Lorri and I climbed Mt. Diablo yesterday, 3:10 total (I forget how long to the top). It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting, although there were a fair number of steeper grades (10-13%) on the path from the junction to the summit, and the last 200 meters were, as promised, extremely steep. I was doing OK until I briefly lost control of the bike and had to put my foot down to regain balance. There was no way of restarting on a hill that steep (and I was NOT about to go down to the bottom to start over), so I hiked the rest of the way. Clip-clop, clip-clop. I’m sure my cleats appreciated it.
Anyway, Diablo wasn’t that bad, so I’ll happily add it to the rest of the curriculum. It looks like a three-hour round trip, so if I have to get in six hilly hours someday I’ll just go up it twice. (I may skip the last 200 meters to the summit.)
Today was slated to be a mellow road ride of about two hours, but I was feeling pretty good and chose a moderately hilly route, one of my favorites: up and over Mt. Eden and Pierce Road to Los Gatos for a cup of hot chocolate. But not just any hot chocolate, oh no! Fleur de Cocoa has the best hot chocolate on the planet. They make it with a thick, rich ganache, and top it with a dollop of dense, lightly cultured whipped cream – it has a rich, almost nutty taste to it, and melting into a cup of warm chocolate-with-cream, it’s wonderful. Well worth a 40-mile bike ride.
I started out from The Bicycle Outfitter in Los Altos, where I stopped in looking at cycling shorts. Lorri and I had tried swapping out my Terry Butterfly saddle for a Specialized saddle to see if that helped with the butt pain. That didn’t work – same problem as before. Lorri recommended standing out of the saddle frequently, even for just a few pedal strokes, and that seemed to help a lot. She also recommended that I look into new cycling shorts, as mine are all about six years old.
I tried on a couple pairs of cycling shorts and discovered almost immediately that I’ve been riding with shorts that are a size too large! Size Small fit me just fine and gave me better compression around the legs; the medium were a trifle loose. I happily bought two pairs of size S SheBeest Elite shorts (designed for long-distance riders, they have fairly thick , dense padding in the chamois), and changed into one of them in the bathroom.
Wow! HUGE difference. Much more comfortable, much easier riding. I’ll definitely be using the new shorts for my long-distance rides. I’m glad I tried getting new shorts.
Anyway, I got out of The Bicycle Outfitter, and rode down Foothill to Mt. Eden Road. Along the way, I noticed that I was barely noticing all the little rolling hills that had tired me out a year or so ago. When I got to Mt. Eden Road, a hill I had considered difficult in the past, I powered on up it without particular effort – it wasn’t any worse than Mt. Hamilton, and it’s a ten-minute ascent, not a three-hour one. Pierce Road was still steep – it’s a 13-18% grade, which is nothing to sneeze at – but I went up it pretty well, and didn’t feel any need to rest at the top. I’ve definitely come a LOOOONG way in my training. Even if I don’t finish all five passes (and I still very much intend to), I’m still in the best physical condition I’ve ever been in. And my cycling strength has improved enormously.
Anyway, I coasted downhill (okay, up and over a few rollers) into Los Gatos, and had a cup of that marvelous hot chocolate and a tasty key lime-white chocolate mousse with a genoise bottom, topped with a raspberry and a small square of dark chocolate. It tasted all the sweeter knowing I was going to pay for it on the way back (all that fat is not exactly good cycling nutrition). Fleur de Cocoa (on Santa Cruz Street in Los Gatos) boasts a pastry chef who has taken medals in the World Pastry Olympics – their pastries are as good as I’ve tasted anywhere, with the possible exception of The French Laundry. (Actually my truffles are better than the truffles at The French Laundry, a fact that gives me great pride. But I digress.) If you’re in Los Gatos, it’s well worth a trip to see them.
I decided to go back the hilly way, up the back side of Mt. Eden, which is appallingly steep for a fair distance. (Another of those 13-18% grade sections, except longer than on Pierce Road.) I didn’t exactly power up it, but I didn’t stop either, and I spotted two other cyclists stopping to rest on the way up. It wasn’t any worse than some of the steep sections of Mt. Diablo, and I made my way up without much difficulty (albeit with a bit of heavy breathing). In the past, I’d avoided that section of Mt. Eden Road because of the steepness, going back the longer-but-flatter way around. I’m glad to see that I’m up to riding it now.
Total today was 2.5 hours, 2500′ of climbing. It was supposed to be an easy road ride, but I felt well-recovered enough to push the pace a little. It’s been a long week, but I feel almost as good as when I started this training intensive. And I’m definitely WAY stronger than I’ve ever been in the past, even right after doing the AIDS Ride.
Enough! Off to dinner.