Thursday, May 22, 2014

Team Kits - It's Getting Real

BAMM!
So, as Rockwell Relay is getting closer things are starting to come together for the teams we have put together. We've got the new website, that is in addition to the blog, but more importantly was the fact that our new custom made kits were done! Cuz if you want to ride like a team it can't hurt to look like a team! (Right!?)

So a couple weeks ago, the kits came in and Jared and Mark were both going to be in So-Cal so we decided to get out on a ride to sport our fresh new gear. Besides, with the Tour of California coming through town, one of our local rides was promoted on Bicycling.com's website. And with that they were convinced to drive up from the beach for a ride.

(Early in the ride, before I got dropped)
Placerita Canyon...Bear Divide...Camp 9...

The ride started out with us (Andrew, Jared, Mark and myself - 4 of the 8 team members for Rockwell Relay) taking Placerita Canyon Road out of Newhall to its end, to Sand Canyon Road, just east of town. It started out fine, we could talk, tell each other how dapper they looked in the new kits, you know typical guys stuff (sort of). But before long Andrew was ready to head up the climbs with a bit more energy and Mark and Jared were in chase. Andrew is a climber, and I knew I needed to pace myself, so I let them all go. These were good hills, but smaller than what were would be doing, so I knew I needed to conserve my energy.

By the time I got to Sand Canyon Road, they had had a couple minutes to break, so I grab a quick bite of blueberry/chocolate chip rice cake Andrew made, and we turned south towards LA with a mountain to climb. See, I had ridden up to Bear Divide a couple times before. I knew it would be taxing. It's just over a 900 ft. climb over 3.3 miles, averaging a 5% grade (the bottom is relatively flat and you are riding more of an average of around 7% with parts over 13%). 

Again, we all started together and again, Andrew was ready to show Jared and Mark he was geared up for his climbing legs of Rockwell, so he was off. This time I was able to stay with Mark and Jared, as I am sure they were being nice for me to tag along. However, after a few minutes and riding and talking, I realized I needed to go faster. Now I'm not talking much faster, but still, faster.

One Gear Wonder

My bike has several gears, and I use them all. But I, on the other hand, really have only about one gear. It's not a fast gear, but luckily it's not a super slow gear either. It seems as though I can push myself at about the same effort, and do it most of the day. That said, I understand I will never be a sprinting champion, or probably much of a cycling champion of any sort. I just know that when the road turns up I have to try and get in my zone and grind out whatever I can that lays in front of me. It won't be fast, and I can't be tempted to push to keep the wheel of the guy in front of me, I'll blow up. And, in this case, I couldn't slow down to stay with Mark and Jared up Bear Divide. (Before you think I am a bad teammate and friend, understand that Mark and Jared are both way more experienced riders and climbers than I am. And I still think they were being nice to me. That said, I was going to let them be nice and keep going. They would be more than fine.) And with all that said, they weren't too far behind me when we hit the top of Bear Divide.

More of the Same...

Once to Bear Divide came the hard part. From there the road continued up. Another 3.6 miles or so with a steady dose of climbing an additional 1100 feet. I had a few minutes to rest before Jared rode by and told me to get going. He was apparently joking as he, Mark and Andrew all pulled off to get a pic, but once I was back on the bike there was no stopping. I figured I could try and take it easy for a couple minutes because I was sure they would catch me.

A couple minutes in, and I was hating life. I'm not sure why this is, but every time I have a big ride I know that I will be hurting at some point and ask myself, "Why do I do this? Why to I actually pay money, take up my time, and CHOOSE to do this!?" Sure enough it was at this part of the ride that I was asking myself these very questions. Needless to say, I was happy that it took some time before Andrew passed by, but I was surprised that he was alone. "Alright, we still have a couple miles to go, Mark and Jared will be here any minute. I will push a bit to see how long it will be before they overtake me." 

Then an odd thing happened, a bit more time passed and they hadn't overtaken me. Suddenly, my mind shifted to "Alright, hurry up. Maybe you can get to the top before they do." The road turned flat(er) just a bit before the Camp 9 fire station and I was pushing. I made it to the fire station, rode through, and was off to the last kicker that separated the fire station and the radio tower. This last leg was NOT fun. In fact, it was the least fun part of road I've ridden. It seemed straight up, and the road was severely beat up, with bumps of undergrowth coming through the pavement everywhere. I figured the only way to tackle such a rough road was to stand and pump my legs with whatever strength I could muster.

(Santa Clarita to the north of the tower)
The ride down was great. Great in the fact that we weren't climbing. Between Camp 9 and Bear Divide the road is in a rough condition and recent rain had left dirt in spots, causing us to slow down more than we wanted. From Bear Divide back to Santa Clarita, however, was a blast. I rarely have done much riding downhill, and as such am more cautious on my descents (meaning slower, in case you weren't reading between the lines there). (I think the ride down from Bear Divide may be the best place around to really be able to work on descending. I will need to come back to work on my cornering.)

(A stop on the way down for a picture of San Fernando/greater LA to the south)
Once in town, we were on the trails for an easier ride back home. All-in-all it was about a 40 mile ride with somewhere between 3300-4700 feet of vert. (Depends on whose Strava data you rely on. I wish our Garmins and cell phones could be a bit more consistent, that's a pretty broad range.) Either way, we were sure to pass a good number of cyclists on the roads and trails that day. Now they know, Cycling Nation is here!

(Onto the trails for some kit promotion time.)
 Gotta find a pic of the front of the kits. They're "so choice".

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