HMB hates me

Dear Half Moon Bay:

I’m sorry. Really. I have no idea what on earth I might have done to offend you (especially considering that I’ve never really come to see you save on rides… actually maybe that’s it? Lack of attention?), but I swear I didn’t mean it. I’ll be good from now on, I promise. I’ll visit as often as you want. Or at least at some interval that’s reasonable. I’ll invite friends to see you. Throw a party for you. Take pretty pictures with the doggies on your beach. Or not. Just, for the love of Pete… tell me what I need to do to get you to stop randomly injuring parts of my body!


That chick who’s calf you spazzed out on that 7/11 ride

So, in case you didn’t catch the drift… my version of the team’s 50(ish) mile Half Moon Bay ride (two Saturdays ago) was a bit less than ideal. The day started off well enough. The weather was a bit cold and drizzly, but our quick “still feeling fresh first thing in the morning” pace was enough to get the engines revved up. By the time we hit the first mini-climb, I was glad that I’d left the leg warmers behind (the arm coolers were totally still a good call). After minor mechanical difficulty (Brent had some flat-tire issues), we regrouped and rolled down for a nice descent into the valley.

And thus the first 18ish miles passed almost without incident. We joked, laughed, took our turns pulling, and just generally enjoyed the scenery. The coastal views and mountain/valley action are really quite gorgeous. You still listening HMB?! I complimented you there!! Somewhere along that stretch we did end up leaving Brent and Geoff behind (HMB is a tough ride to start back on after a couple weeks out of training), but the rest of the team maintained a great line all the way up to the first actual climb (not a bump!).

Somewhere around two miles before we turned onto Haskins Hill, my right calf started feeling a bit… twingey. Yes, I realize that’s not really a word… but it’s the most accurate that I’ve got. Every few pedal strokes something seemed to pull back up feeling a little… well… wrong. Now, this wasn’t my first rodeo(ride?) or my first pulled muscle precursor. I knew something felt off and immediately took to pounding sport drink and chomping down some shot blocks every time I dropped to the back of the paceline. By the time we actually hit the base of our climb, I was pretty sure that I’d staved off any issues and wasn’t really worried about a thing (other than actually reaching the top). Shows how much I know.

I actually had a nice sit and spin ride up 99% of Haskins. Its a fairly long climb with a ton of little switchbacks and a few false summits… but it is also well shaded and is of a mostly gradual grade.  Having done this hill a couple times before, I actually had a pretty good idea as to when it would end (yay for recognizable landmarks), and started to pick up the cadence …or at least tried to… for the last couple curves.

And then, out of nowhere, my left calf gave one… two spasms… and (just as I crested the summit) it locked solid. And I mean solid. Screamingly so. The kind of cramp where you have to shout because it hurts so much. (And yes, for some unknown reason… for all the warning signs that I got from the right leg, it was the left that cramped. Who knows?!) I managed a miraculous one-legged unclip dismount, handed my bike off to our friendly neighborhood SAG (who was fortuitously/unfortunately positioned to see the whole thing), and hopped across the street to whimper and stretch. At least I made the top first, right?

By the time the rest of our ride group had reached the top and recovered, I decided to go ahead and keep rolling (or at least to attempt to do so). I didn’t want to leave the team entirely without ride support, and the rest stop was only another 10 miles in — how bad could it be? Pretty bad. The descent off Haskins went well enough; at least I remembered to keep feather-pedaling to keep from re-cramping too quickly cooled muscles. I really had to baby the left leg into the rest stop (I couldn’t pull up with it at all), but did manage to make it into the parking lot without further incident.

Knowing the likely culprits for muscle cramping (Potassium or salt deficiencies), I headed straight for the SAG table and snagged a whole banana and two roasted red potatoes, rolled in season salt – well the potatoes were, I mean. I refilled all my bottles, gulped down some more Cytomax, then went back to stretching (thanks to George for his help in targeting that darn calf muscle). By the time we rolled out, I was feeling… still tight but a bit better overall.

And then, just for extra bonus fun, we hit Stage Road. I’m sure you all remember how much I love that “little” stretch of pavement (2 broken bones ringing any bells here?). Well, for the record, I love it even *more* when I get to climb it with one gimped leg. No… really! Ok, ok. You caught me. Not really. The only positive note I can give for this series of climbs is that I did, in fact, manage to do them, fail left calf muscle notwithstanding. I also didn’t burst into tears (or even really consider doing so) when passing my accident spot this season. In fact, my Stage 1 descent was actually pretty darn smooth! You hear that HMB?? You haven’t crushed my soul yet!

By the end of the Stage 2 hill, I was pretty much toast. Everything felt off-kilter, as I was only push-pulling on one side… which tired me out darn quickly. The last stage climb back up to Hwy 1 was, well, rude. It’s actually not particularly steep or difficult, but (as I learned in my Tour de France coverage watching) placement in the ride matters. We hit the “final final” summit with only really 10 miles left to ride, and I think most of the group was feeling pretty beat up by that point. We did get some nice downhill action and some truly lovely views coming back down the highway (sadly, 30mph descents on a major thoroughfare… not the right place to bust out a camera), and finished, mostly intact in just under 4 hours. **Appeases the HMB with many compliments in a single blog post**

I dragged myself home after a quick burrito refill, and got to work on leg repair. I hot showered, iced, and IcyHot-ted before, ultimately, trusting its care to a professional. I was lucky enough to get a massage appointment in the same day, which helped a ton in relaxing all the terribly torn tissue. I did, once again, skip the Sunday recovery ride (I could barely walk… especially after an ill-advised bowling session late Saturday night) as well as Tuesday night hill repeats to allow for a bit more babying time.

I am definitely glad that I finished the ride, even though it meant doing 30 miles on a bum calf. I’m not sure why my Half Moon Bay karma is quite so terrible (did I ride over its invisible dog?!), but, thankfully, I won’t have to test my apology effectiveness letter for probably another year.

TNT Ride #5 HMB


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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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