Last Tuesday I decided that I was going to fly to LA on Thursday and visit my friend Gary, get in a little TOC viewing and most importantly ride my bike. I got out of Bradley just as it was starting to snow on Thursday evening and was welcomed to LA with weather in the 60s.
Friday morning greeted uswith sunny skies and temps in the mid 60s (perfect weather to leave the new nerac earth jacket at home), just as Connecticut was digging out from a few inches of fresh snow. Our plan was to drive the 40 or so minutes to Solvang (location of Discovery team training camp) and wander through the start area and catch the start of the individual time trial. After a pastry and coffee we were off to ride one of the famed climbs in the area, Figueroa Mountain. The mountain is located 10 miles from Solvang and we have a tough headwind on the way out. We finally turn off the main road and onto the road which will lead us to Figueroa Mountain. On the way we pass Michael Jackson’s Neverland ranch which by the way is across the street from an elementary school, interesting but I digress. The climb starts with a bang, 18% for the first half mile or so (and no I am not kidding it is really 18% so says the cycling computer) and then just keeps going for the next hour or more but at a more reasonable average of 9%. I settle into what is about the most comfortable pace (~250 watts) I can find which still is quite uncomfortable; fortunately I still have the 36/27 on the bike. As we climb the temps keep decreasing and the road eventually becomes covered in an inch or so of ice and snow! We push on meeting a couple heading out to go cross country skiing in the snow!! Now the fun part the descent, we start in the snow so need to go very easy but shortly the snow is gone and we can open it up a little. The decent is very technical with lots of corners, bad pavement and lots of fallen rock in the road, no speed records will be had today. As you can imagine it gets quite cold on the descent and my decision to leave the new nerac jacket at home is starting to come back to seriously haunt me, you would have thought I would have learned after freezing during the Giro last year. Anyway the road turns to dirt for a few miles and we have a blast getting down, after 20/30 minutes of descending we get to the bottom and start to thaw out. We ride the 10/15 miles back to Solvang and find some food and ride the last third of the day time trial course won by Levi. The day’s totals: 60 miles and just over 5,000 feet of climbing. A good first day!
Day #2 tomorrow, more mileage and more climbing! — Cliff
Riders: Glenn, Andy, Arch, John Stockford, Michael, Jill,
Kevin, Kelly, Skip, Intense guy
Everyone was pumped tonight. I think the impending storm inspired everyone to get out and ride. Lot’s of yapping, heckling, racing, sprinting, traffic jams, tire buzzes, slick ice, a slow motion bridge crash and you have the recipe for a ride that won’t be forgotten any time soon. Everyone brought their A ride tonight, lot’s of fast descents and ascents, hairpin turns and close calls. Stockford was in rare form, getting a little too abusive toward my bike. You just don’t get between a girl and her bike! Got passed twice by Arch like I was standing still (and I was hauling!), raced with Stockford – he won, then I won, then he won, then I just had to cut him off. Good thing he won’t ride over the ice, that’s the only time I could gain some time on him. Almost everyone else rode all the ice crossings with no casualties. We must be seriously unbalanced because I know how quick you can go down and how painful it is but it was just so much fun. The trails were so hard packed that it was like riding through a dust storm, the lucky person was the one out front (Kelly!). About a half hour in Michael’s light quit and he finished the ride with just the led’s. There were so many of us he was able to ride by everyone else’s lights. And to top it off as Glenn was riding over the last bridge on the way to the parking lot he put his foot out and the bike started sliding, and sliding, and he slipped right off the bridge onto the ice. Then the ice started breaking and we heard a splash as his foot went in. Then I heard some giggling (Andy!) which was totally contagious but it was such a great crash! Sorry Glenn but that was the best crash I’ve ever seen. Even better than Andy and John Sattar falling off the bridge at Mansfield. Well I’d say this was a magical ride and even though it’s only February it’s got my vote for best ride of the year so far. –Jill
Riders: Mickey, Glenn, Arch, Evan, Shelby, Shelby’s friend, John and Kyle, Andy, Jill (and Jeannie and Penny on foot)Another sunny day but a little on the windy side. Jeannie and Penny head out on foot. Shelby, Evan, and Shelby’s friend decide to do their own thing so the rest of us head out. But not before I show everyone the cool hidden tool set on my borrowed Prophet!!! Mickey is riding a prophet too so he gives me some tips about shifting etc. and how to get free stuff from Lou the Cannondale Rep! Very valuable information. It takes me a few minutes to figure out the shifting before I can concentrate on the riding and then I realize I am riding an indestructible tank that will take me wherever I want it to go. Holy Crap – this bike will go over anything!!! Glenn takes us on a great warm-up and we wind around, everyone seems pretty relaxed today. Until I confess that Michael and I went to see the new Hannibal Rising movie and get a big time Stockford scolding. I blamed that one on Michael too. That’s the rule at work – if you don’t show up to the meeting you get blamed for everything. Same rule goes for the rides… Ok, the ride – I can never remember what trails we are on at Bluff, I just put my trust in Glenn and it always works out to be a great ride. And it was. — Jill
Riders: Cliff, John and Kyle, Arch, Jill, and Matt (kindof!)
The sun was out but it was still a bit chilly when everyone pulled into the lot. Matt pulled up in street clothes with his bike on his rack. He was on his way over and realized his bottom bracket was busted. Terrible luck! Cliff rode over from his house and we yapped, admired Arch’s new bike and waited for the Stockford’s to get ready. Finally hit the trail and the conditions are about as good as it gets for a snow ride. There seemed to be a few more inches of snow at Case than there was at Mansfield but still great traction. Took the carriage rode up to the blue all the way to the Slickrock.
I kept seeing Cliff and Arch riding their bikes every time I looked up but I was slipping and sliding all over the place. The water crossing just before the climb was pretty sketchy too. Lot’s of ice. Hit the power lines and hung a right and headed down the Fern – lot’s of fun!!!! And everyone knows I don’t like the Fern trail (stems from a deep winter snow ride a couple years back. Totally Michaels fault!!! All I remember is John Sattar and Arch shooting down the Fern like there wasn’t a foot of crispy, bike sucking snow that sapped every ounce of energy and willpower I had. I think Andy might agree with me on this one too…). Anyway, back to the present, over the metal bridge and hang a left and climb, climb, climb until we get to the pink. Another fun downhill then we took a right on the fire road, a quick left back onto the blue and another fun downhill back to the cars. Traded bikes with Arch for a minute to try out his new ride. My bike felt like a jackhammer after that! The sun fired up about halfway through the ride and felt great after all the 8 degree rides we’ve done lately. We could actually have a conversation after the ride instead of running for our cars and cranking the heat. Excellent ride. — Jill