My co-worker Al, and I, had this lofty plans of doing a killer loop, with about 105 miles, and over 10,000 feet of climbing. This was definitely going to be an epic ride, something Al has wanted, in preparation for his Death Ride training.
Those were good plans, but plans are not set in stone. It all started fine, getting a nice warm up by climbing Page Mill (including those 12-16% pitches). I felt ok climbing Page Mill, despite having some lower back “irritations”. Al was faster up the hill than me, but I wasn’t too far behind.
All good there .. then we descended West Alpine, along with another faster group, which was going in the same direction as us. However, during the descent, I heard some other noise coming from my bike, other than the freewheel … I had to slow down, and just as I feared, it was a leak. My front tire got a flat. Luckily this was just a slow leak, and I was able to hear it on my descent. This was just before the right turn to continue onto West Alpine.
So we stop to fix the flat, and as I inspect the tire, I notice a sidewall gash. It’s one of those, where once you pump up the tire, part of the tube will bleed out through a hole in the tire, and pow, there goes your tube. Al had those tire boots, so we installed that, and we’re ready to go.
I think Al is ready for Death Ride, as every climb, he was definitely much stronger, and he was just flying up Haskins Hill, and didn’t see him until I got to the corner of Stage and Pescadero Creek. Good for him, but lot more work for me. I was lucky enough to catch a few guys in a mini-paceline going to the coast. One guy even had a DSLR, and was even able to take a few shots, without stopping! Wow!
I re-grouped with Al at Stage Road. We had to make a decision here .. do we continue on to the original plan of doing Bonny Doon loop, or do we alter it and do the obligatory Tunitas Creek loop. With the tire situation, I was leaning more towards Tunitas, but Al had his sights on Bonny Doon, so we are continuing on.
We continued down to Hwy 1, with a scenic stop at Pescadero State Beach. I mean come on, you gotta take a few pictures here (although we would be riding parallel to this anyways).
Off we go and the winds were going in a southerly direction, and guess what .. we’re going south. We have a tailwind, and that means kick it up to high gear, and just spin. Al wanted to just charge on so he passed me, and he was flying. However, there’s a lot of crap on Hwy 1, and one of those pieces of crap was a stray wire, that caught my front tire. It was stuck to the tire, and it kept rolling it with. I think I rolled with that in there for a good mile before it dislodged itself, and now it’s just a matter of time before it does go flat. It finally went flat a little after Gazos Creek.
So this is where the day turned sour. I have no more tubes available, and Al is at least a mile ahead of me. Hmm … cell phone … no bars … damn, can’t even text him. I was close enough to a gas station, but they had no tubes to sell .. damn. A couple guys were fixing a flat by the station, but no extra tubes. Damn. Eventually, I flag another rider, who happens to have an extra tube. A lifesaver! I’m all excited, replace the tube, pump it up, and as I take the pump out, it strips the valve.
Arghhhh!!!! It is just not my day. Another good samaritan comes by, who happened to be a SAG support guy for years. He doesn’t have any tubes, but he tries to help. Took part of the tape on my handle bar, and I was wondering what he was trying to do. He was trying to use the tape as a patch, but I’m thinking that’s not going to hold. Surprisingly, we pump it up, and it seems to be holding. He takes off, then I put everything together, then I feel the tire, and it is not holding … damn. So I pump it up some more, ride as much as I can, and I go maybe 1/4 mile, before it’s deflated again.
I guess I’ll just walk south for a while, until I see Al come back. I’m not sure how much time we lost, from both the tube change back up on West Alpine, and my adventures on Hwy 1, waiting for Al, but we had to find the quickest way back. I decided we should just head back up Gazos Creek, then double back up Haskings, then West Alpine. I figure that should still be an epic climb, but at least it will be more familiar territory.
The wind is still blowing in a southerly direction, and we are going northbound … headwinds! Oh well, this is kind of expected, but we charged on through it. I think when Al u-turned back on Hwy 1, it may have taken a bit out of him, because on our way back on Pescadero Creek, we was behind me. I guess he’s conserving energy for the W. Alpine climb, so that makes sense. Maybe part of it was I had rested awhile, so I was more refreshed?
There is a warmup climb before West Alpine in this direction, and that is Haskins Hill. It has some 10-12% grades, so it is no slouch. At this point, I got my second wind, and I felt good climbing up Haskins, and as it turned out, I got a PR on this segment.
At this point, climbing up W. Alpine was not too bad … my legs were still pretty fresh. Al and I traded leads up this hill. By the time we got to Skyline, we had a sense of relief … we are in the home stretch. Legs are tired, and we just want to get back to the cars. By the time we got back, I had logged in 82 miles, and 7877 feet climbing. Al wasn’t sure how far on Hwy 1 he got before he turned back, but I think he was by Davenport … he got in 99.4 miles. We was too tired to take an extra loop around the block to even it out to 100.
That was a tough ride, even though we skipped on Bonny Doon and Zayante … not sure which way would have been tougher. We didn’t get the 10,000 feet climb we were shooting for, but it was still one hard ride, so we still had a great workout, and a great day.