The clock is ticking and the Cool Breeze Century is just six weeks away. Tiffanie and I decided that we needed to step up our mileage this week, so we've been rising before the sun and getting out for some early morning riding before it gets too hot. Monday and Wednesday we did just over 25 miles each day and the plan for Thursday was to do a long and hilly ride.
I mapped our route and came up with a plan to leave the Back Bay area in Newport Beach and ride through Irvine and up to Santiago Canyon Road looping back around through south county and back to our starting point. As I planned the route, I noticed that it had a little more climbing than we were accustomed to. Okay really. It had a shitload of climbing in comparison to the very flat routes that we normally take along the coast here in west Orange County. Feeling great about our rides earlier in the week, we felt ready to take this one on.
3:45 a.m. and my alarm is going off. As I walk down the stairs I hear little voices...no...it couldn't be...yes. 2/3 of my kids are awake and sitting at the kitchen table drawing. What the hell?!?!? James tells me that they woke up when he got in from work a little after 1:00 a.m. and they were just so cute that he couldn't send them back to bed. Ummm...okay. They're your problem now buddy, I'm going riding! I ate breakfast gathered my things and drove off into the darkness.
I arrived at our starting point and noticed that today was street sweeping day where I had planned to park. Okay...plan B. Off to the Ralph's parking lot up the road. Some employees were arriving and I asked one of them if they had a bathroom inside that I could use and the guy tells me that the store is closed. Fine. I'll just pee in a bush in your parking lot then. Thanks.
After the illegal public urination, we set off into the early morning and quickly hit the San Diego Creek Trail. It was a beautiful ride with baby bunnies hopping on and off of the trail every so often. Once we hit Harvard we hopped off of the trail and onto the road. We worked our way through Irvine and up to Portola, finally hitting Jamboree and facing our first climb of the day. Ho-leeeeeeeeeeeeee shit. As a climbing novice, I actually thought I could take this in my middle ring and gave it a damn :::huff::: good :::puff::: try :::huff::: before :::puff::: figuring out that NOW would be a good time to drop into my granny gear. Whew! That's better! Spin, spin, spinning up the hill, we reached Chapman and our turn onto Santiago Canyon Road.
One small hill out of the way and we decide it's a good time to stop and try out some gel for the first time. I had the PowerBar gel in Strawberry Banana and Tiff had the Clif Shot Razz flavor. It was our first experience with gels, and with great reluctance and uncertainty, we ripped open our tiny packages. First taste...not too bad, ewwww...it's sweet and thick...too sweet...ewwww...need water pronto! I look over at Tiff as she's sucking hers down and snap a picture. Right after I took it she was seriously on the verge of hurling...wish I would have captured that moment!
Setting off from our gel experience, we enjoyed the rolling hills of Santiago Canyon and come up on our first downhill. I keep hearing cyclists talk about how the fun descents make the climbing worth it, but as a new cyclist I was terrified of the thought of going downhill...until today. What a rush! I didn't even think once about braking and once I was down that first hill I was thirsty for more and couldn't wait for the next one. I turned around and could tell right away that Tiff was feeling the exact same way. The cool cloud cover, the smells, the beautiful scenery, it was all perfect!
The rest of the ride on Santiago Canyon went by too quickly and before we knew it, we were passing Cook's Corner and the Aliso Creek Trail entrance. Oops! Luckily Tiffanie noticed right away, so we turned our bikes around and hit the trail. We had planned to take the trail down to Muirlands but we were stopped by a detour sign and another cyclist turning around mentioned something about a large tractor on the trail and he told us to cut over to Los Alisos and then hop back on the trail down the road. After a detour through Mission Viejo we finally hopped back on our planned route in Irvine and made our way back to the San Diego Creek Trail. I was feeling a little bit hungry at this point, but we decided to keep pushing and eat after the ride. As we came up on Back Bay and the turn onto Eastbluff I hit a wall. I don't know if it was the smells of fresh asphalt and smoke as the workers re-paved that section of Jamboree or the fact that mentally I knew that I was a mere 1/4 mile away from the car, but my body just didn't feel like going any more. I slowed way down up the last little section of Eastbluff, but I made it to the truck and by that time I was starving! Tiff mentioned that stretching would probably be a good idea and I agreed. It's a little hard to hold stretches when you're greasy and grimey from sweat and sunscreen, but I did my best and then we were outta there.
We drove over to Starbucks on PCH and Bayside and made a beeline for the bathroom where I splashed my face off with water. Feeling slightly more presentable, I went to join Tiff in line and placed my order. Venti Coffee Light Frappucino, chicken caesar salad sandwich and reduced fat banana chocolate chip cake. Food never tasted so good! As we scarfed our food we both felt our mental alertness coming back to us...we had both been feeling a little fuzzyheaded after the ride. We realized that we should have stopped after we got off of the Aliso Creek Trail and grabbed some food to refuel at that point. 50 miles on one energy gel and one Luna Bar just wasn't enough. It was a good lesson learned though and we'll know better for next time.
Riding Time: 3:58
Total Time: 4:38
Distance: 51.9 miles
Avg Speed: 13
Max Speed: 30.7