Sunday, September 6, 2009

Final Waves to Wine Training Rides

One week to go to the Waves to Wine ride 2009, so it's time for the final training ride(s). Since we have to ride Saturday and Sunday, we'll emulate that this weekend, however hard it might be to get on the bike on Sunday.

It also happened to be our 27th wedding anniversary on the Friday, so Jenny decided that we should go for a night at Half Moon Bay and then ride the coast on Saturday. We stayed at the Old Thyme Inn, a nice B&B on Main St and had a great dinner at the Crab Landing, a new restaurant up at Princeton, near the site of the famous Mavericks surf break.

We fixed on a 10:00 start, just in case anyone else on the Sun team wanted to come over the hill to join us, but there were no takers. So after a late breakfast of pancakes, we were ready to hit the road. It wasn't especially easy to find a place to park all day in Half Moon Bay, as everywhere seems to be limited to two hours with the threat of being towed. Eventually we fixed on a shopping center parking lot where the only limit was no overnight and no commuter parking. I figured we just about met those conditions.

The weather was still cloudy, as is typical for the time of year, as we warmed up on the easy rollers towards the Tunitas Creek turn-off. Then up the first climb to the junction with Stage Rd where we had a decision to make; to continue on the Hwy 1 down the coast, or go inland. Since it was still cloudy at the coast and would be hotter inland in the afternoon, we chose the latter and headed down Stage Rd to San Gregorio village and the left on 84 towards Old La Honda. We stopped at Sullivan's bar to top up the drink supply (the market has closed) and then retraced our tracks back to the turn off to Pescadero. Stopped to help a rider who had broke her chain, except that it turned out that we were missing a key part of the chain tool. A timely reminder to fix that and also carry some SRAM PowerLink chain links for quick repairs.

Next up is the longest climb of the ride, Haskins, which climbs to 1100' and has some 8-10% segments. We are pretty well warmed up and do a pretty good job on it, then we get the bonus of the long downhill into Le Mar. While there were quite a lot of cars on the way up, we are blessed by a complete absence of cars on the descent. Nice cruise into Pescadero, a few rollers, but the usual mild headwind on the final run in. Another decision point; lunch now or after doing the Gazos Creek loop? Since we are halfway in miles and it's 1pm, we opt for lunch now.

The sun's out and its a beautiful day in Pescadero, and there is live music in the garden at the Deli, which is a truly wonderful place to stop. Inside and outside seating, and a brick pizza oven. Today's band is "Saxyman and the Ladds" who, just as we are leaving, start into one of my all-time favorite tracks, The Weight by the Band, so we have to stay a bit longer.

I pulled into Nazareth
Was feelin’ about half past dead
I just need some place
where I can lay my head
‘Hey, Mister can you tell me
where a man might find a bed?’
He just grinned and shook my hand
And ‘no’ was all he said.

Retracing a bit, we pick up Cloverdale Rd that heads out on the inland route to Gazos Creek passing Butano State Park along the way. It's the hottest segment yet as there is no shade on the first section and the sun is full out. It gets shadier on the final run in to Gazos Creek and you can feel the cool coastal air. Gazos Creek State Beach has nice views with a portable reset room so we usually stop there even it means crossing the road. Now we get the trade off for going inland early as there is now a headwind back to Pescadero on Hwy 1, and we take about a 5mph hit to our usual pace. There's a fair amount of traffic but a decent shoulder. As we reach Pescadero State beach the clouds are advancing south and that coupled with the traffic makes continuing on Hwy 1 less attractive, so we turn inland back to Pescadero village and take Stage Rd to San Gregorio. This route has more climbing but, hey, it's a training ride! On this stretch Jenny suggests we hit the coffee shop then the beach and then Sam's Chowder restaurant to round out the day, which seems like a great idea to me.

We pass the ranch with the iron warrior where, as usual, sheepdogs are being trained in the field adjacent to the road. Several tourists have stopped to watch the show. I guess it's pretty novel to many but having grown up in the UK, not so to us. We stop at San Gregorio store for more Gatorade for the final push, and as usual, there is large crowd enjoying a drink from the bar, including Saxyman himself, but without the Ladds!

One more grind up Stage Rd, where Jenny and I practice standing together, which is quite tricky on a tandem, especially the da Vinci with it's independent coasting, where being in sync is not enforced. Then the fastest descent of the day down to Tunitas Creek where we hit 43mph. A few rollers and we are soon back in Half Moon Bay, where the weather is deteriorating and it is starting to drizzle as we pull into the parking lot. So we decide the beach isn't such a great idea and decide to skip the coffee shop and head straight for chowder after a change of clothes. Unfortunately, Sam's Chowder shop is right on Hwy 1 and thousands of other people seem to have to same idea. So we push onto Princeton to see how busy it is as Barbara's Fish Shack. I'm expecting a zoo but, amazingly, there's no line and we get a table immediately. The fact that you actually have to turn off the highway probably helps, but our timing was good as by the time we are done, the wait is 45 minutes.

It's really drizzling now and the roads are quite wet. Hard to believe that in just a few miles east of here the sun will still be shining, as indeed it is as we crest Hwy 92 and return home via 280.

Saturday ride stats:

Distance: 69 miles
Ride time: 6:49
On bike time: 5:23
Total Climb: 3705'

I'm feeling pretty pooped on Saturday evening and wonder whether I'll be feeling like getting on the bike in the morning. However, an early night seems to do the trick and I'm feeling pretty good, with just a slightly stiff left shoulder, which is not unusual after a tandem ride. The extra force needed to control the front wheel of a tandem puts quite a bit more strain on the upper body.

We decide to do the ride up to Canada Road with a stop at Woodside bakery on the return leg. We hit the road at 9:30 and take the Page Mill/Arastradero option to Portola Valley, past the newly christened Palo Alto University, where our eldest son starts a Ph.D in Clinical Psychology next week. It's a beautiful day and the clouds that were pushing in so strongly last night have all disappeared. Lots of riders are out on the Portola Valley loop as usual. As it's Sunday, the upper section of Canada Rd is closed for Bike Sunday. So no cars, but inline skaters, kindergarteners on bikes with training wheels, etc., make it slightly tricky. Indeed, on the return leg, with the entire road to play with, we see a teenage boy run off the edge of the road and somersault into the ditch. He seems ok, thank goodness and has plenty of help.

We practice our standing some more on the final rollers before the final descent into Woodside. I'm feeling pretty strong now which is a good sign for next week; I guess all the double centuries have helped. Jenny is hanging in there well, but beginning to feel a little saddle sore. The reward is stopping at the Woodside Bakery and sharing a guilt-free Neapolitan slice!

One more climb over Sand Hill and then back through Stanford to home.

Sunday ride stats:

Distance: 36 miles
Ride time: 3:10
On bike time: 2:43
Total Climb: 1697'

So a total of 105 miles and 5400' for the weekend. I think we are in good shape to actually enjoy next weekend's ride!

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