Earlier in the week N proposed a training ride, a Lake Loop, about 65 miles from home and back, and while neither of us have the fitness of our fellow riders, we opted in. We need the training.
So we rode around the block to N’s house and convinced her to ride to the meeting place. A & J rode there (they live close by), and M did as well (he’s on the other side of the valley from us), and R drove to the meet-up.
It was about 48* and sunny and calm when we left. We mostly ride this route in any season but summer (if we ride it then we leave by 7 a.m. at the latest). People in huge pick-ups and campers, hauling boats, frequent these twisty, narrow mountain roads to Lake Berryessa, and we cyclists are disabused of the poor driving skills of some of them. We were passed by a few vehicles hauling boats, but mostly by people going from Point A – Point B, and a predictable number of motorcyclists enjoying the day, as were we.
So we start off, fairly flat, hit some rollers, get into the Gordon Valley rollers and I’m falling off the back. Chris is ahead of me until a hill, when I spin past him, but I can’t get the rest of them. Frustrating. But not demoralizing. We have plenty of regroups before we hit Wooden Valley Rd. There, M & C turned left to make a shorter ride (45 for Chris, more for M because he climbed Twin Sisters).
It’s a pretty road with a considerable amount of climbing. Because of recent rains and seasonal temps it’s cool, damp, smelling fresh, and the mustard is brilliant on hillsides and between the rows of grapevines. The hills are green, and it’s just beautiful. As I’m pedaling along my mind wanders (as it is wont to do). As I’m climbing the Gordon Valley rollers, with Suisun Valley creek burbling on my right, I realize that I’ve been phoning it in, half-assing it, slacking on being accountable for my health & fitness, ignoring discipline and structure. And I’m tired of it.
Once we climbed to the T-intersection of Wooden Valley Rd. and Hwy. 121, and made the right into more climbing (and some seriously steep pitches) my legs & upper torso were on fire. More than once I considered walking, or worse, calling Chris for a ride. I kept pedaling, A, N, and R ahead. A & R &I ride together for a while. Wooden Valley Creek is full and flowing, a lovely sight, and not enough to take my mind off the pain in my legs and lungs. From Wooden Valley Rd., 121 is a bear of a climb, unrelenting, teasing you with false flats (6% gradient after a 10%, then 12% before you know it). The road is fine, the scenery beautiful, old oaks with Spanish moss hanging off their branches, rocks and trees bright green with velvety moss, green grass and mustard here and there. To climb this road and maintain focus meant that the pretty parts were just things I noticed, not my focus.
At the top J joined us, coming the opposite way with a group he’d latched onto. He’s one monster-strong rider. He climbed Cardiac 1-½ times when he found us. Then he rode Lanterne Rouge, pushed and pulled and cheerleader as needed for the rest of the ride. He and A are solid, good, people. He will never drop or leave anyone behind, and he’s honest, hardworking, and quick to encourage people who need it.
So we managed 121, briefly stopped at the 121/128 Junction, and kept riding. Cardiac separated some of us; I’ve done it so many times on half-bikes and tandems that I wasn’t it Granny as I spun up the hill. I saw & smelled manzanita on the road side; so pretty!
We stopped at Markley Cove for water, the dam for photo ops, and didn’t stop again until we reached Orchard School. N & I had 3+ miles — with hills — to get home. R offered a ride and we accepted.
Toughest ride I’ve done in a long time. I’m proud that I stuck it out and didn’t cave to my inner wussy that encouraged me to stop. I’m happy that I kept going and finished. This confidence-booster will help with racing & training.
And the redbuds are beginning to flower. Perfect time for this ride.