Friday, September, 24, 2010

Today started off as a typical Friday. I went swimming at the Mission Valley YMCA with Masters, and then headed up to Irvine. I found out I didn’t really need to go up there, but it ended up being a good time for me to take care of some computer work and literature research I needed to do. Although I didn’t really enjoy spending 3 hours in the car commuting, there’s something rather satisfying in accomplishing work that needs to get done. So, what to do on a Friday evening after working all week? Today we did something a little different. Molly and I headed from home at around 5:30 PM and drove out to Pine Valley. There we met a few fellow randonneurs and embarked on a rather short but great adventure. We were heading out for a night ride. Instead of riding from daybreak until dark, we started at dark. Here we are prior to our 7 PM start.

Molly was really excited about this ride. We had started the same ride a couple months ago, but after about 25 miles Molly’s rear derailleur cable broke. Since the climb up Kitchen Creek was still ahead, we had to bail on the ride. There was some unfinished business left out here, and we also wanted to get some experience riding at night.

At 7 PM we took off, and kept the pace pretty mellow.

We rode with Kelly Deboer for quite a while, but he was going back and forth between us and Osvaldo Colavin and Kevin Foust behind us. Kelly is a very strong rider, keeping us on our toes. I noticed that he had a dyno hub and commented that it didn’t seem to be slowing him down much. He pointed out that he also had a heavy bike, wheels, 28 mm Gatorskin Hardshell tires, so he wasn’t too concerned about the dyno hub. It was definitely nice for the first 25 miles or so when Kelly was around because of the extra illumination he provided. Here is Kelly, leading the way out of Pine Valley.

The first 40 mile or so was basically our warm up before the infamous climb up Mount Laguna by Kitchen Creek Road. Molly and I stopped at mile 30 to get some more water and use the restroom. It was a pretty long stop for us, and our legs were definitely feeling it even though we hadn’t ridden very far yet. We had decided to put on our arm warmers though because the temperature was drifting down and we had hit a few areas where we hit some cold canyon air. It was a good move because as we descended down Old Highway 80 we hit some very cold air that bit right through the arm warmers. It wasn’t much longer and we were almost sweating again. I was amazed to see how well Molly has adapted to some of the cool riding now that she is becoming a rookie ultra distance cyclist (vice a ‘veteran’ or ‘seasoned’ ultra-cyclist…inside joke).

Kitchen Creek Road is awesome. After we turned onto it, we didn’t see a single car and eventually the buzz from I-8 faded. I was just reading in Running Times about running trails at night, and have some friends that like to mountain bike at night. Kitchen Creek, although a paved road, offered a lot of the same attractions. It was away from everything. The moon light provide great shadows. There were incredible sounds coming from the wilderness. Mike Berry said he rode up without lights on because of the clear night and full moon. I suppose after 20 minutes of letting your eyes adjust it would have been incredible to do that. We kept our lights on though. There were a couple holes that we avoided with our lights, and some large piles of crap. Molly thought it was bear poop out there, but I figured it was from a trail runner. I don’t think there are many bears out there.

Molly, the conservationist, managed to run over a tarantula on the climb, and threatened to run over a rodent. She also ate a few bugs that go in her way, so most of the animals just stayed clear. I guess Molly didn’t see this sign in the dark:

After we crossed the gate where cars are not allowed, we saw below us a couple lights of other riders. Otherwise we didn’t see anyone else out there. It was great riding along with Molly the entire way. I think it would have been a little freaky out there alone at night.

At the top we put on our jackets to block the wind as we descended down Sunrise Highway. The descent was amazing. I could see the road ahead very well with the moon light and our NiteRider lights. Sunrise Highway is a smooth road with easy turns. I know during the day I can handle all the turns going as fast as possible. Even though I can navigate the road well, I held onto a little caution since at 40+ (max speed was 41.7 MPH), there isn’t much time to act on seeing something in the road suddenly.

We finished the ride at 11:43 PM. The record we broke today was that this was the latest we’ve ridden our bikes. I got to bed at 1 AM, and had to deal with our dog that is used to getting up at 4 AM with us. She was STARVING! We were up for good at 6 AM, and out the door at 7 AM for another ride with Canari-Navy. It was tough getting going, but a good drill as we’ll need to do this several days in a row at PBP.