ToP is an annual 5 day club ride for the Canari-Navy cycling club. It is a race mostly because anytime you get two dozen “has-beens” that still want to prove something to themselves, or to their friends, it turns into a race. There are jerseys awarded, and there are teams, but both are quite arbitrary. Rules? Sure there are rules, but they frequently change depending on who you are talking too.

I did ToP last year for the first time, and it set me up well for my two key races of the year, Camp Pendleton Sprint Triathlon (3rd Overall), and Superfrog Triathlon (6th Overall). I wasn’t sure what to expect this year, but knew I wanted to do it because it’s a blast, but also because I knew the training camp part of it would pay off when by the time I get closer to my end of season races. Today’s route was from San Francisco to Santa Rosa. It was an awesome route with some sweet climbs with the first being up Mount Tamalpais and then several shorter climbs along the coast line, some with steep grades. The temperature was mostly mild, the highest being 82 degrees when we arrived in Santa Rosa. There were head winds that would rate as less than breezy by Chicago standards (~15 mph). Not a cloud in the sky all day long, and surprisingly mild traffic along the coast.

We started with a slow roll out, and we met at the base of the Golden Gate for a group photo. Then we were off for a leisurely roll across the bridge. The pace was very relaxed. It was going to be a long week. We had a long descent and I was near the back of the pack but even with a casual coast I managed to drift up to the front. Tod Neal and I were riding along, then Tod took a wrong turn. I yelled to him and he turned around, but at that point I looked back and no one was there. Hmmmm…. Where is everyone? Oh well, I started the climb up Mt. Tam, waiting for Tommy Brown to catch me. I kept it smooth, not knowing how my current fitness level would hold up. I summitted alone, and then on the descent I was again very cautious because I haven’t been doing any descents. I kept waiting for the bullet Andrew Lee to fly by, but he didn’t. It wasn’t until mile 45 when I was wrapped up by the Tommy and Mike Brown train, along with Kenny Rodriguez and Andrew. Hmmmm… Go figure. The four guys I went to dinner with. I was more spent than I wanted to be so I sat in, which fired up Andrew, so they punished me. The gap was significant, and it took me pushing 350+ watts for about 5 miles before I settled in. Then I got to hear their lectures about sitting in.

There was more painful climbs, but we ended up soft pedaling in together. Andrew is always up for a win though, so he let the rest of us take a wrong turn as he turned into the hotel parking lot first for the stage win.

Here is the Strava link of my ride. I highly recommend this route.

Tomorrow is more climbing, and steeper grades.