Quite often, I prefer riding by ourselves. It's not that I'm anti-social. I just like the flexbility of not having to plan ahead. Plus, who would have approved of a start time as late as 10:40am? This morning, we slept in, had a relaxed breakfast, got my rear tire changed (first time in 2 years), and by the time, we were out of the door, it was 10:40am. No biggie — we would just go as far as we feel like to.
Up W. Alpine we went. Immediately, we were greeted by hordes of riders coming down. I had never seen so many riders on that road, something must have been going on. A left turn was coming up for Erik and me in the uphill direction. Suddenly, we saw a descending rider project straight into the apex of the corner, crossed our lane and high-sided on the dirt patch. We stopped immediately to assist the downed rider who turned out to be a middle-aged lady. Her husband (I think, since she called him honey) pulled to a stop at the same time. While going down, she stuck her left elbow and knee out. There was road rash in her knee, but I think she mainly hurt her shoulder when the elbow hit the ground. She was in an amazing spirit. Visibly in pain, she still kept a beautiful smile on her face. In the beginning, I thought maybe it was the sight of Erik riding up spooked her, and felt guilty, but she insist it was all her own fault. Later, Erik told me that he heard her "ah…ah…" around the turn before he even saw her and knew that someone was having trouble with the turn, so prepared himself to get out of way. Then he saw her unclip one foot which gave her even less control and actually made her lose balance, and the woman went straight right in front of him. Also, the husband told us that she already crushed once earlier in the ride, and was probably all tense while going downhill. I was very sorry to hear that. W. Alpine is not an easy descent. We also learned that they were on the Sequoia Century ride. I did not know the was happening in this area. The riders passing by promised to get a SAG wagon up as soon as they reached any support. Her husband and she both assured us that there was nothing more we could do and urged us to continue on our ride. We wished her a speedy recovery and bid them goodbye. Later, four or five emergency vehicles (incl. two firetrucks) flew down the road with lights and sirens. Someone must have gotten ahold of 911.
Further up on Alpine, among all the riders flying down, suddenly one called out my name. It was Patrick, whom I met at Henry Coe Trail work last year. Wow, what a coincidence! By the time, I managed to greet him back, we were already 50 feet apart. I was so amazed at how small this world is that I kept chuckling at this incident for quite a while.
The rest of the ride was mostly very uneventful. We dropped down Page Mill and then climbed back up. Down Alpine and then over the Haskin Grade to have lunch in the town of Pescadero. When we took Stage Road to climb Tunitas Creek Road, we caught the tail end of the century riders. Lucky for us, we were able to fill our water bottles at the Bike Hut and at the top of Tunitas where their support stations were. Then we dropped down Kings Mountain and climbed back up it. By then, we had just broken 10,000' of climbing and would have been happy if we had gone straight home, but we went down Hwy 84 nonetheless — we wanted to see if we would PR on Old La Honda considering we are so well warmed up. PR, NOT! But not too shabby either (24:54 from Erik and 25:29 from me).
I lugged my camera with me, but I probably will leave it at home on my future rides. While climbing, I don't want to stop and interrupt my rhythm. While descending, I'm having so much fun flying down and would not consider coming to a stop. At intersections where I add/strip layers, it's just not that interesting there.
This is one picture at the summit of W. Alpine where we stopped so I could put layers on:
And this is where we had our lunch: