Each Sunday since early July, a diverse group of cyclists gathers at the Peet’s in Bressi Ranch wondering what crazy route and intense heat is in store for them that day. This past Sunday, we were blessed with temperatures that, dare I say it, were almost cold (??) when we started, and I was looking forward to leading the “short” route for those interested in working toward the metric century (or who are just a little behind in training for the full). I put “short” in quotation marks because I often sit and wonder when a 40-mile ride became “short”. In my mind, since I knew we were avoiding the Couser Canyon climb (on which there is always much weeping and gnashing of teeth), I figured our route was not crazy at all. I had never gone south on Sleeping Indian before and since I remember going north on it as being all uphill, it must be all downhill in the other direction.
While I love our great attendance on the Swami’s Team Fun Saturday Rides during the last year, I have to say it was kind of delightful to have such a small group. Five of us broke off from the “longer” route training group about 7 or so miles in: me, Jill, and our new friends Amber, Kirk and Rob. As Jill remarked after the ride, you really get to know people with a group of that size, and honestly, that’s always been something I love about exercising with others – the shared pain can really lay a personality bare.
I asked the group how they were doing a few times, and I think about each of the first three or four times I checked in, Kirk said, “I feel pretty good actually. I mean, it’s been mostly downhill.” It hadn’t. In fact, I made a mental note of the fact that at about 11 miles we had climbed something close to 900 feet. This is a ratio rapidly approaching sufferfest levels. I decided Kirk must be a decidedly optimistic person.
I warned them that we were going to have a pretty long climb coming up (I was thinking about Olive Hill Road), that it wasn’t steep anywhere, but was fairly long (I actually had no idea how long it was). Kirk asked if it was longer than Torrey Pines, and I knew at least for sure it was longer than Torrey Pines. I was afraid it was a lot longer, and afraid it was maybe worse than I remembered. Meanwhile, Jill had been telling Amber in the back about a “wall” (she was thinking about Sleeping Indian Road). Poor Rob in the middle wasn’t exactly sure what to be afraid of, but they were extremely brave souls for following us into the unknown.
Olive Hill Road turned out to be about 3 miles, and except for one small segment, a pretty gentle climb all said and done. The group pretty much flew up it with no problems.
We regrouped for a bit, and pondered the left turn onto Burma. It’s a pretty forbidding looking sight, I have to say – you can see there’s pitch after pitch of what looks to be extremely steep little bumps (12%). Obviously, Amber asked if the first one was “the wall”. I said, “What wall is she talking about, Jill?” Jill remembered there being a wall somewhere (i.e., something extremely steep and torturous). We proceeded to do about 3 or 4 “walls” on Burma road. We stopped at the intersection with Sleeping Indian, which is always a great spot for a picture, and had our snacks. Well, I had my snack and Amber had hers, and I chastised the others for not having snacks.
After a few more false “walls”, we finally came upon a sight that made me get into my easiest gear upon sight. It turned out to maintain about 15% for quite a distance, and left us all breathless at the top. It was only following the ride at coffee that I was to learn that this was Amber’s longest ride ever – quite an accomplishment, especially when you consider the hilly challenges!
After that beast, we finally did get to a part that was in fact, “mostly downhill” – descending the meat of Sleeping Indian Road offers amazing views of the ocean, farm fields, and mountains in the distance. Although sometimes it feels like maybe it’s a little narrow, it’s still one of my favorite roads around – and one I hadn’t been on in about 3 or 4 years.
There was one part of the route that neither Jill nor I had ever been on. I figured I’d “know it when I saw it”, so didn’t really memorize the street names. We got to this sort of abandoned looking corner of North River Road, where a sign said “Do Not Enter”, and Jill said, “This is it, I think.” Of course that was it! It said “Do not enter”, was extremely potholed with areas of thick sand, and just generally had that “maybe-this-is-the-kind-of-adventure-where-Jill-and-Heather-finally-take-the-wrong-turn” look to it.
But in fact it was the correct turn, and although Rob definitely remarked a few times that it was “creepy”, he also made sure I knew he thought this would be a lot more fun if there were wine and cheese stops along the way. I’ll take note of that for future reference!!
For any of you that have been on a Team Fun “Sufferfest”, you most likely can recall the point our fellow riders were getting to when they were finished yet another mile long climb on E. Vista Way, only to see hill after hill in their future. “Is this the last one?” Most of you know it’s most likely best to not know (because it’s almost never the last one) and some of you may even think I’m diabolical enough to throw another hill into the route just to spite the question. I am not – however, Jill might be (haha! No one suspects her!)
We rolled into Bressi Ranch, definitely worked out, but still in good enough moods to enjoy a treat and discuss plans for future rides. Sometimes people ask me what ride or group they are ready for – and sometimes I can help you get an idea of where you might belong – but sometimes you are just going to surprise yourself! I met Amber on Friday at coffee ride, and then on Sunday she ended up finishing her longest ride of her life, and on an extremely challenging course. Rob and Kirk were also completely up for the challenge. I couldn’t believe how they didn’t complain, steep hill after steep hill. I think of myself about 19 years ago throwing my bike into the dirt on the side of the road in Vermont, too exhausted and frustrated with myself for not being a better rider… I don’t know that I would’ve done that well or taken it with such a positive attitude! (And as my husband will tell you, I designed that Vermont ride too – usually I only have myself to blame for the difficult routes!)
We will be doing Sunday rides up until the Swamdo Full and Metric centuries, leaving from Peet’s Coffee in Bressi Ranch at 8 am. The rides vary in terms of the routes, so some weeks there will be very little climbing and other weeks will be challenging. The training rides for the metric century will be in the 40-50 mile range, while the training rides for the full century will be in the 60-70 mile range. These are not rides where people are left behind. I do ask that you let me know either through a comment on the Meetup, Facebook, or through an email that you are interested in the metric training route so I can be prepared with leaders.
Hope to see some of you next Sunday.