Monday, February 2, 2009

The perfect 25 mile ride

This weekend was full of more spring-like weather with near records highs on both Saturday and Sunday. So, of course, that meant more riding. The plan? On Saturday we were going to climb Rockpile.

Rockpile is a favorite of our group. It's a 12 mile climb that begins at Lake Sonoma and heads out to a dead end. This means typically we have the road to ourselves. As you can see, there are a few minor descents but it is mostly up. Then, once you reach the top, it is a blistering fast descent back to the bottom. In the final stretch, the road is very straight at about a 14% grade. Anyone one with enough mojo can easily hit speeds over 50 in this section. (My personal best is 50.) This profile, courtesy of the Santa Rosa Cycling Club, actually leaves off 2 miles of climbing at the start of the climb.

A total of 7 of us head out from Cafe Noto in 30 degree weather. We are actually riding 3 different routes. Tim and Jeff are doing something a little shorter, which means they will miss the climb. Pat and Jim are going long (Pat has a double century coming up and did 115 miles.) And Carmen, Dennis and I are going to put in around 60 miles. This will be the longest ride of the year for me. And when you consider I am still rebounding from my cold, my plan is to ride conservatively and work on cadence, turning big circles, and focusing on my heart rate.

So we cruise through the vineyards of Dry Creek Valley and hit the climb. This will be the first time for Carmen and Dennis and you can feel their excitement and trepidation. Rockpile is a legendary climb in Sonoma County and must be treated with respect no matter how good you are.

The climb was mostly uneventful. Everyone rode their own pace and we all made it to the top while enjoying the views. We all took it pretty easy on the way down (I topped out at 45) and started the ride back. Pat and Jim peeled off to do their thing while Dennis, Carmen and I (well mostly Dennis) took turns pulling on the way back. In the end, I was very fatigued but quite happy with the day's efforts.

So, if I rode 60 miles, why is the title of this blog referencing 25 miles? Because that was Sunday's ride. Pat and I planned to meet at Bad Ass Coffee and head out for 40 or so miles. The purpose? To spin out the legs. We both discovered last year that the fastest way to recovery after a big effort was to go for a high-cadence, easy paced ride.

As I was riding to Bad Ass I was thinking, "If all I need to do is spin a little, then the 6 mile ride to Bad Ass and back should be enough." When Pat arrives I ask how he is feeling. Tired! How tired? Very tired! So I hint that we could get off the bikes and drink coffee. After thinking about it we decided we had to go little further. So a short loop later we are sipping a cup of Joe and talking about the beautiful day. During the time it took to finish our coffee, we watch 25 cyclists ride past. By the time I got back home I had a grand total of 25 perfect miles.

So there you have it. Great rides, awesome climbs, good coffee and fun with friends. It's no wonder I like this thing called cycling.


2 Comment(s):

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great ride Lee!

Sarah said...

Bummer I missed the ROckpile ride but I know there will be PLENTY more rides!