Friday, February 09, 2007

California - Day Two - Palomar attempt #1

So a few stories from today but the main goal, doing Palomar, remains unmet. I started off a bit too late (due to some stomach issues in the morning, buying chainring spacers, and some misc errands) and had to turn back about 8 or 9 miles short of the summit. I did some glutes and hamstring work, hit only 49.7 mph on a 9% descent (couldn't tuck comfortably with the headlight on the bars), let a truck pass and then chased it down (that was fun), and remembered that climbing Palomar is a total struggle.

I sometimes have a hard time understanding what people feel when they say certain things. I mean I hear what they're saying but I don't feel the feeling. Let me explain. I'd like to think I understand how, say, our cats feel about getting massages. Cats have some instinctive protectiveness but if you get past that, they can relax and enjoy something like a foot massage, a shoulder massage, or the classic scritch. Same with babies - they love foot rubs, even ear rubs (I figured that out after I realized the cats like ear rubs).

So I seem to understand non-verbal cues (sometimes). But when someone says "that's too fast" (my fiancee when we're on the tandem and drafting a truck going 45 mph) or "My goal is to finish that ride" (pretty much any non-racing cyclist), it doesn't register.

Now it does. I started getting nervous on the bike once I hit 45 mph. It didn't used to be that way but I think the steep hill, the 200 or 300 foot cliff on the other side of the guard rail, and the very rough looking pavement dropping down in front of me had something to do with it. So now I understand that going too fast for comfort is, well, uncomfortable.

I also realize that just finishing a ride is a noble goal. I have to since it's become my main goal for the whole trip. "Do Palomar".

On to the stories.

So the first story, not a pleasant one. I was carving some turns on a nice descent and came around a bend at about 40 mph. A pick up truck was waiting to pull out of a driveway to my left. The driver looked right at me and pulled out about 50 feet in front of me. I paused and prepared to hit my brakes but it looked like he'd made a good left and there'd be room on the right for me to use till he got up to speed. So I kept coasting, rapidly closing the distance to his truck. He looked in his rearview mirror for a good second and then jerked the wheel over, tossing the truck into the shoulder. I slammed on my brakes to avoid having a taillight implanted in my forehead.

And when I recovered, I gave him the finger.

Now I normally don't do such things. But two intentional actions (pulling out right in front of me and then veering hard into the shoulder) meant this guy wasn't checking to see if my front rim was a box sectioned 32 hole (which it is). Whatever. He promptly took off.

Second story, I had just finished descending a 3 mile, 9% "hill" (at home, we'd call that thing thar a mountain) and was stretching and trying to get the "tuck" (as in aero tuck) out of my back. Suddenly I heard the distinctive sounds of a "rally" crash. That's different from a "car" crash because car crashes involve two metal objects smashing into each other. A rally crash is one car hitting something like a tree or wall.

This time, it was stones of some sort. I looked up to see a car going about 30 mph ungracefully straddling a foot-tall stone wall which separated the road from an orange grove. It kept tipping from one side to the other. With a flat front tire, the car looked hard to control and it slithered around. It didn't help that the chassis of the car was high enough that the other tires only hit the ground sporadically. As I watched, the car slid left back onto the road, pieces of rock wall flying, almost spinning in the process.

The driver definitely had his hands full. I realized it was a first generation Integra, and I was thinking "what a dope, he lowers his car so much when he has a flat the chassis hits". He slithered enough that, even though he was about 100 yards away, I started mentally preparing to jump the wall to my right to escape a possible out of control car.

His car would slide every time the wheels hit a little bump. This meant he had no suspension movement - which implied he lowered the car by cutting the springs, another Einstein move. Another red flag. I starting thinking about unclipping a foot.

I couldn't resist watching this guy though. I noticed something and looked closer. His other front tire was flat. Doh. No wonder he couldn't steer - he had no tires up there. Try riding a flat front clincher - now imagine your car like that.

He passed me, smashing the wall regularly but keeping his wheels mostly turned right - driving kind of like the old Tyco slotless car sets I never had. He was sawing away at the wheel, the seat was pretty low, then I realized something.

BOTH his back tires were flat. He was driving on his rims!

I actually looked around for the police chopper that should be chasing this guy but no such luck. I kept riding and the guy eventually turned off the road.

On the way back, I saw the wall damage from his "Integra Grind" move, then a lot of oil on the ground in staggering type pattern - like a bleeding animal (and this bleedout was probably terminal for the engine). The trail led... to the farm's driveway.

That's when it dawned on me. The Integra was an NFR - Not For Road use - a farm vehicle. The driver (probably a kid) was driving this thing around the orange trees when he lost control and bashed over the dividing wall.

Still, it doesn't explain the four flat tires.

Third, I had my first pro siting - the Jesus Christ guy from Jelly Belly (the guy on the left). I call him that because he looks just like the image the movies and books use to portray him. He, alas, was going the other way. If he wasn't, I'd have kicked his butt. Haha. Not a chance. Apparently they just had their training camp in San Marcos. That happens to be, oh, say, about 3 miles from where I'm staying. They also think knowing about cornering lines are important because they did another kart session in Carlsbad.

Finally, in continuation with my rediscovery of road speeds, it seems that in a pursuit type effort (well, maybe more like a kilo effort) I can sustain about 94-96 rpms in a 53x12 - 34 mph. This was 65 or so miles into my ride so it wasn't like I was doing it fresh. The only catch was I couldn't hold it very long.

I arrived back after about five and a half hours of riding. Consumed three bottles of water, one bottle of PowerAde (I wanted Gatorade in deference to the current National Football Champs but the moronic store has the shelves jammed so tight together you can't tilt the bottles at all so they won't come out of the fridge thing). No food, no gels. Incroyable. A fat burning ride I suppose. My legs are pretty sore.

Tomorrow is an easy day - like a transition day but way easier. I hope to run an errand or two.

Finally, we just checked - my friend has a Mac with firewire something and my camcorder has firewire. So hopefully I'll be able to show a tape of what I see, rather than trying to describe it.

Now for some much needed sleep.

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