Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Assault on Santa Clarita

The first time I made the ride into Santa Clarita it took me 3:39. The last time it took me 3:20. This time I wanted to come in under three hours. Not only that but I wanted to do it by taking a slightly shorter route which includes a steep hill up a narrow road that I actually couldn't make the first time I tried. I figured the shorter would be offset by the steeper. No breaks, except to strip off layers, and I would try to power up hills the best I could. Fueling up would happen while riding, every 45 minutes.

I woke up yesterday and it was still pretty cold-ish. Even though the forecast said it would reach 80, I decided to go with the long-sleeved jersey and arm warmers. Felt good as the ride started but I had to drop the arm warmers a half hour into the ride. The jersey was warmer than what I should have brought but it wasn't unbearable. Lesson learned: dress for the warmest it's going to get, add layers if you need to, and just put up with the cold for a little bit.

Because of the sunny weather I did see more cyclists on the road than usual but very few people going my way (and none of them passing me). At one and two hours into the ride I was on pace to come in under three hours. However, the last hour involves two big climbs and they slowed me down considerably. I was pleased that I could get out of the saddle as often as I did and it made the hills more interesting. I knew the roads better than before so I did not have to use the brakes going downhill as much as before (at all, for the most part).

I was pretty toasted by the time I was ready to cross back into the San Fernando Valley. That first steep hill I mentioned is on quite a narrow road and I'm not convinced it's such a smart route to bike. First thing in the morning is one thing, because of the lighter traffic, but it was after 9am and I thought it would be safer (and, to be honest, less brutal) if I skipped the hill and took the slightly longer way around. Looking at the clock it didn't look like I was going to make it back in time but better that than being run over.

Even though I wasn't going to make it back under three hours I still wanted to see how close to it I could get. As I got closer to home, though, I started doing calculations it looked like I actually still had a chance. I'd have to really hustle but I might be able to make it. So hustle I did. Bigger gears, faster turnover, and worry about being tired later. I pulled up in front of the house, stopped the timer, saw that I had made it, and sorta collapsed on my bike for a minute.

I then petted the dogs, went back into the house, and hooked up the Garmin to the iMac and saw a few interesting things. First, the trip came in at 2:59:45. Talk about cutting it close! Second, I hit 42.6 mph on one of the downhills! The last time I did this ride I hit 37.3 mph and I sure didn't plan on going 5 mph faster this time. Wowzers. Another thing I noticed was all the salt around my eyes from the tears as I'm flying downhill. Later I finally broke down and bought some sunglasses for riding.

While this isn't going to be my last ride into Santa Clarita, as I have mentioned before I feel I am ready to try something different so in a few weeks I am going to try rides with the San Fernando Valley Bicycle Club. I'm sure it will be a blast.

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