Posts Tagged 'Mount Eden'

Super (stalker) SAG

Still playing catchup on posts, but as it’s after 10pm on a ride night… I’m probably only going to get a short one in.

From a “how the ride went” perspective, the Tour de Montañas was pretty uneventful. Sure, it was hot — but we’ve done much hotter rides. It was long — but we’ve done longer. There was climbing but… well, you get the idea. On the whole, my team performed really well on their longest route up to that point. There were definitely things that could be improved upon (leaving a paceline out of a stoplight? not a race!), but most things that were “wrong” were really more like fine tuning of techniques than actual problems.

The real story of this week’s ride was having Charles as driving SAG for my team, complete with doggie sidekick! This was the first day in over a year that Charles has been able to sign up for SAG, and his first time as road support (rather than rest stop volunteer). I was a little worried that he’d be bored (hey… 65 miles worth of riding takes a frikkin’ long time!), but I’m pretty sure that he actually enjoyed it… once he recovered from the absolute horror of being out of bed before 7am, that is. The Dream Catchers rolled out of Foothill College a little after eight, with our trusty SAG support following by about 10 minutes. We quickly covered the first 10 miles (Foothill and over Mt. Eden? No problem!), and had a regroup before covering the next reverse downhill – Pierce. Side note: Big congrats to Chi Lam who made it down the backside of Eden on bike! Re-riding an accident scene is always tough, but he rocked it!

Pierce was a new and nasty hill for me… but, thanks to my ever-knowledgable teammates, one for which I was (at least mentally) prepared. After a little gut-punching action, we enjoyed a nice series of downhills to Rest Stop #1 at McClellan park – passing the time by hunting for my black truck SAG stalker. Charles wanted to execute his duties with “optimal response time” to any potential incident, so we saw him every mile or two as he pulled off to make sure we were ok (Sasyha helped… or… stood outside the truck looking official at random intervals… ). After a quick refuel break, we hit a good stretch of paceline practice roads back in the Alameda de Las Pulgas – Menlo Park area.

Of course, there’s only one way that we ever seem to come off of Alameda de Las Pulgas… and it’s one that made me glad for the group-ride energy conservation: Edgewood Road. We did part of this climb for Matt’s buddy route (right before turning off to hit “the wall”), and I’ve driven it about a billion times – but man did I underestimate what a pain it would be to ride! In all actuality, the hill itself isn’t too tough — just a little over 2 miles long at a reasonable grade. The problem lies in hitting that climb in 90 degree heat with 40 miles already under your belt. The road actually cuts through two larger hills on either side, which means that you get absolutely zero breeze going up. The sun pretty well baked me dry, but (thanks to an emergency Chocolate Outrage Gu!) I made the top without stopping.

I was in pretty dire need of rest come Rest Stop #2 at the summit. Thankfully, Charles was there to fill my “hug something warm and fuzzy” distraction needs, while Sashya filled my bottles and fed me fruit. Wait… hrmmm…. reverse that. I hugged the puppy, recouped (puppies really are the best medicine!) and headed for a nice downhill to the ol’ ride sheet standby – Cañada. Yes, again. Stop asking. We put our “you’re only as fast as your slowest person” gap calling paceline skills to work on this stretch – those headwinds really are a bitch, and people are tired by mile 45. We accidentally temporarily lost our super SAG  by pulling off for a potty break at the non-car-accessible water temple. Oopsie! We did manage to find him again in a couple miles (he rode all the way to the end and back looking for us), but we would have totally blown his self-imposed response time goals had anything actually gone wrong. Lucky for all involved, the worst thing anyone could complain of on that stretch of road was some tired legs.

The next miles were familiar and uneventful. We headed down Portola to Alpine and then climbed up the backside of Arastradero. With only 5 miles to go, everyone started to perk up a bit… only to get smacked in the face a bit with another climb over Purissima. The whole team made it up, but the “GAAAAAAP!” calls increased drastically — a sure sign that people were wearing down. And then… Elena. We’ve done this hill a bunch of times for repeats, but not typically this side, and never the whole way darn stretch! Grrrrrr. Our team split up pretty drastically on this climb (much to super-SAG’s chagrin — too much space to cover effectively!) as we spun out the last two miles. Yep… a two mile climb at the end of a 65 mile ride. At least Coach George didn’t try and call it “just a bump,” as I think someone (me) might have had to punch him. Or at least had to think about punching real hard while, in reality, being too tired to execute pretty much any nonessential movement.

I was dragging tail over the last stretch, but seeing Charles and Sashya every little while helped me a lot. Maybe it’s true that smiling while climbing relaxes you (seriously… Google it! That’s a documented cycling theory right there!), because I was actually able to make the summit without stopping. After a pretty nasty descent over some “road work in progress” pavement, the entire team regrouped back at Foothill College. I forced everyone to stand still long enough to snag a group picture:

before Charles and I headed out to lunch to review his premier SAG performance. Hey – if he’s going to make this a regular thing… we need talk strategy! The team is up for a 75 miler next weekend (well… the weekend after this ride… which was back on the 8th), so stay tuned for more super cycling stories soon.

Tour de Montanas


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

No One Here but Me and the Deer

I missed hill repeats last Sunday. There are a lot of things I could blame my absence on…arm, cold, general dislike of descents…but in reality, Charles knocked the plug for the alarm clock out of the wall. I have no natural affinity for waking up early, so it was full on 10am before I discovered the issue; much too late to get ready and show up for repeats. Even knowing that the possibility of me waking up sans-alarm did not exist, I was pretty bummed to have missed the event. As penance (and because I seriously need the extra training), I decided to take my bike out at lunchtime on Monday and do repeats solo.

Monday morning in San Jose was bright and sunny. Apparently the sun has limits on how far it can shine though, as the sky was completely overcast and dreary by the time I reached the park at the base of Mt. Eden. This, of course, meant that I managed to under-layer once again…but not so much as to prevent me from riding, just enough to make me moderately uncomfortable. As far as clothes go, I just can’t seem to win.

In addition to being cloudy, the area was damp (bordering on wet) from rain that had rolled through the night before. I thought to turn back – shaky descents on dry ground are bad enough – but decided to make at least one trip up the hill before heading home. Heck, I was already wearing the gear…might as well make use of it. And so I set out to climb. The road was basically empty. I saw one other cyclist (or what I assume that blur of blue and green spandex on wheels was) as he blew by me on the hill, never to appear again (I’m guessing he went down the backside as opposed to turning around for repeats). And then I saw the deer.

At first, there was just one. It jumped into the road on my first climb and bounded across before I could really react to what I saw. Coming back down extremely cautiously due to the water, I caught sight of a white tail flicker headed into the bushes. Fortuitously, I had brought my camera thinking that I might take a few shots from the summit on a nice “sunny” day. Those didn’t really work out, but I did manage to catch this guy on my first descent.

Temporarily distracted, I ended up doing two more laps up Mount Eden looking for more deer. Hey, there were no cars, no cyclists and fuzzy animals. I’m pretty sure that’s just about as good as hill repeats get! On the second trip down, I skid to a stop just in time to watch a whole family of deer walk through the woods. I had a hard time getting a decent photo of all six, but the one below has four and is reasonably clear. Can you spot ’em all?

The third descent yielded no deer, nor any reasonably cute substitute (No the guy driving the Hummer in the middle of the road didn’t do it for me. Bastage.). Pair that with some really tired legs and an increasingly clouding sky and I decided to head for home. I figure that three repeats all the way to the top is fairly close in effort to the 4-5 partials I would have gotten out with Coach Don. I threw the bike in the truck and drove straight to Chipotle. Yeah, I took it to go (not so fun eating solo), but it was phenomenally tasty knowing that I earned it.

This One’s a Blowout

My alarm went off at 6:30 for a 7:30 ride. Half hour to get ready and a half hour to get there (or so was the plan). At 6:32 I checked the weather reports looking/hoping for rain. By 6:35 I’d determined that the ride was not, in fact, cancelled due to some injury/freak weather occurrence/pity on my sick feeling self. Around 6:58 I re-dragged myself out of bed. Hey, there were still 32 minutes in which to get dressed, eat, buy a bottle of water, and drive to the start point…totally doable. The throat swelling hadn’t really abated, but i was bound and determined to get at least one ride in on the new crank and seat setting. At least that’s what I told myself after I finished a mental guilt trip of how bad I’d feel if I missed knowing that everyone else showed up. So I pulled on the winter weather gear (yay!) and rolled out around 7:05. Thankfully the start for this ride wasn’t too far from the house!

The ride started out pretty rough. My paceline group was feeling pretty good so early in the morning and were ready to take off on the first little climb on Route 9. My snuffly, snotty self was having issues processing the 32 degree air; hard to warm up the air if you can’t breathe it in. Pair that with cold toes and the sensation that someone was shoving needles into the tips of my frozen fingers and I was damn uncomfortable. By mile 2 I’d decided I couldn’t hang with an 18mph pace on the flats – I just couldn’t process enough air and felt like I was hyperventilating. Thankfully, our group was super small on Sunday, so Ron volunteered to stay back with me (after sprinting up to let Devan know, of course).

And that’s pretty much how the first half of the ride went. Ron and I hung back, cruising around 14-15mph (except on the hills. And on the devil false flats.). Eventually I must have crossed some exertion threshold, and my fingers and toes magically thawed in the space of 20 seconds. Weird how that happens; freeze for an hour and then instantly get warm. Not that I’m complaining. We rolled through the first 15 miles up to the rest stop pretty uneventfully, thanks to the fount of cycling advice that is Ron’s brain. Seriously, if you are new to cycling on the team chat this guy up! Not only does he know a ton of good techniques to help you get more for your effort, he’ll keep you distracted from the cold (and, in my case, lack of breath). Interestingly enough, Ron and I showed up at the rest stop at the same time as the rest of our ride team. Apparently they had pulled back a bit after that initial speed burst.

I scarfed down a couple shot bloks and two pieces of fruit, then forced myself to drink a good half bottle of water before hitting the road again. It’s really challenging for me to remember to drink on super cold days, even though I know that it is key to preventing bonk. Anyway, Coach Devan’s team headed out together and tackled Mount Eden (yes, of hill repeats fame) in good time. We regrouped at the top and then made plans to meet at the bottom again. The descent was a bit scary for me. There were a good number of blind or partially obstructed (Oohhh…driver’s ed word there) turns, and I freaked out just a little the first time my tail shimmied in gravel. But, I made it to the bottom without injury – I just took it a bit slower than the rest. One day, I’m convinced those will be fun again.

The last half of the ride was pretty challenging. I was riding with the full team, so I had to push it up to an 18-21mph pace for a good while (or so it seemed). I hung with them for a couple miles at least, but really ended up in more of a chasing position. Somewhere between the rest stop and the descent on Mount Eden, my body had chilled again and I just couldn’t push enough oxygen through to keep up. By the last 5 miles, we’d reigned the pace in to 13-14, and I was able to hold my place in line (feeling completely and utterly burnt as I did so).

And then, just as our paceline was cresting 20+ mph on a descent maybe 3 miles from the end of the ride….BOOM! The loudest popping noise I can remember (near my immediate person anyway), and a horrible smell of burning rubber. I yelled for a “MECHANICAL” inbetween curse words while simultaneously trying to slow down and stop my front end from careening off the road. Yep, I had a blowout. (Seriously, every time I convince myself the cycling-gods don’t hate me, especially on descents, something like this happens!) I managed to get stopped and off the road without taking out the paceline or any innocent bystanders. Yay me!

Our awesome roving SAG showed up within 2 minutes of pulling off the road. After inspection we found that the tire was not only flat, but that there was a giant rip in the sidewall from whatever the heck I’d managed to run over. Thankfully, I carry my patch kit (and other tools), knowing that even if I don’t know how to apply them, someone will be able to help me as long as I have that materials. Thanks to Chris, Devan and Ron, we had the tire patched, pumped and reinstalled in almost no time. I so appreciated the help too. Between the cold and the 25 miles, my arm strength was utterly sapped. We rolled out again to finish the last 5 miles basically uneventfully (unless you count the maniac who tried to run me over on the Route 17 on/off ramp).

I rewarded myself for finishing the ride on a wobbly, ripped tire without falling with a nice breakfast (brunch?) in the area and a hot shower when I got home. Apparently I’ll have to get new tires installed this week before I ride again (stupid money-sink bike). If anyone in the area is really bored, feel free to volunteer to come install them for me! And so my fall-free season continues…

MotionBased Data – Los Gatos High Ride (minus the last 3 miles where I turned the thing off after the blowout and forgot to restart it, and minus the heart rate data because it was too damn cold to put that thing on in the parking lot that morning! So don’t forget to add those miles on, dangit.)

Total Time (h:m:s) 3:10:35 5:52 pace
Moving Time (h:m:s) 2:12:04 4:50 pace
Distance (mi ) 27.27
Moving Speed (mph) 12.4 avg. 29.3max.
Elevation Gain (ft) +1,927/ -1,845

My Muscles are Revolting

Originally drafted 11/25 and magically not posted until now

No, I am not freakishly deformed (although the elbow is not particularly pleasant to view)…I just came back from a week off to do hill repeats with…dundundun…no cold weather gear! I know, some of you are reading this from the North East snowstorms thinking “what do these California people know about cold anyway?” Well, I think it is precisely that prejudice that made me think I could do yet another ride in sub 50 degree weather with nothing more than a pair of bike shorts and a long sleeved jersey…which, in turn, contributed to my leg muscles having a full on revolt after about an hour of riding. California isn’t supposed to be cold dangit! I am not a “winter jacket at 60 degrees” wimp yet!

Overall, hill repeats went well. Rather than doing our typical trips up and down Mt. Eden, Coach Don had us venture out the other direction and do a longer, rolling climb instead. I think it was intended to be a reward for showing up on a holiday weekend! The ride was nice; rolling hills, a stream, wildlife. Scenic. The kind of route that makes me wish I rode with a camera (but heck, if I can’t buy leg warmers…what are the chances I’ll bring a camera?). We did have to brave 5 wooden bridges, which were especially torturous on the elbow (10 really, since the route was an out-and-back), but other than that it was an enjoyable – albeit cold – trip.

I did have a bit of a scare on the return. Keep in mind that I am still pretty shaky on descents. My accident was on a downgrade, and this ride was the first real trip downhill I’ve had to do since then. Things started well. I got into the drops OK, and was pretty comfortable supporting my body weight on the crappy shoulder. I think I topped out somewhere around 25 mph (I know…I used to be such the speed demon…give it time), when I hit a giant seed pod from one of the trees in the middle of the road. Now, these pods are pretty large – probably 6 inches around – and are bright orange to boot…but my reaction time was slow and my front tire plowed into the thing. The bike shimmied and fishtailed, and I had a vision of flying over the guardrail (I was right next to a silver traffic railing over the stream), but ultimately I was able to stay in control. Woohoo!

And that was what put my muscles into full-on revolt mode. The cold weather plus that little shot of adrenaline, and I just couldn’t stop shaking. My legs started vibrating and no amount of long, deep breaths, counting, or logically explaining to myself that these things happen would make them stop. I managed to pull into the parking lot at the park and unclipped without issue. After a quick chat with Ron, I decided that I am probably not genetically deficient at biking and the cycling gods probably don’t really hate me. And the best way to prove that would definitely be to take the optional trip up Mt. Eden. Avoiding things doesn’t make them less scary, and there aren’t many bike trails that don’t have some kind of hills.

Only half the team set out to do the last (only) repeat (hey – Coach Don did make it optional), and I’m proud to say I was able to do the entire trip up without stopping. We recouped at the top and were chatting about spin class when we spotted the rest of the team rounding the last bend. It was definitely cool to see everyone voluntarily challenge themselves – even after initially planning to opt-out. One of those “Go team!” moments, for sure.

An uneventful descent, one dropped chain, and 4 miles later I was back at the truck and en route to Chipotle. Mmmmm Mexican food that I can honestly say I earned. Guess the season really has started! Gear clinic on Thursday, I promise to have all the winter pieces for the next ride.

FYI – The Garmin did make the trip. Distances and times to be updated once I get the darn thing outta the truck!

Update 12/11 – Woot for Data!
MotionBased Data: Hill Repeats 11/25

Total Time (h:m:s) 2:06:45 8:11 pace
Moving Time (h:m:s) 1:33:48 6:04 pace
Distance (mi ) 15.45
Moving Speed (mph) 9.9 avg. 34.9 max.
Elevation Gain (ft) +1,517/ -1,519

Slowly but Surely, She Makes Progress

Alternate Title: Coach Don or Pod Person?

I was super excited for hill repeats last night, if only for a chance to actually test out the Garmin. I’m kind of a gadget freak, and the thought of having all that data about my rides is rather intoxicating. Since it took me a full two days to find time to install the beast and actually get it working, I was really looking forward to playing with the new toy.

The ride out to our starting spot was much the same as ever. I actually got there fast enough that there was still lean-space on the wooden fence, so I got to do some stretching without bike in hand (always a good thing). I remembered to hit the “LAP” button on the toy before rolling out for each repeat, and can theoretically compare my performance for each trip up and back.

And now…the rundown…

  1. Normal-style: Pretty much the same as last week. I started in one gear up from the bottom, and ended up dropping to granny-mode just past “that spot”. Made it all the way to the last curve in the road (wooden fence in sight!) before turning back. Topped out around 32 on the descent…that one sharpish curve really kills my speed!
  2. Spiiining up the hiiiill: Patty actually wasn’t there to sing to us on the climb last night, so I mentally went for a twist on “Singing in the Rain” for this repeat. Ended up at almost the exact same spot on the ascent, and the same speed on the descent. Really the only difference on this trip up was that I made an effort to keep my cadence a bit higher; should look through my nifty new graphs to see if it worked!
  3. Circle Pedal: Coach Don was apparently swapped with his pod person double before tonight. Not only did he tell us exactly how many repeats we were doing (this count is usually more tightly guarded than most government secrets), he didn’t torture us with a full 2-3 cycles all the way to the summit. Bizarre!

    This was a push-pull round, on which I did surprisingly well. I climbed ever so slightly farther than last time, a full TWO gears up from the lowest. When I hit the turn around and realized I hadn’t downshifted, I knew that repeats must be paying off. Woohoo!

  4. Get on up…out of the saddle: (Yes, I’m mentally channeling – and destroying – James Brown there if you missed the reference) Stand, to the top. If you take the time to look over the Garmin data for this round, you’ll notice my heart rate spike. Quickly. Standing is still a challenge for me. Not that I can’t do it…I just burn way more energy and can’t sustain it the whole way. I got to the first big right hand turn before I had to sit and gear down before my little heart exploded. At least I made it the whole way (and did manage to get that HR under control!). In better news…36mph on the descent baby!

The ride back was quick, especially with Scott pulling a good part of the way. Endorphins were kickin’ in full force by the time I hit Chipotle. Not only did I torture Colin with my own personal rendition of “Black Water” while in line for food, I veritably skipped back out to my car after eating. Possibly annoying, but if that’s not a show of improvement over my first week of full-on limping home, I don’t know what is!

And now…what you’ve all been waiting for…

MotionBased Data – Hill Repeats 8/1/07
Distance: 12.84 mi

Time: 1:01:50

Avg MPH: 12.5

Max MPH: 36.0

Waaaait…this is the Frikkin’ Top!

All in all, hill repeats last night went well. I say all in all because, depending on when you talked to me at repeats, my answer would have ranged anywhere from really well to “@!#!” (that being the indescribable grunt I make when I can’t breathe, not some four-letter word that I’m afraid to type…not that I can think of any words I wouldn’t type if they were appropriate anyway).

And now for a medium to extremely lengthy, occasionally over detailed break down of each repeat that I always claim is “short”.

  1. Normal-mode: I actually started this round one gear above the lowest. Yeah, it’s not much in the grand scheme of things, but I could tell the difference! I ended up downshifting about 60% of the way up; hey – it’s a start, right? Struggled a bit (mentally more than anything) on this round, but made it all the way to the last bend in the road.
  2. Spinnin’: It seems like I should be able to claim that I actually dropped a gear this week, but that may be exaggerating slightly. I did, whenever I wasn’t thinking about breathing, manage to keep the cadence up a little higher. Easier than round one, even though I had to keep up some pretty set breathing patterns to do it.
  3. On Your Feet: I get better at this every week, but I still can’t go the whole way out of the saddle. Word to the wise: Sweaty palms (even with gloves on!) really puts a damper in the sway motion you get while standing. I had to sit down the first time after nearly losing grip on the hoods, but…for the first time ever…I got back out of the saddle twice more up the hill. Woohoo! This was the round where I yelped out loud “What the hell? This is the freakin top!” upon hitting that very last bend a third time in a row. I apparently haven’t been paying my “fast people please climb quickly” dues!
  4. Pushme-Pullyou to the top: Circle pedaling is a nifty animal, as you definitely can feel a change in performance to energy output when you do it. I actually try and do this pretty much anytime I’m capable of rational thought, which apparently could stand to be a bit more often. This was my best round overall. I hit the top without much of a struggle, and wasn’t even doing my fish-out-of-water impression for too long at the top. Yay me!
  5. Down and Back to the Summit: For every good round, there must be a corresponding not-so-good one. My legs were basically rubber at this point, and I had at least two moments of “there is NO way” thoughts that I had to work hard to push through to stay in the saddle. I did make it, and I was panting. Sometimes, I guess, just getting there is enough.

The descents were good, although I couldn’t quite reach my top speed from last week – and not for lack of trying. I got a second wind out of nowhere on the ride home and decided to chase pretty much anyone that flew by my as best I could. Granted, the very fastest smoked me all but instantaneously, but I hung with the middle-front pack pretty well. Interestingly enough, my top speed for the night came on the very last downhill stretch right before the park, not from Mt. Eden. I topped out at 34.9 (damn you elusive 35!), and was feeling pretty darn proud until Ruth blew by me like I was standing still. Oh well – I still get my small victories, right?

Just to show that I’m always learning at the repeats, I thought I’d give you a taste of this week’s lessons:

  • You aren’t really in shape until you can do hill repeats while singing. Apparently it’s thought to be more socially acceptable than cursing, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to get the tune to fit in between gasping for air. #@!@ and !#@# fit nicely.
  • it is considered a faux pas to kick teammates down the hill in a fit of jealous rage just because they can sing and you can’t. Actually, kicking anyone down anything is rather frowned upon. Shockingly. How did I end up on this team again?
  • “Rolling up Mount Eden” to the tune of Proud Mary is really catchy and you can (and will) sing it for days, even when there are no hills in sight. Try it now if you want to see…go on, do it!
  • People with shaved legs are more aerodynamic and therefore ride faster. I am the obvious, freakish exception to this rule. I personally blame the fluffy red ponytail, but as of yet have been unwilling to sacrifice my head of hair to test the theory.
  • “That’s my spot” during hill repeats refers to that steep-ish banked part of the road that I find mentally challenging, and nothing more than that. Pointing this out to Patrick as he rides by is funnier than hearing him talk about men who shave their legs (at least to me).
  • Don’t fly by someone on the left with very little warning, unless you want to be on the receiving end of a spit out bug. Lucky for me I was the spitter this time. Well, not so lucky for the recipient or the bug, but I’m due at least a little selfishness after 5 repeats…no?
  • Hill repeats are fun enough that people who can’t ride them still come to the dinner afterwards. Often! Well, maybe said people just really like Chipotle (or theoretically the company) but …whatever. If you haven’t come to repeats yet, the post-ride food/people alone make it worthwhile.

I’m sure there are more, but it’s late and I’m sleepy. See you all for the “Not your Buddy” Buddy Ride on Saturday! And yes, that makes three posts in one day, as it’s still before midnight. At least I’m caught up now and can no longer be harassed for slacking…about blogging.

Distance: 14.75mi

Time: 1:12:00ish

Avg MPH: 12.6

Max MPH: 34.9 (grrrrrrrrr!)

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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