Monday, August 27, 2007

My failed attempt at Hwy 39

This weekend was to be Epic. It wasn't. Christian and I had planned a ride that would take us from the Rose Bowl to highway 39, and then up the road until it intersected with Hwy 2. It's an epic climb with great views and a pretty steep average grade. The first part of the climb lulls you into a false sense of security with it's moderate grade and rolling down hills. But once you get past the Arrow Highway Bridge, it's all uphill.

We started the ride at 8:30. We rolled out and set a moderate pace through the 5 towns we would pass through on the way to our destination. I flatted within the first mile, changed it, and was back on the road. The ride was fairly uneventful until we got to the climb. We hit the canyon and set a moderate pace up the hill. It was beautiful. The weather was perfect, not to hot, and there was partial cloud cover most of the way up. We got past the Bridge, refilled our water and were on our way up the main part of the climb. I was feeling pretty good, I set a constant pace with a cadence in the upper 60's in my 23. Christian and I were matched pretty evenly as we crossed the first of the two bridges in the park. We pulled over to take a breather and eat real quick and as we started again I realized I was going flat again. At this point we had exhausted all our spare tubes, and we weren't going to risk being caught out in an area with no cell reception, few to no cyclists, and limited supplies. So we turned around.

By the time we got back to the park we were both glad the ride was over, however as time passed I could feel that I was extremely disappointed. I had dreams about the ride, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since I woke up. I've been to the top before and its a pretty amazing experience. The whole climb is about 30-35 miles, and knowing that you rode your bike, uphill, for that long is pretty rewarding. I guess I'll just have to go up and try again next weekend.

Here's the map of the failed attempt.
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Monday, August 20, 2007

Training Kick Off

Over the past few months I've steadily been upping the mileage and difficulty of my rides to prepare for 2008. This last weekend however was my official training kick off and man it was great. I had chosen the Coolbreeze Century (albeit the metric) as my training kick off a few months ago because it's a ride I love and it fell at about the right time (about 4 months off from the first official century of 2008). I'd toyed with the idea off and on about doing the full 100 but hadn't upped my ride mileage to get ready for it. I'd done the full 100 before, so I knew I could, but I wasn't sure as to my fitness level and if I would be able to handle it now. The day before the ride I caught the 100 mile bug really bad. Although I didn't come out and say that I was definitely doing the full 100 I had made my decision. I re-arranged some travel plans and began preparing mentally and organizationally.

I hooked up with Sebastian at 4:30 a.m. to drive up for the ride. We talked about the ride, what we expected and the weather. We parked got registered and got ready. We rolled out at 7 a.m. with his team (TNT) and much to my chagrin Andy Popinski. We made our charge out of Ventura and down Emma Wood. we paced up the freeway and then I pulled away until the exit so I could eat and drink since we weren't stopping at the first sag stop. We ascended the first climb with ease and I rode away thinking they would catch me on the descent due to my relaxed pace. I ascended another climb, caught a different group of TNT'ers and watched a girl crash hard on the tarmac. I hung with her and her group to make sure she was alright while at the same time waiting for my group.

It turns out my group had stopped for a while so they took a bit, but once we were going again we were really going. we were setting a tempo around 20 mph and were well on our way to sag 2. we hit Ortega Ridge, the 2nd climb of the day and the group splintered. I made it to the sag stop followed shortly by the rest of the group. We exited the rest stop and began the penultemate climb of the ride. This is what makes this ride worth it for me. I remember blazing through these roads in 2005 and how much I loved it so I was chomping at the bit as we left the rest stop. Andy and I played a little cat and mouse up the first few parts of the climb and then after a quick regroup we hit the rollers above Santa Barbara. these are fast, lightly traveled winding roads. I went and went, guided by a local around various hairpin turns until we came the major descent. By this time I had lost the group, and decided to just continue ahead to the lunch stop using other riders as my guide. This WAS the part of the ride where I got lost in 05, so I was careful through here this time. I made it to the lunch stop without incident. for anyone who hasn't been there Stowe Park is beautiful. I waited for the group, then got a light lunch and refueled.

We rolled out together after lunch and took an easy pace to rewarm the legs. we kept this pace through Hope Ranch and much of Santa Barbara. Towards the end of the road in Santa Barbara the faster members of the group were let go, so we set a pace between 20-22 mph and paced our way to rest stop 4 (which was the same as sag 2) We made quick work of sag 4 and rolled out. I forgot to eat, so I cracked a bag of blocks and chowed down before we hit Ortega hill. I had issued a challenge with an associated bet. We'd pace up to Ortega, and it would be "may the best man win". We hit Ortega and to my surprise the organizers had changed the route to not include it, but instead to use the flat bike path that bypasses the hill! what a bummer! I was the only one to go over the hill, and received shouts of encouragement and laughter from the group of guys who were behind me in the "Breathless Agony" Jerseys as we both exited our paths onto the flat stretch of Ortega road. The shouts spurred me on and I went full sprint to hot dog those guys a little bit, forcing a chase over the freeway and onto the last stretch of road before sag 5. We took it easy to sag 5 to conserve energy for the very fun, very fast last 12 miles of the ride. I passed on the celebratory Popsicle at sag 5, opting instead for the watered down lemonade and a quick conversation with the Breathless Agony guys. Now it was time for the Freeway.

Our plan for the 101 was to set a pace of 27 mph and to paceline the whole way. Easy enough right? Wrong. By the time we got to our exit Gavin and I had rode everyone else off our wheel. We regrouped on Emma Wood Dr. and proceeded to act like jack asses the rest of the way into Ventura. We crossed the line together, our group of 5 plus Hank, the guy in the ONCE jersey. All in all it was an awesome ride.

I will edit this post as I receive pictures.

I knew after this I would need a recovery ride, and Jerry had mentioned he was going to do the Love ride on Sunday. "Great" I thought, "I'll hang back with the older guys and take it nice and easy". Wrong and wronger. There were no older guys, and there was no taking it easy. My recovery ride turned into a big effort ride and I'm definitely feeling it today. The map below isn't totally accurate, but I was feeling lazy and didn't feel like mapping a new route. I simply didn't go through the Rosebowl, opting instead to just go down Verdugo. Total mileage was about 32.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Oh yea...

I did a ride a the weekend of the 3rd. it was awesome. Here's the map. Read more!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Thanks for making me feel like a Jerk

Something happened yesterday that involved myself (a PAA member), and another PAA member. What resulted was a harsh discussion about manners. Despite trying vigilantly to defend my brethren I left the conversation agreeing with the other Party.

I have read all our e-mails about the rose bowl, impolite drivers, thoughtless pedestrians and government agencies and how there is some dubious conspiracy against us, those who choose to roll in the two wheeled mode. I agree wholeheartedly. I also read these e-mails and often get a sense that we think of ourselves as saints and that we do no wrong. Again I have agreed in the past, although after last night not as much anymore.

When riding for training purposes in areas like a bike path I used to call out "left side" or "passing" or something like that. Until a couple times where I did that and the person I was passing then lunged left and nearly caused me to crash. Since then I've decided in most cases it's best to keep my mouth shut, slow down a little and give the other bicyclists plenty of room. I've always thought this to be the best policy as a bike path is a public area, and not my personal time-trial training course. Common Courtesy right? Apparently not.

It has been a long time goal to get my friend and her kids to ride bikes. I've loved riding my bike since I was a kid, so it has always been a little strange to me that these kids don't ride much. Finally after two years of prodding I got them to ride with me on the bike path by Griffith park. The younger one isn't too confident, so it's been tedious to keep him on the bike for the past month. So when a PAA member breezed by us giving him barely a foot of space when the other side of the path was completely open kind of pissed me off. He was only one of 5 "serious cyclist" who did that to us. there where some who even chose to pass as there was oncoming bicyclists, passing between us and the other party, going nearly 25 or 30 miles an hour, with no warning or slowing what so ever. I discussed it with my girlfriend nearly the rest of the ride home and we agreed, some cyclists are assholes. What frustrated me was the fact that I know the rider from PAA who I'm talking about. I've met him and he's a really cool guy; and in person, every one of you I've spoken with is pretty cool. What frustrated her was that it makes her feel unsafe, less safe than the hobos in the river make her feel. I understand that most of us are very skilled and deft at maneuvering around groups like this, but consider the other party for a bit. Shenanigans like that make her a lot less comfortable on the path, and make her not want to return. I shudder to think what would happen to our sport if we scared every mother and child off the road. Granted these kids may only be two more kids on a bike, but that's two more kids on bikes than before, and that's two kids closer to complete two wheel world domination... which I'm all for.

we've done everything we can to teach these kids proper bike path etiquette, common courtesy and manners when bicyling, thinking that these are lessons that they will take with them beyond the bike, into their driving years, and into life in general. I pray that when they get older they are not the drivers, pedestrians or government officials we so vehemently deride in our posts. And when I hear my friends nine year old say "why are riders like you such jerks" I can't help but think they are going grow up despising "riders like me" and I 'm pretty sure that all of us here, especially those with kids know what I'm afraid of. We talk day in and day out about the state of affairs in our sport, about PR in Pasadena and about all the things that affect us as cyclists now. But what about the future of the sport? What are we doing, publicly, to make sure that not only our kids, but all kids get on a bike and stay on a bike until adulthood?

What I took away from this experience is this: Despite it being a stupid ass song from the 80's, children are our future. so getting kids to ride bikes, and showing them how to ride properly and courteously should be ALL of our responsibility, if for nothing else than the future of our sport.

The bike path is a public place. Lots of families bring their kids there to teach them to ride since much of L.A. is unsafe for children. Cyclists like me go there because much of L.A. is unsafe for cyclists, however it's not our sports private training ground. When you see kids, give them lots of space, and slow down... it's not a fucking race. Read more!