November 23, 2004: Chicken, meet egg

Ha-rumph. With the "off-season" now in full swing, I feel like I'm losing contact with the lead pack. When not riding with Romulus, I consciously avoid hills and have fallen into that "at least I'm out here" mentality. Yeah, I know, it's not like I'm training for the Olympics or anything, but I just hate to see things deteriorate. Is it more work to maintain a high level all year, or to take it easy for parts of the year and then have to work that much harder to get back what was lost? Chicken, meet egg.

And Blue, once a gleaming piece of functional artwork, is now looking sloppier than a NASCAR mom after a three-day motorhome progressive on the infield at Daytona. The frame is more pockmarked than Courtney Love; the drivetrain is raspier than Kathleen Turner after a two-week Camel binge; and the brake pads have less integrity than a swing-state voter participating in an exit poll. Everything is squeaking and wheezing and and clanking -- sounds just like Krusty's knees first thing in the morning. This weekend I'll turn the hose on old Blue and get her spiffied up. Then I might take her down to Rich and have her overhauled: complete disassembly, lubrication, recabling, the works. Rich is putting a new set of Fox forks on the Hoo-E, so I'll be able to ride that all winter without too much of a drop-off. It also allows me to lay Blue up for the winter, save the wear and tear on parts, and have her primed and ready to go for the 2005 race season.

Moss Beach lighthouse
An MTB badge of honor
Keep practicing for Filbert Street

I must shrink up between rides, because within the first 100 yards of every ride, there is a set of inevitable knee pops as both legs seem to stretch out to accommodate the arc of the spin cycle. It doesn't hurt, but it is an uncomfortable feeling and sound.

I made the Crack tonight, and rather easily at that. The steepness of it was difficult, but for some reason, I was dialed in on the technical aspects and motored through the heavily rutted sections without so much as a bobble. It's rained since the last time I did it, so there were several new variations to the extant obstacles, but nothing too significantly different. First time I've successfully done it in the dark in several months. Went on from the Crack to do the entire Inspiration Point hills complex. I needed the hill work.

Climbing up the main drag of Montara, I got a flat outside the Green Room. Flats always seem to come in bunches for me. I heard the tell-tale hiss of escaping air, but continued climbing to the top of the hill. Once crested, I hopped off and examined the rear tire. No doubt about it, green slime bubbling out of a hole. I could have let it patch itself, but it's the second flat for this tube in the last couple of weeks, so I decided to replace it with the spare I always keep in my camelback.

I should have left it. Because of condensation mixed with slime from the last puncture, the tube was glued to the inside the of the tire. It took about five minutes of tugging and stripping to get the tube out. Then, I found that the head of my pump was heavily corroded and the tube stem would not fit into the pump. I had to take the pump apart and bore it out. Even after I had reamed that sucker like an insurance company denying a policyholder's claim, it still didn't fit quite right and I ended up bending the presta stem pretty badly. So badly that, when the stem was not screwed down, I could hear PSIs hissing out of it. What started out as a 5-minute flat fix, turned into a 20-minute fiasco.

I continued on to the base of Whale Tail, where it started to get a little misty. There was no fog, but the air was hazy with the mist of the pounding surf below. From there, I turned tail for home, wheeling up the Wall and back into Montara on the POST cutover trail. After bombing down Sunshine Valley and nearly getting jacked by some Precinct 13-looking thugs in a late-model Caprice Classic with tinted windows and spinner rims, I cut across the Cabrillo to Moss Beach, the Fitz, Mavericks, Princeton, and ultimately home.

The trails are in great condition, firm from the recent rain but no mud. The night was a 7-Up commercial: crisp, cool, and clear. Saw a lone raccoon in Moss Beach on the way out and a whole pack of the masked marauders, also in Moss Beach, on the return trip. Also saw the obligatory burrowing owl in the Fitz.


Mileage: 20.20 Time: 1:57:37 Avg: 10.3 Max: 33.0 Weight: 

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