Once in a while a day comes along where you wonder, should I have just stayed in bed and not ridden? Those days are thankfully rare, but today might have been one. It was dry as we left the house, as expected; the weather forecast said no rain until late tonight. Wrong. By the time we got to the start it was beginning to get damp, and emotions dampened further when two of our regulars announced that they had to turn back a bit early because HP had called them in for one-on-one meetings, meaning they expected to be fired (both work for the Palm division that HP purchased, wrecked, and is now in the process of open-sourcing the platform).
No drama on the ride up the hill, but up on Skyline it got cold. Nastily cold, as in 37 degrees and rain. We’re spoiled in California; it rarely rains below the mid-40s. That colder stuff just bites right through whatever you’re wearing and generally feels miserable (although not as bad as the 42 degrees and dry at the end of Sunday’s long ride!). Most of our group headed back down 84 when we got to Sky Londa, leaving just myself, Kevin (pilot), Kevin (son) and John. We kept the pace reasonable and stayed warm, but the descent into Woodside wasn’t much fun, with very slippery pavement and more cars than normal. I hung back and let them pass, while the two Kevin’s charged ahead (with John just ahead of me). Pilot Kevin was flying down the hill, making it to the bottom without incident, while the other Kevin crashed & burned just a couple corners from the bottom.
Nothing broken, bike’s mostly ok (rear derailleur a bit banged up, broken helmet), so we were able to continue heading home a few minutes later. Kevin’s going to be a bit stiff tomorrow, but should be OK for Thursday’s ride.
February is a bit early in the season for 100+ mile rides, but Kevin and I had a bit of, well, body work to take care of (the scale hasn’t been our friend lately). It was actually Kevin’s idea to do the Santa Cruz loop, the only real challenge being whether we could get it in during the limited number of daylight hours available, without having to get up too early.
We had a nice roll out to the coast via Old LaHonda and Haskins Grade, holding a moderate but stead pace (22 minutes up Old LaHonda, 2 minutes slower than Kevin can pull off on his own). Turning onto Cloverdale for the run south we were blessed with a mild tail wind, which nicely accompanied us all the way into Santa Cruz. Of course we stopped in Davenport on the way for lunch, and then stopped again for water in Boulder Creek before the long run up to Skyline (Saratoga Gap). It was only as we approached the top that temps started to rapidly cool; the marvelous 64 degrees on the coast were replaced by 42 degrees and substantial wind at the top. My thin full-fingered gloves, which had been perfect during the morning run to the coast, simply weren’t up to the task. Nor was my thin baselayer.
Normally, 42 degrees isn’t an issue, even dressed as I was. For our morning ride, I’m able to keep a full head of steam the entire time, but that’s only for 30 miles. When you hit such conditions 85 miles into a 112 mile ride, it’s a different story! Still, there’s enough uphill on the run north on Skyline to keep you going, just barely. I was having some issues shifting (tough for cold inflexible fingers to find the small buttons for the Di2 electric shifting), but it wasn’t until the descent into Woodside where I got really chilled and started to shiver a bit. Thank goodness it warmed up slightly on the way down, but the graph below tells the story.
My normal max heart rate is 175; check out what happens to my heart rate just after the descent begins. Temporary tachycardia (extremely-fast heartbeat) is a symptom of mild hypothermia. Fortunately without lasting effects.
I’ll be 56 next month, but I feel like I have more in common with a 40 year old than 60. Denial? Possibly. But despite slowing down on the climbs, despite the obvious passing of the torch to my son, I’m still having a fantastic time on the bike, and I still feel that, if I really set it as a priority, I could be in better shape next year than I was when I was 35. That would take some doing; at 50 I did in fact manage to pull that off. Or at least I fooled myself into believing that!
This morning’s ride did nothing to change that feeling. Sure, the climb up through the park was tough, with the steepest sections taking their toll while the flatter grades gave me a chance to recover and catch up. But anything near 10 minutes from the start of Greer Road to the park entrance on Kings lets me know I’m still alive, I’m still in the game. An AARP card in the mail isn’t going to change that.
I love pushing myself. I enjoy helping others discover their limits are often created in their minds, not their bodies. And I truly do believe that cycling is the answer to almost everything. An arbitrary number called “age” isn’t going to change that. Besides, it’s obvious I’m getting younger every year. Today, Keith, the fast young guy from Strava, is 27. At 55, I’m twice as old!!! But two years from now, he’ll be 29 and I’l be 57, no longer twice as old.
To paraphrase the Simon & Garfunkle song, Gee but it’s great to be back on the bike, ‘cuz on the bike is where I want to be, I’ve been on the road so long, it’s the same old story and I’m sure you wouldn’t disagree.
I both feared and looked forward to yesterday morning’s ride, having been off the bike for a full week (!!!) and gained 2.5 pounds (half a pound a day is pretty much the norm for me for the first week or so; thank goodness it levels out after that; clearly the damage is done quickly!). Thankfully, heading up away from my house everything just felt right. I was home. I was on a bike, the only thing I can comfortably do for any real length of time. No squirming, no sore shoulders, no stress. That last one was strange. I really thought I’d be dreading my added weight and lack of fitness, but no, everything was good.
Maybe it was because we were literally in a fog. Visibility for the first half hour was dismal, so bad that you couldn’t even see the large group at the start of the ride until we were almost upon them. But once in a while the fog clears when you wish it hadn’t, and today that was at the exact point on Kings where Kevin (my son, not the pilot) decided to ditch dad and join the fast guys up front. And yet I was perfectly happy with my 28-something time.
I’ll next be off the bike for a week towards the end of March, when I head to DC for the annual Bike Summit, the big event where 300-500 bicycle advocates meet with every congressional office in DC to try and make this a better place for cycling. Normally I’d just miss one ride, on Thursday (the event is on Wednesday & Thursday, normally allowing me to fly out on Tuesday after the ride and return Thursday night or Friday), but this year I’m a board member for the NBDA (National Bicycle Dealer Association) which has meetings on Monday & Tuesday. Not fun being away from the shop for 4 or 5 days again, and even less fun being off the bike for a week! –Mike–
Wednesday morning I was home, that night in Nashville and now in Minneapolis before returning home late Sunday night. If I was just traveling to one place it would seem very different, just a short business trip, one of many. But something changes when you’re finished at your first stop and then, instead of coming home, you head somewhere else. Somewhere you cross an imaginary line that separates the normal trip from one that gives a taste of life on the road and a sense that a hotel is your home. A momentum builds suddenly when that next flight takes you somewhere else, not home.
If you go to the link mentioned- http://www.chainreaction.com/tdfdrugscandal.htm, you’ll find a short piece I wrote in 1998 about the latest cycling drug scandal. Some robot searching the ‘net found the content to be something that someone interested in drug rehabilitation might read. Too late though; Marco Pantani (mentioned in my piece) died in 2004. –Mike–
You tell me, does this look like a scene from a Batman movie or what? It’s actually downtown Nashville, Broadway to be precise. The home of many, many Elvis shops and high-fat eateries.
So what are Steve and I doing in Nashville? We’re here to attend a high-level fitting seminar for tri bikes, so we can make our fastest customers even faster! But don’t worry, nobody’s turn me into a triathlete, not as long as one of the three events involves running.
I really had no idea how many of our customers did a fair amount of running until Strava.com came along, where people post their cycling and running gps data.
So tomorrow (Thursday) Kevin (my son, not the pilot) will be out on the regular Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride while I’m likely eating an excessive amount of tasty but artery-clogging food. I’ll be there in spirit, and look forward to looking at Kevin’s Strava download. It will be interesting to see how he does without me holding him back.
This is a two-day seminar but instead of flying home Friday night, I head to Minneapolis for a distributor’s show called, appropriately, Frostbike. And then Sunday night I’m home. Six flights, nothing heroic, but I’m sure going to be missing the bike! And my wife, and kids, and the people at the shop who hold things together and keep our customers happily cycling. –Mike–
A bit cool this morning, but a pretty big group (over 10, and my limit for roll call is about 7). Got off to a ragged start as Kevin (my son, not the pilot) got a flat tire less than a minute into the ride. We patched him up and got moving, but it took a while for him to come back up to speed, such that I actually caught back up to him on Kings, a rare thing these days!
At least one person had a much worse day than I did today.
It was descending 84, just before the bottom that we found someone who had a really bad day. Guess it puts into perspective the many things that didn’t quite go as planned for me today, including a lengthy issue with Comcast, trying to install a new phone system in our Redwood City location and not quite getting things right. Oh, and on the way home, picking up some flowers for my wife, only to have them totally spill out onto the seat.
After that bacon shake at Jack In The Box last week, a coke and polish sausage seems like health food! And it sure tastes a lot better. Of course, after the bacon shake I could sleep (or was it a coma?) but today we’ve got quite a distance to cover before arriving home.
(Next section added after the ride)- Details on our ride below. The original intention was to descend West Alpine and head back up 84, but the fog was so thick on Skyline (and all points west) that I decided to get the heck out of there and did a rare descent of Page Mill instead. Not that tough a ride at exactly 100k (had to ride around the block once home to get in the required mileage), but it did include Redwood Gulch, so it could hardly be called easy.
Kevin ended up with a string of personal best times for various segments, something which is to be expected as he continues to improve, but only if he rides on ahead of me! I can match and even beat him on a relatively-shallow grade, and can still outsprint him, and if the ride’s long enough, outlast him. But not for long, unless I really step up my game. The steeper stuff? That ship has sailed. Unless I wake up some morning with a new pair of lungs. –Mike–
How would you feel if you had a chance to ride on a morning like this, and passed it up, only to see this photo later on? Well, how do you feel about it?
Whether motivated by the fear of missing out, or the fun of laughing at our “winter” this year, we had quite a large group for our regular Tuesday/Thursday-morning no-matter-what ride. Too large to try and name them all, but not quite so large that my slowness up Kings Mtn could be hidden from the rest. That’s OK, this is “winter” after all! And I have to face facts; as I’ve gotten older, I’m doing increasingly better on longer rides (100k+) and simply can’t quite come up to speed on short “sprints” like our regular 30 miler. And watching Kevin (my son, not the pilot) do so well on this ride brings back memories of my own rides at his age. I owned rides like this back then. Just as he is beginning to do now.
What this means for us more-experienced folk is that we’ve got to consider that not everything about getting older is bad; that we still have some advantages over the younger cyclists, and if we want to exploit those advantages, we can put them into a world of hurt just like they do to us on the shorter rides. Except that we wouldn’t do that, because it wouldn’t be nice. OK, that’s fine for dealing with 18-25 year-old cyclists. Past 25, they begin to do better at those longer rides, without slowing down much on the shorter ones. You’re only hope, if you’re a 55-year-old has-been/never-was (some day I’ll figure out which) like me, is that somewhere between 25 & 40 they become moms or dads and spend a lot of time & energy raising their own future nemesis.
Which brings things full-circle, as did an email I got today from a distribution list for “old timer” cyclists. In this edition, a 20 page pdf of the 1966 Tour del Mar (now called the “Pescadero Road Race”) was attached, and on page 14 was a piece written by my father, then Sports Editor of the Redwood City Tribune. I’m sure my father had no idea at that time that I would become so strongly attached to cycling, or even consider taking up racing, but it shows his openness to sports other than Basketball, Baseball, Football and Track & Field. Hard to believe he’s been gone for 24 years now (I could be off by a year on that, and if so, I’m sure my mom will be correcting me shortly). He was around for the first 8 years or so of Chain Reaction Bicycles, and died just a few months after the birth of his first grandchild. While the beginning of “desktop publishing” enabled him to have a second career after the demise of the local newspaper, the internet was not yet even someone’s wildest dream. It is interesting to think of what he would be doing now. –Mike–