Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tunitas Creek Redux (Late Fall 2013)

Nov 23, 2013--Tunitas Creek Metric Loop, w, California Mike, Christine, and Todd. 70 miles, 6,400' climbing, 13.6 mph
The Tunitas Creek loop with the two big climbs

Mike's job gets him stuck in San Mateo County some weekends, so we've done the seminal metric Tunitas Creek loop more than usual this year.  Dr. Dave did the Tunitas Creek loop with Mike  last weekend and reported incredibly freezing spots.  Wonderful--the two cold weather wusses--Christine and I were set to join Mike this week while Dave emailed how cold it was.  (I perpetually have held onto the cold weather whining crown but Christine lately has bundled up more than me when it reaches a frosty 70 degrees.)

In our ride group Christine and Todd are longtime Garmin users.  Mike, ever the brevet rider,  wouldn't get one unless it runs off a hub generator and made of wood.   I'm still getting used to the Garmin--after last weeks mishap of having 9 items display on one page which I couldn't read I figured out that I really just need to see is average speed, distance, heart rate, grade and eventually (normalized) power while riding.  As someone who thought a few times of getting a mini-level for an approximate readout I think I'm getting the most fun from the grade measurement. 

Christine reminded me a few times to actually start the Garmin (unlike last weekend.)   Right into the ride is the 2nd major climb of the day-Old La Honda.  3 miles of 8% grade.    I usually have a bitch of a time on it in the early morning with the cool damp air.  Last year I raced someone with a Triple Crown Jersey up the climb; I edged the guy out but was ready to puke at the top.   This time I figured I'd try to stay in a heart rate zone-#4, 142-159.  (Coach Toby later emailed me that age based maximum heart rate is a bunch of crap and I needed to take a Lactate Threshold test to figure out my proper zone.)  In any event, I've been faster riding up Old La Honda but never had a more enjoyable trip that was steady but sane.  
On the Old La Honda climb kept my heart rate in the 142-159 zone, heart zone to build anaerobic tolerance.  Later Toby told me that the heart rate zones based on age based max heart rate were faulty--after my first attempt at a Lactate Threshold Test this zone should have been 138-146.  So much for scientific riding. 

The shifting cable was sticking to the guide on the bottom of my bike--and I indicated I'd have to stop at Memorial Park.  When asked why, I was going to say "I have to wash my bottom bracket" but really wasn't the bottom bracket that needed cleaning so I hesitated, looking for the right word after spitting out "bottom."  Stopping the sentence at "bottom" was pretty funny.

After a sunny decent on deserted OLD La Honda Road it was time for the fast run in on La Honda Road.  This usually has a fair amount of cars.  I guess with the chilly weather not  many people wanted to head west for the beach--and La Honda Road was fairly quiet.   Afterwards there is a gentle climb before Memorial Park, and then a flat run in with some easy rollers towards Pescadero.

Chill in some shady spots/ dips but usually alright.   Instead of going righto Pescadero we always do a bonus loop that touches on the nearby Pacific.  We started doing the bonus loop down the Coast from North to South this year.  We avoid the frequent block headwind blowing in from the North.  Another benefit is being on the ocean side of Highway 1 so we are able to duck into the Pigeon Point Lighthouse area easily.  We usually  just snap some photos at the far side of the road--but Christine said she never was near the Lighthouse so we rode in.  Christine saw a hard packed sand area going towards a mini-pier and rode on this--a great move as the pier was incredibly sunny.
The gang at the Lighthouse.

November in California.

Homage to Ward (BT/ PC)

Homage to Ward edited by the Cycling Photo Zen master himself (BT/ PC/ WI)

The best part of the old route was we had a big race on the rustic Gazos Creek Road going Southwest to the Coast.  Now going Northeast after some initial climbing rollers we had a beautiful stretch for pacelining.  Mike is a bulldog on the flats and he started us off, the rest of us rotated nicely, and Christine finished pulling the paceline at the end.  Later we found at that this stretch is a Strava Race Segment--where you race against invisible people, or at least people who already did this route.  Strava indicates that Christine is now the 3rd fastest woman on the 4 1/2 mile Butano Sprint to Pescadero.    Though I think Strava a bit ridiculous I have to admit I liked checking the result, though I didn't know we were on a "race" segment.   Maybe they need to put up "Strava Segment Start" signs around the country like they did "Kodak Moment" signs way back when to remind you to burn through film.  

Very warm in the picnic area in Pescadero--no breeze at all.  I'd have been happy to call it a day and take a nap on the spot.  After a bunch of serious rollers and climbs on Stage Road to San Gregorio.  One last steep uphill out of town and then a fast downhill on Highway 1 to the Tunitas Creek turnoff.
Some famous Oakland A's recently in the news is on a gate near Pescadero

Christine on Stage Road

Mike after the climb out of San Gregorio.

I always liked Tunitas Creek more than Old La Honda, 9 miles at a 4% grade.  The grade is deceptive--the beginning and end are gentle, the middle is as steep as Old La Honda.    Here I rode in zone 4 again--so did Todd and we paced each other going up.

Tunitas is well shaded but was warm on the climb.  Not so much for Kings Mountain, a rapid, twisty descent with sudden hairpins.   It  was hanging out in the shade all day and there was a BIG CHILL in the air on the downhill, which sucks anyway even when warm.  Sudden hairpins, trucks crossing over the center line in the turns.....  I vowed next year we'd do Tunitas Creek and then add on Alpine Road which is like Tunitas Creek without the shade.  A hell of an additional climb but then we can avoid descending Kings Mountain Road--the only truly horrible segment of the Tunitas Creek metric loop.

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