Saturday, June 27th, 2009

Road: My Mini Death Ride #2

When we left La Honda at 8:20am, it was already at a very pleasant temperature. I knew then that it would be a hot day ahead of us.

West bound on Hwy 84 towards the ocean, we started our ride for the day. Half way down, three riders (one man and two women) passed us and we tagged on. One woman and I sat in the back enjoying the draft while Erik joined the other woman and the guy in taking turns to pull the paceline. We were flying. Before we got to San Gregoro, it was Erik's pull. He spotted a rider ahead and started sprinting towards him hoping to pull the paceline to him before we were to turn right on Stage Road. By the time, we arrived at the intersection, his legs were cooked. And the three riders stopped too because it was their rest stop. It turned out that the were out on a charity ride and there were tables setup there to replenish them. Erik cooked his legs for nothing, which he paid for on the rest of the ride. We all said thank you and have a good ride to each other before Erik and I continued riding toward Tunitas Creek Road — our first climb.

We had set our mind on a series of hill climbs. The route we followed started with: up Tunitas Creek Road, down Kings Mountain, up OLH (25:35 for me when I paced myself for the rest of the ride), down Hwy 84 towards Woodside. Then we Portola Road, Alpine Road, and Arastradero Road to Foothill Expressway, which took us to our CR-V parked near Trader Joe's at 85 & 280. We stationed the CR-V there yesterday evening after we did our Bohlman-On Orbit-Bohlman (BOOB) time trial. We took a lunch stop. It was already feeling hot. Not very easy to get back on the bike after the lunch, we rode on nonetheless.

Montebello was the next climb on the list. This was my first time on it. It turned out much longer than I had imagined. I kept thinking the summit was coming up after that next turn, but the road just kept going. I was thoroughly feeling the heat because the climb was mostly exposed. By the time I finally arrived at the summit after 44'05", I chucked down a whole bottle of water. While stretching, I could feel that my hamstrings were on the verge of seizing up. It felt hot even when I was descending! Man, this is tough!

We turned right on Stevens Canyon Rd, which led us to Redwood Gulch Rd. It has a couple of short steep pitches, but the climb was short. Before I knew it, I was at the intersection with Hwy 9. Down we went. By that time, it was past 3pm. Having a dinner engagement, we needed to get back to our car by 5pm. We would not have time to do one last climb (we were thinking BOOB) before we headed back. Once again, Erik did what any wonderful husband would do — he offered to ride back to fetch the car while I went to suffer on the BOOB climb, alone. We split in downtown Saratoga.

Too soon, I was at the bottom of Bohlman. Today, I had no delusion to post a fast time (I did PR at 35'26" on it yesterday though). Actually, I wonder if I had enough in my legs that I could manage to ride up the whole thing without stopping. I dropped down to my granny gear from the very beginning. The road was very quiet. Even though I was much slower than usual, it was too quick when I arrived at "the wall" on Bohlman. I gritted my teeth and stood out of saddle. I am never an out-of-saddle climber, but now my legs and gluts were too tired to spin even the lowest gear, so I had to rely on gravity. 1,2,3… I counted my strokes silently and restarted when it reached ten. It seemed like an eternity when I finally got to the top of the wall. The tougher section was yet to come — that was On-Orbit, steep and sustained. My speed was reduced to 3mph, lower than my usual walking pace, but I managed to stay on the bike. Again, 1,2,3… When I finally got to the top of On-Orbit, I knew I had this thing in the bag.  The upper part of Bohlman is rolling. Yesterday, I did it in middle chain ring and was able to pedal on downhill to gain momentum to cruise up the uphill most of the ways. Today, I simply stayed in my granny gear. I would cruise down, and then cruise up and start pedalling slowly once the momentum ran out. Finally, I reached the "End" sign at 45'02" after I started the climb. This was the slowest time I ever posted on this climb; yet, it made me most proud.

We rolled into the downtown Saratoga parking lot at the same time. Talk about perfect timing! After a nice stretch at the gym and a refreshing shower, I felt like a new person. Maybe I could go out and ride a couple of more hills now. Not. We had dinner with our dear friends at St. Johns and finished off the perfect day with good conversations.

4 Responses

  1. Patrick Herlihyon 28 Jun 2009 at 10:22 pm

    Great ride Mei! It was hot out there today! I did an MTB loop from Saratoga Gap up the ridge trail down Steven's Canyon and up Table Mountain and was dehydrated despite draining my camelback!

    I thought I saw you and Erik on Skyline around 2pm while I was driving home but it can't have been (according to your track)!

    I did a ride last weekend up in the Sierras over Ebbett's pass – it really is hard to breath above about 7500'. It's the one part of the Death Ride that you can't really train for (unless you have a cabin in the mountains, of course :)

    mudworm

    I hear ya, Patrick. I feel that my mind is ready for DR, but one question I won't know the answer to until the ride is whether my mind can handle the distance and the altitude. I guess I'll find out pretty soon.

    mudworm

    Oh, I meant to say "whether my body can handle the distance and the altitude."

  2. Joanon 01 Jul 2009 at 10:45 pm

    Mei, you're going to do AWESOME at the Death Ride! I still can't believe you did your own mini-death ride in the heat last weekend – you rock!! :) It was great chatting with you and Erik and the others at St. John's in the evening – we'll have to do it again this summer!