Memorial Day Ride 2008 (EEW #3)
I think I’ve lost count of the number of “Epic Exercise Weekends (EEW)” I’ve had, there have been so many. But I’ll call Memorial Day weekend number three. I rode my bike to Santa Barbara. It sounds impressive, doesn’t it? People stare at me funny, but it is more sane than it sounds.
This very talented and fast bike rider, Janine, organizes this group ride every year from San Jose to Santa Barbara. It is four days of bike riding, approximately 360 miles in total. I say ‘approximately’ because there are variations on mileage each day and you can always get in a sag van to rest.
The logistics for this ride are quite incredible and after 19 years of having it, Janine has it worked out to a science. This year was an all-time record of 54 riders in total. There are three vehicles – one for luggage, two for rest stop food/fuel. There are rest stops every 25 miles or so. About half the riders volunteer to “sag” a vehicle (drive) for one leg. This way, people that want to rest get to rest and the riders all get supported along the way.
Day 1: San Jose to King City, 114 miles
This year, we did the “inland route” – which means we didn’t hit the ocean until day 3. It took me about 6 hours and 20 minutes, but the cool weather, super tail wind, and some very fast drafting in a pace line made for a quicker than usual ride. My upcoming Ironman includes a 112 mile bike and I expect it will take me between 7 and 7.5 hours for that portion.
We landed in King City at Motel 6 (always lovely…not). We had great Mexican food in downtown King City (turns out, the options for dinner in King City are Mexican, Mexican, Mexican, or Taco Bell). Everyone went to bed early to get started by 8am the next morning.
Day 2: King City to San Simeon, 100 miles
This day had less miles, less tail wind, lots of climbing, and I rode solo most of the day. The kicker for this day is the headwind you get on the coast the last several miles. To avoid that, most riders take a detour on the infamous Santa Rosa Creek Rd. It is at least 17% grade, up to 20% in portions. Rather than kill my knees, I walked my bike up much of it. I’m not proud! Going down the other side was just as bad – very rough road, very curvy, and very steep. I’m pretty sure my brakes were on fire, but I’m glad they didn’t fail me. It took me 6 hours for 100 miles and I was pooped. Coach Dave planned an hour long run after. My brother and I ran along the coast. Amazingly, the wind had died down and it was a very pleasant and calm run.
Day 3: San Simeon to San Luis Obispo, 40 miles
Day 3 is always the best. It is a short day for a much needed break. And ending up on SLO is always fun for my brother and I, since we went to college there. I felt a twinge of sore throat in the morning. Concerned about getting sick (aside from having a really sore rear end), I decided to sag the second leg of the day. The first leg of today was a 25 mph speed race down the coast. Some amazingly fast bikers decided they were in a hurry and I did everything I could just to hang on to their wheels. When we got to SLO, we roamed around downtown SLO, reminiscing about all the shops that were the same and raising our eyebrows at all those that have turned over.
By evening, I was sicker than a dog. I felt terrible – coughing and sniffling and just worn out. I took a big dose of Nyquil and was asleep by 8:30. I even missed the group dinner and Indian Jones movie.
Day 4: San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara, 107 miles
I felt only slightly better on the morning of the 4th day. But I wanted to get through it to put the mileage on my legs and work on some more “mental toughness” – something I lack. A group of ~20 of us left an hour early and rode to a great breakfast place in Pismo Beach. That took almost an hour and a half, so then we were running pretty late. The 3rd leg of the day included a 16 mile, very gradual climb. There was a group of 5 of us, working together in a paceline and we stuck together the whole way. We each took turns pulling at the front. Slow going up the hill, but the time went by quickly. Here’s a picture of our group – I’m the 4th one in line. The reward was fantastic…a nice long downhill. There was too much wind to hit 50 mph (what most riders can hit going down the hill), but I think I was going over 40. (Note: you would never look at your speedometer to check your speed while flying downhill!) As the day wore on, I felt better and better. I rode that cold right out of my system! Okay, maybe not, but I was happy that I made it through the ride.
The group traditions in Santa Barbara are always fun. All new riders have to blow up a swim cap over their heads. Biggest head wins. We always have a group dinner/banquet. The more people drink, the more stories are told and the more people brag. It is quite a sight.
Day 5: Drive home, 294 miles
Our drive home was uneventful, but quick. The rented UHaul with all the gear and bikes showed up just minutes after we arrived. So, I got my stuff and jetted out of there. I was anxious to see Dave and Kevin at home. Then the three of us went to a friend’s house to celebrate my 35th birthday. I must have eaten 8 plates of food (I think I’m still hungry) and three German chocolate cupcakes. It was all good and fun for such a long day. Kevin got to lick as many beer bottles as he wanted since I was too tired to stop him.
The Ironman is quickly approaching. Just three weeks away from yesterday. The Memorial Day Ride was a perfect bike primer. This past weekend was my last long, tough weekend. I ran 20 miles on Friday, took a rest day on Saturday, and then swam and rode on Sunday. I competed in the .75 and 1.5 mile swim races at Lake Del Valle in Livermore. Then I met up with my brother afterward and rode south toward Mt. Hamilton. We rode up Felter Rd, which is the back side of Sierra Rd (one of the steepest climbs in the bay area). The view from the top was incredible – like we were on the moon! My legs are completely dead tired today, but we start tapering. This weekend will be just a 3 hour ride, an Olympic-distance triathlon on Sunday, and plenty of rest. Rest. Ahhh. Rest.