Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tour of California - Track workout - Deliverance

Ah, it's been a good first half of the week for training and a good time to live in California.  Early May is Amgen Tour of California (AToC) season and a chance to see some of the world's best cyclists up close and in person.  With that in mind, on Monday I took the train North to San Francisco to watch the start of stage 2 and ride part of the course......and ride home...maybe.

The circus started under cloudy skys on a chilly Marina Green with fans crowded around the team RV's eagerly awaiting views of their cycling heros.  About 45 minutes before the 11:00 AM start the Hincapie's, Boonan's, Sagan's, Leipheimer's, Horner's and other thick-legged riders emerged to greet the assembled fan-arazzi and pick up their featherweight carbon fiber steeds.

It's pretty cool to mingle this closely with the top riders in the sport but I'm sure that's partly due to the presence of a few hundred fans............not a few hundred thousand.  Like the rest of the adoring crowd I snapped the requisite photos and had a serious bout of bicycle-envy before riding out to the course to get some action photos.

10 minutes before the race start fellow Iron Data Thirsty Bear Cycling Team members Hans Gouwens, Phil Hynes, Tanya Fredricks and I sped off to the Legion of Honor to stake out a good viewing spot.  Soon after our arrival the entourage arrived astride motorcycles, cars, trucks, vans and bicycle.  First cops, then VIP cars, race officials, race referees, more cops, 75 BICYCLE RACERS, more officials, more referees, teams cars, ambulances, "broom wagons", sweep vehicles and finally......cops.  As the final vehicle passed a course marshall jumped into a nearby van, yelled "see you next year" and drove off in pursuit of America's largest cycling circus.

Well then, that was exciting.  From there Hans, Tanya, Phil and I followed the course South onto Rt. 1 along the far West edge of San Francisco.  Near the Zoo we picked up fellow teammate Duane Coughlin and continued down what is frankly not a very nice road for cycling.  Ok yes, it has a shoulder but for all intents and purposes Rt. 1 is a highway with cars zipping past at 55+ mph.  In San Bruno the team turned East while I continued South for another 40 miles of riding back to Mountain View.  Just about the time I was going to completely disavow bicycle riding in or near San Francisco the entrance to paradise - a separated bicycle path appeared - the Crystal Springs Regional Trail.  From there is was a decidedly more pleasant ride home.  Monday DONE!

Originally planned to ride down to San Jose to watch stage 3 of the Amgen Tour of California but after Monday's 65 mile all day excursion I thought it would be best to get back to running training.  I kicked off the day with an easy 8 mile run along the Bay Trail after dropping Kelly off at her place of employment.

In the evening I met up with Jon Kimura, his Lockheed co-workers and my NB Excelsior team-mates Dan Rhodes & Andy Crawford for our weekly track workout.  It was pretty uneventful and typically painful - four sets of 200, 200, 400 with full rest.  Also typical was the running order - Lockheed out front, then young Andy, then me with Dan bringing up the rear.  The Lockheed guys have all been training hard for the track season since December while us old, road racing Excelsior guys were there to grow some fast-twitch muscle fibers.  Success is just showing up and suffering.  Mission accomplished.  Tuesday DONE.

Wednesday is usually the peanut butter & jelly in my speed (Tuesday) and hill work (Thursday) sandwich.  That is to say I usually take it easy and run and/or ride long.  Today I did keep the effort level low but went out into the hills in search of shade and elevation gain for the Strive for the Summit Challenge.  A world away from Silicon Valley but only 5 miles distant lies Redwood Gulch Road.  Looking like a shooting location from Deliverance, Redwood Gulch rises up from a deep wooded valley created by the San Andreas Fault and is known only to cyclists, runners and marijuana growers.  It was here where I started my 12 mile road / trail run that covered 2600' of vertical climb and descent.  Except for the descent on busy Rt. 9 it was a quiet run with not another soul to be seen.  Which was a good thing cause I ain't partial to squealing like a piggy.