climb. So mean! I was trucking along slowly in the very very hot sun, when I decided I needed to unclip and grab a drink. I found a shady spot, stopped and sucked down half a bottle of water before deciding that I could and would finish the ride. Heck there were only maybe 3 more miles of these mini climbs! Coach Keith and I took off again, complaining casually about the newly paved road and its inherent mess of gravel which was pelting us from pretty much all angles.

And then I was done. I was riding along, convinced I’d make it the entire way, chatting and whining, when fate intervened. I tried to turn the crank and went down hard on my left side in the middle of the road. I couldn’t unclip, couldn’t explain what happened. I just knew my foot had hit a brick wall, and something was wrong. Further inspection revealed that my rear derailleur was now sticking up in the air and had gone through my rear wheel spokes. Awesome. A few minutes and minor amounts of fiddling later, it was determined that the part was broken and I’d have to SAG out.

I could have cried. I had just talked myself back into this ride in the evil heat, and now my bike was completely out of commission. Our best guess is that an ill-placed rock flew up from the road and somehow lodged itself in the derailleur, which didn’t work out so well when I tried to pedal. Siiiiiigh. No one had cell reception where I fell, so Scott and Devan rode on ahead, promising to send back the SAG truck. I sat my scuzzy, dirty, sweaty self in the shade, debating whether or not to throw my bike off the side of the mountain, and tried to chill out (literally and figuratively speaking).

Mike came with the truck, and within minutes I was back in the starting parking lot. My poor busted bike was loaded into my vehicle quickly, and I just paced blacktop – fuming. Realistically, I know that there was nothing I could have done differently that would have allowed me to finish the ride; but it was so disappointing. The hard part was over! So frustrating. Patty swears that my anger at not being able to finish is a sign that I am now really a cyclist…some rite of passage sort of thing. Personally, I think the fact that I’m already jones-ing to ride again is a more tell-tale (and slightly more positive) signal. I just hope that I’m back on the road in time for Half Moon Bay this weekend! Charles is dropping the bike off tonight, as my car is apparently out of brake fluid and unsafe for driving. Yay fun. Anyway, I should know the extent of the repairs (time and cost wise) soon. Wish me luck!


MotionBased Data – Calaveras Ride 8/4/07
Distance: 50.15 mi

Time: 4:24:28

Avg MPH: 11.4

Max MPH: 40.4

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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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