Friday, February 13, 2009

California - PCH Ride

My trip so far has been relatively straight forward. I've had a number of things go well. My flights were reasonable, the flight crew were, in the second leg of my flight from Newark to San Diego, quite literally the best I've ever seen (Conti flight that departed at 8:29 AM, but not really due to people taking time to get in their seats).

One of the light moments: "Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm pleased to announce we are exactly halfway to San Diego. And for the passengers on the left side of the plane, if you look out your windows, you will see.... absolutely nothing."

I, of course, was already craning my head around, looking for something out there in the featureless flat, brown land.

Another moment: "If you tell me, within 5%, how much of the daily recommended allowance of sodium the Bloody Mary mix has, I'll give you this (vodka)."

I guessed 90% (it's salty stuff).

"It's... 83%."

The passengers around all did that "Ohhhh!", like when someone answers the game host question wrong. But the guy smiled and said that was close enough.

I saved the vodka.

Curiously the plane had no TV, no radio, no real food (egg sandwich). But it was a great flight.

Due to the various charges for carry on luggage, I cut back my luggage to only one clothing bag for both my bike gear and street wear. I didn't realize how aggressively I cut back until I realized that I have only three short sleeve shirts (and I wore two of them on the plane). I have only one long sleeve shirt (and I wore that to bed). One pair of shorts, two jeans (wore one on the plane).

I have just two pairs of cycling socks (and, again, I wore one on the plane). I have onesies of all my bike gear, except I have two shorts and two jerseys.

I even left behind my clear rain jacket.

Forecast tomorrow?

50s. And rain.

So I'll be doing laundry pretty much every day.

My bike made it in fine condition here, and it went together well. I couldn't figure out how to use the floor pump here so I finally resorted to using my mini-pump to get the tires to about, oh, I'd say like 70 psi. I decided to ride gingerly and not hit anything too hard. The bike rode softly though, thanks to the abnormally low tire pressure. I forgot my wheel magnet so I have no speed, and I had to finish swapping pads for the aluminum rimmed wheels. I decided to hold off on installing a pair of Michelin Krylions, staying with the cut and worn steel bead Schwables instead. I also left the ratty tape on the bars.

Today's ride was pretty good. I wore my one pair of knickers, my last pair of clean socks, one SS jersey, my one LS jersey, my one vest, my one cap (I only packed one cap??), my one pair of long gloves (with my one pair of short gloves in my pocket). As my first ride in this world this year I did nothing crazy, just a nice cruise down the PCH, a climb up Torrey Pines, and a death march back home.

Okay, "death march" is a bit of an exaggeration but I definitely struggled on the way home. Cross headwind until I turned inland, but by then the stiff tailwind couldn't help me.

On Torrey Pines climb (which went surprisingly well) someone caught me at the top, a tall lanky guy in a DeWalt kit. We rode together for a bit. I asked if he raced, and he told me he raced "a while back". Now, normally, if I ask someone if they raced, they'll say something like, "Yeah, I used to be a 3" or whatever. So the non-specific answer set my pro-sense on alert.

"When most people answer so non-specifically, it means they were really good. Were you a pro?"

"Um, yeah", he admitted sheepishly.

He said he did mainly crits, mainly a domestique, but also did pursuits and other track events. He didn't like climbs or sprints. I decided to hold back on my "Oh, man, it's got to be so cool to be at the front of the field, chasing the break, and looking back and seeing all these really good guys groveling on your wheel."

I saw him eyeing my bars. I regretted leaving for the ride without redoing my tape, without cleaning the bike a little more. I told myself he was just impressed that I had an SRM.

Probably because I didn't open my mouth and say that, he was a nice enough guy. I almost t-boned him when he unexpectedly turned right (and he was to my left) and, being risk averse, he gave me plenty of room on the switchback descent we slowly descended. He went easy enough so I could stay with him up one of those 500 meter pain-in-the-butt hills. Then he turned off to go back to work and I immediately eased up.

Phew.

When I ride slowly I think a lot. I thought about buying a rain jacket for tomorrow, but I figure I'll buy it... tomorrow. So I rode right past a couple bike shops.

I thought about what the ex-pro said about Palomar - that if I want to make an attempt, I had better do it soon, before it rains. I think today may have been my last chance for maybe 4 or 5 days. Apparently they closed the road up there recently, it's been that bad.

I looked down a lot riding slowly - I have the time to look down because it'll take me a few seconds just to get to the edge of my peripheral vision. I like riding with box section rimmed wheels. I'm not sure why, but, over a few hours, I had a few ideas. It might be that the look (spidery pieces of metal) and feel (kind of heavy) of the wheels remind me of my early riding days. It might be that it makes me feel like I'm in Belgium again. Or... I don't know. I just like it.

I managed to remember to take a few sips from the bottle, and although I didn't get hungry, I knew I started to run on empty when my legs loaded up as soon as I tried to make an effort. I thought about stopping for food but decided against it - I didn't want to get my bike stolen or dwaddle long enough in the store that I get caught in the dark.

I did chase one schoolbus, the kids inside screaming (with delight? fear? derision? I don't know), but on a long false flat I had to pretend that I didn't want to chase it any more. On a different day I hope that I'll be digging deep to keep the speed up.

Right now all my clothing (from the plane and from the ride) is hanging on a drying rack. See, in SoCal you can hang clothes and they don't get mildewy like they do in CT. So they're dry, ready to get wet on tomorrow's ride.

Now to bed.

6 comments:

joelprice.com said...

If your interested, a group from my local Bike Shop will be riding up Palomar on Saturday (21st) Let me know if you want to come along. joel.price@gmail.com

Broerie said...

"but on a long false flat I had to pretend that I didn't want to chase it any more."

I like these remarks you make, they're so familiar! I think every amateur riders knows that feeling all too well

Steve Weixel said...

I guess you'll be in my neck of the woods for the Solvang TT...

Aki said...

Joel - I'll email you, but I'm not sure of our plans here. Also, I don't want to hold anyone up!

Broerie - And I thought it was just me :)

Steve - I'm camped out pretty solidly in Vista, I think I'll only be seeing Stage 8, and I'm not even sure what we'll see that day.

joelprice.com said...

Aki - Trust me you wont be holding anyone up. I've only climbed Palomar once and I was sloooow, you will probably be waiting for me. I just enjoy riding and looking to get better. I'm heading out for a ride today... I'll keep my eye out for your bike.

More info on the 21st Palomar: http://treksandiego.com/page.cfm?pageId=171 email me if you plan on going. If it's snowing I'm out. Enjoy your week in San Diego. Email if you have question or need any tips on San Diego.

Aki said...

wow that leaves from the shop only a few minutes away from where I'm staying. I'll have to figure out our schedule. Doing Palomar with fresh legs would be nice for once.