Friday, January 21, 2011

The Finale: Morro Bay- Santa Barbara

Ohhhh ya baby! I woke up and was surprised to find it wasn't as painful to sit in the saddle as I thought it might be. Or maybe it's because I used a half bottle of chamois cream in my shorts. Whatever it takes, these legs had 125miles to go. Day 2's train-o-pain didn't leave me smiling as I rode into the hotel. Lucky for me, day 3 started with an easy 15mile stroll, and coffee stop. As if I hadn't digested enough caffeine over the past 2 days. Coffee, 2xcaffeine Roctane GU , and cold double shot espresso drinks were my potions of choice.
55 people started the ride from the Golden Gate bridge. Although some only rode day 1 or did partial days, most rode the entire way. After stopping for coffee it was time for our finale! SMILE, and 2 seconds later we were off again!
Ohhhhhhhhhhh crap. Hold on legs! My ability to hold in there on the hills, or cover the gap after falling off hurt more than ever. I didn't mind accepting a few pushes from the guys. My ego was long gone, as I was just happy to still be participating. Eventually I had to call "UNCLE!" and let the group fly away. (This wasn't a new attempt for comic relief. I literally yelled "uncle" a few times the previous day. However, it was followed up with encouragement and "don't give up" pleas from those around me.)
The group stopped for water a few miles later,. but I rolled on with Beth and the Thirsty Bear boys. Day after day , they kept us laughing! (Seriously, I keep having random reminders of the off-the-wall comments they'd yell to us and find myself laughing). Notice our shorts and jersey only attire, blue skies and sunshine. The weather kept getting better!
The scenery couldn't compare to that of Day 2. I think I started getting a bit delusional. What?!?! talking to the random farm animals along the way seemed totally appropriate!

I arrived at our our lunch stop feeling pretty darn good. I was scared to stop as I didn't want my legs to lock up. I rolled in and tried to get some help with my first mechanical issue. My bike wasn't shifting properly. I was limited in gear choice but sucked it up and rode on. I wasn't laughing quite as much during our post lunch stop hill session, but better to have this problem in day 3 as opposed to day 1. Oh well, ride on!
Eventually we made it! I raced for the Santa Barbara city limit sign- awwww ya, who's a cyclist now ;-) Can we say, horse riding for the barn?!?!?!
3 days, 380miles. I did it! Faster than expected...but also way more fun than anticipated.
A quick smile for the camera, a quicker shower, and Beth and I were off for the train station. Thankfully there were a few restaurants across the street from the train station. We stocked up and with 2 minutes to spare were ready for a long train ride back to SD. (We both agreed that we were happy to not be driving. We were a tad bit delirious, and not in any condition to operate a motor vehicle).
What a journey! Thanks for reading...and if you ever get the chance to do this ride- DO IT! Goodnight California coast...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Day 2- Seaside to Morro Bay. EPIC indeed

Day two was the highlight of my coastal journey. I woke up tired, but ready to rock 'n roll. By now I knew the pace would be strong (but later in the day realized the group would redefine "strong").
I was so scared of bonking during the ride that I took extreme care to properly fuel myself. This is as close as I've ever come to the "I can eat anything I want" mentality. Truth is, no matter how much we consumed I'd still be at a deficit by the end of day 3. So the morning started with a killer breakfast. I ate one of everything, and loaded my pockets with seconds. The start of the ride was dark and dewy, but this set the stage for spectacular views to come.
I was told the ride to Big Sur would be killer in terms of climbing and scenery. I couldn't fathum just how awesome it would be! I will try to share pictures with you here, but imagine rolling up and down a mountain while ascending and descending through a layer of puffy clouds. It was jaw dropping! and I enjoyed every second of it...
Once we hit the mountains the group started to break apart. I didn't mind- this meant I could actually look to my right and left and enjoy the morning. This will go down as the best 85miles I've spent on 2 wheels. The pictures don't even do it justice.
 Some people drive the coast, but to ride it and be part of it was breathtaking. Thanks to Steve for this amazing pic...yup, that's me! KILLER shot!

Once the fog lifted the sun gave light to the clear blue water that would remain on our right for miles to come. Have I mentions how awesome these hours of riding were? I rode most of this section with my new friend Zach. It was another opportunity from me to learn how to properly descend. Riding with this group might bring me one step closer to calling myself a real cyclist!
12 miles to go until our quick lunch stop (where I purchased the most expensive bottle of water and double shot I've ever. Even worse than Disney World prices...worth every penny!) From there I was told it would be 40miles of easy flat riding. I was skeptical. The winds had been in our face for two days, and knew flat/rolling terrain meant the turbo train would be moving full steam ahead.
I don't have any pictures from this portion of the day. But imagine this: A strong head wind, causing the mass pack of bikes to span across a lane of traffic on the 101. Every time I looked at my Garmin500 it confirmed that our pace was insane- 28+mph. I tried hard to stay tucked behind the speedsters. I didn't dare take a pull as it would have resulted in me getting shot off the back 10secs later. I am finally learning how to survive these psycho group hammer sessions (survive being the relative term here).
After the ride I learned that we flew by Hertz Castle and a large family of elephant seals (hear they mimicked the size of a whale. Can't tell you from personal experience. The only thing I saw was the wheel in front of me). Guess I'll have to check out the Hertz Castle another time.
Once back at the hotel all anyone could talk about was the insane riding that just ensued. I knew if I didn't do everything I could to recover I wouldn't make it out of bed the next day. So we rallied the troops and made our way to the ocean for a cold soak.

Then it was off to dinner where I consumed a burrito a size of my head. Once back at the hotel we laughed about how the day unfolded. My legs were toast! 
Day 2 in the bank: 126miles, 7,900ft of climbing, lots of pain inflicted. Thanks boys!!! Feelin' the love.
Only 125miles to go...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Beyond Words!!!

I really don't know how to put the last 3 days into words. I just don't think I can properly explain the experience, the landscape, the friendships, the memories....or well, the pain. I also don't want the memories to remain in my head without at least attempting to share them. So here we have it....and we start with DAY 1
SAN FRANCISCO- SEASIDE: 130 Miles (well 125, except that Beth and I had a rough start...)

So the directions said we were going to roll out from the Golden Gate Bridge. We knew this meant the downtown city side, but seeing as though Beth and I were the only two who were both not from San Fran, and had not done the ride before, we didn't know exactly where this "well known" spot was. We saw the bridge- but the group wasn't in sight!
So we circuled, rode back and forth and rode up and down for several miles. Eventually, we (and our 50lb back packs!!!) made it with 10minutes to spare. A quick meet and greet and we were rolling.
 One of the coolest moments of the trip was what happened next. I ran into a teammate of mine from 10 years back. We rowed our way to a few gold medals many summers ago (the medal and pic still remains on my wall to remind me of what an unbelievable summer that was), and now we were about to roll down the coast together. We were both shocked! and elated to see each other and catch up! She was a bad ass rower, and now is a bad ass cyclist!!! Small world...
Anyways, it was good by San Francisco. I had no idea what really was in store for me over the next 3 days.
Life can't be too bad when you have the ocean to your right for 3 days straight!
After the first climb we all realized we were over dressed. To say the weather was on our side would be an understatement. Last year they did this ride through the rain and froze. Only blue skies and sunshine this time around!
It didn't take long to realize how strong this group of riders was. The only 3 triathletes were those of us that came from San Diego. Beth, Katya and I had to represent. Katya didn't struggle with that in Day 1. She was blazing the trail from up front!
I am tucked in the group trying to stay out of the wind. Not knowing my way, and having to rely on a map was ample motivation to hang on. However, no mercy was shown to those who couldn't sustain the tempo set up front.
Anytime I had the chance to look up I tried hard to take in the views, and enjoy a bit of small talk with my new riding mates and friends. This was a killer group of people and I was stoked to be attempting to ride up to their caliber.
Finally we made it to our first lunch stop. An espresso drink (sadly they didn't sell Starbucks double shots at this local hangout) was in order.
Not a good shot, but it kinda shows that we were all still smiling and enjoying the ride!
The second part of the day took us through Santa Cruz. The pace finally slowed enough so I could snap a few pics. Sorry they aren't straight...but if I took too long I surely would of been dropped.  (notice the gap already forming as I tried to snap this one)

After weaving our way through the busy beach streets it was time to fight fight fight again. By mile 110 the headwind was taking its toll and I was excited to reach Seaside!
 I thought we should get a few pictures of us actually riding. Beth was quick to let me know there was no time for this! Her face is half smiling and have telling me to put the camera away and pull back to the group so we didn't have to sleep in the fields on night 1.
Eventually we made it! I watched my computer tick away the miles and was beyond happy to see it finally reach 130! Seaside Holiday Inn happy to see you!
 Day 1 was in the books....Good night, and stay tuned. Day 2 was epic!!!!!
Day 1 recap: 130 miles, av. pace: 18.6mph, 5600ft of climbing (thank you Garmin Edge 500)

Friday, January 14, 2011

New toys worthy of a little adventure

Every triathlete needs a few new toys to start the year, right?!?!? I am pretty stoked to welcome a few new fancy pants toys to my training artillery. The first new addition, which shouldn't be surprising, deals with a change in my cycling footwear. For years I thought this ankle issue was from running, but no matter what I change with running (including time off) it doesn't go away. In fact if I keep running high volume but back off on cycling it gets way better. Hmmmmm! I'm slowly working through a few things, but the first necessary change was in my cycling shoes.
BONT welcome to my world! This isn't just a cycling shoe, but a speed enhancer. The second I put the shoes on I felt like I had a small turbo buster on my rear hub. Also the lower profile of the heal/ankle is ideal. There is plenty of support from this part of the shoe, without any necessary pressure or rubbing around my ankle. LOVE THEM!
They will certainly be put to the test this weekend. What better way to celebrate MLK weekend than riding from San Francisco to Santa Barbara- 3 days of 125+miles.
If you're going to do this kind of ride in January you need to pack an array of clothing (head to toe!). We might really luck out with sunny "warm" weather, but if this isn't the case I should be covered. TYR's new transition back is a work of art. There are a million zippered pockets, and ways to section out your gear for easy retrieval. I knew their new luggage line would be awesome, but the usability of each piece is killer.

And the latest, and quite necessary, change to my bike is the new Garmin 500! I can't wait to couple this with another equally awesome toy -soon.... The majority of the guys I ride with have been sporting the Garmin 500 for the past year and I just had to have one. I mean, this could turn me into a fast cyclist like them, right?!?!? Simply ride, and download all the information you could ever need. 

So I'm geeked out and ready to ride! Hell, I better be, because right now I'm in San Francisco and my only mode of transportation back is my bike. This will be my first long ride of the year, and second, and third! Riding the CA coast has been something I've wanted to do for quite some time, and this was my chance.
I'll try to get out a few blog updates along the way. But here's to a sunny, safe, spectacular ride!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Maui Revealed...

I thought it was time to get back to the grind...but then a little surprise ferry delivered a pretty awesome Christmas surprise: 3 days in paradise! So, just when I thought it was time to hit the daily grind I was off for another adventure. This time there was a lot more sun than snow! I had never been to Maui, so every night leading up to the trip was like Christmas all over again.
There was just one rule: no bikes. I don't know how to travel without a bike. It's like my little kid who wants to come everywhere with me. It's my side kick that enables me to explore new territory. But for Maui, I think I could manage. That said, I certainly brought back a plethora of visual memories and can't wait to take him back for a full on training excursion!
Yes, to my amazement I was capable of sitting my happy ass down and doing nothing- absolutely nothing!

But that only came after waking up early for an awesome run and swim! Of course I couldn't resist jumping into the blue obis for a little sight seeing. No dolphin adventures, but there were plenty of whales off in the distance and turtles below. Both made for an awesome morning swim
Come here turtle turtle....hello???

and another post run evening dunk.
All I have to say, is this TYR suit is perfect for any Hawaiian activity! Swimming, Running,
and cliff jumping!
And their luggage was well tested this weekend too! The rucksack (I never even knew what these things were, but it makes an awesome day pack.) and the carry on bag fit everything I needed for my Maui getaway. They introduced this line of luggage this year, and in true TYR form it is perfectly designed with the athlete in mind and the quality is killer.
Seriously though, much of my time in Maui was spent relaxing and rejuvenating! Easy to do with views like these:
 I am now packed with Aloha and ready to get back to work...for real this time! Maui, thank you for revealing your beauty to me. I'm in love...

Another awesome adventure is on tap for this weekend. Stay tuned.