Saturday, May 14, 2016

Epic Rides

I've managed to squeeze in some great long rides lately - I signed up for Eroica California a while back, knowing full well that it would be ~125 miles of dirt and climbing on my old, heavy Bianchi with rather tall gears. That meant I had to whip by butt into some semblance of shape, after 9 months of slacking off... Anna and I trained well last spring and rode RAMROD in July 2015 (150 miles, mostly up, although technically, being a loop, there was just as much down as up, but if you measure in terms of time spent, it was mostly up. But I digress.)  After a bunch of weeks of good long training rides, immediately after RAMROD my mileage fell off precipitously, and I knew that to get ready for L'Eroica I'd have to ramp it back up quickly.

I piled in a bunch of increasingly longish weekend rides, interspersed with short but hard rides during the week, and felt pretty ready for the Eroica ride. At the 6am start, I rode out with my friends Chuck and Rita, and had a great time chatting with the notable old geezers who turned out for the ride as we led the small peloton into the dawn. The roads were great, the suffering was epic, and I rode strong all day. Despite missing a turn towards the end of the day and racking up 10+ "bonus miles" (I was riding behind a guy and we were cruising along at a good clip, but neither of us saw the turn we missed until at least 5 miles later...) I didn't really feel that beat up at the end of what was quite a hard ride. The vintage bikes on display (both in the concours and on the road) were really wonderful, and inspiration to keep riding my old Bianchi on more occasions.

Lots to see at L'Eroica
There was quite a lot of dirt
About a week later, I was back in the same Central California region for a work conference, and took the opportunity to go ride one of my favorite routes (here's what it looks like from a motorcycle; he captured the route, and took some good photos!) Starting from Santa Margarita, I rode out towards Pozo. A guy in a pickup pulled up next to me at one point, and asked through the window if I was aware that a "420 concert" was planned for that day... he was concerned that I'd be riding my bike on a normally very rural, lightly-trafficked route on a day when a huge crowd of weed-smoking concert goers were about to invade!  Of course, I had had no idea. A few miles further, I came upon the concert venue, the venerable Pozo Saloon. The Saloon has been a local watering-hole since the stagecoach days, and its customers are mostly the local ranchers and a few redneck off-road vehicle enthusiasts, so I was surprised to hear from the parking staff I queried, that the afternoon's act would be... Snoop Dogg!

Fortunately, I was well ahead of the concert-goers, so I kept rolling towards the mid-point of my ride: Black Mountain. There's a great one-lane, barely-paved, steep little road that winds its way up to the FAA radar site on the top of the peak. (Not to be confused with the identically-named site in Harlan County, Kentucky!) I wouldn't go out there in the summer, but in early spring it is just gorgeous, not too hot, and the views are spectacular.
Looking back at the one-lane road climbing up to Black Mountain

After a snack at the top, I headed back down, and finished my loop by riding out Park Hill road to connect with Highway 58, and back in to town. The last couple miles are on the same road I started on, but in the opposite direction, which provided a great view of the huge line of traffic now heading for the Snoop Dogg concert in Pozo. I was greatly relieved not to be going their way!

Last weekend was the Delta Century ride, which is quite a contrast to all the other riding I've been doing, inasmuch as it is flat as a pancake. While Anna and Nimue undertook the metric century, I rode the "imperial" version; we figured we'd finish at about the same time this way. It was a pretty day, with a little wind and warming up into the 80's. I rode hard and decided at the end, that for me, 100 miles on the flat (with a bit of wind) is considerably harder than 140 miles of steep hills... there's no opportunity to rest the legs! At least with big hills, you get some big descents. Still, fun was had by all, and the kiddo performed admirably on her longest ride to date.

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