To Palos Verdes… and beyond!

Today was my first long ride since Boise. Man, was it good to be back in the saddle again grinding out the miles. No, really!I started doing long rides with my friend, J. J.’s a good, solid rider with a number of years of experience as a recreational rider. He’s also a devout Lance Armstrong worshipper and many a Saturday I’ve shown up at his doorstep for our long rides together and he’s watching a Lance Armstrong Tour de France victory video. The dude has some serious man-crush action going on and it’s rather adorable. J. took me out on my first bike rides (when I was riding a $100 craigslist mountain bike), and came with me when I bought The Butcher. J.’s very patient, enjoys sharing what he knows, and likes bringing people into the things he likes doing. Many years ago I hired J. at a visual effects company and though I was bitter and on my way out we developed a nice friendship that has lasted more than 8 years. He’s a great riding partner and for the last year we’ve ben pretty well matched in speed and ability. We rode the Solvang 1/2 Century together this past March, which was a great achievement for both of us.

Normally on Saturdays I’ll load The Butcher in the car and drive all the way up to J.’s house in Chatsworth. We ride from the top of the San Fernando valley south to Mulholland, up and around Old Topanga Canyon and north on Topanga Canyon for a 40 mile ride with three thousand feet of cumulative climbing. If we’re feeling very brave and strong we do Stunt Road. Stunt Road is 4 miles of nonstop climbing, sometimes reaching an inclination grade of 16%. It’s brutal and wonderful, an amazing training road that makes anyone stronger for doing it regularly. There is a point on Stunt near the top at the very last turn when it appears that the climb is almost done, but as you come around the curve you see that you’ve got a quarter mile of evil uphill to go. Right at the moment that your spirit is crushed and you’re not sure where the energy is going to come from your head drops in fatigue. Some asshole has spray painted “Jesus saves” on the pavement, dead center in the lane. That’s someone who knows that road. It’s cruel. Mean. And deserves a response. I’ve been meaning for some time to drive up the road with my own spray can and writing “Where’s your God now?” just past it. Send me your suggestions for what you’d write on the ground to some poor rider grinding out their guts on that evil uphill.

I’ve been trying to get J. to come south to my ‘hood for some time and today he made the trek. We did the Palos Verdes 56 mile ride I did a month ago as my last ride before Boise. I assured J. that the climbing was all in the middle, and though it was mean for a bit it was no Stunt Road. We attacked that mother today and I’ve got to admit that the climb wasn’t nearly as evil as I remember. Two miles of uphill at no more than 9% grade (J. brought his Garmin with real-time grade readout). It never fails to amuse me when the training pays off. Put in the miles, they get easier as you get stronger. Also we ended in Redondo and Manhattan Beach and though cloudy there was some serious bikini action. As the summer progresses I think I won’t have any trouble getting J. down here for some rides through Boobsville.

I put J. on my long-ride nutrition plan, so we ate yams every 45 minutes, drank Ribose, then Endurox R4, and both of us had solid, strong rides. The yams work! I definitely feel like I’m proselytizing, but I’m so done with Gu and Clif bars, and all that garbage it delights me when real food works for someone else.

It’s nice  to be back to routine. I get my long 3-4 hour ride, my wife gets the house to herself, and we’re both happier for it (let’s not forget to thank the makers of bikinis, hair remover, and women’s volleyball). Tomorrow is father’s day and we’re going to Uncle Bill’s Pancake House. I’ll be eating an omelette. Pancakes sound good, but 170 lbs sounds better.

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