Saturday, I rounded up my most loyal riding partners.... me and myself... and the three of us took out on the road. I didn't really know where I wanted to go, to begin with, but decided to head down Montpellier Rd because riding south gives me a fairly good tailwind to get out away from the traffic. When I approached Keyes Rd, I felt pretty good and I decided to take a left turn and follow what I know as the "Wednesday Night Short Course" (Wednesday Night rides are the rides that have been coming out of CycleMasters in Turlock for longer than I can remember... they have had to have been going on for over 25 years now) knowing that upon completion it would be my longest ride to date since getting back on the bike... and also knowing that it would take me on what has been dubbed, for years, as Roller Coaster Rd (Hawkins Rd). With the exception of being caught in the wrong gear on one of the rollers on Hawkins I was able to complete the ride and felt much better than I thought I would upon completion. And it was nice to be able to gauge myself on a ride that I know from back in "The Good Old Days".
With the confidence that I gained from my Saturday ride, I decided to up the ante and gather my riding partners again, and set out and take on an even more ambitious ride than my Saturday ride (even though Saturday was 10 miles longer than I had gone since getting back on the bike) I decided to set out and do the Wednesday Night Long Course AND Short Course... which would include 2 "Roller Coaster Roads" Hawkins and Cox Ferry. I wasn't sure how much longer the ride was going to be, than the day before, but I was figuring it would go about 20 miles farther than I had gone to date. So I gathered my Power Bars and my Water Bottles and off I went. Starting off at about 2:00 PM
The ride started out well. I had a nice tail wind all the way down Montpellier Rd. I turned down Turlock Rd and still felt pretty good. No real head wind (it was actually a cross wind from slightly behind). Turlock Rd to Cox Ferry was a LOT longer than I remember. But it was nice to see the familiar scenery from back in the day. I also remember that Turlock road was the last ride I did back when I used to ride... it was the road that my knee problems came to a head years ago. When I made it to the Catholic Church in Hopeton I thought about stopping and getting some more water, even though I still had one full bottle... I didn't... that would end up being a big mistake. I was still feeling good a couple miles down the road when I saw the turn on to Cox Ferry. I made it up and down all the Rollers on Cox Ferry with relative ease. It brought back a lot of memories rolling down the road. I think every thing on that road is EXACTLY the same as it was 15 years ago.
|Looking down on the last Roller of Cox Ferry Rd, the turn on to Keyes Rd is |
just beyond the rise in the picture.
When I turned off of Cox Ferry and on to Keyes Rd. I thought I was home free. I still felt pretty good and I still had about 3/4 of a water bottle to go. I thought it wouldn't be long until I saw Hawkins and I'd be on the way home. WRONG... I totally misjudged, and forgot how far it was from Cox Ferry to Hawkins, it was at least twice as far as I figured. And there are a LOT more rollers on Keyes Rd. than I remembered... I think there is some kind of fault line on Keyes Rd. and the rollers have grown to double their size that they were 15-20 years ago (at least that is what I was telling myself as I was riding).
I finally saw the power lines in the distance going off to the Right and knew I was approaching Hawkins Rd. At least now I would be on roads that I had a recent familiarity with, but when I took a drink from my water bottle I knew I was in a bit of a spot. I only had about 1/2 a bottle and I knew I had a ways to go, and it was still fairly hot. I knew if I went home via Keyes Rd. I would cut out the rollers of Hawkins Rd. But I also knew I would be facing a pretty good head wind on Montpellier if I went that way. The rollers of Hawkins pretty much negate the effects of the head wind. And I also had in my mind, that I was going to do the ride I set out to do, and not wuss out. In retrospect, I probably should have just gone back home via Keyes
I started the rollers on Hawkins feeling good, but about half way to Lake Rd. I started feeling the effects. I also ran dry of water. I knew I only had about 8 miles until I would reach the Hickman store where I could get some water and Gatorade or whatever else I needed. But I didn't realize what kind of state I would be in by the time I covered those 8 miles. The roads seemed to be steeper, it seemed like the miles were clicking by slower, my feet started to go numb, and it's amazing how much more thirsty you get when you know you don't have water. I continued on and finally got past all the hills that Lake Rd. has to offer. I was on the flats and I knew there was only one more potential obstacle between me and the Hickman store... the dog that had chased me the day before. That dog really hadn't been a bother on Saturday... but I had also been feeling pretty good when I came upon it... today was a different story. I just didn't feel like I had the legs to move if I needed to. I was spinning a small gear just to try to reserve what ever I had left to get home and I just didn't need a chase to raise my adrenaline at this point. Turns out the dog must have been sleeping or something because I didn't hear a peep out of it.
So, I finally got to the Hickman Store... that run down old shack never looked better. I was able to get some water for one bottle and some Gatorade from the other. Now I had some liquids to help me out. I had a seat and chilled out for a few minutes before getting back on and doing the last 6 or 8 miles back home. But the effects of running dry for so long had already taken effect. I suffered like never before for the last leg of the ride. I literally had to verbally talk myself in to finishing the end of the ride rather than getting off the bike and laying down on the side of the road. But I made it... and I did the ride I set out to do. And I learned some valuable lessons in the process...
NEVER judge a ride on what you remember from 15+ years ago when you were in elite riding form.
NEVER pass up the opportunity to get water, when you are out on the road a million miles away from nowhere.