Saturday, June 21, 2008

Epic Ride #1: Calabasas to Pacific Coast Highway via Mulholland

So I have been preparing for the LA Wheelmen Grand Tour Double Metric Century Challenge and have been doing some incredible rides. I don't have time to do a very long ride every weekend, but I have been able to negotiate with my wife to get some long days in. I probably have done about 6 rides over 4 hours and feel pretty comfortable with doing the 200k next week.
Most of these rides were LA Wheelmen trainer rides, which they start in the spring with a new one each week. These ride slips are a great resource because I have really wanted to expand my list of available rides from the usual trek up Angeles Crest. Sometimes I am able to go on the regularly scheduled day, but usually I just print out the route slip from the webpage and go on my own.
The first ride I did with the LA Wheelman was a ride from Calabasas to the Pacific Coast through the Santa Monica Mountains. It was only my second chance to through these mountains. If you look at the profile of the route below, you'll see that the ride starts with a very steep but short climb in the very beginning. The climb is not very tough when you are fresh, but on the way back I was dreading that climb the entire way.

The first quarter of the ride was just beautiful. It was pleasantly cool with penty of shade through rolling hills with farms and ranches along the route. The next quarter of the ride started to get tougher. You had to climb up over the mountains to get to the ocean. I got a flat because there was slash in the sidewall of my tire. I felt pretty stupid about it because I had gotten a flat in the last ride I did and forgot to check the tire. I first tried to patch the tube, but it didn't hold. Then I felt really stupid because I should have just replaced the tube since I had one with me and now I only had one C02 cartridge to do it. It seemed like it took me forever, but I finally got it fixed by putting some cardboard separating the inside the tire and tube and replacing the tube. Now I had no CO2 left so I just crossed my fingers that I would make it through the rest of the ride with no more flats.

The climb was beautiful and there was still cool temperatures, but descending down to the ocean was just fantastic. It was incredible. You had to be careful to avoid stones in the road, but the views were spectacular.

Down along PCH the group stopped at a fish and chips joint for lunch, but I decided to press on back. First, it was only 10am and too early for me to eat lunch, but also I am slow and I figured I really needed that time to get back over the mountains, so I gobbled down a Balance bar and some Clif Shot Bloks and was off.

The way back was rough. First, it really started to heat up. It was probably around 85 degrees and I was pouring out sweat. Secondly, my bike keep ghost shifting out of my 29 cog onto my 27 cog. It was incredibly annoying. The route slip showed a different route on the way back. It was very steep, but incredibly beautiful. I wish I had my camera, as there was some incredible red rock formations and wildflowers out there.

The last fourth of the ride was just terribly painful. The ride had an assigned stop at the Rock Shop, and I should have stopped, but I was too concerned about making it home in the time I had told my wife I would be back. So I just pressed on. I guess I just took off more than I could chew with this one. I was stopping under every shade tree I could find. There was another rider that looked to be about 80 riding a hybrid and wearing sandals and I was doing everything I could just to try and keep up with him. It was so hot, and I ran out of water. I thought I was going to die so I stopped at a house, and when no one answered the door I just used their hose. I think I drank a whole bottle's worth of water right there.

I keep grinding slowly on, just dreading that last final climb. I don't know how many times I just thought of throwing in the towel and calling my wife to come pick my ass up. I knew that damn climb was coming up, and I just dreaded it. But I didn't call for the SAG wagon because I knew it would take forever for her to come get me, and I didn't want to wake up my four year old daughter from her afternoon nap. So I just pushed on.

Pretty soon I ached all over. My feet hurt. My hamstrings ached. My quads burned. My hands and shoulders were numb. But then something happened. I realized that I was at the peak of that very first climb. I was there and I didn't even know I was doing that last climb. I was so shocked and happy that I just powered down the last descent to my car with just a huge grin on my face. Sixty-four and a half miles done (GPS battery died on me so the profile above has the last few miles cut off), but how in the world was I going to finish 126 miles? I had a lot of work ahead.

Next time. . . the Terrible Tujungas!

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