With the dust from ‘cross settling it seemed appropriate to carry Dan's momentum (thank you!) to the slightly less muddy discipline that is road racing, and maybe a little bit of track too. Think of it like an internet relay race of sorts.
To start with a quick history lesson, I first met Jeremy & Julie back at the Tour of California in 2013. I was riding down to Santa Cruz to meet up with Garrett Chow (if you look closely you can spot me HERE) and on arrival I found them sitting on his couch along with another good friend, John Watson. The next day we were all riding up and over the Santa Cruz mountains to get to the San Jose TT stage when we were turned around by a few locals running what we could only presumed was a grow operation. Their dogs and the "not another soul for miles in any direction" vibe made heeding their orders a no-brainer. We got to Morgan Hill in time to watch the last two riders off the start ramp before heading to the van and back to Santa Cruz. And just like that, friends for life.
Now, let's fast forward to the winter of 2015/16. It has been an exceptionally horrid season, especially for the mildest of climates that can be found on the California coast. Being an ex-New-Englander, it only takes one or two years to forget about real weather. Basically 60 degrees in December is very easy to get used to. Also, I’m pretty sure it's been raining more in the past month than it has in the five plus years I’ve been living here in San Francisco. There’s a chill in the air that for some reason makes 47 degrees so much worse than it actually is or should be. Needless to say I’ve been trying my damndest to barrel through it and get to the 2016 road season fit and (hopefully) fast and without injury or illness. So far so good.
Along with the weather a couple of other curve balls came my way this winter. Self inflicted of course, but worth noting nonetheless. At this time last year I was in a rather unfavorable position with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Quite a few ‘failures to appear’ certainly caught up with me before renewing my license. Needless to say I was working a lot to make up the costs for that. Three jobs a lot. A coffee shop, bar-backing and a catering gig here and there. With all that I managed to pay the state what I owed and am now in possession of a valid driver’s license but at the expense of my sanity (and fitness). I was lucky to get in six hours of training per week. Which is not enough for the Pro1/2 races here in Northern California, or anywhere for that matter. Save for a handful of results 2015 was a bit of a wash. All the more reason to look forward and get excited about this year.
I’ve started training with a power meter again as well as a coach. A whole new level of metrics and accountability can definitely give that extra kick in the morning to kit up and get out for a ride. A power meter is a beautiful thing, but brutal in its honesty. It’s kind of like looking at your checking account. It can go both ways. Good, bad, high and low. It can be a skill in and of itself to not let the numbers get to your head. Again, both ways. I have a power test coming up in my training schedule and I can tell you I am 100% not looking forward to it.
Writing this, I have already done my first race this season. While initially I was planning on racing the Cal Aggie Criterium up in Sacramento, I got wrangled on short notice to do a mountain bike race instead. I was hoping to see if if I could continue some moderate success in the P1/2s but nay, King of the Coast beckoned.
It might seem like a strange choice to kick off road season with a mountain bike race but it made perfect sense to me anyway. I’ve only recently discovered how rad mountain biking actually is. And I can promise you, I’m kicking myself for adopting it so late in the game. It has been an awesome way to mix up training and learn a thing or two about bike handling. That, and night riding.
King of the Coast started out right at the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge, which was great. Only about a 20-25 minute ride from my front door. That prospect alone sure beat the idea of driving four-ish hours to and from Sacramento. The amount of trail riding I’ve done up until this point in Marin County has been pretty limited. Little bit here, little bit there. We started out with a neutral roll out up the front side of Hawk Hill to a roundabout halfway up the climb. Then from there we went down the first part of Coastal trail and started to climb up again. It was at this point we got stuck in mud (all that rain I mentioned earlier) and a slight break in the group already formed. The climb up and over to Muir Beach is a fairly wide trail and this seemed to be the selection was made.
At least from what I could tell.
At one point I remember right at the bottom of the climb my friend Josh motored past like a bat outta hell and took five or six guys with him. Somehow Kyle got stuck in the group behind us and as soon as he caught us he was gone. This was the last I saw anyone in that group. And it was barely twenty minutes in. I settled into a group with my friend Brandon who was riding on his single speed MASH work bike. Single speed. He killed it. Flew down every descent getting rad, hitting jumps and I’m behind him hanging on for dear life on a Stumpjumper.
I could only catch him on the climbs because my low gearing was almost 1:1. The route pointed up again out of Muir Beach to the east peak of Mt. Tam, a quick descent on pavement to Pantoll Station followed by more descending of the Coastal View Trail, which is basically a real life postcard. And somewhere in that postcard I biffed it pretty good. A giant rut in the trail from all the “weather” snagged my front wheel from under me and I flew right into a bush. Got up just fine. An exciting detour no doubt. At this point I knew the final climb out of Muir Beach was a brute and was running low on water. Not the best prospect, but we’re almost done. I passed a few folks on the climb and rode the last thirty-ish minutes solo. What a day. I don’t know exactly what place I ended up, but I finished the course, all 48 miles and 7700+/- feet climbing in about 4 hours 15 minutes. A solid 45 minutes behind Kyle Murphy, who won. Oh, and he also raced at the Tour of San Luis. Brutal.
Next column I’ll talk more about the team I’ll be riding for, as well as those involved. First race is coming up next Saturday, plus three more in February and going to NAHBS. That’s about as far as I have planned. Really excited to be sharing this season with everyone!