Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men….Often Go Awry….

Yesterday was to be the first official “training ride” for my upcoming birthday adventure ride. (I still have 26 days so there’s no rush) The plan was to leave work at “early” at 3:30 and head out to meet the gang at the base of Mt Diablo.

Well, as the quote from the Robert Burns poem indicates, the “plan” fell apart soon after its formation. Turns out I didn’t leave work till a few minutes after 4:00 and by the 4:45 "planned" start time I had still not even made it out of Hayward….yes our traffic SUCKS!

So, being the flexible and adaptable guy that I am (yep anyone that knows me knows I’m lying) I made a quick decision to bag the original plan and go to plan B.  Plan B, which I made up while sitting in traffic, was to stay on this side of the hill and ride out Redwood Rd as far as I could while still getting back in the daylight. Normally I’d do the zoo loop, but I’m not sure what time they close and I didn’t want to be lost in Oakland and running out of daylight.

I got to the Redwood Rd carwash, changed into my riding gear and was on the bike pedaling by 5:30. The first climb up Redwood towards Proctor is one of my least favorite climbs anywhere. It’s not that steep and its not that long…I just hate it.  Probably has something to do with the fact that I’m never warmed up by then, I usually hit it pretty hard and I suffer the entire way up.  By the time I get to the top, my legs are screaming, my lungs are collapsing and I’m huffing like an old steam train climbing Donner summit.

After that though, there’s a nice long downhill to a flat that allows my legs to loosen up and my lungs to be shoved back down inside my chest before the real climb up Redwood begins.  Redwood in't actually a brutal climb, I think it’s only about 1000ft to the top, but it is a long grind and having very little climbing miles logged, it had me huffing like a water buffalo in heat….the good thing is, I was mostly alone only seeing 2 or 3 other riders heading down as I climbed.

As I crested the top and began the downhill my legs were cooked…further testament to a winter of couch time and bad eating. The downhill though, again allowed me to recover and when I got to Pinehurst I felt good. So I turned for yet another climb. The climb up Pinehurst is fairly mild, about 1 ¼ miles and maybe 600 ft of climbing. This was actually the best climb of the afternoon. I felt good and tried my best to maintain a strong pace all the way up…..(evidently I didn’t feel as good as I thought since part way up some young skinny guy passed me as if my brakes were rubbing…..yeah, I checked and no they weren’t)

At the top of Pinehurst there’s a turnout and although the afternoon had up till that point been mostly cloudy and breezy, I pulled over into a nice sunny spot and enjoyed some water and an e-gel.
Sidenote – if you’re looking for a gel this is one of my favorites. It’s actually almost too sweet, but the fact that it goes down easy and contains less sugar than gu or clif shots and has way more electrolytes than either makes it my go-to favorite for gel products.

After enjoying both the sunshine and a rest, I headed back down Pinehurst and began the climb back up Redwood Rd. The climb wasn’t bad and soon I was enjoying the fruits of my labors with a long screaming descent back down to the golf course. Spin along the flats and then climb up the last little climb back to civilization and soon I was back at my truck loading the bike and headed for a long hot shower.

The ride for me was good on several levels. It was a decent amount of climbing without being a suffer-fest, there was absolutely no traffic so it allowed me to spin along and lose myself in making circles and it was great to measure myself on a ride I’ve done a hundred times to see where I’m at physically.

Unfortunately on the not so good side of things, it brought home just how out of shape I am. The front side of Redwood used to be a big ring climb for me. Sure I stood a lot and it was definitely not a cakewalk, but I had done it a number of times at the end of last season and was surprised when I had to drop into my small ring pretty quickly after starting....oh well, I'll get there eventually....

As Helen Keller said, "All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming"

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