"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer


March 9: Can you climb?

Let's double the miles, shall we? Give it a steady incline too. Oh, and all those guys who weigh under 150? Throw them off the front as well.

I spent more time in the little ring today with my heart rate above 170 than I did all last year. I had quite a few firsts today: first paced climb, first long descent, first look at the Pacific Ocean, close up. I've technically been in it via the Gulf of Alaska, but to see the her for real, with the sand and surfers just feet away, and palms bowing in the wind above my head, is another thing entirely.

We were up early, as even with the time change this morning, we were still an hour behind our body time. Breakfast was up in the dining room with most of the team members eating together.



Kits were then donned and we met in the parking lot for the ride briefing.

Black Peace

Me at Preride Meeting

We took the same route out as we did last night and then headed into the valleys. We stopped in a turn around, divided into groups, and took the climb up to Lake Lopez and did some paceline drills. Single file on the way up, then we worked the double line on the way back down, before opening it up close to 40mph coming into the bottom.

Huasana was next. A mostly flat power climb for much of this 2nd section, moderate pace as we chatted and spun. Randy kept referring this "stinger" that'd we'd hit, and I was envisioning a Spring Prairie type crest that I'd be able to see the top of. Then suddenly the grade steeped and Luke began dancing away from us, wheelsuckers in tow. I stayed at the back for most of it, maybe 3 or 4 switch backs but attacks kept whipping the pace forward. The gap opened and my breathing became quite audible. I caught up with a couple other riders who had popped off later than I, and Stockmaster caught me which made me increase my pace a bit more.

Then it was over. Around the bend the lead group found the top. I was running at about 90%, still able to keep my breathing in control, but anything faster and I would've tapped into batteries. Had I known the top was just around the corner, I think I could've stayed with the group.

The descent was a revelation. It took a couple switchbacks to get my rhythm, but once you focus on your line and gliding freely through the turns, braking before them, confidence comes quickly and so does your speed. My early trepidation along with several others cost us a huge gap from the lead, and we came together as a group once the grade decreased a bit to where we needed to increase the power output. However, it wasn't moving fast enough for my taste, so I attacked and bridged on my own. The group kept seeming just out of reach, and hammering seemed futile until I was finally on Luke's wheel.

Randy and Peter

From then to the sprint it was the full group. One last giant climb, at a very easy pace, around the corner, and then the "Ski Jump." Several hands were in the air as went down, roller coaster-style. Peter had a bit of a moment...going to the little ring under full torque, just going over the top, and his wheel skipped three places at possibly the worst possible moment. Thank god he stayed up right. For him and everyone else around him. It was a mistake we've all made.

We had a quick stop in Pismo Beach to get water and pee and it was on to the mailbox sprint.

Chopper and Newtron

Nothing much to write about. Stocky and I were up in front, and then he snuck away. I found myself in the unenviable position of being the guy to bridge up. I need to get serious about my decision making. Period. I wasn't exactly hamming to reach Brian but I wasn't pulling off either. And when I finally did after 20 half-hearted kicks or so, it was impossible to get back in line before George led the charge past me. There was growl from Ed to "move left!" and everyone was in front. No body wanted to stick their head out until the last possible moment.

Speaking with Newt afterwards, it would've been better for me to have given it all to reach Brian, and just sacrifice it all to string it out and have kept it safer. One more chance to do it right before we head home.

Tune up porch

Chopper and Newtron

Dinner was at the Lutheran church next to Cal Poly Tech. Spaghetti buffet. Mmmmmmmm.


Sorry this entry's a little matter-of-fact, and maybe boring. Today's ride was 103 miles and over 7,000 feet of climbing. It was my first Century. And it was no Northshore-flat-ass-fat-ass-brownies-and-donuts-every-15- miles-"hey, where did you get that camelback"-lawyers-and- dentists-on-titanium-Serotas-sprinting- to-the-toilet century. So stay tuned for tomorrow's entry. We have a much-needed rest day and I'll get caught up.

It's sleepy time. Good night from California.

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