Monday, April 23, 2012

Long Distance Weekend

Both Marketa and I were quite busy with preparations for the April 21-22 weekend: her mostly dealing mentally with tapering before the San Louis Obispo Marathon, which meant no running for three days and worrying about various body parts that gave her trouble on past long runs. It also included a hope that her new Hoka One-One shoes, tested on one 24 mile run, will be a smart choice for 26.2 miles of pavement.

My anxiety stemmed from the fact that I had just one chance to test my road bike touring setup, which I intend to use in second half of May on a multi-day tour through California and perhaps even a bit of Oregon. I chose a Topeak aluminum rack and two yellow waterproof Ortlieb panniers. The mounting system on Ortliebs is very clever and worked as advertised. For tires, I used 32c Vittoria Randonneur, mainly for their triple puncture protection, but they barely fit through the brake calipers. And as the picture below shows (taken with a flash), they have reflective walls!

So off we were on Saturday, driving south on 101 in a 95F heat. The weather was supposed to cool down somewhat on Sunday, but this was the first heat wave of the year and we both worried as we have done no training above 70F. But on the marathon Expo grounds in SLO, it was pleasant 75F.

The plan for Sunday was for Marketa to hop on a bus shuttling runners to the start and me leaving the car at a hotel nearby the finish, then taking off on the bike. Meeting point: Monterey's Cannery Row.
We are both up at 1:30AM, then again at 2:30AM. We make coffee (the Vagabond Inn variety, yuck!) and she is ready for it at 4AM (two hours to the start).

There is a dense fog outside and the temperature may be 55F, feels freezing. While Marketa tries to keep herself warm at the start area, I find a 24hr IHOP and decide to have an international breakfast.

Hmm, one might think we are in France... but then I settle for a 4-stack of pancakes with bananas and strawberries. The "fruit" and the "syrup" on the pancakes smells really awful, no wonder, these things are petroleum products. It took me good 30 minutes to consume this "food", presumably worth 760 calories.
I got going around 6:30, wearing all warm accessories I brought for this trip, except a Gore rain jacket. In fog and drizzle, I stuffed my dark sunglasses in the jersey pocket, thinking that by the time I get to the coast, it will be sunny. Fourteen miles later, at Morro Bay, I'm soaked, water dripping from my helmet, and I am cold. Highway 1 north towards Cayucos is almost flat, so no hills to warm up. I pass a town of Harmony, pop. 18, as well as Cambria, resisting to check out the huge Cambria Bike Outfitters store, on my way to San Simeon.

The weather continues to be gray, but the drizzle stops eventually and it is not too unpleasant. The coast starts to get rugged and the road goes up and down somewhere around Ragged Point.

 There is a little traffic, basically I see a handful of cars and motorcycles, and after a while I realize these are the same vehicles, their tourist owners make frequent stops and then pass me again. I am glad I am going north,  though. It means I am on the "mountain" side of the highway and if a car or an RV gets little bit too close, I don't have to be riding two feet from the cliff, like the riders going south. There are no other bicyclists in my direction, but plenty of people going south. The weather is perfect by now, 65F and dry, although the marine layer is thick and occasionally I am being enshrouded by the fog at higher elevations. I make couple of stops, one at Gorda, another one at Big Sur, for coffee, hot chocolate and muffins.
Then all of the sudden, just north of Point Big Sur, the fog clears, opening beautiful views of the coast.
 Wind starts blowing, too. From the south, lucky me! I gave Marketa a rough estimate of my arrival at the Monterey Aquarium, but I am way faster, with strong tailwind doing 22-23 mph even uphill. I make Carmel Heights in no time and leave Highway 1 just past Point Lobos to ride around the peninsula, but somehow miss the 17 mile drive, only to find it again and climbing what seems like forever, before dropping down to Asilomar Beach. The last ten miles are painful, my (famous) butt is not too happy about the broken pavement and stops in heavy people and car traffic.

I arrive around 5:30PM, after 150 miles and 9500 feet of climbing, ready for a nice seafood dinner.
Marketa's marathon time was 4:28, way to go baby!

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