‘’That was a spiritual odyssey,’ said Morgan after an early afternoon climb that we had just struggled up. People were actually walking their bikes up this monster hill. Just one of many. A great first ride for me and my new Seven! My bike was together a couple of days earlier, and a small problem was fixed the night before at the shop. New shoes and pedal system, new shorts and jersey; I am stoked! Pics posted soon.
We knew this ride was going to be difficult, but it was far from our minds as we grubbed Indian food with the crew the night before. This ride was just outside LA so we slept at home the night before and borrowed a car to get out there. Morgan started off smoothly by forgetting his helmet and then losing the chip you turn in to prove that you started. In his defense we had less than four hours sleep.
The group start was brilliant as we headed down Las Virgenes through the tunnel and onto the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway for y’all on the East Coast). The group split when we hit Topanga Canyon and started climbing back into the mountains. We held up pretty well and then Morgan and I got separated. Turned on some crazy side road and climbed another 1000 or so feet before descending back down to the coast. This was one of those roads that hugs the mountains and seems to drift over the ocean from above. Stunning. I was laughing as I flew down at 35 MPH…
Climbing, climbing, climbing. Loving my bike. Morgan, still riding the bike he found at a bus stop, ended up bonking hard in mid afternoon (not long after we were pulled over for running stop signs). Got some food in him and we set out from the last check point before Balcolm Canyon at mile 125. A roadie had chatted us up earlier and merely laughed when we mentioned this climb. Someone referred to it as a ‘novelty’ climb. My 39-27 was barely turning as I grinded up it. Back to the coast again before the climb up Mulholland from the PCH. This is the route I once drove over in a convertible…
We just barely finished the big descent before dark. Push push push…to the climb we knew was coming: Stunt road. At least it wasn’t hot! Last check point is at the summit and whenever new riders would appear from the climb everyone would clap! One more significant climb then a cruise back to the hotel. We rolled in with a time of 16 hours and 47 minutes. Not bad for the second hardest DC in California. 32% of the people who started didn’t finish! Morgan, unfortunately got a DNF for missing that turn early on and missing the extra climbing. Stage One of the Triple Crown Stage Race down! Two weeks till Stage Two, the Devil Mountain DC, with its 20,000 feet of climbing.
Where the hell is Hemet, CA? Close, but still had to rent a car on Friday to get there for the Hemet DC on Saturday. Found a rental car place close by; no need to go all the way to the airport on Friday evening. Back to the house in time to eat and head downtown for Plex’s alleycat race ‘Traffic’ (based on the movie). Mad heads show up: Local messengers and bike kids plus riders from NYC, Chicago, and SF in town for the messenger velodrome series race the next day. The race had five check points to pick up drugs on the way to Hollywood. I said I would only roll along, but I got caught up in it and was ‘racing’. I was in a pack flying through the city, in tons of traffic, when my chain came off! Fuck! That sucks when you are riding fixed gear. Got it back on and chilled out a bit the rest of the race.
After the award ceremony a gang of us headed over to the Midnight Riders ride at Sunset & Echo. Second Friday of every month and it rules. 200 plus people these days! I was promoting BikeSummer stuff and then some kids were playing on Free Ride Mountain bikes and BMX’s. My boy Chris let me have a go on his BMX and I was stoked. Hopped back into it with some wall rides, manuals and nose bonks on a TV and some 180’s to half-cabs. When the ride left I went home to work on my bike for the Hemet DC.
Up at 345am to make the 1.5 hour drive. New kids from SF had shown up and were still up drinking beer in the living room. They wished me luck and I offered the same for their velodrome race. 85 MPH the whole way to Hemet. Not much out there. I sign in and am off with a medium paced group. First 100 miles in 6 hours elapsed; a personal record. The course is a relatively flat figure-8 with the start point in the middle. Another first: Someone crashed in front of me in a paceline. You know when you see a group of riders and think, ‘What if one of them fell?’ Luckily we were not going too fast and I saw it coming. The lead group dropped those of us that had stopped and then we tried to catch them! I pulled for a while and the guys behind me started making comments about my bike. Basically I am usually one of only a handful of people without a $5000 bike. Mine looks especially crappy as well.
Since I had expected to be in the desert all day I was rather impressed with the scenery. Many miles of the route were along and around these beautiful lakes with green mountains surrounding them. One downer was the wind we had ALL DAY. Even if it was not headwinds, it was annoying. One guy I was with, Bern, is at least 65 and is training to race the 508 solo. He didn’t mind the winds because that ride is well known for having crazy winds. At the end of the day, we had 6 miles straight into the wind. It was a guy with a 508 jersey who pulled us along. I had been fighting the wind for a couple of miles at 15 MPH or so and this guy jumped up and held a pace of 18 MPH. Sick! At the last turn this guy, who had not been pulling, took off and was ‘racing’ to the hotel. I thought this was whack cause we were no where near the front (by hours!). The other guys took off after him and I thought they were down for the racing. Turns out they were pissed that he didn’t pull and was trying to come into the hotel ahead of us! We ended up pulling him back in and all rolled into the hotel together. Best time yet: 13 hours and 20 minutes. Drove back and crashed out for 10 hours of sleep!