What a dozy of a day. In keeping with my commitment to avoid my beautiful road bikes in favor of my time trial bike until I race Ironman California 70.3, I elected to damn the ride profile and take my Cervelo P3 into the mountains!
The ride for called for a start in my back yard at the Sierra Madre Starbucks, assault highway 39 by way of Encanto Park, then boogie up the backside of Gendora Mt. Road (Backside GMR for the initiated). After summiting we would slide down the front side of GMR into Glendora and then scoot back Sierra Madre.
The ride ends up looking like this:
It seems simple enough. So why complain about using a time trial bike? Well, the time trial frame is designed to go fast in a straight line in the aero position. They don't really climb or turn all that well. They limited hand positions. In the turns they are just "twitchy". And, this ride was all about climbing and turning.
Exhibit A - The profile
That's a pretty big bump in the middle, eh? That bump leads to Exhibit B - The climbing data. Now this may be a bit suspect. Others had less climbing and my Super Cool, Brand New, Garmin 510 may have inflated things a bit. We shall see now that I have updated the firmware. But, it is still pretty stout regardless.
The ride began rather inauspiciously. It was cold. Very cold. But, being a smart lad and having done this dance before, I planned for the worst. And, thanks to Trevor Goller, I was, as usual, resplendent in black PTC wear - base layer, jersey, thermal vest, arm warmers, fleece knickers, wool socks, full gloves and a beanie. I was still cold.
Those first few miles are just a chiller. Your heart rate is low, your nice and toasty from getting dressed in the comfort of the house and even the garage feels warm compared to the wind blast in the face headed down Santa Anita Ave in 40 degree temps.
I rally at Starbucks and the gang is already assembling. Hardy souls each one of them. We had our first little mechanical issue of the morning. A simple brake job, and then we were off whizzing toward Encanto park and the pick up of the rest of our cadre riders.
Once we hit Royal Oaks in Duarte I was feeling strong. I decide the get into the aero bars and even took Michel for a little pull! It was not meant to last and my loafing legs gave up on me when hit Encanto. It was the time I would lead for the day.
We rolled out of Encanto like a hoard of spandex and carbon maybe 40-50 riders strong. We hit the bike path into a head wind and as we neared the mountain I cursed my poor choices. This was gonna suck. Not the right bike for this ride at all....
Off the path and we seem to have added a member to our fellowship. A tall, thin fellow with legs that looked made to climb mountains. The train quickly formed - the tall guy, Bryan, Michel, yours truly bringing up the rear. For the first 1/2 mile I am thinking "I am hanging with some dogs". Then, my legs remind me to look at my power meter. 325 Watts! This is not sustainable for me! The puke will be coming soon if I don't back down a couple shades. I realize it is time to get back on the porch with the puppies. I slide off the back and the gap starts to grow - painfully. 5 meters, 10 meters, 15 meters, 20 meters. It's agonizing.
Then I hear a freight train. Jaime, who I did not know was behind me, is out of the saddle and hammering it! He must have been making 400watts! The madman is bridging the gap. I sit there with my jaw hanging open for a split second and I think "do I go with him?". Then my screaming legs quickly answer. NO!
Jaime bridges the gap with a monster effort and actually grabs the last wheel, but it was short lived. The effort to bridge up left him spent and he could not hang on. He stayed about 100 meters in front of me for most of the climb until I caught him and we worked to together with Trevor Mathews to finish the work to the East Fork turn for the cafe.
We roll to the cafe and the big dogs are basking in the glory. I take off my helmet, strip off my gloves and claim a well earned reward. A protein bar! As I finish the bar, the riders are rolling in. Conversation is mainly about bikes, races and various tall tales. In an effort to keep working while I am warm, Greg and I take a queue for Andy and Peter and decide to push on.
The backside of GMR is just a heart breaker. It's never very steep, but it is long, about 5 miles, and the steepness is just deceptive. What looks easy seems to take, watts and watts to keep climbing. Greg and I are fairly evenly matched this day and push each other to keep working. We pretty quickly roll up Peter and Andy. They seem to be having a nice ride and enjoying some conversation and scenery. Greg and I are trying rip each others legs off!
As I measure the merits of the two approaches to riding, I hear another freight train coming. Before I even look, I known this one is riding a Shiv. Bryan comes racing by and makes me look like am standing still just as start to think I can gap Greg. I finally put a bit of distance between Greg and I just as I summit and catch Bryan basking in the sun! King of the Mountains!
Within a few minutes, the "A's" are pretty much all on top and bit of a reunion breaks out as the Wheelbuilder.com crew arrives sporting their kits. While we are all bundled up they wear jerseys and bibs. I guess hard work keeps you warmer, cause these guys have zero body fat.
After a few moments I put out the call to depart for home. Greg is only one ready to roll. This works perfect since he and I are both on the same training plan and looking to minimize "regroup time" while maximizing "riding time".
The ride down the hills is brisk and frankly a little scary. My spidey senses are still on edge after my crash in December and the wind is blowing just enough on top to let me know it is there. Combined that with my poor choice of equipment (TT Bike) and I was on my toes all the way down hill.
Once in Glendora, Greg and I took a page from Peter and Andy's book. We got aero and rode home in the bars solving the worlds problems. We parted ways in Sierra Madre when I headed for home and he headed for the car.
Short story is that it was great day to be outside. The weather was cold in the AM, but warmed to about 70 by the time we wrapped it up. Sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. I called it fun. Strava called it extreme.