The news broadcast a heat advisory warning for the Bay Area. So I decided to buy a 1.5l bottle of water from 7-11. I was going to fill it up, when I got to the ride start (I was driving to the ride start).
I arrived around 15 minutes early, so that gave me time to get everything ready, use the bathroom, apply sunscreen everywhere, so I’m all ready. We’re all ready and eager to start the ride, as we are heading over Old La Honda, then Haskin Hills, to the coast to Pescadero, where the temps should be about 20 degrees cooler.
Oh, what about that 1.5l bottle of water I got from 7-11? Oh, I kinda forgot all about that. Luckily, my water bottle was a little under half filled up, left over from yesterday’s ride. I was careful not to drink all of it, so I sipped a little here, a little there … and this was all on the OLH climb.
I guess the one thing that helped me was that most of the way out to Pescadero was descending, and there would be shaded roads, with just a few sections where it would be sunny. Luckily I made it to Pescadero, without issue. I made sure I filled up completely while at Pescadero. But of all the days to forget to fill your water bottle … one of the hottest days of the year. Definitely a day to escape to the coast, and not inland.
This year has been weird weather-wise. Yes, I’m glad we are out of the drought, and we’ve had tons of rain, and snow in the local mountains. It was even raining as recent as a couple of weeks ago (and it was a cold storm).
Now, we got a heatwave, that’s lasted for the past couple of days. This made me glad I have an office job, and not something like construction or roofing… That would suck. I have been riding into work on these hot days … Yeah, I’m insane. There’s just something about being in an air conditioned office, then coming out to a hot blast of air … Makes you feel alive to go for a ride. Just gotta make sure I hydrate myself, that’s all.
There was a massive heat wave that hit the southwest, which included all of Southern California. And guess who decided to visit Southern California during this heat wave … yeah, yours truly. I figured that since we have the 4th of July off, I might as well extend my time off with a couple extra days to extend to the weekend. I knew it would be bad when I saw the weather.com forecast to be 108 F in Rosemead, which is where I would stay.
Well that forecast was a little generous … actually, it got even hotter. It got to 112 F at the hottest point, and that wasn’t even the hottest in the Southern California area. The hottest was in Woodland Hills, where it got to 117 F. Yeesh!
Needless to say, I didn’t ride on this day. I actually got into town the day before, and rode around the Rose Bowl for about an hour … but even then, the temp was around 100 F.
Saturday, I did a ride with a bunch of friends, and we started in Tustin, then headed to the coast, then went south to Carlsbad (just south of Oceanside). It was a cool 82 F on that ride … much better than the triple digit temps forecasted in the valley. And that was about 10 degrees cooler than the previous day.
We took the train back from Oceanside, back to Tustin. The Metrolink route goes parallel to the beach, so as you can probably imagine, a number of people were taking the train from the beach back inland. And yes, Metrolink was crowded. I guess it’s kinda lucky we boarded with all our bikes in Oceanside, where we did have room to get all our bikes on. Passengers who boarded a few stops later weren’t so lucky
It was actually pretty funny … the train conductor was begging people to get onto the train. In my 10 years of riding Caltrain, I never heard them begging for people to get onto the train.
When we finally got back into Tustin, opening the door, it was an oven … Oooh … we wanted to get back into the train. Oh well.
I was to drive back the next day … I decided I would leave before 7 am, just so I can beat the heat. Luckily, the temp never got above 100 while on the drive … at least according to my thermometer. By the time I got into San Jose, it was in the low 90s. At least it wasn’t 111 F.
So far, it hasn’t been even a hint of June. It’s been overcast a lot lately … to the point where I had to wear arm warmers and knee warmers for my morning commute. I even had to wear arm warmers on my afternoon commute.
Well, finally, we got a dose of summer … to the point where even in Sunnyvale, we got triple digits:
Just by coincidence, I decided to ride with Western Wheelers … the ride was going to Half Moon Bay, but it was so friggin’ hot (climbing up Kings Mountain), that I had no desire to go down the hill (even though it would be much cooler). I would have to climb up the hill, and it would probably have been in the 90s while I was climbing. No thanks. My body was not conditioned for this heat.
What a big change from last week … I had to alter my ride at Lexington Dam, because it was cold, foggy, and windy. And this weekend, temps were in the 100s … I just wonder how hot it was inland.
It was an lofty plan. My climbfest for today was Redwood Gulch, followed by On Orbit, followed by Hicks, then Mt. Umunhum.
Redwood Gulch is fairly short, with 10-15% grades (although Al says he saw some 20% on his Garmin). It punches you with 12%, then you get a break, before it kicks up again. It’s a nice first hill for the day.
Then we headed down the hill, destined for Saratoga, where we make the climb up 6th street, to Bohlman. I took us up some good steep pitches up Norton, then Kittredge, and Quickert. That was a really tough climb, with sustained 15% grades for a good mile and a half. There were some 25% grades there.
If that wasn’t bad enough, when we turned onto On Orbit, the grades kicked up even higher. There were some 35% grades there.
When I finally got to the crest, I just had to lie down, in the shade, get my heart rate down just to recuperate.
Descended down the hill from here, which was a challenge in itself, trying not to overheat my disc brakes coming down those steep switchbacks. That was tough.
When we finally got to the other side of Los Gatos, we got to Hicks, then took a breather, just before the steep climb. It was also heating up quite a bit, with temps in the upper 90s. Couple that with climbing Hicks at 15-20% grades, my legs were screaming. Slowly turning the crank, one by one, with the heat bearing down on me, there was only so much I can handle. I ended up having to walk one particularly steep section, to a flatter portion, just so I can re-mount back on the bike. At that point, I made the decision I can’t do Umunhum. I’m having enough troubles with Hicks.
So unfortunately Umunhum would be a bust, but maybe next time, we’ll just do Umunhum alone, and not pile on On Orbit with its 30% grades.
I finally climbed Mt. Tam, and it would happen to be on the Hottest Day of the year on the Bay Area. I mean, it was in the 80s in SF … that’s s rarity.
I’m the past, I would normally do either Alpine Dam and head up to Ridgecrest then do they Seven Sisters (set of 7 rolling hills), and then, get to a junction where we usually have a rest stop, then head down Pan Toll Road, down the hill. But that would skip Mt. Tam. At this point we usually already have a lot of miles and climbing in our legs that we have little motivation to go up. Well the same thing was true on this day, but I decided I’m not doing and I’m just continuing up the road, and climbing Mt. Tam.
It was hot to start off with, even after getting off Caltrain by AT&T Park. I brought a vest and arm warmers, because you can never tell what the climate is like in the city, but there was no fog at all, and it would remain hot. This also meant traffic was bad. Normally when I take the first train in on Saturday, it wouldn’t be too bad, but not today. Plus, the finals of America’s Cup is going on, so lots of traffic at the Embarcadero.
I made minimal stops on this ride, so this was definitely not a social ride, but it also wasn’t a hammer ride, due to heat and climbing I know I’ll do. Before making the climb to Alpine Dam, I fueled up at 7-11 … like drinking an entire bottle of Gatorade. I normally don’t do this, but I needed something to cool my core before the climbing starts.
Huddling in the shade at Alpine Dam
Alpine Dam is the usual regroup spot, and usually people stop at the center of the dam to relax and enjoy. Not this day. I huddled over to the shade.
Next up was the next climb up to Ridgecrest. This was a pretty shady climb, but it was still pretty hot. I started to get fatigued here, and suddenly I had thoughts of bailing on Mt. Tam again. I had to fight to wipe these thoughts out of my head, and just make it to the next crest at Ridgecrest.
At Ridgecrest, and start of Seven Sisters
At Ridgecrest, there was another group doing a training ride, and they had a support car, supplying water. They graciously provided it, even to those not in their training ride. That’s just awesome. That’s what I love about cycling, such cameraderie.
Next it’s the Seven Sisters. This is a set of seven rollies, before you even get to the base of Mt. Tam. This is tough on a hot day, because it is all exposed, wide open. Since you know there are seven of them, you can almost pace yourself, but with this heat, it’s still a tough climb.
Overlooking Stinson Beach
There are some really gorgeous views from here. You get some really nice overlooks of Stinson Beach.
Continuing on Ridgecrest, when you finish the Seven Sisters, there is s parking lot, where most take a rest. This is where in the past we would head down the hill, but not today. I’m not doing and continuing on up the hill.
Mt. Tam looking east
Actually the climb up Mt. Tam is not that bad. It is a little shaded to start, and the summit is all exposed. I think the climb up to Ridgecrest plus the Seven Sisters usually it’s what does everybody in. Amazing views from up here.
Caltrain Bike Car was busy
By the time I made it down the hill back to Sausalito, I was tired. I’m looking forward to just sitting in Caltrain, and resting. I made it to Caltrain just in time … got there at 3:05, and the train leaves at 3:15. Sweet! The bike car was also very busy.
We all know about the climbfest (Baldy, Crystal Lake, Dawson Saddle come to mind), but I just heard a newly coined term, heatfest. I guess this all comes under the category of sufferfest. I might as well add my 20 year old, Diamond Back, which weighs about 25-30 pounds, with harder gears (53-39, 11-26) … and this is a recipe for pain. Maybe we should call this painfest?
Karen sent an invite for another epic ride, up Hwy 39, to Crystal Lake, with various options to go along with it. Since I am carrying an older, heavier bike, I let it all be known I will be doing the minimum … Crystal Lake only. Last time I tried, we did Baldy Village, then attempted the climb … only to succumb to heat. But we also had a lot of climbing and miles in our legs … this time, figuring that we’re heading straight for Crystal Lake first, my chances of success may be greater.
Everything was fine up to East Fork Rd. After we all re-grouped (water re-fill, bathroom), that was probably the last time I was actually riding with the group. This is where the combination of climbing distance, climbing elevation gain, and heat got the best of me. This road was very open … by that, I mean there is no break for coverage at all. What little trees there were was few and far between.
As I started getting higher in elevation, fatigue really set in. Cadence was slowing down, but since I didn’t have my Garmin on my bike mount, I couldn’t tell how slow my cadence was, nor did I know how slow I was going. Additionally, I had no idea how hot it was … but the heat was intense, so I had some idea it was bad. Each time I saw a tree, I wanted to stop, but I didn’t want to concede, as I kept remembering my motto “I’m in it to finish it”.
Finally, I succumbed to the heat, and stopped under not one, but two trees. It did feel good, with a little faint breeze. This was just enough to help me recover, and continue on. Each time, a part of me was all ready to turn around, but being in a group trumped that, and made me continue on. Water was not an issue, and I wasn’t dehydrated … It was just the heatfest!
I got a pleasant surprise, seeing my old friend John, who I used to ride with all the time back in my old Foothill Cycle Club days. Been a really long time. Seeing him come up behind me after making the right turn towards Crystal Lake was enough to get me going all the way to the Crystal Lake Cafe. I finally made it … and low and behold, I see my friend Ken sitting there having a Fritos Pie. Mmmmm.
While chowing down there, I saw some other strong riders, who had gone up further on Hwy 39, to Mt. Islip, then made their way down. Now they were on their way to go to East Fork, then over to Camp Williams, then onto little GMR. Me, I’m just going straight down Hwy 39. It was hot enough as it is … then, when I went back to the cars, it was showing 103 F. What??? Later, I heard it was 114 F at Camp Williams. Just thinking of it makes me hot.
I was trying to get a video of my descent going down, but I spend too much battery taking still shots and some video earlier on. What was left is the video below:
It is the peak of the century riding season, and so far, I haven’t even begun getting into any events. DMD was this weekend, Wildflower is also this weekend, so I decided to tackle L’Etape du California, which does the same route that ATOC Stage 7 will be doing. I didn’t really decide until Friday night, and the ride was Sunday.
As part of the registration process, they required everyone to sit through a safety talk first, then register. They wanted to stress that this is not a race, and to point out the danger areas.
Since I had to drive this far, I might as well bring my bike and do a quick Patterson Pass loop, and do part of tomorrow’s course. Good thing I did, acclimated my body to the heat. It was friggin hot out there, and no wind.
Okay, Sunday morning and it’s a mass start at 7 am. The turnout was a little less than they expected .. 300, and they were expecting 1000. I was up near the front with all sorts of racer types. We rolled out pretty quickly, with a brisk pace. I started wondering what did I get myself into. People were passing me left and right. Even more people past me going up Morgan Territory.
Morgan Territory is the first climb of the day. We normally descend down this road and we call it the plunge. However this time we’re climbing it. Epic. After we crest this, it’s down the hill on the other side. This is a rough surface, and I know others are hurting, because all the different bumps. My Volagi did just fine, absorbing then all, making it a bit more comfortable than if I brought the Seven. One thing that was annoying was a slow descender, and wouldn’t allow many to pass. Took me awhile, but I finally passed him. Sheesh!
At the bottom, rest stop #1. They need to learn how to support social rides as they only had 1 porta potty. This added time to the wait. This was also the only rest stop until the finish which had bread for pbj. Epic fail.
From here, the route to the next climb would be pretty flat, out Marsh Creek onto the city of Byron. There is nothing out here, and it’s brown. Nothing scenic about this, but at least it didn’t stink. I latched onto a pelaton of about 8 riders. Nice pace, not too fast so I didn’t blow myself up, but brisk enough to make some good time.
Rest stop 2 is at the base of the Patterson Pass climb. This is their second time doing this in two days. I conserved my energy in preparation for this. It was about 10 am when I started the climb, which is a lot better than 1 pm, which is when I started this yesterday. I did do a lot better. There still was not much wind. This is Patterson Pass, which usually had wind. For once I was wishing Continue reading →
I got to ride another one of Ken and Teresa’s climbfests … this one went to Baldy via East Fork, GMR, GRR, then back the same way we came, then up Hwy 39 again, onto Crystal Lake, then back on East Fork again, up GMR, then then to Glendora, before heading back to the cars. Well, that was the plan, at least.
We had a terrific turn out. Steve had never done Baldy (shocking). We had two fixies doing the cling (that’s insane) and Karen has her sights set on the ski lifts (I actually would have if I didntehave my sights set on doing Crystal Lake).
Everyone was in great spirits in the morning … that’s before the miles, the climb, and the heat settled in. Karen was leading a good pace up the hill, so I hung im with everyone at the front. The rollies up to East Fork is always nice.
First water stop was Camp Williams, right before East Fork turns into GMR. We then hit the real climbs.
While I had the chance to, I just had to film myself passing up the same guys who would be leaving me in the dust. I just love Teresa’s tiger roar … it’s almost as good as the devil jumping up and down, or antler man running up the hill.
Group shot at Mt. Baldy Village
I was able to ride along with Vic and Steve for a while, up until the last 1-2 miles on GRR. We eventually all regrouped at Mt. Baldy Village. Some went on to climb the ski lift, others went down GMR back to the cars, and others “attempted” to backtrack to Camp Williams, and continue to Crystal Lake.
Now I did have a brain fart here. I went to the bathroom, and we were ready to leave, but I couldn’t feel my glasses on my face. So I figured I must have left it at the bathroom. Luckily, someone noticed they were hanging off the neck of my jersey. D’oh.
Ok, onto Crystal Lake, and back up the hill we just descended down. We had a rousing descent here, which is nice to have, just before the big climb.
The descent down GMR to East Fork was fast and furious, and Teresa was descending like Thomas Voeckler. By the time we got to Camp Williams, all the campers were out in force, and it was pretty darn busy. Everyone refilled water, loaded up on ice, and in the meantime, Vic and I had our own sandwiches (and of course, and abundance of fries). It was around 1 pm before we left Camp Williams, ready for the journey that lies ahead.
Hang a right on Hwy 39, and on we go. I didn’t really get too bad until after we passed West Fork (and it was crowded there too … lot of people hiking from West Fork). About 5 miles up, the heat was really getting to me. I’m all the way in my granny, and I’m only sustaining a 3 mph speed, which is not good. I looked at my Garmin and it was registering 107 F … damn, that’s hot.
Not only was it hot out here, it was completely exposed, and very little shade at all. I got to about 7000 feet of total climbing, before I had to call it a day. I was running low on water, and I had to muster up any strength I had to flag down Ken, letting him know I’m done. So I made it just to the bridge, then headed back down. It’s too bad, because I really wanted to make it to Crystal Lake.
Totals on the day .. 74.6 miles, 7560 feet climbing. Gotta get more heat training in, but this was a good trainer for Knoxville. Good thing I’ve still got 1.5 more months to train for that.