a) shut it down
b) go full throttle
I chose option b) in order to maintain my sanity and sleep at night.
Saturday (2/2), an intimate group of 4 of us did the Train Ride. We took the train up to Anaheim to ride the 80 miles back to Solana Beach. This is the 2nd time I've done this ride, and it only gets better each time.
Train: On the train (a little over an hour), I sipped my coffee and slammed a chocolate glazed donut to make sure I didn't start the ride hungry. The heat inside the cabin warmed my muscles, lulling me into a drowsy, false sense of security. As we kept traveling north, we all looked at each other anxiously. "Dude. We are a looong way from home!"Warm Up:
We disembarked in Anaheim and were rudely awakened into the chilly morning. After a quick stop at the toilet, we eased into the saddle and were off. Shivering, we made our way to the Santa Ana River Bike Trail. We hit the trail and started cruising. I love this trail! It leads directly to the coast, avoiding all roads and traffic. There's no wind, and it's verrry flat. It's the easiest 13 miles I've ever done--perfect warm up.
We were in good spirits and joking around. "Are we there yet?" All of us had the same goal in mind--ride at base pace but with as few stops as possible. Two of us were training for IM-AZ in April, and the other two for CA 70.3 at the end of March. We were well-matched. The cohesion between the 4 of us was magical. There are pluses to riding in a big group but also a lot of advantages to a smaller, more intimate group. I enjoy mixing it up.
We hit the coast and made our way through the busy streets of Newport Beach. Luckily, on an early Saturday morning in February, the streets were fairly empty. We spotted the regular Orange County pelotons zipping through, the OC versions of SDBC and Swami's. Always comforting to ride on a regular bike corridor.
12 Different Cities:
As we rode through the different coastal cities, we experienced different spectrums of weather conditions--each niche had its own unique weather biome. Perhaps it was because the ride took so long. But also maybe because we rode such a long way! Anaheim was chilly and misty, Newport Beach was gray, Laguna Beach was sunny and pleasant. Dana Point was cold and windy. San Clemente was cloudy but still. Camp Pendleton was extremely WINDY! Oceanside was cloudy. Carlsbad was sunny and slightly pleasant. Next up were Leucadia, Encinitas, Cardiff, and finally Solana Beach. We rode through 12 different cities!
Laguna, DP, & San Clemente:
Laguna Beach was soooo beautiful. Lots of secluded coves and pristine beaches. Rolling hills and moutains flanking the ocean to the east. After all the rain SoCal has received this winter, the hills were carpeted in a brilliant, velvety emerald-green. I've never seen SoCal so green and in bloom before!
Every street sign in Dana Point ends in "Lantern." I particularly like "Green Lantern" because it reminds of the villain in Spiderman. We wound through the side streets in San Clemente, which felt like a roller coaster--constantly up, then down, back up, and down again. We stopped at the market at the end of town to grab a sandwich, Pepsi, and red vines (my own personal touch). Oh, and a Twix. The Cliff Blocks, InfinIT, and Cliff Bars just weren't doing it for me.
Red Bull Gives You Wings!
In Camp Pendleton, we decided to do "extra credit." I had wanted to do about ~85 miles but felt good at 60 so I didn't mind when 1 of the riders wanted to shoot for a full century. Is that weird? Let's do an accidental 100 miles today. I'm officially nuts. We headed into the base down Christianitos Road. A Red Bull car was sitting on the shoulder. Huh? I've seen Red Bull cars at races like 5Ks and sprints but we were in the middle of nowhere. There's very little traffic in Camp Pendleton, and it was dead-quiet.We rode past the Red Bull car, and 2 girls handed each of us a Red Bull! How's that for a support vehicle? Good aid station! We were rewarded for our "extra credit" loop. Pretty random stuff. I knew at that point someone from above was smiling down on us on that ride.
We headed down the Trestles Bike Path and entered the base, adding yet an extra loop on Las Pulgas. We cruised out to the turn-around oblivious to the wicked tail-wind. Then we turned around. Damn! Just when I get tricked into thinking I'm this bad-ass cyclist, the wind pokes me on the shoulder and knocks me down a few pegs. We all battled our way back to Stuart Mesa Road.
My ass was beginning to hurt, and my leg warmers were chafing my thighs but I was able to block it out and maintain a good rhythm. Besides, I knew everyone else had the same issues. With the Red Bull, Red Vines, and Twix in my system, I couldn't really be that miserable, eh?
Around mile 75, K. passed me.
"Red Bull gives you wings!"
"C'mon! You can do better than that!" he teased.
Oh, no he didn't, I thought to myself. I took off, blasting by everyone up the next hill. Take that! Ha! It felt so good to feel so good at mile 75. Funny, how positivity can snowball.
Mile 80, we exited the base and rode through Oceanside Harbor. I couldn't believe what good time we were making. In Carlsbad (mile 85), I got left behind at 2 verrrry long lights that took absolutely forever. I lost 5-7 minutes. Dammit! I knew we only had 10 miles left to go. I decided to test my limits and see if I could catch up. I took off, mustering a crazy (for me) 20 mph while muttering, "Drop the hammer, drop the hammer," repeatedly. It was my mantra. It was early afternoon, and most of the riders left on the road were the easy-going Sunday-driver types. I blasted by....I was on a mission. I did pretty well at maintaining that pace until I hit Cardiff, right outside Solana Beach. I just barely missed catching the group at the very end and arrived back at the train station, completely exhausted. Still, I was very pleased that I could find that high-octane speed so late in the game.
Sunday, I woke up feeling surprisingly fresh and not sore. It was windy and rainy outside. Stubbornly, I pulled on my tights and long-sleeved running shirt and showed up to meet 3 other guys as stubborn as me. They were going 10. I was going 16. Rain? Wind? So? We started in Solana Beach and rain north on the coast to Encinitas. On 101 in Cardiff, where there's no protection from the ocean, the wind