April 10, 2005: Sea Otter on the horizon

It's Sea Otter minus seven days, time for Romulus and I to get our last serious training ride in before race day. Today's focus: hills and technical skills. Where else would we go for such curriculum? Where else but Skeggs.

Low bridge for the big man
Not made of styrofoam
To the Bat Wash!

Riding with Romulus on the weekends means getting up early, brutally early for me. As with Bonzai, I understand the responsibilities that Romulus has as a father of two small children, so I am willing to meet the dawn with courage. It's worth it to ride with Rom. I'd meet him at 5:00 AM if I had to.

Today's wakeup was 6:30 AM for a 7:15 AM rendevous at the Skeggs Point parking lot. We would have started early no matter what, but we started even earlier today so that we could both get home in time to watch the final round of the Masters. Although, as we prepped the bikes in the parking lot, Romulus informed me that Tiger already had a three-stroke lead! It's over.

It last rained two days ago, and we fully expected the trails to be liquid dirt. They were. Romulus brought his fenders, and once again, they were a godsend. Again I wonder, how the hell did I ride in the mud all last winter without these things? I can't even do a pavement ride with the barest hint of moisture without a fender any more these days.

7:00 AM is a great time on Skyline Road, a ribbon of pavement meandering across the apex of the coastal cordillera, alternately offering spectacular views of the Bay and coast. No cars or cyclists out at this time. The windy, mountain road was all mine to make full use of as I weaved back and forth across the yellow line in a groggy, early morning stupor.

Damn, it was butt-ass cold this morning. Especially on the Skeggs trails, which face the west and don't get a lot of morning sun. A couple of uphill pulls though and we had a thick lather going. A freaking beautiful day today. A little hazy, with a chill breeze, but sunny and clear. Colors vibrant, life good.

Skeggs is Skeggs. The downhills are exhilirating plunges into the depths of the earth, and the uphills are mental and physical challenges that never seem to end. Throw in a high degree of technical difficulty and some very slippery mud, and you've got everything you could ask for in a mountain bike ride. In some of the downhill sections, it was so muddy we couldn't really use the brakes because it was so steep and we were going so fast that if we hit the brakes we'd just lock them up and lose control. There were more than one touch-and-go moments today where I was clinging for dear life to a runaway bike.

We saw several other mountain bikers -- XC'ers and downhillers -- out there this morning, which I didn't expect. Unlike roadies, mountain bikers as a people are usually late risers. More late-night safety meetings to attend, I guess. We passed a couple of downhillers walking their rigs up one of the hills. I mean, downhillers are truly wizards on the downhills, with huge skills and massive balls, but if you have to walk your bike up doable hills, it's not a mountain bike you're pushing, it's a motorcycle without an engine.

20 feet into today's ride, our bikes were completely coated with mud. It was very muddy out there. Like rain riding though, after a while, how much muddier can you get?

Damn it! Last week, I both locked myself out of the Bronco and left the lights on (see April 2, 2005: Hey MTB boys, come git you an ass-whuppin'). Today, I continued this dubious streak. When we returned from the ride, I found that I had locked, but left ajar the driver's side door! Fortunately nothing was missing, but what a fucking dumb ass. I'm starting to make a habit of this bullshit.

Both of our bikes ran great today. Romulus noted that his Klein Pulse has never run better. Blue definitely felt great, but I was worried about the chainsuck issue. As such, I tried to avoid the granny ring as much as possible today, but my style is based on high RPMs, so I cannot stay in the middle ring indefinitely like Ulrichians Bonzai and Romulus can. On a mis-shift, I did chainsuck today, but it had a happy ending. Seems I might have ripped so much metal off the frame from previous chainsucks that there is now a wide-enough gap to allow me to pull the chain out of the pivot manually instead of having to take it apart with the chain tool. I hope this is the case. It was today. I reached down and barely tugged on the chain, and it pulled free. Fingers are crossed that I won't have to worry about it in the races. The track record is not good (See April 25, 2004: The Napa Valley Dirt Classic).

Got home before noon, which gave me enough time to give Blue a really thorough cleaning. Ahh, she looks great. Took about an hour to hose her off, soap her down, rinse, dry, and lube. A lot of work, but if you've got the time, it's worth it. Any kids out there reading this, don't be a CrankenFine, (See April 6, 2005: 'Fine's favorite frejoaquin Fruitvale fride) look after your bike and it will look after you.

The Masters turned out to be interesting enough, but I missed several holes flipping back and forth to watch the Paris-Rubaix road race on OLN. The Queen of the Classics, this is the one-day road race with all the cobblestones (and they added seven more sections of cobbles this year!). Think mud, crashes, and plenty of difficulty. It's a mountain biker's road race. It was a great race with the next major road star Boonan of Belgium nipping American George Hincappie at the finish. A very cool race.

Saw some bright yellow banana slugs today and one deer out at Skeggs.


Mileage: 13.17 Time: 1:53:49 Avg: 6.9 Max: 26.0 Weight: 168.5

Got a comment or question? Send it to truthmaker24@yahoo.com.

-- Amalgamated TruthMaker Enterprises --