Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cantelew - Monticello - Cardiac - Oh My! - Training Ride 8

Distance = 68.89
Time = 5.26.34
Max Speed = 36.5mph
Avg Speed = 12.6mph

We started out from Three Oaks Community Center in Vacaville again. Went the opposite direction from the first time we left from there. There was also a festival happening at the community center so it was tempting to just stay behind and hang out there. As is typical, I don't know exactly where we went but the map is below. What I do know is that we climbed Cantelew, which I've been wanting to do for awhile now. It's another one of those named climbs that make them seem so much worse than they actually are. We stopped at a bar (haha!) before turning toward the climb, which always makes it seem that much worse. Not the bar part... the stopping part. Like you have to stop to prepare yourself for what's about to happen. It ended up being not that big of a deal. As usual. Not that it wasn't difficult. It certainly was. But it was gradual at first and there was actually a slight descent right in the middle. It's the last little portion that I think freaks people out. It's definitely steeper AND it's a switchback. Not many people enjoy a switchback! Maybe my mountain biking history has helped me handle switchbacks comfortably. On this particular switchback, it was easier to stay on the outside even though the inside is the shortest distance. On the inside, once you get past the turn it became even steeper so that some people had to stop. On the outside it remains more gradual. Thankfully no cars came because I was going against traffic. Everyone stopped at the top until we all finished. That was nice and not something we often do on our training/team rides.

There are a few of the faster guys that I usually see at the start and then again at the start of the next ride! lol By the time I finish, they are long gone. But this time I got to hang with them a little more. I liked that! I rode alone much less than usual and I enjoyed that too.

We also stopped a lot! This made the day a lot longer but also more manageable. I think I prefer fewer stops though. One rider's husband was our SAG for the day. He was AWESOME! He hung back a little, then went ahead to be ready for us at the next rest stop. And their cute dog was with him so that helped!

After Cantelew we made our way to Monticello Dam and Cardiac. I've done both those before but I've never continued on past the top of Cardiac. There's a great descent and then a gradual ascent that I didn't expect. I had a moment riding with Kevin where there were no cars and it sounded strangely quiet... very nice!

I got left behind at the end because I went to the bathroom in a fancy white table cloth restaurant. Ha! I caught up to a couple of people and then just hung out with them the rest of the way. By the time we got there, nearly everyone was gone. Many of them are doing one of the Chico Wildflower rides tomorrow so they needed to get a move on.

My only complaint for the day was that it was billed as an 80-mile ride initially and then got changed to 70-miles at the last minute. That's the second time that's happened to me for one reason (my mistake) or another (they changed it). I'm trying to get up to 90-miles and a Century soon, before ALC, so I need those extra 10 or so miles.

Bozo came to pick me up afterwards and we picked up an ice cream from the Ice Cream Man! Perfect ending... with a Drumstick!!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Orinda and Climbing All Over Creation - Training Ride 7

Distance: 74.83
Time: 6.52.32
Average Speed: 10.8 mph
Max Speed: 34.0 mph

Started the day at 5am. That, in and of itself, is a feat for me! I headed south toward San Francisco and met up with a large group of ALCers at the Orinda BART station. Mary, the ride leader described the route... or at least that's what I thought she was doing. But really she was just telling us the turns. There was no indication about the hill climbing I had gotten myself into!

We started out climbing Wildcat Canyon out of Orinda, which was very pretty. I got some beautiful views of "some city" and "some body of water." No time to ask about such things. We headed through Tilden Park, up Grizzly Peak and along Skyline to Redwood, Pinehurst, to Moraga, and back to Starbucks in Orinda where we had the option of calling it a day or going on to the second half of what I now know is "Mary's Adventure!"

The ride was billed as 80 miles. I, however, took a shortcut at one point and knocked off 5 miles. A normal person would be happy about this fact but I was actually quite bummed as I really wanted to hit 80 today. I left the first rest area with a guy who wanted to follow me because I had a ride sheet. That should have been my first clue! But he said he also knows the area pretty well because a friend lives there. Long story short, he convinced me to go one way when I knew that the ride sheet said there was supposed to be a stop light. He seemed so sure so I went with him. I realized it once we got to a corner where we could only turn left but the ride sheet said turn right. Darn! He was very apologetic and I know he meant well. But... DARN!

For those of us who decided to brave the second half, we were in for a long hard HOT day! I don't know what the temperature was all day but there were times I felt my lungs were burning. And not just from riding! lol Anyway, we climbed Pig Farm Hill, which was so short and so steep I felt compelled to yell an expletive when I got to the top. After a brief downhill, it was a gentle climb up Franklin Canyon. After a yummy lunch at Velona's Deli and Market in Crockett, we returned to Orinda via Hercules, Pinole Valley, Castro Ranch, and San Pablo Dam Road.

Sounds pretty innocuous when I'm writing it here. At lunch I talked to a man who has done ALC 15 times. This is his 16th. And he said that this is the hardest day of riding he has ever experienced. After I finished the ride with Kathy, a Training Ride Leader, we were talking about today's ride and she said, "OH! You've never been on a 'Mary's Ride' before?? Well if you can ride with Mary, you can do any part of the ALC!" Good to know!

There were supposed to be 2-3 SAG vehicles but there ended up being only 1, unless someone else joined later in the day. I was actually in front of it all day so I don't really know what they were doing. But they did have water and food. The water I could definitely have used at one point. It was just nice to know that if I decided to call it quits and sat down on the side of the road, someone would have come to get me and Hi-Ho. 

I also have to note that I haven't suddenly gotten into so much better shape than I was before. Though I actually have gotten into better shape. Running and spinning have helped. But the other thing that helped me be successful today was that I took my bike in to have them check out my derailleur and such because I wasn't able to get into the big ring on that last ride.... and then not into the middle ring. I also asked them to just go ahead and do a tune-up. So they replaced all the cables, cable covers, the brake pads, and the chain. I had forgotten what it was supposed to feel like when I shift gears. I had just gotten used to the poor performance.

So it was a pretty incredible experience. I have to admit that much of the time I was climbing toward the end, I was questioning whether I even want to do the ALC this year. I keep going back and forth. Why would I want to be so miserable and why would I want to use so much vacation time to be miserable and spend so much time away from Bozo? It also doesn't help that I haven't even raised $1000 of the $3000 required.

Regardless of what I decide there, this day has shown that I am a tough ass! (=

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Benicia to Morgan Territory - Training Ride 6

Distance = 58 miles
Time = 5.13.19
Avg Speed = 11.1mph
Max Speed = 35mph (while braking like crazy!)

Time to get in some distance. The ride was billed as an 88 mile lollipop loop through Morgan Territory Park. My goal was to hit at least 60 miles as I have not ridden that far this season. We started out around 8am and it was pretty cold so I had arm warmers and a jacket on. I'd forgotten my gloves so a teammate loaned me hers. I have ridden without gloves before and don't mind it but with the cold morning, I was thankful for the loan.

The ride started out with a really quick little downhill, which is always a fun way to get going. Then, of course, it was a slight uphill to get the legs going. We went through an industrial area bobbing garbage and glass all along the way. Is there a rule that industrial areas have to be dirty like that?? Then we headed off on Bridge Bike Path, which took us over I-680. By this time I was well behind the rest of the group. A position I am getting used to!

Passed Connie, Lauren, and Scott on the side of the road as Connie had a flat tire. I'm not surprised with all the crap along the road. It made more sense for me to keep going since I am the slowest in the group rather than to be a 4th person to help with one flat. So off I went. Scott also left and met us at the first rest stop but again it made more sense for me to keep on truckin'.

Along the way my big ring stopped working. It just wouldn't shift up in that gear. Not such a big deal with climbing being the main focus on the day. But at time between the climbs or going downhill, it's nice to have that big ring to keep momentum going. I need to get a tune up before the ride anyway, this just means getting it in there sooner.

After a longish climb and a stop at a Peet's Coffee in Concord, the real climbing began. Connie and Lauren made it to Peet's before we left so the entire group headed out together, which I thought was nice.

There were a few sections of slightly more level road than others but basically, according to the map,  it was about 6-8 miles of climbing with lots of switchbacks that would get steeper the last 15 yards or so. These last few yards gave me an opportunity to stand and climb or there were some of those last inclines that I might not have made. It was very slow going but I stuck with it and rode the entire way. I stopped one time to get a bite of a Clif Bar, I couldn't do it while climbing as slow as I was! lol The good news was that I didn't cramp at all nor did I "pre-cramp." I was just fatigued from it being more climbing than I've done in a long time. That was encouraging! The drink I've been using is Camelbak Elixir. I only have one tablet left and then I'll have to decide if I'm going to stick with that (the tablets are VERY convenient) or go back to Accelerade, which I like very much!

Finally at the top,  I missed the rest stop! Oops! The ride sheet said the rest stop was at the top of the climb and since there was more climbing, I didn't realize I was there. The main problems with that were 1) I was a little low on water and 2) my teammates may have been there waiting for me and the other 2 who were out on the road still. They don't usually wait too long for the slow pokes in the group so that wasn't the biggest worry. The water became more of an issue later as I was going through farm and ranch country with no gas stations or other places to stop. The downhill on the opposite side of the climb was described as "screaming" in the ride description. I'd say that was accurate. My risk-taking has decreased quite a bit so I was braking much of the way down, especially on the blind curves. But I still hit 35mph. I need to find out from my teammates how fast they got up to. Some of those guys are crazy!

I made it to the Starbucks in Danville where Lorrie and Emma Blue were waiting to see how I was doing. I got some water and spent some time debating whether my legs had enough in them to complete the last few miles to hit 60 as indicated by the ride sheet to the Lunch Stop. I decided to give it go and Lorrie planned to hang out a few minutes so she could pass me and see how I was doing. It turned out to be mostly at a slightly downhill angle so I made it to Domenico's Deli in Danville in no time. I ended up getting there before anyone, which made me worry about how long the guys may have waited at the top of the climb for me. They are an easygoing bunch but I hate the idea of holding up their ride because of my mistake!

Meanwhile, Lauren, one of the other women on the ride, bonked hard! She and Connie called the ranger in Morgan Territory (I'm not sure I would have thought of that!) who took them to the Starbucks also. Fortunately they ran into Lorrie and were able to get a ride to the Deli. Most of the guys were there by the time Lorrie brought the other 2 women. We were all glad to be there safe and sound!

I made my "at least" goal and didn't feel like I should push it any further. I was tempted though because I did feel good.... sitting there! lol The good thing about aging is that I actually am wiser about listening to my body. So I ended it there and was very happy with my accomplishment! Lauren also made the smart choice to stop there after bonking so hard. And Connie decided to go along with her. So back to the starting point we went, leaving the boys at the deli to fill their bellies before completing the last 20 miles.

My only achy areas are my quads and my lower back. The quads are easy for me to get in better shape. I need to start making a concerted effort to improve my lower back and upper body in general.

Here's the entire intended route, though I stopped Danville: