Sunday, April 28, 2013

The end is near

I'm FINALLY on my final weekend away from home. I work this week and head back on Friday, and all I can say to that is WHEW! Boy it will be good to be home. I've been gone a month now, living out of the ol' suitcase. I find that the more I travel the less I care for it. Leaving home just doesn't have the allure it used to. I LIKE to be home.

Since I've been gone Sweet Pea underwent surgery to remove 3 Mast Cell tumors. She is recovering nicely, though it hasn't been without it's hiccups. One of the tumors was on a knee, and it was fairly large. The Dr. had to really stretch the skin to suture it closed, in fact she had to cut slits in the skin for more can only stretch skin so tight. The other 2 removals were much smaller masses, and in less flexible locations. The stitches came out last Friday and they are all fine. The big one however has morphed into an open 'spot' about the size of a quarter. Jeannie says you can see the pink muscle underneath. The Dr. said it will be fine though but will take time to close. Over the final week she had a bandage (to keep her from licking it, keeping it open) stapled to her leg to hold it in place. That is off now and it's up to her and nature to keep it clean and healing. Along with an anti-biotic.

All is well up in Sunnyvale, other than I had the entire weekend off. I'd much rather work one or both's why I go on these trips. But things conspired at work last week and my shot at weekend overtime evaporated. So I went for another long bike ride yesterday (Sat). I'm totally out of my "home evil" energy concoction sadly...which I believe is working GREAT! Last weekend I had my final 4 bottles at half-strength. Yesterday I was on plain Gatorade. Not very effective...considering how lousy of an 'eater' I am when I'm riding. It's probably my biggest problem...I just don't eat. Which results in the inevitable bonk. The last 2 weekends I've done two full centuries with LOTS of climbing totally self-supported (finding my water along the way). Yesterday realizing that I'm going to have to EAT my calories rather than drinks hem with my water, I aimed for a lesser route, planning for around 70 miles give or take.

I parked in Saratoga as I have the last two weekends, then up Hwy 9 to Skyline Rd where I then turned north. I rode along that originally aiming to go down into Half Moon Bay. However a rider along the way mentioned there was some kind of big wham-bam going on today and hwy 92 south (which is on it's BEST day a very scary non-biker type of road) would be a death-trap. So I bailed on that idea and was planning on taking La Honda road south to Hwy 1, then maybe head north to Tunitas Creek Rd which would be my approx. half-way-point. As I was just a few miles from La Honda I noticed a HUGE gathering of roadies at an intersection. I zinged on by pondering the significance of that...then another mile or 2 later there was a lone rider heading south, so I shouted out to him asking what road that was going West towards the coast. He said that was "Old La Honda" road and it was a beauty.

So I turned around an caught him, and we chatted as the road gently climbed. He said that road was like an old Italian road, winding thru the trees and eventually turns into the 'new' La Honda. What the hay I figured...I was riding without much of a plan anyway. So West it was. And he was right...though it was a much shorter descent that I would have liked. But it was wonderful...can't find a much narrower road anywhere in the US I believe. Not a single car either, just bikes...oodles and oodles of them going down and up. Eventually it "T'd" into La Honda, and my choice was to continue towards the coast or head back to Skyline Rd. I chose to continue West. The road descended for another few miles, then was nearly flat as it wound it's way in a valley or sorts around various farms. Also there was a nice little head/crosswind at this point. A very MADDENING wind. This went on for MILES. The coast just seemed to get farther and farther away!

Eventually I came into the tiny town of San Gregorio, notable for a some restaurant on a corner that must have had 50 road bikers in/around it. I pulled into the parking area and asked about getting water, and was told they won't even let you fill from a faucet inside (like they hate us freeloading cyclists). So I ate a quick snack (my first of the day, and I was now at mile 35'ish), and finished the rest of my 1st water bottle, and turned around. I hoped I could find a place to fill along the way. The lightly climbing road went by MUCH quicker than the windy descent, and soon I came to came to the intersection of "Pescadero" road. It looked interesting (going up hill) so I peeked at my Garmin map screen, and sure enough it connected to "Alpine Road" which I had heard of. As I was peeking at my maps a rider came uphill behind me and turned onto sure enough it must be good.

So off I went on Pescadero. Not too much farther up from La Honda is where Alpine Rd veered off to the left. Soon after that I came upon the guy who turned a minute or so before me. He was a "serious" roadie (I could tell by his kit, bike and [physical build..this guy was skinny as a skeleton wearing a FULL Specialized kit with a very expensive Specialized Tarmac...which is their full on race bike). He had a flat rear tire. I asked if Alpine connected back with Skyline, which he said it did after a "great" climb of about 6 miles. Sounds good to me, and off I went. It wasn't as bad as I was expecting...averaging around 8% most of the way, with some small bits up to about 12%. I was about a mile from the top when the guy came up behind me...we chatted briefly and he quickly pulled away. Yep...he was climbing pretty fast. I think I was doing pretty good considering I was only on Gatorade, and rationing it at that and riding on the edge of a full-on bonk. I think I could have held his wheel if I had my full-strength "Home Evil" miles wasn't really that high, nor was my total climbing thus far (I figure I was just over 50 miles, and maybe around 6000' climbed thus far...barely half way the last 2 weekend rides I've done).

Sure enough the last mile went pretty quick, and there I was back at Skyline Rd. The other side of Alpine Rd is Page Mill Rd (which I've also heard of as a GREAT cycling route). Had I been feeling more spunky I would have descended Pate Mill and then turned around coming right back up (as this was likely my last road ride up there this trip). But I wasn't feeling very strong at all, and my south end was complaining about the I turned South headed back for my car. The trip down Skyline was uneventful, and soon enough I was back at the junction of Hwy 9 where a quick 7 mile descent takes me to my car and the end. I BOMBED down fending off all cars until the final mile (where the grade drops to just 3 or 4 %). And quickly after that, there was my car. I was toast and so very thankful to have it done. However I did find a NEW favorite road up here...Alpine Road. Yes, it's a wonderful piece of pavement that I can't hardly wait to ride again. Maybe one day I'll do a quick out and back up Page Mill, down Alpine and back again. That will be a very sweet ride indeed.

And so....only 4 days of work and I'm done here. Hooray! I can hardly wait to pull back into my the garage door and have my babies come running out to see "daddy". I won't even get to see Jeannie, as she flys out the day I drive home (she's off on a 'girls' vacation to New Orleans for a week...I get home JUST in time to take care of the babies while she's gone. I'm sad to not even get to see Jeannie, but just want to go home.

It's been a good trip and I've done a lot of good work...but it's time to leave. Hope you have a great week. It's almost Grand Tour season...the Giro is starting SOON! Woo-HOO!!!


Sunday, April 21, 2013


Today (Sunday) was my only day off this week. It's been a long one too...worked a lot of hours. We've been doing a lot of crane operations, and my neck has been quite sore all week from looking up. There's always a lot of tension when you're hoisting a spacecraft worth a fortune. It only takes one blink...a moment of inattention, one slip-up...catastrophe is always a heartbeat away. But all our ops went smooth all week long (as they should). was my only bike ride day for the entire week, and I had to make it count. I had a big breakfast here at the hotel, where I ate more than normal. There was a method to my I was preparing my 'Home Evil' riding drinks on Saturday night, I was sad to learn that I'm now totally out of my not-patented evil recipe. AND, I had to make all 4 bottles (well, 2 bottles and 2 baggies with the stuff to make 2 more out on the road) at half strength. So my Half Evil based 'home evil' today was only 'quarter evil'...which is barely evil at all. I'll call today's drinks 'Somewhat Evil". I was concerned, as I'm not a good 'on the road' eater, which is why my Home Evil works so well for me...I can drink most of my calories, and eat only a little which is more for my brain to realize I've eaten 'something'. It's been working good for me these past few months.

And so...with my HUGE breakfast (a Belgian waffle, yogurt, 7 hard boiled eggs, granola (mixed in w/ the yogurt), and 2 good sized cups of coffee) I headed up to Saratoga to do a repeat of last Saturdays "MOST EPIC RIDE" (for me anyway). Only today I had a few small changes in mind: first off was to do a true "out and back" to Bonny Doon Rd down to Hwy 1, which was my turnaround point. That meant skipping the turnoff to Smith Grade near the top of Bonny Doon on my climb back up from Hwy 1, and also I TOTALLY was going to skip the TOTALLY EVIL China Grade "Shortcut" (wink wink...shortcut my butt!) I figured it would come in just under 100 miles, with probably a bit less than last weeks 13,088' of total climbing. I was also hoping to avoid my mid ride 'funk' that struck last week.

My ride began at Saratoga just a bit after 8am. It was still a bit chilly out (the forecast called for warm actually...around 80) but at that time in the trees it's cold. But I warmed up quick, and it was much better than last weeks cold-fest for the first 2 hours. The climb up Saratoga (Hwy 9) was nothing like last weeks...I felt like my legs had been injected with lead. My thighs felt on the verge of cramping right from the start (not a good sign). I struggled my way to the top of the 7 mile climb minutes slower than last weeks opening climb when I had to 'dial it back' so-as to save energy for later in the day. Today there was no need...I was crawling but surviving....I attribute it to my huge breakfast...guess my stomach was busy and wasn't going to give up the blood supply without a fight (and my stomach is a tough customer...wins ALL battles). 

The ride down into Big Basin Redwood park was beautiful...and not long after I left the top of the Saratoga climb I had to ditch my vest and arm was already warm enough to go without them. Of course it gets warm and cold in pockets as you ride thru the redwoods...pretty infuriating, but it's so beautiful in there I was able to just go with it. The big loop around the park went by quickly and before I knew it I was at the Jamison Creek Rd turn. The first few miles of this are light grade, but it gets interesting real quick after that. Last week I felt pretty spunky as I blasted up this STEEP climb, passing 2 riders in the process. Today I was still crawling, and barely able to pedal the steeper portions, just willing myself on as much as anything. FINALLY I made it to Empire Grade, and today I passed RIGHT ON BY the prison, instead of stopping for water like I did last week.

I kept on up to the high point and then down Empire Grade until I got to the same intersection where I ran into Noodle last week. OK...I didn't RUN INTO her...I made her acquaintance...came upon her, something like that. This was at Ice Cream Grade. Today I was feeling somewhat less than stellar still, and mentally I had been debating turning around at this point. But as I got there, I realized it was a beautiful day, it as my ONLY day, and there are lots of people who can't get out and ride like I take for granted (I actually thought about those poor people in Boston that lost legs and such, and how that will affect their lives...and started feeling guilty). So I decided to quit my whining and just DO IT. I had all day to crawl back if that was how it was going to be. here I am, riding thru the redwoods with light traffic, on a BEAUTIFUL day. Can't get much better than that.

So with my inner demon of inadequacy vanquished (for a little while anyway) I  once again turned right on this TASTY road which takes me down to Pine Flat Rd, which takes me to my endgame-quarry: Bonny Doon Rd. I stopped briefly at the wine tasting place at the top of the climb (making a mental note: this was where I'd fill a bottle and have a snack on my return), and had barely begun my descent when two girls flew by me headed for the steeper parts of the descent (it runs about a 10% grade for a good part of the 3 miles). I caught up quickly though and just held back, as I don't know this road and it's great having somebody in front to judge my speed in the turns. We flew down at a very quick pace, and it was a BLAST! And then, suddenly, there was Hwy 1. I was at my turn around point, 47 miles from the car. Hmmm...going to be a bit short of 100...we'll fix that near the end I figured. The climb up Bonny Doon went pretty good, I was feeling somewhat better it seems. Stopped briefly at the wine tasting for a bottle fill and was on my way.

A few miles up Pine Flat and then a right on Ice Cream Grade (which descends a bit from this side before it climbs back up to Empire Grade). As I was climbing I started to notice some discomfort. If you've ever had a 'gas bubble' moving around inside, you know what this is like. I haven't had that happen to me in's EXTREMELY painful too. And I'm a long ways from my car in the middle of a climb. The bubble shifted around some, and I actually stopped and doubled over in agony. And just as suddenly it's gone. I start to pedal again, and not much farther up the climb it's back. AGONY. And along with the 'bubble' I can feel the roiling-boiling brewing of some full-on gastrointestinal problems. I keep climbing, but it's becoming QUITE apparent that "Houston, we have a problem".

As I'm nearing the top of the climb I can tell that I have a VERY short amount time to deal with this issue. I'm thinking "what am I to do? Should I stop and get off the road?" THAT would be ugly...VERY ugly. I'm in great need of a bathroom. GREAT. NEED. DIRE need. URGENT. EXTREME and ABSOLUTE DESPERATE NEED. RIGHT NOW. I finally come up to the intersection of Ice Cream and Empire Grades, and across the street is a fire station. I'm standing there, staring at it across the road, set far back in the giant lot (seemingly a full block of property). All the doors are closed. I'm pondering how they would feel if I knock on their door, begging to defile their most likely self-cleaned bathroom. I'm thinking they won't be very happy at this. As I'm standing there staring, pondering (in my "getting MORE URGENT" by the second condition) I somehow change my focus....look...right there...THERE, just across the intersection by a large street sign... on the corner, standing by so quietly and it, can it be?? YES! It's is a port-a-potty! I was looking RIGHT PAST it, staring at the fire house. How could I have NOT noticed it? Was it there last Saturday? If so, then when I chatted with Noodle it was a mere 10 to 15' away from where we were standing! It surely doesn't belong....and it's on fire station property, but WAY out by the road. Like it was put there. FOR ME!

Yes, I can truthfully tell you, today I witnessed a genuine MIRACLE! Right when my need was at it's GREATEST (and I'm telling you, it literally couldn't' have gotten ANY greater), my need was fulfilled. BAM. Just like that. There you go Matt...just for you! Enjoy! I flew across the intersection (not sure if my wheels even touched the pavement) dropped my bike to the ground, and RAN inside. And as Miracles go...this was a good one...nay, a GREAT one! It was PRISTINE! Freshly filled with the blue stuff, with not even a HINT of odor (for now anyway...sorry about what I'm about to do port-a-potty guy), 2 full rolls of TP, and full of nice warm water and soap to wash with from the foot-pump tank! THANK YOU GOD! It was a BEAUTIFUL miracle. And let me tell WAS INDEED a Miracle. I hung out in there for a while, until I felt like I could go on. I recall thinking to myself how amazing it was...of ALL the places it could have been... to have it right there EXACTLY where I NEEDED it. And funny (hope this doesn't fall into the TMI category) but there was not ANY odor at ALL even AFTER my business. It's like the Black Knight was standing guard at the seat, saying "None shall Pass"...and as there was no King to lop his arms and legs off,  the Black Knight was victorious. Just incredible. All part of my Miracle. And it was WONDERFUL!

I then continued on up Empire Grade, but after not even 2 miles of climbing I felt that familiar feeling. I wondered if I could make it another 10 miles (where there is a Country Club right on the road)....which was answered very quickly. No. Not even. So I turned around and BLASTED back to my Miracle! And yes, it was still there! (I was scared...what if it wasn't a Miracle but the Devil, the ultimate Trickster, toying with you have it, now you don' very sorry was towed away JUST after you left). But Miracle was still there. I'd only been on the road about 10 minutes...and yet it was as pristine as it was when it left the factory floor. THANK YOU AGAIN GOD! I stayed there at my Miracle for a while. Hung out inside some, then outside (in the shade, sitting on the wheel) watching the traffic going by. My GI distress seemed to be working it's way out. But I was worried...I still had about 40 miles to go, which is a LONG way. I didn't relish getting caught in-between bathrooms if my ride-bug reared up again. But after a while (I'm guessing I was there a good half hour) I felt pretty I went on....again.

5 miles up is the Prison Firefighting school at the high point of Empire Grade...I flew by that and then started the descent...about 3 miles after that I hit Jamison Creek and flew down that. I was starting to feel some discomfort again, but nothing like earlier...I could handle this. So on I go...(the only way I could go...surely not going BACK at this point). Made it to the bottom and turned north on 236, and just a few miles up there was the country club. I had planned on doing a water bottle there I quickly parked the bike and walked into the Pro shop, asking if there was someplace to get a fill of water...he said sure, just around the corner in the bar restroom. How lucky for me! Fill a bottle, AND another rest-stop to work out my GI wackiness. Wasn't much to work out this time, and I felt pretty good even. And VERY thankful. Got my bottle and away I went. After that I cruised up and around Big Basin Redwoods, and finally I reached the intersection of 236/Hwy 9, meaning I had a 6 mile climb and then a quick 7 mile descent to my car. I cruised the climb in good style (smell the barn syndrome was DEFINITELY kicking in) and before I knew it I was at the top. But I was still going to be short of a full century (even after going back for my 2nd potty-stop on Empire). I was running short on energy at this point for sure, but only needed 3 more miles. So I turned left on Skyline Rd, and went 1.6 miles north...then back to the intersection where I now had 93.2 miles on my odometer (I went an extra .1 mile to make SURE).

I hit Hwy 9 and lit the after-burners. WHAT A JOY to fly down this road. And flew I did (ended up with my 2nd fastest time on the descent which isn't too shabby, considering how tired my legs were). Got to the car...and my total for the day: 100.1 miles, 12, 432' of climbing, 8:19:26 saddle time (my elapsed time was 9:23, which isn't bad with all my GI stops). I'll take that. It was a pretty good day. After all, how often do you witness an honest to God MIRACLE? I can't think of any that I've personally seen off hand....until today. Sure, it's sad to waste a Miracle on a bathroom...but what can I that very moment in time, if I'd had a choice: finding a bathroom OR finding a bag with a million bucks in it (and could only have ONE)...which would I take? The bathroom. Every time. No question.

Hope your week is a good one. And if you need one, here's hoping that a Miracle happens to you. I think you just have to NEED it bad enough. Maybe that's part of the criteria.


Saturday, April 13, 2013


Work has been rather crazy since I got up to Sunnyvale....(which is good...keeps me out of the stores!) I've worked every day for the first 11 days...then suddenly we ran out of work (rats). So I unexpectedly got the entire weekend off! But that's I have a plan B ready to rock. Today I took the road bike out for what I figured was going to be around a 70 to 80 mile ride.

I left the village of Saratoga just a bit after 8:30am, and it was still chilly. The weather forecast was a high around 72 (not necessarily on the coast tho) so I brought minimal clothes, knowing I was going to be carrying them all day. Shorts and standard short sleeve jersey to start-with, and carrying my arm warmers, thin wind vest and toe warmers. I suited up and got ready to ride in the sun, and it was wonderful! I took off just a hair past 8:30am and it was nice. For about 200 yards that the first batch of trees I quickly changed my mind and put on everything...BRRRR.The initial 7 mile climb up Congress Springs Rd (Hwy 9) was a nice warmup but deep in the trees, so it all stayed cold all the way. After that it's a 6 mile descent to the junction of Hwy 9 and Hwy 236 (Big Basin Redwood State Park). Hwy 9 goes to Santa Cruz, and Hwy 236 does the same thing in a long loop'ish sort of way with tons of climbing. I went straight for the long route thru Big Basin. WHAT an amazing road...narrow, winding, DEEP in the cover of redwoods....just AWESOME! After cruising a big CCW loop I  eventually took a right turn on Jamison Creek Road. A few miles up that and it gets interesting REAL QUICK! As in STEEP!
I crawled up that and took a left on Empire Grade (I've been wanting to ride this road for a few years now). After a bit more climbing I hit the 'summit' of Empire...where I stopped at what I THOUGHT was a firefighting training school to fill a water bottle. There was a guy at the closest building (looked like a galley to me) hosing off the cement, and there was a 2nd faucet right where his hose was connected. I asked him if it was drinkable (yes) and if it was cool for me to fill a bottle...he said no I filled the bottle and poured in a packet of "Home Evil" (my personal recipe for a food replacement drink based on Carbo Rocket Half Evil), had a quick snack and was on my way (note: even though my Home Evil powder is probably all the calories I need, my body seems to want some actual food here and there..maybe it's a mental thing). Farther down Empire grade (heading south) I came to an intersection, and there was someone in the new 2013 Fatty kit (looks like Neopolotin ice cream). The rider was stopped at the intersection, and I shouted out "HEY FATTY!" and got a look. I cruised across the intersection...and it was Noodle McCrae (world famous for the AMAZING video's she's made of her off the charts INSANE 100 Miles of Nowhere rides (see Fattys blog right now...he talks about her some more). She is an animal, and she works for Specialized bicycle company (that must be pretty cool!), and lives down just south of San Jose in Morgan Hill (where the Specialized factory is).

We chatted a bit...turns out she was down in my area a few weeks back doing the Solvang double century (that day was HORRIBLY windy! I remember it as I was on a group ride, and as we were going with the wind passing the double riders coming north, I was feeling sorry for them...they had about 60 to 70 more miles to go in that wind before turning around and catching the tailwind). She's apparently been doing other doubles and would no doubt decimate me on any ride. She's also a very nice you would expect after 'meeting' her via her video's and comments on Fatty's. Funny how everybody over at Fatty's feels like we know each other, even though many of us have never met. I asked her about a few route possibilities (as I was 'winging' it on this ride, with only a vague notion of how to get where I wanted to go). I asked what she thought was best, and she said Ice Cream Grade would be her choice. That seems fitting, as she's wearing a jersey that makes me think of ice Ice Cream Grade (to Bonny Doon Rd, which was my overall  goal for the day) it is. She continued on her way north on Empire Grade...and that was the last I saw of her. (I did ask if she was going to LIVESTRONG Davis this year...she said there was a double she was planning on doing that day....I did happen to mention how AWESOME Davis is with all us Fatty's gathered...just a GRAND weekend!) Don't think I sold her on it tho. She would surely be able to hang w/ Fatty, The Hammer and my brother Greg...(I'm hoping to do that myself this year...we shall see soon enough).

Ice Cream Grade was nice (all descending), then I turned onto another road briefly (Pine Flat Rd, or something like that) which took me to the world famous Bonny Doon Rd (they've done it in the Tour of Calif a few year Levi rocketed into the lead on this very climb)...only I was going downhill to the coast/Hwy-1. Just before the downhill as I turned onto Bonny Doon there were 2 bikers we chatted a bit and I asked them what they thought...told them my basic plan..they recommend the route I ended up taking all the way home (first go down Bonny Doon to the coast, then turn around and climb right back up (which I wanted to do's the reason I came out this far in the first place). I was at mile 44 at the top of the hill...4 miles down, a bit shorter up as not far before the summit I turned right on Smith Grade. That went downhill thru more redwoods, then climbed back up to Empire grade. I was riding pretty good to this point, but by the time I got back to Empire Grade I felt wiped out. Turned left on Empire and started heading back...but now I was crawling on what were easy rolling climbs (Empire Road follows the ridge North/South).

This funk lasted all the way until I got back to the firefighter training camp, where I was now needing both bottles filled. So I pulled in, and as nobody was outside I helped myself to the faucet. Mixed in my 'home evil' and was just starting to have another snack when a guy in a uniform came walking towards me and said "you know you're on State Prison property, don't you?" Uhm, sir..I wasn't aware of that...all I noticed was the firefighter training camp sign that I passed on my way by a few hours ago heading south...he said that was true, only that it was a prison training camp. I was 'trespassing' on State Property. OOPS! I apologized, told him I had stopped earlier and asked if I could fill my bottle (hope I didn't get that guy in trouble...however looking back he was most likely a prisoner so is already in jail...what more are they gonna do to him?)...and he just asked if I would leave at my earliest convenience...I pocketed my snack and said no problem, sorry, won't happen again, and high-tailed it out of there! I stopped about 100 yards down the road and finished my snack, and lo and behold I noticed the OTHER large signs (all over the place actually, and all over the fenceline too) that all say "Prison, State Prison, No Trespassing", etc etc. I guess I was in oxygen deprivation the first time I came by (after climbing Jamison Creek, I think I mentioned it's STEEP!) and only paid attention to the first sign I saw...funny how you can be SO inattentive after you THINK you know something that you don't notice anything else.

I continued my way down Jamison Creek back to Big Basin briefly, before taking the recommended deviation (ie: Shortcut) on China Grade. It's somewhat flat for the first few miles...but you go across a bridge and BAM! STEEP STEEP STEEP! Funny how my Strava ride report shows it a much milder grades than I was so steep that I had to ride a "paper route" for much of the climb (where you weave back and forth like you're delivering newspapers to both sides of the road...which was quite a challenge considering how NARROW the road was...but I kept grinding away). I'd been climbing for seemingly ages when there was suddenly a group of VW's coming down (it was a SUPER narrow road, reminding me of the roads in Yorkshire England last year). I stopped at the very edge, and the first car stopped and asked me how much farther down it goes. I told him about 2 or 3 miles (had no real idea...I was again in Oxygen deprivation and was just trying to survive the climb). I asked him how much further up, and he laughed...said they'd been on it seemingly ALL DAY! Well...that news didn't make me feel any better. They continued down and I continued to climb up the 'short cut'. Oh...and here I need to tell you that my Garmin GPS Unit was also apparently not fully charged when I left, as it had given me the 'low battery' alert a bit earlier. Uh-Oh. So I quit going back and forth from my map screen to the data screen, and just left it on data (that seems to be the least power drain...the map screen is always reloading as it continually shifts and changes as the road turns). A bit farther on there was a motorcycle stopped...a guy and a girl...I asked the guy how much farther, and also when I finally hit 236 which way to go (I thought I needed to turn right but wasn't sure). He said to go straight across and keep climbing...turning right would take me back towards Santa Cruz (I had told him I needed to get to Saratoga).

SO...armed with this knowledge I didn't need to shift to my map screen..and eventually I made it to 236 (Big Basin road) again. I continued straight across..and noticed there was a sign for a Boy Scout camp in the direction I was going. I figured it was on my way...and I continued climbing. Also of note: it was getting colder QUICK! I had already donned all my gear again as the nice part of the day was well past (and I was deep in trees again). The road goes up and up, and suddenly it turned to dirt. But it was NICE dirt..VERY smooth...much better than the crappy old pavement I had been climbing (note to self: China Grade would TRULY SUCK to go down...don't EVER DO THAT). I also figured out why they called it China Grade...I do believe one side of Mt Everest is in China...and it sure felt like I was climbing up to at least Base Camp or something on this road. I expected to see Sherpa's at any moment...and maybe some Yak's. I finally get to the Boy Scout Camp, and lo and behold, it's a dead end. DAMN THAT MAN!! (note: I'll come back to this moment in time later).  I just climbed about 5 extra miles, and now had to go BACK. I risked it and shifted to my map screen on my Garmin...and as I was JUST about where I needed to be (moving my cursor around shifting the view) and died. DAMN DAMN DAMN!! I stuck it in my jersey pocket (to warm it up) and started back downhill. About half way down there was a vehicle coming up...salvation!! I flagged them down, and it was 2 Boy Scout Troop leaders...I told them I was lost (stating the obvious to them..I think there were amused as here is some yahoo on a dirt road in a full on road bike/kit)....and they told me I needed to turn left on 236 (which climbing up was the right that I THOUGHT I needed to make...DOUBLE-DAMN THAT MAN!! (again, I'll return here later). I thanked them and continued on my way...eventually getting to 236.

I pulled my GPS out and stuck it back on the handlebars...and fired it up. Warming it up in ymy pocket helped...I now had SOME battery life left. However I forgot to hit "start" for about 2 more miles here. Also thankfully, it seems that with all the climbing on China Grade to Mt Everest and back had taken me to the high point on Big Basin Rd, so I now mostly zooming downhill now thru winding and DEEPLY shaded (and QUITE COLD) redwoods...I had been on this very road a mere 6 or 7 hours earlier. Oh..also of note: my Garmin has a bunch of data fields that I keep displayed (8 to be precise...I'm a data junkie). One of the fields is "% grade", and another is "total elevation climbed"...2 screens that I really like. Well...before the Bonny Doon downhilll I had noticed the grade field was blank and my total elevation screen was locked at 5670' climbed. Rats...however I figured maybe my Garmin was trying to save me the mental anguish for my return trip of knowing just how much my total climbing was (and just how steep China Grade really was). As I was winding my way back on Big Basin I heard sirens in the background...(seems REAL out of place deep in the redwoods). It got louder and louder..and suddenly just behind me was a Fire Dept paramedic truck HAULING it on the super windy road! I jumped off to the side and stopped, letting him by. Then I continued my ride, and then more sirens were faintly audible in the woods. Closer and closer they came (more than one this time) and I pulled over just in time to let by an ambulance, sheriff, and some other official vehicle swoop by. They were FLYING, and not long after that the sirens went stopped.
Very quickly I came up on a LONG line of stopped cars. Being a bike I cruised up the left lane to the very front. There was a large pickup (with obvious damage to his left front bumper/headlight area) stopped in the left lane (coming uphill) and a large black full dress-type motorcycle lying down in the middle of the swtichback. I was standing there (freezing) wondering what to do when the sheriff came up to the guy in the pickup (about 10' from me) and started asking him about the accident. He (and his son) were coming up the hill, and suddenly in the middle of the switchback there were 2 motorcycles riding side by side, one of them in his lane. He had nowhere to go and the motorcycle hit him and bounced out into the turn and crashed. Obviously people were hurt (I saw the paramedics bringing out the 'backboard' while the man was describing what happened)....I felt bad for everybody involved...but I was truly FREEZING...(and it was about 5:30pm by now...not getting any warmer or lighter in these trees) I backed up my bike about 10 yards, put on my cleat covers, grabbed my bike and went cross country...I could see it was a switchback, and it wasn't very far before I was at the far side of the had a steep section to slide down on my butt to get to the road, and I was again on my way on a now deserted road! Not too much further was the intersection I was dreaming about: hwy 9 and 236. That means I knew exactly where I was, and exactly how far I had left. 13 miles to go...a 6 mile climb back up to Skyline Road, then the 7 mile descent back into Saratoga and my car. 

OK...remember not long ago when I damned that unknown man for his faulty information? this point I did the quick math and realized that without his erroneous data, I would NOT have made 100 miles on today's ride. I would have been about 7 or 8 miles short, and that would have been CATASTROPHIC! It would no longer be a SUPER-CENTURY! So, I hereby Un-Damned the man and humbly apologized over and over, hoping he only had good fortune from here on out (note: he was NOT the motorcycle that was crashed...I would have felt TERRIBLE if it had been, but that wasn't his motorcycle). Maybe he'll win the lotto or something. So now I started the 6 mile climb, and was dreaming about being back at my rental car (note: I had traded my titanic gas-sucking (but REALLY NICE) Ford Expedition on Friday afternoon for a little Chevy Sonic...a small 4 door hatchback...big enough for bikes if I pull the front wheel off, and it should get GREAT mileage....I didn't find out until I was already up here that on THIS particular trip (because it's more than 30 days 33 days) the company isn't paying my gas as they ALWAYS have (and I've been on MANY trips more than 30 days). Well...the Expedition was nice and all...but I've been using about $60 of gas a WEEK (that gets me about 230 miles)....which compared to my amazing Jetta TDI which gets about 800 miles on $60 of diesel is a rather pricey ride.

I climbed pretty strongly up that last 6 miles (as one of my friends calls it: I could smell the barn!)....and suddenly there was Skyline Rd! I was SAVED! I flew down Hwy 9 (turns out it was my 2nd fasted descent down this road ever, and I've done it more than a few times)...I was highly motivated for SURE! Boy was my little red Sonic a sight for sore eyes! But actually I was in far better condition than I expected. I was WAY over my estimated distance it turns Garmin miraculously held out all the way to my car and was right at 96 miles, and that's not counting the miles it was in my pocket, giving me an actual total distance of OVER 100 miles! When I got home I quickly uploaded my Garmin data to Strava, and then clicked on 'corrected elevation' (which uses known maps to calculate your actual climbing, rather than the somewhat accurate barometric elevation sensor data) and the true climbing for my day was 13,088'! Now keep in mind I've NEVER done over 10,000' feet before...and I haven't ridden over 70 miles this season (and only once last year: and that was back in June at LIVESTRONG Davis where I did the century, which was actually only around 93 miles or so with maybe 2000' of climbing). Of note for today: I didn't cramp at ALL! That was a miracle in it's own right...I guess my "Home Evil" is a good brew....I add about an 8th of a tsp of potassium chloride (Nu Salt, a salt substitute from the grocery store) which is the same stuff in bananas that helps prevent cramps. I'm QUITE prone to cramps on longer harder rides...and this was by far the longest/hardest ride I've EVER done.

Also of note: Greg was riding the Mulholland Challenge super-century today down south was a real sufferfest for sure...121 miles and over 12,000' of climbing...I knew he was doing this, and felt in a way that we were suffering together...he had a great time as expected...(I already peeked at HIS Strava upload not long after I put mine in). I hope to go for a long hard (tho not quite so long, nor as hard) mt bike ride tomorrow....but that is obviously up for debate after I wake up and see how my legs feel. I think the week is shaping up for lots more overtime...and next weekend is looking to be all work (subject to change at the last moment obviously). So I need to ride when I can. Overall I'm proud as a peacock at today's ride...I guess all those rides with the club I've been doing (where they go REAL FAST and I hang on for dear life at the back) are really paying off! I did REALLY good today! Looking back I would not have guess I would be capable of this ride, certainly without totally crawling my way for the last half (I think my 'funk' back around mile 57 was my body reacting to what is typically the end of my rides...saying "HEY! Aren't we almost done? When are we gonna stop?" and when it wasn't the end it adapted, quit complaining (eventually), and got used to the idea that I was nowhere near done. Knowing what Greg was going thru also gave me motivation NOT to suck too bad. I had no idea for sure that I was over 10,000' of climbing (but I suspected...I knew it was 'a LOT').

OK...enough on my MOST EPIC RIDE EVER...and on to the babies.

Sweet Pea (our #2 baby) went in for surgery on Friday to remover 3 Mast Cell Tumors from her skin. One was rather large and was on a knee...and I hadn't thought about it...but they remove a pretty decent chunk of skin for even the small ones (I assume they do a 'eyeball' shaped cut so they can pull the skin together...obviously they just can't cut a circle or square). The knee one was the largest, and the surgeon told Jeannie that she stretched the skin as best as possible, but had to make slits in it to stretch it it will take longer to heal (as the skin needs to re-grow in the slit areas). That leg is in a total soft-cast, and poor Sweet Pea is MISERABLE. The other 2 are pretty long 6 to 7"....that's a big cut for a rather small tumor. Jeannie says that PG has been REALLY motherly...when ever Sweet Pea makes a moan or any noise of discomfort, she runs over, sniffs around, licks her face, and then lies down right next to or night. They are best friends (they've been together about 9 years now)....and we always think of PG as "the Biddy" as she treats the other 2 like her subordinates (PG is the alpha though, maybe that's normal). And speaking of PG, she is doing GREAT with 3 legs. The hair is coming back, she has pretty much totally adapted already, and she's even picking up speed now when I take them to the park to run...obviously she's not as fast as before (when she would run side by side with Sydney, not even looking forward but right as Syd from about a foot ahead, taunting her like the Road Runner to Wiley E Coyote or something). But I suspect she will continue to get faster as she gets more comfy w/ the balance and such of one back leg.

So...that's it for this MATT'S MOST EPIC RIDE very sorry to bore you with it...but it meant a lot to me. Hope spring has arrived for you (I see another winter storm moving across the top of the country...boy..somebody should FIRE that groundhog!) very sorry if that hits you....I saw on the news that a couple in Wisconsin turned back on their Christmas lights until spring...NICE! When life gives you lemonades, deal with it!