Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ride Report: 100 miles of Solitude.

The year is coming to an end. The winds blows colder now. The mornings and evenings have a distinct crispness to them that they didn't have 3 months ago. The leaves are falling and the days are short...

There are few things in this world that I find frustrating on face value. But one of those things is base training in the winter. See, in the Spring and Summer I've trained up, and I'm in good shape. But in the winter I have taken to relaxing due to shorter days and busier social schedules. The social schedule has a lot to do with the fact that by winter I'm burnt out on riding and I give myself more social time, but whatever, I'm slower and a little fatter in the winter than I am in the spring and summer. The other thing about riding that I find infinitely frustrating is doing a benchmark ride when I know I'm off peak.

Having missed Solvang's Finest (what was to be my November century) for a number of reasons I decided this weekend would have to be my century weekend. I wouldn't have another opportunity to ride 100 miles on a Saturday this month. So after thinking about a number of different, easy routes I decided on one that would include some of my favorite climbs (that are easy) and some easy miles through the valley. Yes, my route would take me from my house over Mulholland, through Brentwood, to the beach, up PCH, to Latigo, through Mulholland, then back to the valley taking me home. 102 miles. Now I mentioned that Benchmark rides when I'm off peak can be frustrating, this would prove to be ultimately frustrating.

Back in June I rode the L.A. Wheelman Double Metric, which included Latigo Canyon. Latigo is one of the well known climbs in Southern California and rightfully so. It's a formidable beast that is well traveled by all cyclists, from seasoned pros fresh off the boat from the European circuits to every day Freds. When I did Latigo in June I felt like a pro. Most of the climb was done at 11 to 12 mph, and I completed the climb in around 50 minutes. Saturday the 22nd I found myself on Latigo after 45 miles of solitary cycling. I'd left my house at 8:30 in the A.M. and had only a brief reprieve from my loneliness on PCH. Once I was on Latigo though, the solitary confinement would take it's toll. When I was a kid I was a Ball boy for the Sizzlers. They were a Topeka Ks. based Minor league basketball team. There was one point one game where one of the players caught me talking to myself.

"Who you talkin' to?" he asked
"uh... me" I responded, thinking there was nothing wrong
"You know boy, only crazy people talk to themselves"

To which I had nothing to say. But since that time I've been infinitely aware, thanks to the wisdom of that Minor League Basketball player for the Topeka Ks. Sizzlers, that if you talk to yourself you're crazy. And so on Latigo I was slowly going crazy. I found myself having whole 2 person conversations about a variety of subject matter. I was doing anything I could to keep my eye off my Garmin 305 as I knew from earlier checks that I was only clocking about 8.5 to 9 MPH this time. Benchmarks, don't do 'em when your out of shape.

I managed to get over the climb, get over a small hump on Kanan Dune, and get into Agoura hills with out incident. I even made it up a couple other small (relatively speaking) climbs that were between me and the valley at this point. I made it into the Valley and I felt like I was home free despite the 30 more miles that lay ahead. But I was home free, as the rest of the way home was basically down hill. I did it. All by myself, like that one song. I did 100 f**king miles alone. I don't recommend it to anyone. I don't know what I was thinking with this "Oh yea, I'll just go out alone for a hundred miles"... yea, f$%k that.

Never again... until maybe January.

Here's the Route.


Erik said...

Great story, especially the part about the Topeka Sizzler's. I think the cheerleaders were called the Sizzleleans!

Congratulations on the ride, beside the fact you may have been a tad out of shape, you still finished. Finishing is what people remember.

I am impressed with your writing. Keep it up; it is so much fun to read.


N.James said...

50 minutes up Latigo!?! 11,12 mph!?! You were a pro that day. My legs are not climbing legs so I am quickly separated from any group up Latigo. I talk to myself for well over an hour trying to summit that climb. If talking to ourselves makes us crazy, then it is confirmed when we climb Latigo alone.

Bill Meadows said...

yeah...january sounds about right!!!!!!