Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Valentine's Day Great Western Loop Ride

My foot has been feeling better. I've been using the healing time to bike, swim and do weights more. Not a bad idea since biking is my limiter and running is my strength anyway. After a very relaxing Friday (Brent took me to Laguna Beach, gave me red tulips, chocolates and a card, and cooked dinner for me), we rose early Saturday morning for the Valentine's Day ride. We met a group of 25 other riders in East County for 40 miles and 4,000 feet of climbing.

Bethany and Rachel--our ride organizers and club valentines.

Since we had never ridden the loop clockwise, we decided to try something different. The roads were wet and slippery from the previous day's rain. Luckily, the next storm held off until later, leaving us with chilly (upper 50s) weather and wind. Feeling warm in the parking lot, I left my vest, gloves, and headband in the car, cursing myself the entire ride because of this not-so-wise decision.

Without a chance to warm up, we were hit with steep uphill switchbacks right out of the gate. I practiced negativity drills (You suck. You don't deserve this bike. You should quit. You're pathetic. etc. etc. etc.) for the first 10 miles as everyone seemed to ride effortlessly by me. Then, I saw a poor girl walking her bike, and I realized everyone was struggling as much as me. It made me feel better. By the time I reached the re-group, I felt much better. I smiled at Brent, and we battled the hills together. I waved him on, knowing I was holding him back. I was in my happy place now.

feeling pretty good as I crest a hill.

The roads were wet and slippery. I had to use extreme caution when I stood up in the pedals since my bike wheel wanted to skid and skip (plus, it didn't feel so good on my foot). We finally reached the first descent. Cheering, we cruised downward, giving our burning legs a rest. Without warning, I heard a loud clatter of carbon hitting the pavement. I looked for the fallen rider but all I saw was Bob limping on the side of the road. His shorts were torn open, and his left exposed buttock looked like raw hamburger meat. Apparently, he had collided with another rider in the group, slipped and fallen. He must have bounced like rubber because no one actually saw him hit the ground. Thankfully, there were no cars around. We assessed the damage. Bob seemed like he was in for a rough night but aside from terrible road rash and a swollen ankle, he had escaped unscathed. His bike also was somehow unharmed. We tried to convince him to ride down the 8 miles we had just climbed back to his car with another rider to escort him. We tried to convince him to wait while one of us rode back for a vehicle to come and pick him and his bike up. Stubbornly, the adrenaline of the fall pumping through his veins he refused. He decided to finish the ride.

We proceeded down the road with caution. Amazingly, none of us could keep up with Bob as he charged the field. 10 miles later, as the adrenaline began to wear off, he slowed. The swelling and pain was beginning to set in. We stopped at the Country Store to reassess the damage. At this point, I had to pee desperately. Plus, since I had my period (sorry guys), a bush would not suffice because I didn't want to litter. The Country Store had provided an old, neglected Port-a-Potty in the yard behind it. I held my breath as the stench amplified as I neared it. I opened the door and gasped. I don't know if it had ever been emptied. It was actually overflowing. Luckily, it had toilet paper. I did my business in the dirt behind it. Yes, the Port-a-Potty was so bad that I squatted and peed in the dirt beside it, mostly hidden from view. That sorry excuse for a bathroom should win an award or something. By the time I finished up, the group had convinced Bob to wait at the store for Judy's boyfriend, who lived nearby, to pick him up. Phew! We proceeded carefully onward.

gorgeous view from atop our bikes.

The scenery was spectacular. As I climbed, I drank in the view. I carefully ate and drank to avoid bonking, knowing that climbing takes extra fuel. I felt pretty good. The worst of the hills were over, and we were now in the rolling section. I passed several pairs from our group on the side of the road. Our group was plagued by flats. We must have had 7 or 8 among us. The wet, sticky roads caused debris to cling to our wheels, piercing our tires. Brent and I lucked out.

--me and Brent fueling up at a regroup.

Finally, we reached the long, 10-mile descent back to the start. I couldn't believe how good I felt. It was quite an adventure but everyone survived in the end. My legs actually felt pretty fresh. So much so, that I did an 8-mile run on Sunday (mistake because it caused my foot to flare up again), and an hour bike later that same day (and weights). I'm getting back into it, baby!


Benson said...

Beautiful pics of that ride.
I like the 'crest of hill' and the snowcapped peak behind you.

Grey Beard said...
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Grey Beard said...

Awwww, I am smiling ear to ear Rachael. I knew you'd figure it out and get on the bike. I'm almost tempted to say that PF was the universe's way of pointing you to some weak-point training!

RE: biking, why do you think all of us old farts are on bikes instead of out there running? /=)
(so much easier on old joints)

Please don't ride without gloves. If you fall without gloves you could loose the use of your hands. All that body weight on the small surface area of the hands meeting pavement at 20-30mph is very ugly.

I did a long blog piece last night about dressing for the cold and wet weather. It's the distillation of all my trial and error refinements over the last 3-4 months.

Winter is such a wonderful time to ride. Stunning scenery, (awesome pics Rachael), clean, thick air, mid-day cool, and no crowds. It makes me smile knowing you two are out there gett'in some. Cheers!!

Jack said...

Wow, sounds like a great ride, the pictures are great! I wish it would warm up here so I can get my bike out.

Chris said...

I've fallen behind on my blog reading, but it was great fun riding with this group on Vday, even with all the bad mojo we had. With all the recent events this seems like a surreal memory - it was only 2 weeks ago.