A CENTURY WITH 40 MILES OF BLOW (no, not that kind)
Though could you imagine 40 miles of blow!? Wow. Need one heck of a mirror. But I digress.
This morning I took off early. Into the North. Into the the wind. Alongside the ocean.
On Highway 1.
I figured I would be able to tolerate a headwind for 50 miles out if I knew that once I turned around it would be a tailwind for 50. This theory is now proven, but the ‘tolerate’ part was actually pretty difficult. It was fine for the first 10 miles or so, getting out of Santa Cruz and onto the highway. And then the wind picked up and it became the aforementioned ‘40 miles of blow’.
It got progressively worse and was, at times, the kind of wind that makes you second-guess your presence on a bike. Mostly when you’re on a downhill that would normally be super fast, but the wind is pushing you backwards, then crosswind gusts practically lift you at speed and it’s a fight to stay on the shoulder at all. I didn’t like those gusts very much. Sketchy-time. There were also a few sand-blast sections. Not fun either.
It was a brutal thing, that wind. I kept pulling the Garmin out of my back pocket (don’t have a mount for loaner bikes) to see how far I had to go until I could turn around. Made for a very long ride out there. Add to that some some nice climbs in the mid 40 mile section which were even more irritating with wind in my face.
But I plugged on. It took me a while at the start there to get used to the SRAM Red (first time I’ve ever used it and no-one gave me any instruction on it when I picked up the bike). Very steep learning curve and not very intuitive. But I forgive it all for the slick frickin’ gear changes once you get the hang of it. Man. *Blip* and it’s there.
With the 50 mile mark creeping closer, I can’t lie: I was feeling very very drained. Perhaps this was a bad idea? A century which includes half into the wind. I’d been eating quite a lot, and trying to drink more than I had for last weekend’s century (got very dehydrated afterwards and had a headache that could kill a brown dog), but was still not feelin’ so hot. But got no out. No one to come pick me up. No SAG. What can I do? Just keep going. I was so happy to turn around. Thought about going all the way to Half Moon Bay, but at 50.3 I was just ‘nope, turn around!’. It went quiet. I could hear the bike and myself. Zoom Zoom. Bliss. Those first few minutes felt like flying with the wind to my back.
It wasn’t a total tailwind though. Was coming NNW, so cross/tail that turned depending on how it felt. A couple of times climbing it was literally pushing me uphill, which was much appreciated. Other times, it was more fully NNW, but still helping. Hey, who am I to complain? As long as that wind wasn’t punching me in the face, I did not care.
It’s also hard to care when you have so much pretty to look at. I’ve driven this part of the PCH before, and remembered stopping at Pigeon Point lighthouse when a fog was rolling in a few years back. I tried to pull in and get close again this time, but it was SUPER gusty out there on the point. Had trouble holding the iphone still to take a photo. Did not dawdle there.
I’d run out of water, so pulled into a little gas station to stockpile. While standing at the counter, my Garmin kept beeping on and off (set for pause when stopped), so I stopped it so it wouldn’t annoy anyone. Sadly, I forgot to turn it back on when I got back out on the road and by the time I remembered, I guess I’d lost about 3 miles. Which meant that I would not have my full century on the Garmin for my Strava, and I get all narky about stuff like that. No choice but to ride a bit further when I got back to Capitola. What a drag.
Fortunately, the ride back was heaven. Just cranking along with the wind at my back or slightly from my right rear… if you know what I mean. Super fun. Good times. Everything clicking and the weather fantastic.
When I got back on Soquel, I continued on until I hit 100miles, then turned around to go home. Swung by the Taqueria on the corner near my house and snagged a Carnitas burrito, then home and shoveled that thing straight into the pie hole. It was heaven, especially with the freezing cold beer I’d stashed away for the end of this ride.
As hard as those 40 miles of blow were (and they really were), the ride back was worth the pain. I think it’s better to front load the ride with this pain - makes the return run totally worthwhile. I was averaging almost 18mph for the 40 miles back to town, compared to 11mph on the way out.
Two weekends of centuries. February has been a good month.