Sunday, January 13, 2008

Stagecoach Century

Well... it's done. I've completed the first century of my regiment, so the 15 rides for cyclists rights is officially started. I wasn't really sure what to expect with this ride. I'd never done it before, I'd heard very limited feedback from other riders on the difficulty of it, and I had no idea what the weather was going to be like. The year before I heard it was wicked cold, so I prepared for that. Everything couldn't have come together better though, it was a pretty sweet ride...

I drove to San Diego Friday night and stayed with my friends Matt and Theresa. They graciously gave me a couch to sleep on and showed me a really, really good Mexican Restaurant. Theresa even woke up early and made pancakes. De-lish. I rolled out around 5:45 in the A.M. and headed east on the 8 freeway. If you've never driven the 8 from San Diego to El Centro I recommend you do. There is some beautiful country there.

This ride was unlike anything I'd experienced before. When I left San Diego at 5:45 it was very cold. When I got to Ocotillo it was debatable as to whether I needed my arm and knee warmers. I checked in, hit the port-o-john and rolled out. I haven't spent a lot of time in the Desert and I was Awestruck. there were times when I was looking around thinking "I've got to take a picture of this" but I didn't. I didn't take enough pictures the whole ride since I was busy hauling ass the whole time. About half way between SAG 1 and SAG 2 I caught up with a couple guys from Banning's Bikes in Fullerton, Chris and Bob. It turned into an all out interval work out between Chris and I as we paced each other at 20-25 mph to SAG 2. We traded pleasantries at SAG 2, discussed a couple things about bikes and agreed to slow the pace for the rest of the ride. I had heard there was no real climbing on this route, that it was mostly just a false flat for 50 miles and then you turned around and it was downhill for the last 50...usually with a sweet tailwind. That wasn't really the case. There were a couple climbs, and some steep grades here and there, as much as 13% in places. Of Course those climbs turned in to descents, which was sweet.

There were a number of humorous points (by points I mean riders) that gave us a laugh. The most laughed about was the guy on the Tri-bike in the Arrogant Bastard Jersey. Chris and I were rolling up to the turn around point, debating how far it was when we saw this guy turn around. He just gave up. literally right after that we crested the hill and BOOM, there was the turn around, not a half mile away. Chris and I definitely gave that guy a ton of shit... to ourselves of course. Another humorous point was Cologne guy. This guy smelled like he had spent the night in a bathtub full of stetson, despite participating in an activity that induces body odor. My personal favorite though was Mr. Headphones-in-the-middle-of-the-road-guy. When I train alone I wear headphones, especially if I'm just riding in Griffith Park, but along with that comes greater responsibility, one of which is staying glued to the right, since you can't hear oncoming cyclists, or traffic. This guy was firmly out in the middle of the road, almost on the yellow divider line. Chris and I came up on him first during our interval. I yelled "Left" over and over again, and was forced to slow WAY down, then cross the yellow to get around him and his group. Real nice dude, real nice.

The turn around, lunch, and the first part of the ride back was fairly uneventful. However after the last big descent we caught a group of guys who were ready to hammer, and since that famous tailwind we were supposed to get was actually a pretty burly headwind, these guys were a welcome addition. We paced down the road to the last climb at about 23-30 miles an hour. We'd chat about riding and how great it was to not race, but just to ride and have fun. Bob, the guy who was something like 7 ft. tall but only weight 150 seemed to become the Marshall of the group, I'm not sure why, probably because he was the tallest. The other guys in the group, who's names I either didn't get or forgot were awesome as well, especially the guy with the Beer Jersey. Beer Jerseys are the best. We stuck together through two SAG stops and everyone put in their work. I've honestly never been in a group that worked that well together, except 4/5 training rides. Everyone took their turn and it just worked really really well. At the end though Chris tried to ramp it up to 30 mph, I took a pull, Beer Jersey guy shot around Chris and I stayed on his wheel. I managed to get away for a sprint finish, despite it not being a race. Chris would have handed my ass to me on the sprint, but he had just come off the front, and I had been planted firmly at the back of the group for a minute or two. It was a fun ride all the way around, from start to finish. Great people, great riding, great country.

The Jersey managed to get some attention as well, all of it positive. I suppose in a way it's kind of preaching to the Choir, taking a "Share the Road" campaign to a century. I'm still really pleased though, especially since I wasn't expecting them to get to me in time for this event anyway. Hopefully the people taking pictures got some shot of the Jersey that I can put up here soon. In the mean time, here's a picture of my stankin' salty ass post ride.

Check the Pretty Pictures Gallery for more Illustrated Awesomeness from the 2008 Winter Stagecoach Century!

Here's me at the event! weeoooo!


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Anonymous said...

What a handsome face. Even with all that salt residue and the nose hair.I heart Muffins!