July 24, 2004: One for the annals

Bonzai came over this morning, and we decided to head out to San Pedro Point. It would be Bonzai's first time out to the Point, and his farewell ride in the EG.

Starting out in the fog, we rolled a backside EG over into the Fitz, Moss Beach County (MCB), and ultimately McNee. That's where things got pretty out of control on the L'Alpes D'Wheeze. Bonzai took over on the bottom section, rocking 9 to 10 MPH in a leg-sapping clip that immediately put me into worrisome difficulty. This was my hill, but I was already doing everything I could just to stay hooked onto Bonzai's wheel. Riding the Hoo-E again today, my hope was that Bonzai's pace would mellow a little as we progressed up the 3.5 mile climb.

In the middle section, which runs from the junction of the two uphill routes until their separation again into Old San Pedro Mountain Road and North Peak Utility Access Road, I stabilized a bit and we really developed a furious pace. By the time we hit the upper stage, it was clear this was going to be a record setting performance -- uh, if, that is, any records had ever been kept. Records or no, using relative timing, this was easily the fastest ascent of the south face of D'Wheeze ever. Usually, I'm pushing hard to hit double digits in the last 150 yards before the summit, having averaged about 7.75 MPH. Today, with us working together, we were pulling the majority of the hill at about 10.0 MPH and I hit 13.0 MPH in the last 150. Fast, fast, fast uphill.

From the summit, we rolled out to Devil's Slide head, up the corkscrew, and back down to the locked gate at the southern entrance to Devil's Slide. Still extremely misty and wet, I did this downhill without my glasses, something I would have never tried had I not been forced to do so last week (See July 19, 2004: Cannonball's L'Alpes D'Wheeze time trial). It slowed us down a little, but I was able to see much better than I would have with fogged glasses.

From the gate, we bombed down 1 to the entrance to San Pedro Point, always a hairy traffic proposition on a summer Saturday. Having learned my lesson about the topography of San Pedro Point last time (See May 15, 2004: Exploring new frontiers), I was able to guide us out to the furthest point we could get to within a reasonable amount of time, energy, and pain expenditure. It required some climbing, but nothing Bonzai and I couldn't handle. By the time we got out there, the fog had lifted somewhat and there were partial views of Pacifica, but it was still pretty gray and overcast and would pretty much remain that way the rest of the day.

We circled around to the north and came down on the west side of 1 in Pacifica. Crossing over 1, we zig-zagged through the Linda Mar neighborhood to the Adobe gate and then we exploded up the backside of D'Wheeze. Exploded. Working together, we rode at about 9.5 MPH for the entire first part of the climb up past the terminus of the Mile and the beginning of Boy Scout. From there, I took over the pacemaking and set about going for the record (if in fact, there were such a thing, which, as has been previously discussed, there is not). Bonzai was right there with me, pushing me, pushing me. We soared up D'Wheeze, ripping through uphill corners with a speed that I had never known on that hill. Tight uphill corners now became serious technical obstacles because we were moving so much faster than normal. 10 MPH might not seem like much, but it's twice as fast as 5 MPH, which is closer to the usual pace here.

The ride up the backside of D'Wheeze really felt like the tour. The way we were working together, our quick pace, and my perspective following Bonzai through the narrow, spectator-lined corners were all very reminiscent of the footage and camera angles that make the Tour so exciting to watch on the mountain stages.

At the utility poles about three quarters of the way up, I resolved to give a kick at the end and see if I couldn't get the King of the Mountain points at the summit. At this point, Bonzai was still glued to my wheel and showing no signs of difficulty, so I knew it would take a sprint to win the summit; my knowledge of the hill would give me an advantage because I would know exactly where to attack. So I get to the point where I want to go for it, and get out of the saddle and start kicking. I get about 200 yards or about two big oxbows up the trail, and I realize that I'm still at least a quarter of mile from the place that I had intended to kick. The obfuscating fog and my overexcitement about our pace had clouded my judgment and now I was in no man's land. My jump had created a little separation, mostly by element of surprise, and I could no longer feel Bonzai behind me, but after my initial burst, I was pretty much spent. Much as I wanted to, I could not sustain the heavy, middle-ring mashing I had initiated and was forced to gear down to 1-5 (1=granny ring; 5=fifth cog) and spin like a motherfucker for dear life. I was completely in maintain mode and I could just feel that at any second I would hear the whirring of Bonzai's chain as he reeled me back in.

The last 500 yards seemed to last about 15 minutes, but finally the summit line came into view through the mist. I pulled off and contemplated the achievement. Within seconds, Bonzai rolled up and I gasped to him that our performance on D'Wheeze today will never be beaten. How could it? We went as fast as I could imagine the two of us going up my favorite hill. It was bittersweet. Will this still be my favorite hill now that I've been to the moutaintop? Or will today's effort serve as a motivating benchmark? Today is not the day for those questions.

It was a day for hammering -- for putting our brains on autopilot and focusing on the effort of riding bicycles hard. Neither of us made any of the famous technical landmarks along the ride, like The Crack or The Corkscrew, but we did set a pace for the annals. Fueling this focus was the unspoken but fully understood fact that this was Bonzai's farewell ride in the EG as a California resident.


Mileage: 31.86 Time: 3:04:47 Avg: 10.3 Max: 37.5 Weight: 

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