Ron and I embarked on an even more ambitious bike ride on Saturday, with fully 20% more distance (42 miles) and almost 50% more climbing (3,650 ft.) than last week’s triumphant procession.
One of the unstated themes of the ride was, “How well will Ron do, compared to last week?” Because Ron has always, always been faster than I am, overall, except for last week (when I did really well), but on the other hand, Ron hadn’t been on his bike very much in the last six months, until last week, and now he had a significant recent ride under his belt. What would happen?
We got off to an early start at 7:35 am, zipped through Sunland, over the pass, alongside the Tujunga Wash, and onto Big Tujunga Canyon. Everything seemed fine, but then, just as soon as we got into the parts that were even moderately hard, I noticed that my heart rate monitor was reading pretty high, and I wasn’t keeping up with Ron very easily at all. This was Not Good.
He and I traded off as leads on alternate legs, not by any plan, but just by one or the other of us naturally getting the upper hand. But it was never easy for me, not like last week. As we crossed the Tujunga Wash the second time and headed up the really hard part toward the dam overlook, about an hour into the ride, my legs felt weak, in a way that I’d only experienced before (when in shape) after a big rest stop in the middle of a 100-mile ride. I just felt exhausted.
I’m tempted to put it down to my breakfast: I’d had a big bowl of oatmeal and an egg, instead of the Clif Bar I’d had the week before. Or perhaps dinner the night before: a big chunk of brie, and half an apple — no fat there, to be sure. But it might simply have been that I hadn’t finished recovering from the week before, and of course, Industry Figure Tom Harvey says that some natural variability week-to-week is just to be expected.
Whatever the reason, Ron beat me to the dam overlook (he had been leading ever since we started the downhill that approached the second Wash crossing), but then I took the lead again as we climbed away to the first T-crossing where we intersect Angeles Forest Rd. And once again, after the break at the first T-crossing, Ron Traver stole ahead.
We toiled along, and after I came around a series of curves, Ron wasn’t there any more. The road at this point was mostly uphill, but with occasional downhills, and whoa, he must have really taken off down that downhill! We had talked about trying to get to Angeles Crest by 10:15, and he was going for it! I cranked up my effort until the heart rate monitor said 142 beats per minute, which I decided was about as much as I wanted to push things on a long ride. Occasionally I would hit longish straight sections, and…I couldn’t see Ron at all, he was that far ahead.
I pressed on, almost near tears, shocked that he could have gotten such a jump on me. The miles passed. And suddenly, there was Ron, coming from behind…”Ah, Tom, you’re killing me!”
Yeah, he had stopped to take some scenic photos, and I had passed him, and I hadn’t noticed his bike, hadn’t heard his call, just focused on chasing the ghost of Ron Traver as we sailed toward the Angeles Crest. And he had caught me! What an athlete!
Oh, we were tired after that, but on the other hand, we did make it to Angeles Crest by 10:15.
Here’s a photo Ron took of the road below, that we’d been on just minutes earlier:
And here are the rather nice pictures that caused us to race phantoms…
…or to race people who were racing phantoms:
Above is the dammed-up water (lower left), the road, and the dam overlook (above the rightmost part of the road) from where we took some pictures last week.
Ron graciously gave me his last Balance Bar at the top of Angeles Crest, and I had a good half hour to digest it as we sailed down to Memorial Park, where we had a quick break to refill our water bottles.
Here I am:
…and here is Ron, in front of the park’s iconic gazeebo:
We don’t know why Ron looks like an angry prospector here. He kind of shuddered when he saw this, and said, “Eh! I’ve never had any fun, and I don’t like it when other people do!”
We carried on down Verdugo, through beautiful downtown Montrose, and away on Honolulu Blvd. There was a brief, unpleasant climb on Honolulu as we approached La Tuna, and then a sweet, sweet downhill through the La Tuna pass, down to Sun Valley, I suppose, where we joined Sunland Blvd. for the long slog back to my house.
I imposed a pointless uphill on Ron at the last minute, which he surmounted graciously and without apparent effort, and we sailed home to another triumph on scenic (and horizontal) Day St., ending with a downhill on McVine Ave., just slightly less than 5 hours after we had started.
We showered, changed into street clothes, and went off for a delicious, and mostly virtuous, victory lunch at The Black Cow restaurant in Montrose, CA — it’s excellent, if you’ve never been there. Ron tried to broil me by asking for tables outside, but I did not broil, possibly because of consuming a glass or two of healing red wine. After the meal, both of us found it surprisingly hard to walk uphill to our cars. That’ll happen, if you’re immobile for long enough.
I was utterly exhausted, went home for a nap, woke up long enough to think about going to bed, and then went to bed and slept until 10:30 the next morning. Industry Figure Tom Harvey says that I should rejoice in my tiredness; a job well done. I received several e-mails from Ron Traver while I slept; he seemed much better off, the slacker.
On the other hand, “On the Internet, no one can tell if you’re really, really tired.”