Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Condor Classic

I meant to post this a while ago, but seem to have hit the "save" instead of "publish" button. So, belated ride report.

On October 11, Andrew and I did our first century. It started at the ridiculous hour of "before sunrise" in Hollister, so we drove down the night before and stayed at a hotel. This was complicated by (a) the need to find an open REI so we could buy arm-warmers; (b) extra-horrible traffic on the 101; and (c) the GPS having no idea where the hotel was and leading us on a wild-goose chase straight out of a horror movie. You know, the kind where the teenagers are hacked to death in the wilderness of the central valley. Anyway, we eventually made it to the hotel, which smelled exactly like my parents' basement, and I proceeded to get no sleep. (Those are not correlated.)

Six hours later, we woke up and discovered that it is cold in Hollister before dawn. On go the arm warmers and mittens, and we gather at the start line. My stomach was too cold to eat anything, so I sort of ate some gorp and a coke, but I couldn't even eat a chocolate croissant. The first few miles were downhill, where we made great time and I discovered each and every gap between the layers of my clothing. (For example: jersey sleeves end a half inch before the arm warmers start. Ears completely uncovered. Legs - forget about it.) Five miles in, we settled into the first climb, and I realized it was a very bad idea to not eat; so now bits of me are frozen, my stomach has started hurting, and I'm very hungry. Andrew feeds me some Gu and a pint of water and we kept climbing. Ten minutes later, the Gu kicks in and I'm all good. We climb faster than most, reaching the first food station at mile 15 in good time and passing lots of people who waste breath complaining about the steepness. I ate some peanuts. Andrew ate some of everything. The next ten miles are flattish, and the next food station has crackers and fruit, which I eat. So far so good: I am now neither freezing, nauseas, nor hungry. Some more climb, then long descent into the pinnacles, which was awesome. Peanut butter and bananas there at mile 40 or so. We're at least three hours in, which means our time isn't as good as I thought. Lost some time to Andrew's flat #1, then we start back.

But, what goes down must go up, and the next ten miles back from the pinnacles are the opposite of the "nice long descent" of the last paragraph, with a fairly stiff headwind. It's a good thing I'm not cold or hungry anymore, or I'd be giving up. We're plugging away at it, not seeing anyone for another ten miles, when Andrew gets flat #2. We carefully check the tire again, swap in a new tube, and watch the headwind blow tumbleweeds across the road. SAG wagon guy asks if we're OK, and a couple dozen riders pass us. We continue. Now hungry again, I'm extra-motivated to get to somewhere where there is food that is not classified as "energy bars". The wind remains against us through the next food station (mile 60) where it looks like the bulk of the pack has come and gone. Sandwiches and more fruit, then onwards.

There was an extra loop somewhere around mile 70 which gave us the chance to ride with the wind instead of against it, which I appreciated. At mile 75, out of nowhere, a hill loomed. Well, loomed is not the right word. Imagine an element of surprise. More like an iceberg, which I suppose does not 'loom'. Anyway. This hill cannot possibly be steeper or longer than the last mile to my house, but with 75 miles down already, that's pretty significant. I stood up and pedaled until I saw red. The reward for reaching the top is... more wind. And a nice view of some cows, who are unimpressed by our feat. I can't even keep my heart rate up anymore; it's sitting firmly at 160. Going faster than 12 mph is out of the question. It's ten-ish miles to the next food station, now with a side-wind (mile 90), where there are fresh strawberries. We've now been on the bikes for about eight hours, but several people show up behind us, so we are definitely not last. We're even on track to finish by 3 p.m., which is sort of the official end time.

Then Andrew says, "My knee feels funny". (Note: He did not say "... for the last five miles" or "... by 'funny' I mean 'hurts a lot'", either of which would have been more accurate. Out of that last station it's supposed to be an easy ten miles back on the shoulder of a still-being-constructed freeway, which is not so awesome given the traffic and that somehow we are still working against the wind. At mile 92, he says, "uh, I can't move my knee anymore", so we stop. He has already tried (a) taking it easy; (b) pedaling with only the other leg; and (c) ignoring it (*). He's sure that if he can rest for a minute that he could keep going, but this seems like a Bad Idea, so I flag down the sag wagon and get us a ride back to town.

Then there's a nice big barbeque, followed by a relaxing evening. Yummy.

So, we almost made it. It sure felt like we put in enough effort to go 100 miles. Our average speed was pretty crummy, but I don't think I've biked in wind that strong ever for sustained periods. The event organization was fantastic, though, and I'd do it again. At no point was I worried about getting lost.

(*) Everyone has suggestions about what's up with the knee. Um, except for the actual doctors at Kaiser, who seem to think that rest and steroids fix everything. Current prevailing theory is that it's an IT-band issue, and that he should try stretching a lot and make sure the bike fits correctly.

44 comments:

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FYI, all the nurses I've talked to say Kaiser kills. You might want to try a different network.

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