February 11, 2007: Home Field Advantage


A critical component of my living and riding happiness is having multiple routes available from my front door. No vehicle involved. This has been easier in some of the places I have lived (Flagstaff, AZ) than others (Midvale, UT). Living out on the Coastside, I am lucky enough to have multiple trail and road routes at my disposal.

Purissima Valley
Looking east up Purissima Valley

There are many great routes, but after several years, I've pretty much ridden them all hundreds of times (yes, some of them, I have literally ridden hundreds of times). This familiarity translates into a sense of home turf. I am both boastfully proud and jealously possessive of my home turf. "Coastside in the 6-5-0!"

Roughly sketched, my territory sprawls from Linda Mar-Pacifica south to the end of Gazos Creek Road and from the ocean to the 280. Of course, I can't cover the whole area every day or even every week, but over the course of a month or two, I make it to all four corners of my turf and most points in between.

Criss-crossing my territory, I am on the constant lookout for bogies -- any unknown cyclists that I happen upon. Every one I see, I gun for. It's not to show anybody up or to prove anything to anybody else. It's just to have fun. Can I catch that rider? Can I keep those riders from catching me? Can you stay with me on this climb? Can I match you when you make a move to drop me off your wheel? It's really, really fun.

And yeah, I guess you can add a little "this is my trail/road, if you're going to come in here, you better show me what you got" attitude, but no negative energy.

Unfortunately, I don't see nearly enough bogies. And when I do, it's usually a long train of hard-hammering lycrites whirring past me in the opposite direction. One of these days, I'm just going to abandon my route, latch on to the back of the train, and try to hold on for dear life.

Lonely Shadow
Sometimes Cannonball Territory is a lonely beat

Lately, I've been making contact with some of the bogies I come across. It's been pretty cool to talk and ride with different people out on the trail or road, get a sense of what they're all about on the bike and how they feel about the Coastside. I've met locals and tourists, duffers and studdettes. I have yet to meet the same person twice.

It's fun to imagine word getting out on the cycling grapevine that within the boundaries of the Coastside lurks the mysterious beast Cannonball, restlessly patrolling the local roads and trails looking for new cyclists to chase and bother. Enter at your own peril.

Or maybe it works the other way. Maybe bogies come to the Coastside hoping to find the weird guy in the red beard who latches on to your wheel on big climbs and won't shake loose no matter how many attacks you make. Like a gunslinger in the Old West, maybe it's me who'll have to constantly be looking over my shoulder for some kid in a Jelly Belly jersey on a carbon fiber Orbea looking to take down the Cannonball. That would be awesome.

I didn't get out the door until about 2:30 p.m. today, so I figured I probably wouldn't see any bogies. Roadies seem to be an early-to-bed, early-to-rise demographic for some reason. One theory I've heard is that roadies like to start early in the morning because there's fewer cars on the road in the morning. OK, that actually makes sense, but it doesn't make the hours between 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. any more agreeable.

The weather was much better today, so I decided to go with the Blade. The trails are still far too moist to ride, but I could have gone with the Hoo-E on the road. I went with the Blade for the training benefits of those bigger gears.

Without a real definitive route in mind, I headed south down the coastal bikepath to Half Moon Bay. In front of the fire station at the confluence of Higgins Road, Main Street, and Highway 1, I paused to watch a few cyclists making their way south down Highway 1.

Coming down the tourist-clogged coastal path, I had resolved to avoid Highway 1 this late Sunday afternoon for safety reasons. It just wasn't worth the risk. However, with bogies on the highway, I reconsidered.

It was tempting, but I determined that the bogies were not good enough to merit the risk of Highway 1. Reluctantly, I turned away and headed up Higgins Road.

I was feeling pretty good until I hit the Grapevine, a steep 1.2-km switchback climb and descent over the ridgeline separating Higgins Canyon from Purissima Valley. It's a short but ever-challenging climbing exercise.

The very first rise in the Grapevine hit me like a punch in the stomach. I felt like Michael Spinks in that 1988 Tyson fight. (Although I still contend Spinks pulled a Sonny Liston -- yeah, he got hit, but you have to admit, he went down pretty easily.)

I call it the "ice cream pain," because I can feel the ice cream I had last night hitting me right in the ole bread basket. The lack of situps the last two weeks was also acutely felt. As was the lack of SportLegs. Huge difference between the lactic acid lockup today and the blissful lack thereof last Sunday.

Dawdling south on Verde Road, trying to decide whether to take Lobitos Creek Road or the Lobitos Cut-off, I saw a bogie about halfway up the steep climb at the beginning of the cut-off. I jumped.

Ocean Farms Lobitos Road
Right out the front door
A stretch of Lobitos Creek Road

I made up a lot of ground on that climb, but I was only about three-quarters of the way up when he went over the top. Coming over the top, I saw him cruising downhill about 300 yards ahead of me. I pedaled hard and just we came to the Tunitas Creek Road junction, I caught him.

Wanting to see what he had, I held back a little. There was no response, so I came up to him and started talking. He was a mountain biker from Deadwood Shitty by way of Colorado, but he was out today on his road bike. We chuckled at the irony of two mountain bikers meeting on road bikes. His wife had dropped him off at Verde after a day of kayaking out of Pillar Point Harbor. He was riding his bike home.

I escorted him up Tunitas past my turnoff at Lobitos Creek Road to the upper shelf of the Tunitas climb. There I bid him adieu and hammered for home.

Didn't see another serious bikers the whole way home. The word must be out: this is Cannonball country.


Dist: 68.7 km Time: 2:58:37 Avg: 23.0 Max: 62.0 Wgt: 162.5

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