High heat shenanigans

Last Saturday, our team met up at the Los Gatos High School parking lot for our first “real ride.” Why would I classify this one as real? Well, the skills clinics are mostly done (save our Tuesday night torture sessions), our paceline groups are set, and everyone has a pretty good handle on the basics by now.  All that’s really left to do is build up the mileage and refine what we’ve already learned for the next couple months, until we can ride far enough and climb long enough to finish Moab! We’ll be cruising through 100 miles in no time… pretty much.

After a quick, but handy pre-flight bike check seminar by Jim of BAMBR (gotta love the Wiggle Test), my surprisingly small ride group circled up to roll out. Apparently a few teammates had other plans for this weekend, so the Mighty Cs (nope… haven’t been renamed yet) were down to 5 riders – plus our Coach, of course. With last minute sunscreen applied, and the “remember to drink at the back of the line, every time, for real” talk delivered, we hit the road. Our ride got off to a bit of a shaky start. Chi Lam was learning his newly installed pedal system, which made the 5 billion stop signs in downtown Los Gatos more than a little challenging. (I promise, it gets easier with practice!!)

Just as we hit the main drag and really started pacelining, we had another small accident. As if learning pedals wasn’t tough enough, Chi Lam was being tutored in the harder-than-it-sounds art of pulling water bottles without stopping. One misplaced hand and he was down for the count. Eesh, poor guy! We’re definitely asking him to learn a lot in a single day! For the record, I still mostly suck at pulling bottles and often have a mini-mental-panic-attack when doing it… a full 2 years after I started riding. I totally sympathize. Luckily there was no major damage (although I can’t speak to bruised spirit status), and we were all cautiously back on the road in a matter of minutes.

From there, the rest of the first half of the ride passed without incident. I quickly discovered that riding in the summer apparently means riding in the heat! I’m confident that this little documented fact was known to me at some previous point in time, but months of sporadic spring, fall and winter riding seems to have granted me temporary amnesia. Well, the veil has been lifted from my eyes… and something is going to have to be done about my terribly non-breathable (but oh-so-fashionable) TNT jerseys! I was pretty much sweltering by 9:30, with quite a few miles ahead of us. Doh! Thankfully, there was only  a brief potty-stop and two small, but familiar climbs between me and break time. Knowing the terrain is a definite advantage, and I was around the reservoir and up to the shade in no time.

The first “real” ride of the season also means… the first rest stop! Charlotte’s crack team of SAG masters was out en force to provide refuel and refreshment goodies. I don’t usually eat much at the stops, but the lemon-lime sports beans were just too exciting to pass up. Oh… and the fresh giant strawberries. Mmmmm berries (so much tastier than their chemical-y sport goo counterparts). With some food snarfed down, water bottles refilled, and a good amount of huffing and puffing completed, Team C headed out to tackle Eden.

Now, Mount Eden isn’t the worst hill in the world (heck, it’s probably one of my favorites just from pure familiarity), but it definitely qualifies as a “meet at the top,” regroup, and then “meet at the bottom” type climb. Which is pretty much exactly what we did. I’m happy to report that I rode the entire length in my middle chain ring – although I was less happy about that later when I was dragging tail on the last 5 miles. I reached the top with pretty much no problem, and was glad for a slight rest at the top. My descent was solid (but not super fast), and I reached the meet-up point right in the middle of the pack.

And we waited. Mike, Silvana, John and I sat in our designated driveway and chatting and recovering. At some point my muscles start getting a bit cold and I think to myself… “hrmmm, it’s been a little while, hasn’t it? I wonder if something is wrong.” I check my cell phone but have no reception. Everyone gets the same idea around the exact same time, and we start musing aloud that maybe we should head up the hill and check in on Chi Lam and George. Rockstar-John (so named for taking the extra-climbing hit) heads up the backside of Eden to hunt them down. Another 15-ish minutes later John rolls back with some bad news. Chi Lam’s tire had gone flat and he went down pretty hard on his descent. He seemed fine, but Charlotte was taking him to the hospital just to be sure. Eeep! Definitely not our teammate’s luckiest day.

We eventually regrouped and rolled back out, a man down and a bit subdued (of course, you can probably blame a good bit of that on the heat!). Comparatively speaking, the back half of the ride was uneventful. Our pace slowed (and voices faded) as the day wore on. I think it takes awhile for the “don’t blow everything out while your fresh in the cool morning” message to sink in… but we finished as a group, intact. Given the fact that I’d been sick all week (and was, in fact, still sick on Saturday), I thought my ride was pretty strong. I did go ahead and give myself an extra “stop being sicky” recovery day by skipping Sunday’s ride, only to spend the day hiking the Armstrong woods (super steep trail side) instead! Hopefully everyone will be back on the bikes – not sick, not injured and ready to keep things uneventful –  for our first buddy ride on the 4th.

TNT Ride #4 Los Gatos High


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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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