If it’s going to rain, then let it rain well before the ride, or afterward. Today, it was after. So far, we’re actually having a pretty good record for avoiding the rain this winter!
No Ludo today, no Kevin (the pilot), no Karl (who’s still doing his ‘cross thing). Just myself, Eric, Marcus and Chris this morning, riding is much warmer, almost balmy conditions. 50-55 degrees! But the air was so heavy with moisture that your glasses (or at least my glasses) frequently fogged up, and you could tell we were right on the edge of fog. Even at the start, 52 degrees, you could see the condensation in your breath. As a result, even though there was no rain, the roads were pretty wet (which seemed to affect me a lot more concerned on the descents than the rest of the guys).
We had a fairly easy, non-Marcus-like pace up Kings, punctuated only by my attempt to drive hard on the steep middle section, which is always followed by the need to stop at a bar and rest for a day or two. Too bad I don’t drink and there are no bars on the ride.
Even though Chris was holding back, he still looks fast, as you can see in the photo. Heading up west-side Old LaHonda, his windbreaker flying wide, you think of Chris on a climb or a sprint and you think “fast.”
The descent on 84 was not much fun for me; I’d much rather ride on dry pavement or in pouring rain. The inconsistent traction when things are damp causes me to lose my nerve. Hate that. Also hate it in the final sprint when Chris takes off and I just can’t quite get there. But tomorrow is another day!
Normally I would have promoted the annual New Year’s Day ride up Mount Hamilton beforehand, but given the questionable weather, I figured it would be better not to encourage others to be as silly as some of us. Thankfully, the weather may not be as bad as initially forecast; right now weather.com says rain turning to showers (showers timed nicely for the descent), while the TV people believe that the rain will have passed through before we even start. In this case, I like the TV people better! Whatever, my son and I will be heading up the hill at 9am, getting to the top a bit over two hours later. Look here for photos later on that afternoon or evening. –Mike–
Before describing the ride, let me describe the morning. It was beautiful!!! Yes, it’s December, so yes, it’s a bit on the cooler side (39 degrees from one end of Skyline to the other), but after hearing the weather people describe 40 days & 40 nights of intense rain, well, when you do see the sun you become an instant skeptic of the “science” of weather forecasting, and if it takes a bit of rain now & then to clean up the air and give us such spectacular vistas, maybe it’s worth it.
Last Thursday & Tuesday’s rides went unexpectedly-well for me, as I seemed to ride more strongly that I should have, holding wheels that I normally wouldn’t be able to. Given that there was no good reason for that to have happened, it was no big surprise that this morning I felt mortal. That twisting-the-throttle feeling was a thing of the past, nowhere more apparent than when we hit the steeper sections through Huddart Park.
The “we” this time included Karl, making his first appearance in several months. It could be that the last time he rode with us was when he crashed coming down 84 and broke his collarbone, and since then he’s been in serious cyclo-cross mode, training in Arastradero & elsewhere. But this morning, our ride’s steadiest wheel returned! We also had Karen, Eric, Marcos, John & Todd. Of course, I “lost” that wheel pretty quickly through Huddart Park, but after the regroup I started feeling a bit better.
By the time we got to west-side Old LaHonda, I was determined not to lose sight of the wheel in front of me again, and with Karl here, I knew which wheel to keep track of! I wasn’t paying attention to what was going on behind; all that mattered was that wheel in front of me, and I held it all the way to the end of the section with the great view of the coast. Karen and Karl dropped me quickly there, and I’m thinking they could have done so at anytime during the previous mile. The only thing that allowed me to close the gap a bit was all the debris on the upper stretches of west-side Old LaHonda, which limits the speed of a pair or riders more than it does for just one.
The only sprint that was contested was the final one on Albion; we just didn’t feel comfortable on the slick pavement we’d had prior to that. Of course, about haflway through, on what I thought was dry pavement, my rear wheel slides out maybe half a foot or so! Doesn’t matter, we’re sprinting and once you start, you’ve got to have a darned good reason for pulling up lame, and feeling like you almost went down isn’t good enough, at least not once you’re into it. I’m at about 100% when I notice a rider’s shadow on the road to my left, and force myself to 110%, not knowing if that’s going to be enough. Had I know the rider was Todd, I would have been tempted to give up, but I didn’t, and if I did, I wouldn’t have known that Todd was behind a bit in his conditioning right now, creating one of those rare chances to beat him. This, too, shall pass.
Our Redwood City location is normally closed on Sundays, but we’ll be here for you the Sunday before Christmas, smiling and cheerful and helping you with new bikes and cool stuff for presents & stocking stuffers while it’s nasty & raining outside. We’re hoping it’s nice, but the long-range weather forecast presently doesn’t know nice.
We’ll also have our Los Altos store open on Monday (they’re normally closed Mondays & open Sundays).
What will be on sale? All Jackets, Jerseys, Shorts, Arm & Leg Warmers and most other things we’d call “apparel” (but not shoes or sunglasses or helmets) are 20% off regular price. We’ll have some extra-special further markdowns on closeout bikes too. And who knows what else? I’ll be sending out an email flyer shortly.
No, you can’t test ride a bike in the rain, but we’ll have trainers set up and make sure everything fits just right. Come in and say hi and keep us company! Oh, and if you’ve got odd-sized feet, either really small (preferably women’s) or a guy with wide size 13 monsters, we’ve got a $50 sidi closeout sale going on.
Sometimes we try to be “thankful” for something at Thanksgiving out of rote. It’s just something we’re supposed to do, and we search for the usual, the mean on the table, those who prepared it, the roof over our heads, whatever. I don’t want to trivialize Thanksgiving too much, but sometimes it’s more of a Hallmark Holiday than it should be.
But not today. Because today, Kevin got out on his first bike ride. After I did the morning 58 miles with Claude, Kevin suited up and we did a 24 mile version of the extended “loop” through Woodside & Portola Valley. First time for Kevin on a bike in, what, 9 weeks or so? And just 4 days after having his kidney stent removed, and 2 days after getting off the all-too-powerful pain meds. He did impressively well! We didn’t push it hard, but he was riding at a near-normal pace, complaining only about a bit of pain when he breathed, partly due to the cold (although it wasn’t that cold this afternoon, around 51 degrees or so) and partly due to getting over quite a bit of congestion caused by his meds (narcotics depress respiratory activity, which can cause the lungs to congest, as his certainly did).
So Saturday you may see him working again at the shop, and Monday he’ll be back at school again (which, just like his cycling, will be after a 9-week absence). This is something we are truly thankful for.
There were multiple factors conspiring to keep ride attendance low this morning-
- The low-key hillclimb series, normally held on Saturday mornings, was running a special edition today up Mount Hamilton. If I didn’t have my regular ride, I’d probably be there myself! The low-key series is an informal race, meaning that times are kept for everyone, but since “everyone” shows up, you’ll get rocket-fast semi-pros melting the asphalt along with a few recreational riders who will count themselves fortunate to finish before the sun goes down. A fun time for all.
- A lack of publicizing the ride this year. Normally I’d be sending out flyers and putting info on our website, but there have been so many things challenging my ability to juggle time lately, some things lost out. Between working on ways to re-invent the shop (some things are kinda stuck in 1985-style retail), taking care of my son’s kidney issues (now seemingly resolved, thank goodness!) and an upcoming vacation, I’ve been a tad bit stressed. Which, of course, is why I need to ride!
- The weather. Clear & beautiful, light breeze, what’s not to like? Apparently, the temperature! 33 degrees at the start this morning, dropping to 32 at one point.
And it it was just me & Claude, doing the traditional Old LaHonda/Pescadero/Tunitas Creek run. We did see a small number of cyclists out on Canada as we started out, most bundled pretty heavily but more than once this morning we saw people with exposed legs and wondered what were they thinking?
From the start in Woodside to the outskirts of Pescadero, temps stayed between 32 & 37 degrees for the most part, with brief forays into the very-low 40s. Thank goodness we live in an area where we don’t get ice when it’s cold! There were only a few times where I heard or felt that crunchiness you get when the road is frosted, and no slipping. Climbing Old LaHonda, Claude remarked that we were likely the only people climbing the hill this early; the group we came across at the top proved this quite wrong.
One area I was mistaken was the ability to buy food in Pescadero & San Gregorio! Every previous TurkeyDay ride, one of the two stores/bakeries in Pescadero was open, and the San Gregorio General Store has always been open. Not today though; stores in both towns were hosting private town functions. My initial instinct in Pescadero was to hit up the gas station’s market but I figured I was fine for a while, and San Gregorio wasn’t that far away. Trust those initial instincts! Thankfully, the Bike Hut on Tunitas Creek had some munchies available (yogurt-covered pretzels, $2/bag) that kept me going.
Did I mention how incredibly-clear it was this morning? You could look out towards to ocean and see Hawaii! Almost. There was something out there, an island, a non-moving ship, something that was in the same place when I first saw it, off Stage Road, as when I last saw it approaching Tunitas Creek. It was too far south to be the Farallon Islands, but it was… something.
Some things about this ride will never be the same; passing the Flamingo House sans Flamingos (5 or 6 miles before Pescadero), and the removal of the iron skeletons holding machine guns a few miles after Pescadero, on Stage Road. But some things never change, like the steepness of the middle section of Tunitas Creek, or the fun of sharing your favorite rides with others.
Yes, I did ride yesterday. I waited long enough for the steady rain to become a steady drizzle, the kind that makes more of a mess of your bike (because it isn’t raining hard enough to clean it) and isn’t even as fun to ride in because it’s not as challenging.
But what made it sad was visiting the site where, last week, we lost a good customer & friend. Lauren Ward, wife of Bob Ward, longtime bike racer and a member of a racing club we sponsored back in the early 80s. Good people. Two kids I think. Steve, my brother who runs our Los Altos store, knew them very well (they lived in Los Altos, near our store).
I rode up to the intersection from the east, and maybe a mile beforehand, had this sudden feeling that this road, doing what I was doing right then, those were some of the last memories of her life. That just didn’t make sense in so many ways. I knew it was going to be emotional, but I didn’t consider that it was going to be personal. I pulled up to the intersection and studied the markings on the road, the painted red markings and investigative shorthand (AOI for area of impact, RF for right front, as in the final position of the front of the truck whose wheels had run over her).
It didn’t make sense.
I tried to play out various scenarios in my mind. I was there at (corrected for the time change) the same time of day, and saw that the sun was much too high in the sky to have been an issue. So I got on my bike and rode through. I shot video of cars overtaking me. I rode through again. And again. And again. It was probably 10-15 times through that intersection, making a U-turn after the overpass and doing it again, often waiting for a fair amount of traffic to show up, thinking maybe I could see something about the intersection, and the way the cars go through it, that might provide a clue.
There were none to be had. Oh sure, lots of little things that could be improved, like removing the sidewalk-to-nowhere on the westbound side (where the accident happened) so you would have another 3 feet of room for cyclists to share with cars. Which made me think of the 3-foot passing law that we don’t have, and wonder if maybe that would have helped, because motorists might have to plan a bit more carefully when they see cyclists ahead to make sure they don’t get squeezed. But would it have mattered? I don’t know.
Past senseless events haven’t helped me come to terms with this one, and this one won’t likely help me deal any better with those in the future. There are no insensitive cliches that can come out of this and help the family deal with the loss of a wife and mother. Going out there and riding through that intersection wasn’t going to make me, or anybody else, feel any better. I knew that. I just hoped that maybe I could see something and understand. –Mike–