Archive for July, 2010

Going back to Cali

My company hosts an Annual User Conference for customers at our corporate office in Bakersfield California every year. So two weeks ago I headed out and I spent the week there. The unfortunate part was the week was right before the Lake Pflugerville Tri. The fortunate part is I have lots of co-workers who like to ride & run. So I made the best of it and was out at 6am most mornings continuing my workouts. The first day really freaked me out because it was 6 in the morning and it was broad daylight outside! I blogged back in January about the cool bike trail that runs from end to end in Bakersfield and our hotel was pretty close to it, so this was my choice to ride. My buddy Jim loaned me his classic Richey which was fully loaded with Dura-Ace and a carbon steerer. A boy sure can get spoiled with equipment like that! Monday morning’s ride was a nice easy pace for an hour on the trail. Amazing.

Tuesday was different. Jim told me they do a Tuesday morning group ride at 6am. I said ok, I’m in. Then I heard some of my other co-workers start to talk about that ride. “Oh yeah, those guys are hammerheads.” “You’re going to do Round Mountain? That’s a good climb.” Meh, in my opinion pain is temporary and that’s the only way to get stronger. So we meet up with the group and rolled 30+ strong. It began on the trail for about 6 miles then into some great rollers. The pace was anything but slow. I had finally gotten Jim to tell me the route the night before, so I knew I was in for a challenge once the actual climb started. I felt I did a pretty good job of grabbing a wheel and hanging with the group.

Then we hit Round Mountain Road. In Austin we have lots of climbs. However they’re short, steep and painful. Nothing beyond a half mile in length (this is not a technical assessment, just my personal opinion. I’m sure some of my ATX riders will correct me!) The route we were doing would take us on about a 4 mile section of climbing up the road. I was nervous, but excited because I haven’t done a sustained climb before. It was epic, painful, fun, and a learning experience. All of the reasons why I love cycling. About 1/4 mile into the climb the group kept pushing up the pace, and all I could do was keep pedaling. Jim was kind enough to stay back with me. I stopped twice to regain composure. Jim said, “we can turn back anytime you want, or keep going.” I sat there with my head on the handlebars and said to myself, you know what self, you’re here, you’re on a bike, do the freakin’ climb. So we did, slowly. But I made it to the top. It was beautiful from up there. My GPS data showed about 1,400 feet of climbing. Not too shabby. The way down was interesting. Anyone that rides with me knows I’m chicken. And I’m ok with that. Jim however spent half of the descent with his hands in the air! Ended up being a great morning ride with a total of 35 miles.

The next day our co-worker Karen from Wisconsin wanted to ride as well. Seeing as she’s a short stack, she was able to ride Jim’s daughter’s bike. Karen has recently gotten into road cycling so she was excited to ride with us. We headed out southwest on the trail and Jim spent the first several miles giving Karen lots of good cycling tips. We kept a good easy pace and enjoyed the morning. About 6 miles in, Jim got a flat. So he was able to use that for more instructional time with Karen as well. We carried on and turned around the 10 mile mark. Jim had to turn off as his flat repair had gone awry and his house wasn’t too far away, so he was going to air up at home. Karen and I pedaled on. It was a smooth ride as we exited the bike path near Beach Park and headed for the streets to cut over to the hotel. I gave Karen instructions about the street & how we would make our way back over to avoid a lot of traffic. We turned the corner after a stop light and Karen found the black hole that exists between pavement and concrete curbs. She went down fast, and I being right behind her landed on top. There was literally no reaction time, but on my way down I remember yelling “I’m sorry Karen!” We got up, dusted off, pulled the bikes on the sidewalk and assessed the damage. Karen picked up a fair amount of road rash on her knee, elbow and hand. Her jersey looked like she had been through a street fight! I ended up with a couple of cuts on my shins. Karen’s bike seemed ok, minus the chain being off. I had a nice flat front tire. So I changed it, but in the process didn’t find the gaping hole in the sidewall and blew the new tube. So we begin the walk of shame. It was fortunately less than a mile to the hotel. We were running pretty late by that point, so it was a quick shower, Jim got Karen’s wounds dressed and off to training we were.

On Friday Jim & I talked about how it would be fun to ride part of the Amgen Tour of California when they came into Bakersfield the month before. It’s a pretty cool finish climbing up China Grade Loop and the around Panorama Drive. During the tour, this was the finish of stage 5, after over 100 miles then doing the loop 3 times! One of the conference attendees from Sacramento mentioned he had his bike (rockin’ a fixie) & would like to ride with us, as well as another co-worker said he wanted to ride. So 6am sharp the 4 of us rolled out NE on the trail up towards China Grade Loop. It was a good roll and the climb was very nice, reminded me of a lot of the climbs we have in Austin. Short(ish), steep and to the point! We carried on to the decent which was super fast and back to the trail to return home. It was another great ride to cap off a week of riding out in California. Minus 3 flats that day. Oh Yeah did I mention the flats? I’ve had 2 in a year at home and had 4 this week. Goat heads is what I think they call them…