A Happily Uneventful Ride

Saturday’s 45 mile ride through Almaden Valley was possibly the most uneventful I’ve had in two (1.5?) seasons. No flats, no blowouts, no crashes, no yelling. It was great! In fact, when I got to the end with nothing more than a set of locked up muscles in the left leg to complain about, I just about danced a jig. And then I remembered the cramped leg muscles. But still, woohoo! Let’s all drink one to continuing that trend.

Now that you’ve all had…well, maybe one drink…let’s walk through the ride. Per usual, the morning started off somewhere above freezing and below comfortable. I left my windbreaker and earwarmers on the couch at home (I suck), and ended up borrowing a hat and vest to add another set of layers. Our team rolled onto Alamaden Expressway and got some pacelining practice in on the lovely wide bike lane there. Coach Devan made a point to set the goal pace for the team up front, and I was much more comfortable keeping up, despite a still-lingering, fairly nasty cough/head cold. We broke up for the first climb on McKean, which thankfully I’d done a couple times before and knew what to expect. Back to the hot paceline action for a few miles, another climb, and we rolled into Rest Stop 1 barely winded. Except for Charles (not my Charles mind you), who had to be sagged to stop 1 due to a faulty chain that couldn’t be repaired on the road.

I convinced myself to eat something, knowing that I had skipped breakfast (can you see where this is heading yet?), and kicked Mike Z. and Hilton around a bit (yay SAG!) before heading back out. We picked Coach Matt and Charles up on the way out, and set a nice pace back out on the road. At some point the sun started to peek out, and Leigh Ann and I rejoiced…just as we rolled into a long stretch of shade. Sigh…we just can’t win. The ride was great for awhile. Wind was minimal, the sun was out (eventually we did come out of the shadows), and traffic was almost non-existant. And then we hit the “last big climb” for the day.

I could feel my calf muscle seizing almost as soon as we started climbing. I changed my stroke to take it easy on the left leg pull-up to compensate, sacrificing some power in exchange for a non-hardlocked muscle. The tradeoff worked, and I made the top without stopping, but had to spend a good 5 minutes stretching that leg out once I hit the summit. We headed down the backside of the hill, just in time to see Charles wipe out on the descent. I’m not sure what happened exactly (gravel is my guess), but that was definitely the worst road rash I’d seen in person. Leigh Ann and I rode ahead to tell the rest of the team to summon SAG, while the coaches did damage assessment. We all met back up at Rest Stop 2 to recharge, and I was shocked to see Charles ride in with the coaches. Man, he’s got some grit to keep going after that fall! Cheers to you too! (Are we all on drink number two now?)

The second rest stop was awesome. For one, Lisa brought coffee. At mile 27ish of a cold arse ride, coffee is freakin’ great. On top of that, a bunch of TNT participants/coaches/etc from last season were working the second rest stop! It was fun to see everyone again and chat about being back on the bike after so long. Patty took pictures (see below), and I yelled at Coach Keith about hills, just for old times’ sake. If the weather had been warmer, it could have been summer season all over again!

Here’s me, rocking Coach Don’s vest and the new blue tires:

Coach Keith and I Reunited:

After all that eating and drinking and reuniting, it was time to roll out again. Unfortunately, my left leg resembled something only slightly softer than solid rock, and no amount of stretching seemed to help. So, rather than slow down the rest of the team, Leigh Ann and I decided to hang back and finish the last 15 miles at our own pace. And it’s a good thing we did! Two water stops, one food stop, and a whole lotta headwind later, we did finish the ride…but it was a struggle to get there! My left leg was basically deadweight by mile 35, and I had a severe cramp in my right thigh (likely from overcompensating) by mile 38. But finish we did! (Many thanks to Leigh Ann for letting me ride her rear tire for the last 10 miles or so!)

At my ride debriefing afterwards, Coach Devan mentioned afterward that the cramping could very likely be due to dehydration. Despite the fact that I’d put away a good two bottles of water over the course of the ride, my body was still fighting off that cold and most of the fluid was probably being eaten up by that. Apparently, the hydration fight was not one that I could win – and my poor eating habits to date likely helped even less. Oh well, for all the cramping drama…it was one darn successful ride!

MotionBased Data: Almaden Valley Ride

Total Time (h:m:s) 4:40:33 6:31 pace
Moving Time (h:m:s) 3:22:08 4:41 pace
Distance (mi ) 43.02
Moving Speed (mph) 12.8 avg. 30.2 max.
Elevation Gain (ft) +2,742/ -2,727

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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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