August 8, 2004: Speed freaks
Romulus and I made plans this week for our first official post-Bonzai ride. I have to admit that I was a little concerned going into the ride that Bonzai's absence would somehow lessen my interest in riding. But Romulus was there to pick me up and we both realized that we love Bonzai but we also love biking.
We mounted up at the parking lot in the crotch of Higgins-Purissima Road and started climbing our way up to Skyline, a seemingly distant four miles away. We hadn't seen each other in a couple of weeks, so we were yakking away and the next thing I knew, we were at the top. It's always nice when the hills go by like that. On Skyline, we headed south towards the first El Corte Madera (Skeggs) trailhead. From there we noodled around Steam Donkey, Gordon Mill, Lawrence, and the other Skeggs standards.
The Skeggs hills never get easier in the sense that they are always going to inflict a certain amount of pain on you, no matter how bad-ass you are. The hills are just too steep and too plentiful to allow for any easy days here. That said, I feel that with all the rides we've done here this year (See July 4, 2004: A whirl of adrenaline and lactic acid and June 12, 2004: 20 miles and a Steam Donkey wake-up), I'm starting to build up my Skeggs tolerance. For example, today, while the hills hurt as much as they ever did, they didn't seem quite as long -- we're making progress.
I still don't know my way around this damn trails complex though. Every time we go there, I just rely on Romulus to guide us through. I really need to get my act together, because if I get to know the trails, then we can just flat bomb and I won't have to keep asking Romulus which way to turn at the trail intersections. For example, today, I was halfway down Steam Donkey before I even recognized it. This can be a fatal mistake on the SD as about halfway down is where the hairy shit starts and if you're just flying into that section of the trail unawares, well, you're going to have trouble. I escaped without incident today, but just barely. There were at least two times on the Donkey, that I was completely off-balance and way off-line, just hoping that I wouldn't hit a big rut or other obstacle because if I did, I was going to be on my ass in a Skeggs minute.
Today was a day for downhill speed. Romulus and I took turns riding point on the downhills and we were really smoking it. During a couple of the wild descents, my legs and arms started quivering because I was going so fast that I was borderline out of control. I'm not a downhiller, so some of today's runs had me looking for a clean chamois. Nowhere more so than on the last decent back to the car down Harkins Ridge Trail. This is a steep, steep trail that offers pretty sketchy traction. For one thing, it's so damn steep, it's just hard to hit the brakes without locking up the rear wheel. For another, the hard-packed sandstone is covered with a nice layer of sandy grit and baby heads, meaning you better stick to your line and be braking well in advance of where you actually need to slow down.
Romulus and I dueled the whole way down. First he was in the lead, carving the corners and fluffing up the dust. Then, about halfway down, I saw a place to go for it and passed him in a straightaway. From there, I held off his advances all the way to the bottom, but the cagey downhill man outfoxed me on the second-to-the-last turn and zipped past me for the stage win. Man that was fun!
I didn't make many of the technical uphills today, but I made a few and held my own on the long, uphill climbs. On one climb, Romulus and I successfully ran down a solo cyclist —a serious biker with about a 30-second head start, but maybe more of a downhiller— and absolutely crushed him on our power move back up to Skyline.
Both bikes ran great today, and my brake problems (See July 26, 2004: Bicycle maintenance, Cannonball style) seem to resolved. The brakes held up great and are the main reason I was able to stay within local-calling-area cell phone range of Romulus on the descents today. As I always say, you're only as fast as your brakes are strong. I did have a chainsuck incident today, my first since the double bummer in Skeggs last month (See July 4, 2004: A whirl of adrenaline and lactic acid). Treated this incident as a race drill, fixed the problem, and was back riding inside of four minutes. As I told Romulus, I'd rather not have to deal with it at all, but it's nice to know I have an action plan for when it does happen.
|Mileage: 27.08||Time: 3:21:54||Avg: 8.0||Max: 34.5||Weight: 171|
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