There comes a point in your life when you realize who really matters, who never did, and who always will.
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The decision to ride a century came about only 4 days ago, and was the brainchild of ‘The Col.” aka Mark. You just know that anyone who sends out an email with a roll time of 7:59 sharp, has a little “Col.” in him. The route was a pretty straight forward out-and-back, starting on the Los Angeles Westside going North to Port Hueneme while hugging the coast line, turning around and retracing the steps, with the exception of a detour up Latigo Canyon (more about that later).
Over the past 4 days emails were flying all over the place with people dropping in- and out of the ride. When I arrived on Saturday morning at the meeting point early (note wanting to draw the wrath of the Col.), he was of course already there, sipping coffee and tapping his shoes (just kidding!).We had time to shoot the breeze and I learned that he pulled the trigger on a new bike, which will be hopefully in his possession around the first week in February. I am sure I will blog about this LOOK custom build when I get to see her the first time. It was great to listen to him as he talked about the build – exciting! Just as we wrapped up, Jason pulled up and as it turned out, that would be all of us.
Yikes, riding with Mark and Jason!! Let’s just say, Mark is fast and Jason is super fast, and than there is yours truly, not in any of these two categories. I knew then, that I would be hurting. But, as some of you know from my last blog entry, the fear of not ‘being man enough’ to keep up, prevented me from ever riding with the person who got me into riding in the first place. Crazy!! Now that I understand that there is more to cycling than always being in the lead, it no longer matters. We rolled out on time at a leisurely pace, slowly getting reluctant legs moving, using the generous width of the San Vicente Bike path to ride three abreast and catch up on each others life’s. I love that part, because I ride probably 90% of the time solo, the social aspect of riding with a group is such a treat. Once we dropped down onto Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), we formed a line and the ride was on.
Oh, boy – by the time we reached Malibu, about 20 miles into the ride I knew that I would not be able to keep up that pace (just shy of 20 mph avg.) for the whole ride, and I told the guys to just ride at their pace. We had pre-arranged regroup spots along the route for just that purpose. However, sometimes later I caught up with Mark, who lost Jason. We found out later that Jason hopped onto a fast group flying north at an average of 24 mph. Although I did not feel strong we moved along at a pretty good clip and reached the 50 mile point in around 2 hours 50 minutes; way too fast and hard for someone who has not done a lot of distance lately (that someone would be me). After we woke Jason from his nap while waiting for us, we ate a bit and headed back. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention the wind in my back going North, didn’t I? Well that wind, my friends, was blowing straight into my face now. Around mile 60 I knew that I went out way to fast and hard, and that if I wanted to finish a 100 miles without anyone having to drag me in, I needed to go to plan ‘B’. Riding Latigo Canyon, with an average 6% grade, and numerous 10% to 14% sections, simply was not in my legs.
Jeff Bean of the blog BikeCrave recently wrote an excellent article titled Bonktown, and I couldn’t help but smiling when I thought of the ‘square wheels’ – just the way mine were! But quitting was not an option, especially not today, riding in memory of Jeff Bayly. OK, back to plan B, which was skipping Latigo Canyon and riding South to Playa del Rey instead. Several miles before the turnoff to Latigo, I bid my two fellow riders good-by and set off to ride the last 40 miles solo. Probably the hardest part of that ride was riding by the turn-off to my home at around mile 75 (another short 4 miles and I would be home). But no – that was not an option. The only option was to shift my mindset – which meant ignore the very real pain in the butt, the mushy legs, the achy arms and just pedal, one stroke at a time. So I did, thinking of much harder rides I completed, thinking of Jeff and how much more fortunate I am by being able to feel all those aches and pains. At some point, I just rode – I am glad I did.