Ok, I've been talking a lot about the Grasshopper this coming weekend. It's unofficially the start of my mountain bike race season, so it's pretty important to me to do well. I'm not sure if I'll have the same stellar season as I did last year, but I think I'm incrementally getting better day by day. I pushed hard one last time this week before I begin to taper off and conserve some energy going into Saturday's event. Last year I managed a solid 10th out of 300 aggro cross guys. My long game was dialed in and I played my cards right. This year I hope to do the same, and with a bit of luck, find myself in the near same position or at least a better finishing time. I just need to remind myself that it's all good fun. I can't take it too seriously.
Another gorgeous day in NorCal. My wife and I took a stroll into Lucas Valley towards Nicasio and back around China Camp. I had too much fun taking pictures with my GoPro. It was Caroline's first road ride of the year, and she's looking good rocking her Specialized Amira and Prevail helmet. That does it for me this week. I've got to taper next week in preparation of the Grasshopper at Old Caz. I'm feeling fit enough, just need to make sure I fully recover and get that pop back into my legs.
In an effort to log in more base miles this year I rode my bike into work again. 70 miles, straight from SF to Morgan Hill via El Camino Real.
This time the ride in was so cold that my hands went numb. I couldn't even squeeze my water bottle. Fortunately, once the sun rose, as I made my way through downtown San Jose I got the feeling back in my fingers and toes.
- 2013 S-Works Roubaix (Size: 52cm)
- Roval CLX 40 700c wheel set
What an incredible lunch ride today. Since a lot of people were out for the Thanksgiving holiday we had a great crew of folks and took advantage of the long lunch to do the Cañada loop. It hugs the south end of Harvey Bear park before cutting inwards towards Henry Coe, climbing through some gorgeous countryside and rolling hills. On our way back we collectively decided to do the first big climb one more time before going back. We rode over 42 miles with 2,000' of climbing. The pace was brisk, and the company was excellent.
- 2013 S-Works Roubaix (Size: 52cm)
- Roval CLX 40 700c wheel set
My Monday lunch ride started out as a recovery spin, and quickly ramped up to a tempo ride, ending in a fast and furious sprint to bridge a gap on the way back. I took a break on Sunday after riding up Mt. Tam and back, so my legs felt pretty good after a days rest.
Thursdays are the usual tempo ride, which eventually turn into a race at the end. Today was no exception. It's the reverse Friday World's course around the Uvas reservoir. It's pretty relaxed until you climb up and over the backside of the Chesbro reservoir. The speed quickly ramps up as most of the route back home is pointed downhill. It's super fun, but hardly a tempo ride.
Every Wednesday is the Bailey loop lunch ride. It's fast and furious. I'm still trying to figure out how to latch on to the lead group over the halfway point. There are a few key sections to be mindful of if you don't want to get dropped. The first starts at mile eight where if you don't have the fitness to hang on a climb you'll definitely be off the back. I make sure to be at the front so that I'm able to catch the first wave of attacks before the descent. The second section involves another sprint up a short and punchy climb before you bomb back down into the valley. This is where I usually get dropped, as I'm not the most confident descender. It's quickly followed by a long cross-wind section where if you're not with the lead group you're definitely going to get dropped. Due to my light frame I'm usually straggling towards the end and eventually run out of steam to hang on. A right turn back onto Santa Teresa and it's time trial mode, and if you're lucky you'll get a nice tail wind all the way home.
Yup, that happened today. I guess my recovery ride was an indication that I shouldn't have gotten on a bike to begin with today. It still felt good to get outside and enjoy the countryside view. I could have worked harder to stay with the group, but they were just going too fast for my taste. Riding the Enduro 29er really pushed me to my limits, but in the best way possible. Great training for sure!
Wednesdays are my favorite day for the lunch ride. It's a long and fast route, and I usually am able to hang with the A group the entire time. I've got most of the attacks covered, but always get dropped on the descent leading up to a nasty cross-wind section right before the long stretch home. Today we had a pro in our midst. I didn't catch her name but she had an entourage of photographers following us in a van for most of the way. I managed to hang with her and the chase group before dropping them in the last few miles.
Yup, recovery. Everyone needs those days. I actually need a day off the bike completely, but I just can't seem to stop! Too much fun. I held back from chasing down the A group and rode with a friend at a friendly pace.
I spent the beautiful Sunday afternoon doing a recovery spin up and over Mount San Bruno. Hardly a recovery ride, but I meant to keep it short and sweet. That was until I ran into my buddy Jeremy, whom I just rode with yesterday, passing by with another rider. I changed directions and caught up to them and asked to join their easy spin. Once we started to roll it quickly turned from a friendly ride into a total hammer-fest. I got to ride a few new sections of road alongside the airport and up into the hills near Skyline.
Oh Fridays. Another day of attacking on the lunch ride, aka World Championships. I held my own for half of the ride with the A group. I knew exactly when and where the split would occur, a long grinder halfway through the loop. I found myself off the back. I wasn't the only casualty on the road, as I caught up to one of my coworkers.
Our reverse Uvas loop was very civilized, in that there weren't any surges or too many attacks. I practiced staying in a group that rotated more often, working less and ultimate catching up with the lead group. That worked until the route turned upward where the groups started to split again.
A lot of people are out at Interbike this week, leaving the Specialized headquarters rather quiet. On those days a small group likes to rally a ride out to do the Cañada loop. It sits on the south side of Henry Coe State Park and rolls through some beautiful NorCal scenery. We covered nearly 40 miles, averaging 19mph and climbed close to 1500' in two hours.
We had eight strong riders as we worked our way up into the hills at tempo. We began to split as we made our way on the latter half of the loop, finishing off the ride with a bombing decent before the long headwind filled stretch of road back to work.
Tuesday's lunch ride brought us onto Day Road, where the group clocked in the fastest time on the sweeping stretch of road. There was cross winds, tail winds, attacks on top of attacks. Fortunately I was able to keep up with the main pack, but it got really hairy in a few sections. At the first stop light, as the pack regrouped, we sat there in shock of how fast we were moving. It didn't stop there. Once the light turned green we were off again, battling for position and more speed.
I explored the peaks of the city, hitting Bernal Heights and Twin Peaks before dropping down through Golden Gate Park, up and over Sea Cliff and back home through the Mission. It was a beautiful day out on the bike.
I rode to work this morning, a steady 70 mile effort straight through the Silicon Valley corridor. I left around 5am, geared up with my lights, and pedaled my way into the dark for the first couple of hours. The route I take isn't that exciting. It's a straight shot all the way down El Camino Real before cutting onto the long stretch of Monterey Highway. For some reason I kept hitting all of the stop lights as I made my way through the Stanford area. Very annoying. It cut into my moving speed quite a bit, not to mention the quick accelerating is taxing on my legs when I should be conserving my energy by steady pulls.
The worst part of the commute has to be the long stretch from Morgan Hill back into San Jose later in the day, where I face the dreaded headwind that seams to persist every single day of the week. It builds character, but makes an otherwise easy ride home not so pleasant. Normally I'm completely spent and unable to push a high gear at the end of the day, but with proper pacing earlier in the morning I was able to find some power, especially as I approached downtown San Jose and into the Diridon Caltrain station. I hit rush hour as I saw the bike car fill up, but it was nice to sit back and watch the same road from this morning unfold.
As I wind down my race season I can feel my body gradually changing. Today's lunch ride was an indication that I'm ready for hibernation mode of sorts. While the intensity is high I'm finding it harder to motivate myself to keep turning the cranks over for longer. I haven't been able to go on longer rides, and my weekly training hours have slowly dwindled down. It's all good, though. All part of training.