So...we all meet at the base main gate visitors center, so I can sign everybody in. We get our bikes ready and by around 9am we are off. And once again, we had AMAZING weather! Greg and the guys think I'm lying about all the wind and crappy weather we typically have up here....as it seems every time they show up it's nice. Yesterday was no different. As we rode down the main blvd from the gate, all the flags were hanging straight down. NO WIND whatsoever. THAT is quite rare, even in the morning. Add to that fact that all last week I hadn't seen the sun before noon (usually later) due to the evil marine layer (and said layer re-forming over us by quitting-time, making any after work rides wet, cold and miserable)...all I can say is that it was a day to remember! They think I'm kidding when I tell them I can count the days on one hand we have like that in a year....but it's true.
We set off headed for the far reaches of Southbase, and we were planning on assaulting the evil Tranquillion Peak on our way to the far end of the base. The ride started off with a bang as my brother and his friends seemed to have heard a starters gun fire somewhere off in the distance (I did NOT hear it btw!)....and the race was on. THEY apparently have been hammering the big miles all year and are in quite stellar shape. I seemingly am the Anit-shape riding guy just now. My rides this year have been much less distance. I've only done one century this year.....that was the LiveSTRONG back in July. Other than that the longest ride I've done is my Saturday Tepesquet canyon (61 miles)...but it's been a few months since I've even done that. All the rides I did up in Sunnyvale were much shorter, and I also was riding alone so wasn't necessarily out for any speed records. My recent style of riding doesn't lend well to riding with my them. My only consolation was that the always mighty Pez (also named Greg) had broken his collar bone into THREE pieces in a Mt biking accident earlier in the year, and he has recently come off of a FOUR MONTH recovery (he had copies of his X-rays showing the before and after...looked VERY painful to me!) So his fitness is what he calls 'pathetic' (we'll discuss what HE calls pathetic and what I call pathetic later).
Anyhow, it's a flat out BEAUTIFUL day on Vandenberg....sunny, and it's already warm enough that most of us have shed any arm-warmers and such within the first half hour of the ride. Life is good when it's sunny AND not-cold. Also of note is that we pretty much own the roads all over the base on any weekend ride. We can ride 3 or 4 across in a small mob scene whenever we feel like it, and throughout the entire day's ride we will see very few cars. SpaceX corporation has taken over my old SLC-4 (seen above) and is slowly making it ready for the Falcon 9 rocket, which hopefully will start launching in a few years. Always exciting to have a new player in town! The road shown above rolls and winds along the coast for about 10 miles.
OH...I wanted going to discuss the Pez's sad state of fitness. Well, let me tell you what HIS pathetic is. He rides a standard crankset (53/39) with I think a 25 gear as his bailout on his cassette. For the first time in MY knowledge, he USED his granny ring/bailout gear! Of course, I'm riding a compact crankset (50/34 gearing) with a 28 tooth bailout gear on the back. And for only the 2nd time since I've been climbing this beast, I had to ride a paper-route in the steep parts (a paper-route is where you go side to side in the road, being unable to push straight up). The only other time I did the paper-route thing was the very first time I rode it many years ago, and back then I had the same gearing as the Pez had yesterday. So...even in his sad state of fitness he pushed his standard crank/25-tooth cassette geared geared bike up the climb probably not very far behind my brother Greg and Paul (who raced to the top and finished side by side I hear). Scott, Xenia and I suffered mightily behind them, with me being DEAD last. I suffer HUGELY every time I ride this, but yesterday was a new level of hell on a hill for me. But I made it. Just barely. At the top I laid down on the road in the cool shade (still clipped into my pedal on one side). I was about as dead as I can ever recall being on a bike. And I still had to get home.
After the descent from Tran Peak we continued south for a few miles to Space Launch Complex Six (SLC-6) as everybody needed water. We ended up going inside a building I routinely work in and filled up our bottles from a water-cooler, saving the day. After that our choice was to continue another few miles to the south to Boathouse (the furthest we can go on Southbase), or to head back. We (mostly ME I think) voted to head back. You see, we had a lunch-date with the Jalama Beach Cafe in Lompoc. JBC serves a WICKED GOOD burger, and also has some WICKED GOOD beer on tap. AND it's on the way home for Greg and the gang. So for the entire return ride I was energized thinking about that burger and beer. Also, just knowing we are heading home really helps. Also of note is that we had ZERO flats or mechanicals during the entire day for our group of six. That is a new record for us (I mean Greg)!
We finally finished our Tour of Southbase around 2:30pm back at the main gate. What a joy to pack the bike into the car and drive to the Jalama Beach Cafe! I was so hungry I think I could eat roadkill! But thankfully I didn't have to. The Jalama burger was as good as I remember, and the Dogfishhead 90 minute IPA beerwas about as good as beer can be!
And so ended another successful Tour of Vandenberg.
Today (Sunday) is work around the house day, and tomorrow (Monday) I fly to Colorado Springs for the week (work related). I fly home on Friday, and then drive BACK up to Sunnyvale the following Monday for 2 more weeks. No rest for the weary.
Have a GREAT week, and a very happy Halloween!