Sunday, December 7, 2008

Three bears are not better than one

Have I mentioned recently that I don't like being cold? Be prepared for me to whine about mention it frequently if this weather keeps up. I thought I was prepared for cold weather cycling but I was sadly mistaken.

Saturday morning I started getting ready for our ride and realized that my cycling tights were too big. This would normally make me happy since usually I realize my clothes have gotten too small. But they were my only long pants for cycling and I knew it was going to be a chilly ride. I put on my knickers, two tops and a jacket and hoped for the best.

Before our ride we had a clinic on nutrition yawn zzzzzzzzz. Oh, sorry. Since this is, by a conservative estimate, my gazillionth nutrition clinic I tend to stand at the back of the crowd and only pay attention when the speaker says something I find either erroneous or ridiculous or hilariously outdated. Why yes I am critical, thank you for asking! While during the tri season I was impatient for our clinics to end because it was getting hotter and hotter, yesterday I was impatient because I was getting colder and colder.

By the time we got on our bikes the fog had mostly cleared away, the sun was coming through hazy skies and it had warmed up to the mid-40's. Unfortunately by then my toes and fingers were already cold. I had glove liners and ear warmers and a buff for my neck but my toes were only covered by a thin pair of socks and my aerated cycling shoes.

I stayed with the same group I've been with the past weeks and this week we numbered about 15; way too big to stay together for long. I started in the front, knowing I was faster than some but I'd be slow on the upcoming hills. The Three Bears, to be exact.

This is a very famous cycling route in the Bay Area; almost every cyclist knows where it is and what the hills are like. I've ridden it before but not for at least 12 years so I've forgotten everything about it except that the hills are long and cruel. I had also forgotten how remote and beautiful it is. Part of the road is busy main street, part is back road with cows and farms and fields. And hills. Long, literally breathtaking hills.Even before we got to Mama Bear I was in my granny, my very lowest gear. We had a headwind and that wasn't helping, but mostly I'm just a wuss and not great (yet?) on hills. While I love my new bike, the old one had just a little lower gear that I miss. The lightness and responsiveness of the new bike makes up for that going uphill, but just barely. I pedaled up Mama and got slower and slower and tried to relax and even out my breathing and ohgoodlord can I stop yet? I made it to the top where we had our sag stop and was delighted to take a break, although I didn't stop long because my climb induced heat rapidly dissipated in the cold.

The downhill was interesting. On my old bike my top speed ever was 40 or maybe 41 mph, on a long straight downhill. On this bike I'm having trouble holding the bike straight on the same type of downhill when I was only in the mid-20s. I felt every crosswind, every bump in the road, and felt just a little out of control. Hello carbon fiber! Everything I love about the bike on the flats came back to kick me in the ass on the downhills; the lightness and responsiveness. I was right when I said it was too much bike for me, but I'll get better (oh yes I will!) and it'll be fine.

As it was, I managed upper 20's on the way down Mama. Very little flat riding then howdy Papa Bear. Holy hell climb Batman! I ended up treating that 6 hour climb (that's subjectively, it really only took about 15 minutes) as if it was a marathon. I went light post to fence post, telling myself I could stop at the next one if I needed to and take a break. I told myself to relax my shoulders, relax my face, relax my breathing. Then I'd tighten up again and have to tell myself all that all over again. And again. A few guys passed me and made comments and I tried to respond but I didn't have the energy or breath.

By the time I got to the top I was literally going about 3 mph. I was never able to hold the old bike upright going that slowly so this bike is an improvement. I took a break at the top of Papa Bear to look at the scenery (that's my story and I'm stickin' to it!), then took off on another screaming downhill.

This one wasn't quite as straight as going down Mama; I couldn't see as far and I worried about careening around a corner and flying into a ditch. Nevertheless I hit just over 30 mph so I was definitely testing my limits. My brakes got quite a workout though.

It was mostly downhill from there except for one treacherously steep uphill just before the main road. An unexpected short wall that took every last bit of effort I had to get up. The ride back down the main road was a flat delight compared to the previous hills and it was great to get my frozen toes and fingers back to my car.

Unfortunately our team had two people fall, badly enough that there were two 911 calls. Double unfortunately, one of them was our head coach. We were told that they were both ok and I'm hoping that's really true; "ok" is relative. "Ok" could mean just a separated shoulder, or "ok" could mean only a bit of roadrash, or "ok" could mean conscious and no spinal injury. Until I hear more I'm going to assume that "ok" means the 911 calls were only just in case and the neck brace and backboard were only routine and that "ok" indeed means fine and dandy.

I think we were all shook up by the sight of our teammates and coach in the road and we saw them at the very beginning of our ride. Hopefully this will teach us all to be more careful, to be better about riding in a crowd or a paceline, to notice where we're going and point out obstacles to those behind us and not get too close to those next to or in front of us until we're more experienced and better riders. I'm hoping this won't happen again this season!

After the ride I took a nap. A long nap. Then I got up and knit a hat for a while, did some house stuff, finished knitting the hat, read a while, starting knitting mitts with the leftover hat yarn, read some more, went to bed. Didn't get any errands run but oh well, can't do everything.

This morning I met Bree at the Rudgear Park & Ride and man oh man it was cold! Even though we didn't get on the bikes until after 8:30 it was cold and foggy and never improved or warmed up. We considered blowing off the ride and going for bacon and coffee instead, but did the right thing and headed out. We had intended to ride about 30 miles but we never warmed up and indeed, I completely lost all feeling in my feet and hands. We turned around after less than 9 miles and called it a day with under 18 miles.

No joke, it took the toes on my left foot about 2 hours before I could feel them again. I was getting scared that I had frostbite, but it wasn't literally freezing out, just 40 degrees, so I didn't think that was possible. You have to have freezing temps to freeze, don't you? Hypothermic yes, freezing no. I think.

Since the coupon we had gotten from the Team for Sports Basement expired today, Bree and I decided to go shopping and get some warm stuff for future rides. Heh. Think of when you go grocery shopping while hungry and buy way too much food, unhealthy food, impulse food. That's what it's like going shopping for gear when you're frozen. Cycling tights: check. Shoe covers: check. Warm fuzzy pants: check. Uggs: not so check, they didn't have any I loved and I couldn't rationalize buying very expensive (fuzzy warm) boots just because I was frozen. Anyway, I couldn't tell whether they fit since I couldn't feel my feet.

Afterward I spent time with my mom, doing mom things. I then dragged myself to the hardware store to buy fluorescent tubes to replace the flickering ones in my bathroom, knowing I had to change them today while it was light out. Can't change a light bulb in a dark room and it's dark when I leave for work and dark when I return. I came home, changed the bulb, did some laundry, took a nap.

I finally warmed up too!

1 comment:

  1. Gotta love the bears. The worse is Goldilocks after all the bears because she is steep and you really don't want to climb anymore. I hope Coach Cyd is okay. Great job Amy! I was gonna say get toe covers, but you got that check now!