Sunday, April 22, 2012

Primavera Century

Today was my first organized ride of the year - at least the first one that I paid for.  The Primavera Century (we opted for the 100k route) is a ride through the East Bay Hills starting in Union City (of all places) through Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park basically to Dublin and then back.  We skipped the full 100 mile route with a climb up the Altamont pass - maybe next year.

The ride started at James Logan High School and headed south east to Fremont.  I was a bit concerned as the ride started as we were riding with cars on three lane streets.  For all I knew, we were in Bakersfield, with wide roads, retail centers and 55 MPH speed limits for the cars.  Then, to my pleasure, after a few miles, we made a turn through a residential neighborhood, and another turn towards the green hills.  Much better.  The rest of the ride was car-less and gorgeous.  We had two 1,000 foot climbs at >15% grades which made for tough riding for the Fat Guy.  If I have any complaint about the ride, it would be that the
service was a bit too good.  Every rest stop was chock full with sweet treats (oreos, banana bread, PB&J, bananas, etc) and lots of fluids (water and 3 flavors of electrolyte drinks).  They rest stops were so comfy that they encourages longer breaks.  And three rest stops on a 65 mile ride was actually one too many.  We could have saved 20-30 minutes by cutting the stops to only two.  All in all, however, it was very well done by the Fremont Freewheelers Bicycle Club.  I highly recommend the ride.  Next year, I am thinking the full 100 miles.

Angry cow.  This guy mooed at every bike that rode past.  I heard him from 100 yards away.
The pace of our ride was a bit of a struggle for me.  In our group of six, we had two guys that were much better climbers than me.  And we also had a group of three that were not as strong as the others.  I got caught somewhere in between.  My nature is to hit the flats as hard as I can to make up time for my crappy climbing.  But as I picked up the pace in the flats, our group would separate and, being a team player, I would slow to let the rest of the group rejoin.  But, of course, as soon as we got back together, a rolling hill would appear and the two stronger guys would then get ahead of me.  This only angered me and made me ride even harder to keep up.  So finally I opted to stay back with the group on the flats and hit the hills as hard as I could (not strong enough to keep up with the skinny guys).  Then, to spice things up a bit, after I reached the top of each climb, I would double back to the last person in our group and re-do the climb at the slower pace.  This strategy worked for me as I got a few hundred extra feet of climbing in and got to stay with the group all the same.  Mission accomplished.
Green hills and a big reservoir.  Really pretty.
We had bunny-hopped with a group of six women several times throughout the course.  These ladies were all decked out in their full kits and fancy bikes.  They got off about 3-5 minutes before we did from the last rest stop and, seeing them in the distance, I vowed to pass them one last time.  I hit it pretty hard by myself to catch their group about a mile before the last big climb (about 3 miles and 1,000 feet).  As I passed the group, the leader said in her Australian accent, "Why don't you ride with us?  No need to be in such a hurry."  I chatted her up for a few minutes, as I began to push the pace.  Soon thereafter, we had created a gap with the rest of her group and she decided to let me go it alone.  Fast forward about ten minutes as I was huffing up the climb, I heard her coming, the Australian, with one of her crew in tow.  I did my best to keep them behind me, but I couldn't keep it up.  Good for them.  I yelled in between panting, "That's not fair.  You lulled my in with your siren song, slowing me down in the  flats, only to pass me when it counts.  Well played."   
Impossible to see in this shot, but on the electrical tower on the right there is a Bald Eagle's nest.  We stopped at a telescope that was set up for a viewing.  I didn't actually know that we had Bald Eagles in the Bay Area.  But there he/she was.  A huge bird, white head, with an even huger nest.  Really cool.
My favorite picture of the ride.  I knew we were entering Alameda County when I saw this. 
Hoodrats and Hillbillys.  Sweet.

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