My ride was closer to "Hammerin' the Conejo." The whole cruising part just didn't work out so well today. Not that you're really surprised.
The ride was a last-minute (but very welcome) addition to our training schedule. And to get it out of the way up front, I recommend this ride for anyone looking to see the Conejo Valley at its finest. The route is fairly easy for riders of all levels. We didn't do a ton of climbing, most of the ride was flat, the wind was moderate and the temperature never got hire than the upper 70s. The rest stops, course marking and organizers are first-rate. And as far as organized group rides in Southern California, I'd definitely put it ahead of the Cool Breeze Century in Ventura.
David, my teammate and friend (and sports massage therapist) and I chose the 68-mile "moderate" metric century, which would take us from Newbury Park to Westlake, into Oxnard, Camarillo, through Moorpark and my hometown of Simi Valley and back to Thousand Oaks/Newbury Park. The climbing was moderate, but the pace was not.
We started the ride at 8 knowing we needed to be back in Los Angeles by 2 p.m. since David had a massage client at 3:30. We knew we'd make our deadline if we were efficient on the bike. Had we not had places to be and things to do, I think today's ride would have been a lot more mellow. That, and David had a friend, John, who joined us. John was a big guy who, in David's words, "liked to go fast." I didn't realize how fast until we quickly lost at least three packs of riders on the course with us.
In fact, literally not one person passed all three of us for an extended period. And, of course, my competitive side coming out BIG-TIME, absolutely nobody passed me on the course during my ride. Once we realized we were among the best cyclists on the course, David, John and I made a friendly gentlemen's pact that nobody would pass us. All day. My kind of challenge. Our piss-and-vinegar approach manifested itself the most during a roughly 10-mile stretch on Las Posas Road coming from Camarillo into Moorpark. We formed a pace line and seriously hammered. Coach Gerardo will see this soon enough via my Garmin 310x data, but let me just note up front I spent way more time than I should have in zone 5 on the heart-rate monitor. I was in a cycling trance today. That's the only way to describe it. When I expressed my concern to David that maybe we were pushing too hard, he calmly noted that "it's good to get in a little speed work every once in a while."
Noted. And check.
We took the pedal off the metal in Moorpark and into Simi Valley, where I had a visitor pop by to say hello: My father. He met us on the same road I used to bike as a kid with a Haro mountain bike when I'd gather the nerve to venture from Simi into the next time. I remember vividly those afternoons with Frank and Jeremy, when we'd think we were practically like Magellan wondering if the world was indeed flat. What's beyond the next town? What if we don't make it back by dark? What if we get a flat tire? Oh, the excitement! Oh, how it was only 13 miles yet felt like 68.
Oh, how nice it was to ride on that road again for the first time in 20 years and think about how far I've come, and how lucky I was to be able to enjoy such a moment with my dad.
After Dad left, we ambled up Olsen Road and battled a headwind before rallying for the last stretch down Thousand Oaks Boulevard and onto Hillcrest Drive. One rider in an Amgen kit tried to stay with John and me. I was having none of it. Not that far into the ride without having anyone pass. This guy tried to pass me twice and on both occasions I floored it, the second time looking directly at him, smiling and saying "nice push" before dusting him the final two miles into the parking lot.
We rode 68 miles in just about 3:46, or an 18 mph pace. We were on our road bikes since it was a group ride, so I'm very eager to give my TT bike a go and see if I can improve upon that, minus the elevated heart-rate.
I know I need to curb this competitive fire right now. I've got so many more months of training and it's all about pacing and patience.
But I just couldn't help myself today. Fortunately, there were some great recovery tools available at the end of the race...err...tour. I was stretched out by a chiropractor truck and then David, John and I were treated to electro-therapy for 15 minutes to restore blood flow to our aching leg muscles. What a trip! My legs looked like they had a mind of their own the way they were dancing from all the electricity pulsating through them. But I can say it worked. My legs feel fine, and I can also partially attribute that to the 2XU compression calf sleeves I wore on the ride. I can definitely tell a difference now when I wear them in terms of recovery and stability in my legs. It might be a little mental (hey, so am I!), but I swear the compression tech works.
It had better. I've got a swim with the LA Tri Club tomorrow along with a 1.75 hour running session. I will have to take it a little easy on the run, I'm sure.
Unless someone faster tries to pass me.
Just kidding, Gerardo. Kind of.
201 days and counting.