This is my second year riding the Rapha Festive 500 (last year’s blog entry). Everything I said last year still stands: the riding is the easy part, it is everything else that makes it hard. This time around, I was able to ride the Festive in a number of different places, but regardless of location, wind and cold were in abundance. This year also started after approximately two months off the bike, in which time I was busy teaching myself Node.js, so I left my heart rate monitor at home so I could ignore the elevated numbers starting out, knowing they would settle down by the challenge end.
I started in Huntington Beach riding down the coast to Laguna (when the bike lane ran out) and then back up. Most of this route I discovered on a shop ride with Surf City Cyclery a while back and just added to it.
Next up was Calabasas. It would seem at first blush that maybe the Pedalers Fork, a nice restaurant and bike shop, might have something going on, but their website only talked about a Tuesday ride and none of the days I had left in Calabasas were a Tuesday. Other shops either had nebulous ride info or MTB rides (I am certainly considering bringing my MTB next time for a spin with JRA Bikes & Brew). No matter, a quick search of activities in Calabasas on Strava showed me a number of routes. Scott Goldman seemed to have some good things going so I borrowed part of his route. It was late on Christmas eve, so I only got in a twenty mile out and back to Westlake and back following the 101.
The next day I was up for some real riding and ready to explore. The Rock Store climb seemed to be a thing “everyone had to do,” so again on Strava I mapped out a forty-five miler that took me out Mulholland, up that climb and then around Westlake and back. It was a great route–wide roads and little traffic–although my climbing speed seemed a bit off. I probably want to come back in the summer and tackle that when I am in better form and see what I can do with it.
My last day in Calabasas I needed to clock in some miles without taking all day. So, I went east into the San Fernando Valley all the way to Van Nuys following the Orange Bus line trail for a portion. It is a nice trail, but the traffic lights seemed to take forever to change even when there was no cross traffic.
Back in my own neck of the woods and back to work, I spent Sunday and Monday nights doing a local flat four mile loop in wind and cold for another seventy five miles. Those laps made me miss my turbo trainer.
With just a hint over eighty miles go to, I wanted to end the Festive 500 with a bang and collect one more Strava Gran Fondo, so I took the 30th off from the bike and took the 31st off from work and went for a ride in the Santa Cruz Mountains with my friend Dave. It was cold and we got a late start at 11:00am after some mechanical difficulties. Lucky for us, those were the only mechanical issues we had all day and the bikes performed flawlessly. Dave is really a climber at heart, so we had to have enough of that in the mix to make it worth his while. So we did 8200 ft of climbing to go with our 82 miles in six hours. We did country roads, pine forests, dark canyons and sunny peaks with views to the ocean. As usual, we hardly stopped and got in just as the sun set.
In all of that riding, there were only two events of note. At about 75 miles into the last ride, a deer ran across the road right in front of me. Dave was behind me and from his perspective it looked like a close call. From my perspective, it seemed fine, provided the deer kept traveling across the road and didn’t decide to stop and go back the way it came (Dave assured me this was just as likely a possibility when it came to deer). Then about a mile later, as we traveled single file through a long flat right hand bend on Hicks just before Camden, an SUV driving in the opposite direction traveling between fifty and sixty miles an hour, tires squealing and already more than half way over the double yellow, headed straight for us. I just remember headlights and holding my line and he went by me with less than a foot to spare. I looked back to see Dave still upright and cussed quite liberally in front of a church. I have no doubt that had I had any contact with that SUV at that speed, well…I would rather not think about it.
So ends another year of cycling.