Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mixed (up) terrain

West Alpine Road, several miles still ahead to the ridge. Late afternoon sun on the golden hills. Head down, Bonnie says "Well this is the hardest 90 miles ever".

My legs had to agree. They begged for (and got) the little chain ring. The pedals were turning over but without any pop. If there had been a need for some reason to stand up and suddenly generate power...

It's been 15 years since Bonnie and I first rode together. It's been Tunitas, Sweetwater Springs, Mt. Hamilton. SuperTours, Davis Doubles, a 6-day tour in the mountains near San Diego, the (unofficial) Big Sur Ride. All multiple times. Our legs have the same definition of hard.

The human brain and body have this in common: they adapt. But there's a flip side, too. An adaptation that gets repeated a few times can become a pattern. Can become a rut.

The start and finish of today's route is the Old Familiar. Woodside to Pescadero and back. The route that many cyclists here have done a hundred times. We can do it half-asleep (and sometimes do). It's not exactly easy but our legs know the drill.

But the middle of today's route had some special stuff. Dirt roads in Big Basin that I'd never ridden before. Hard. Brain and body had to work, work, work.
We still don't know what we're getting into...
Sheer physical challenge:
  • Sustained climbs on fire roads
  • Many pitches of ~20%
  • 45 unpaved miles on a road bike (25mm tires)
  • 8900 feet of elevation gain
Mental challenge:
  • Surface analysis and bike handling 
  • Carrying enough food and water
  • Disorientation, not knowing what's ahead, being prepared for anything
  • Focus all day long, especially on 2 fast descents at the end

Mark and Jim climb Gazos Creek Road.

Debra and Bonnie on an abandoned airstrip in the wilds of San Mateo County.
The day ended with a screaming fun time, descending Skyline and 84 with abandon. Just like a video game.

There was some neurological fallout of this adventure. The past couple of days have had some light-headed moments. (This also happened after SuperTour.) My sense of taste temporarily left me; food tasted like dirt for a little while. (This also happened after the accident.)

But the last couple of nights I've been dreaming more than usual. It's as if my brain is saying 'hello, we're here! We're engaged...'

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