I awoke at 5:00 on Saturday and checked the Weather App. After watching the weather report for 10 days it wasn’t until the day of Grasshopper #2 that I had confidence in what I was seeing. No rain after 10:00 AM was the prediction. I put down my phone and continued with the prep and packing that I gave up on at midnight the night before. Wind? Why worry? Since we were riding Chileno Valley “reverse” or clockwise I figured we’d have a killer tail wind heading East where we usually get killed with a headwind half way through the loop.
My riding these days is primarily with the El Molino H.S. Mtb team and an occasional weekend ride with friends so I did not have high expectations of my performance. Besides, Chileno Valley is where I traditionally get crushed by my “roadie” friends. I need to find some dirt connector to throw in. Some things we learn once but most we learn over and over again. The “oh, yeah right” moment came to me after I started having my first cramps on Wilson Hill. I love Osmo Nutrition, and the quote they use, “you’re not bonking, you’re dehydrated” is right on. I drank enough the day before and did okay the day of but think after several weeks of H20 neglect I was in the negative. Think I over dressed too. Oh, and maybe I used the wrong socks, and listened to the wrong Led Zeppelin album on the way to Occidental, and…and…Well, you get the point. No REAL excuses, just a tough day on the bike.
With a start line of 240 toughmen and women I knew the day was going to be awesome. We again had a smooth start thanks to the Occidental VFD. With roughly half the number of Old Caz riders our presence in town was noticeable but not totally overwhelming. After a brief pre-ride chat and sponsor acknowledgement we hit the tough start up Coleman Valley Rd.Cresting the top of Coleman Valley looking South I realized three things: 1. The wind was coming from the East. 2. The views were going to be stellar. 3. The pain cave I was going to spend the day in had no down pillow. I dug deeper than I should have,thinking I could hide on Hwy 1 in the back of a large group. This was mistake number 1 for a couple of reasons. First, the group I joined was killing it on the coast and was motivated to pick up riders who had dropped us on Coleman Valley.
I think we must have been the 2nd large group, though hard to say. The second realization was that with the offshore wind there was virtually no draft to be had heading toward Valley Ford. Our group swelled to around 20 as we hit Middle Rd and then a few popped off on Turkey Hill before Alexander. I could tell that people were feeling it when the group nearly came apart on Alexander by the shooting range only to get hammered by Dr. Todd and Yuri heading onto Chileno Valley. Think Charlie was in the group as well. The wind was so brutal on heading toward Wilson Hill that the group in front disappeared. I was tired, but not too trashed and thought Wilson Hill would be no problem.
Unfortunately my legs thought differently and I had to stop with a right hamstring cramp. I drained the rest of my Osmo, ate a GU and soldiered on to regain my group at the feedzone. Kevin from Echelon gave me my 2 bottles and even filled a third, thinking of Joy Rd. I munched a pack of GU chomps and was ready to work with our group of ten or so. Several other riders came from “nowhere” to join our group and we at last had a tailwind. The wind to our backs. No wonder this is a common expression to mean things are going well in life. Until they aren’t. I was near the turn off to Walker Creek Ranch that it became too clear that the connection between mind and body were not in sync. Mind said, “hang on, conserverse, cruise to Joy with this awesome group of riders.” Body said, “maybe you should just pull over, look at the view and take a nap cuz you are now cramping in parts of your body you don’t know the name for”.
The good news is that even as I slipped further back I was still appreciative of the beautiful day and impressed by the number of riders who so gleefully caught and passed me. Michael Jordan gave it to me on Hwy like I was Charles Barkley in Space Jam. Rick Pepper caught me and we yo-yo’d together until the climb on Franklin School Rd. George Hope rolled up with a group and then left me and then finally a group with Jess Couch and others just before Valley Ford.
Thankfully Maxine Lamperti was waiting for The Boys and shared a bottle of water with me and I limped my way to Bodega Hwy and up Joy. And I didn’t even walk. Well, “sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes the bar eats you.”