Sunday, June 29, 2008

On Gravel and Gravity
Have you ever noticed that the words gravel, gravity, and grave all have the same beginning. This thought crossed my mind as I was rapidly descending Mt. Hamilton last Saturday. I started thinking this as I navigated the endless hairpin turns and noticed that in every blind turn there seemed to be a line of gravel in the middle of the road. It takes a whole lot of concentration and quite a bit of luck to come around a corner, see the gravel and find a line that doesn't take you through the gravel or into the oncoming lane. Nothing quite gets your attention like going around a corner at 25 mph hitting bit of gravel and having your rear wheel hop a inch or two off track. Some people would call it exhilarating I don't. In fact I thought it was downright pee-your-pants scary. Thankfully I made it all the way down the mountain,with my pants unsoiled I might add.

This was on one of our more memorable rides. On top of the scary descents, it was 95 degrees in the shade. We climbed the toughest climbs in the Bay Area - Mines Road, the back side of Mt. Hamilton, Sierra Road and Calaveras Road. My heart rate monitor recorded a high temperature on the road of 116 degrees. That's tough sledding even without the gravel. We rode 110 miles, conquered the toughest climbs on one of the hottest days and we dodged some nasty boobytraps. All that was left to do is ride triumphantly back to the cars. One rider after another made the right turn into the parking lot. I was the last rider in the group. Did I mention it was a gravel parking lot? After all the near misses on Mt. Hamilton, I found a patch of gravel that was less forgiving. So like a dog running on a newly polished floor, my rear wheel slid out from under me and I hit the ground before I could even contemplate the gravity of the moment.

Unlike my previous crash where I had quite a bit of forward momentum along with gravity, I only had gravity to deal with. Fortunately I only had a scraped knee and arm along with a healthy dose of embarrassment. Death Ride is in two weeks. I must try to be more upright.

Can't Touch This
Speaking of Death Ride, I have to tell this story. Yesterday we were on our final difficult ride of our training, 93 miles, 7300 feet of climbing. We were riding in a group of 4. We were on a 15 mile stretch along Highway 1 heading north of Santa Cruz. We were maintaining a comfortable 23 mph paceline. Sue had just taken the lead when we saw about 300 yards ahead a triathlete rider. Let me say that in general, triathletes are pretty decent people. Most have been very courteous and cordial. However you occasionally come across tri-riders who have a very annoying habit. They are perfectly happy to hang on your wheel and let you do the pulling, but they never pull the paceline when it comes to their turn. This gentleman looked to be one of the latter types. Which brings me back to Sue. Sue is a middle-aged housewife. Most of her time is spent raising horses and helping with her husband's company. She probably weighs less than 100 pounds. She is just a very nice person. Well, Sue is in front of the group and we noticed that our pace is starting to pick up...23...24...25...26...27...27.5 mph. Sue smelled blood. Without any word from the rest of us she was bound and determined to reel the tri-guy in. The 300 yard gap was down to 100 yards in no time. Like a race horse that gets the bit in its teeth, Sue was flying, 50 yards and closing fast. At that point Sue realized that she couldn't pass him and maintain her speed. You see, you don't get any prestige points for passing someone and they subsequently pass you. If you pass someone, you have to let them know you're the badass on the bike that day. If you pass them only to have them pass you because you're spent, well then, you're just a dumbass. Sue recognized this and dropped off and said to me as I took over the lead, "Go get 'im". Of course, we got him. The group passed him with a courteous, "On your left" which is a roadie's equivalent to "Go find a bike trail, slow poke. " And you know what the tri-guy did next? He got onto the end of our paceline and let us pull him all the way to our turnoff miles down the road. He never took a pull...typical. Sue immediately earned the nickname "Hammer" because she showed when the time required it she could put the hammer down.

About the Raffle
Thank you to everyone that participated in the fundraising raffle. The big hits of the raffle were the autographed Team CSC jersey, the Chatom Vineyards chardonnay, (which got rave reviews from a winner) and a hand made quilt. These were among the 39 prizes given away. All-in-all the event was a big success. We raised close to $3000 for supporting Team in Training. To the people that read this update, Jill, Steve, Steve, Peggy, and Aunt Butch - you were all winners. I'll be contacting you with your prizes.

Death Ride in two weeks, France in four. July looks to be pretty busy.

Thanks for reading,

No comments: