Tour de Hometown

Julie and I decided, rather last minute-like, to ride the Tour de Peninsula back on 8/2. Yeah, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted — between fail lung sickness, traveling and book editing I haven’t been online much at all… but more on that later. She had friends coming into town and had to miss Matt’s buddy ride (which I’m sure that she regretted HUGELY), so we decided to hit the TdP as a way for her to make up some miles that weekend.

The two of us rolled up to the starting area at Coyote Point ridiculously early Sunday morning. I was afraid that day-of registrations might get cut off and that we might not get our T-shirts if we came late. As it turned out, everyone who came could register and everyone who registered day-of got their shirts mailed to them — but by the time we’d figured that out it too late to reclaim any lost sleep. Hey – it was only my second non-TNT event ever… what do I know?

Given the state of my legs after the buddy ride the day before, we opted to register for the 31mi route instead of the 65 or 100 options (well, instead of the 65. Realistically, the 100 was never on the table… but it sounds more impressive if you put it in the list!). The lines moved super quickly, and we traded our $40 cash for an armband and route sheet with a full hour to spare. We braved the obnoxiously short and steep climb to and from the starting zone two extra times – had to shed some layers and drop off the empty Julie-fuel cells (aka Diet Mountain Dew bottle) at the car.

Extraneous objects stowed, we joined the rest of the cattle herd in between the plastic ropes that formed the start-line chute. Actual roll time was delayed a good 10 minutes, which meant extra time standing in the cold, grey fog of San Mateo mornings. We managed not to freeze to death in 50 degree weather (barely!), and, after a near-wipeout at the actual start line, were on our way.

I probably won’t be able to describe the route super accurately, despite the help of my Garmin data. Time and the most-fail route sheet that you’ve ever seen (Seriously? A full-color giant map with almost no road names? And no distances?) has dulled my memory, and the GPS data is hard to interpret as the route looped over itself in several spots. I know for sure that the route first followed the Coyote Point Trail south before heading across downtown San Mateo. This was one of my very favorite parts of the ride, as Charles and I hang out in this neighborhood often — but I’ve never ridden it. I felt a bit like a tour guide – “there’s my movie theater, and there’s the awesome Italian place.” Fun stuff! I was sorely tempted to stop at Pete’s somewhere around mile 5; only Julie’s hatred of all things coffee kept me on bike. Silly girl… coffee is tasty!

We quickly learned to appreciate the CHP providing “traffic calming” at intersections as well as all the super enthusiastic volunteers directing us at every turn. Most roads had no cars at all and we almost never got lost (we’ll get to that in a minute), no thanks to aforementioned Route Sheet of Faildom. Our first climb went up Crystal Springs Road (which you might remember from the previous day’s ride) and was a good way to finally warm up. Julie and I split up during the climb, but regrouped easily at Rest Stop #1 at the top of the hill.  This stop seemed way too early in the route, so we just topped off water bottles and kept on rolling.

From there we headed down Skyline and out onto everyone’s favorite closed road: Cañada. The sun started to peek out just as we hit the reservoir, and we enjoyed some warmer miles along familiar territory. I’m actually beginning to think that legislation was passed at some point requiring 98% of all rides in the area to include Cañada road! We opted skip Rest Stop #2 at the water temple as well, figuring that we’d just hit it on the way back (as the 31 mile route was an out-and-back on this road). Julie and I rolled along for another 2-ish miles before hitting Edgewood and running out of “31 mile route –>” signs. Apparently what the route sheet had failed to make clear was the fact that the second rest stop was our turnaround spot. Oopsie!

We quickly whipped around and headed back to check out the goodies. One very tasty plum and one somewhat-less-tasty See’s chocolate lollypop later, we were back on the road. The next bit of the route was pretty fun. We veered off to the right of the main road, just before 92, and took a little walking trail up over 280. There was a bitchy little popper climb to get up to the overpass, and a longer but milder-grade one to get up to Ralston Ave… but I enjoyed the scenery (and the novelty of riding over a major highway). After some lack-of-crosswalk stoplight cursing, we were treated to an awesome long descent down Ralston and Polhemus.

The furiously waving flags at our next turn just barely kept me on track for the turn onto Crystal Springs Road again (deja vu all over again or somesuch — 3 times in one weekend!). I made the turn at the last possible second, but was stuck climbing in my biggest gear for awhile. By the time Julie and I were about a quarter of the way up this hill-lette, I was starting to feel the pain of yesterday’s ride. 31 miles isn’t really that much longer than our typical 23 mile recovery loop, but this route definitely had a bit more climbing than I expected. We crested the top and hit rest stop #1 again – this time pausing for a bit of refuel action.

With (significantly more tasty) butterscotch See’s lollies in hand, we set out to ride the Sawyer Camp Trail. Seriously, sooo much route overlap – at least I knew what to expect! The day was gorgeous – sunny but not hot – and the trail was much more fun to ride when it was closed to pedestrians. We wound around the reservoir, celebrating the win that is butterscotch candy and taking in the scenery. The short climb at the end of the trail felt much harder than I know it is… but Julie and I made it up pretty quickly nonetheless.

We zipped through Rest Stop #3 without stopping and enjoyed/clutched the handlebars in terror through the descents back down to civilization. (As it turns out, coming straight down from those hills up in Millbrae is much steeper than you’d imagine!) The rest of the ride really was mostly downhill and definitely uneventful. The very last mile of the route went through a bizarre gravel patch which made me feel as though I should’ve been on a mountain bike… or at least riding commuter tires… but we made it through and back up the hill to the start/finish zone without any flats (miraculously).

Hooray for pops!

After checking out the (rather paltry) selection of vendors in the finish zone, we hauled our selves back downhill to the car. I did get a pedometer that I have no idea how to use and a bunch of brochures for rides that I’m probably not doing — but that was about it. We decided to pass on the lame-ish looking food at the end, opting for BJs (yay giant potatoes!) as a lunch reward instead. All in all, my second event ride ever was a very fun time — a bit challenging for a “recovery ride”… but good times nonetheless.

Tour de Peninsula


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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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