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.



  1. Happened to me once on a PCT trip; I was on my way back to the car (last day thank goodness) so was on the eastern slope of Kearsarge pass amongst all the scree and it felt like in full view of everyone at the Onion Valley trailhead. Thankfully there were a few scattered trees and larger boulders to hide behind! No miraculous biffys appeared!
    Had to be either contaminated water or my digestive tract just didn't like the freeze dried meal (some bean and corn concoction if I recall) from the night before.

  2. Rae, at least you were carrying some TP...I had nothing. Just looking into the woods at what I had to work with (grass, sticks and leaves, and maybe a leaf or 2 of some nice green springtime poison oak would slip in, thus extending the horribleness for MANY days after)...that would have ensured a rather unpleasant remainder of my day is all I can say. Which further cemented how much of a Miracle it was!

    I'm jealous of your trip on the PCT...Greg and I will maybe this fall do a section of the JMT...we've been working our way up to doing a one-way...maybe this year we'll just finally do it! (Tho I need to get my pack lighter, and I'm sure Greg feels the same way).

    1. don't want to leave the impression that I ever did the whole thing, although that was a dream....Like you, I would go out and do sections, 3-5 days worth, and they usually had to be out & back routes too as I usually was companionless. Even when I had a companion we didn't always do the one way thing. Did quite a lot of the San Diego county section, and the rest in the region between Lone Pine and Bishop.
      Yep, TP and baggies ftw!

  3. Oh, just hang it over a fallen tree and let it fly next time! That's how a cave man might have handled it! ;-)

    1. Oh sure, no prob with's AFTER that which concerns me. I'm going to be wearing those shorts for another 3 + hours. Letting it "fly" is the easy part.

  4. Leaves and bushes my friend! ;-)

    1. THAT would have been horrid beyond comprehension (no water anywhere to be found, except in the MIRACLE Port-o). Rinsing my hands with my sticky home evil drink wouldn't be very pretty either. I'd have to burn my bar-tape and riding-gloves after that I'm afraid. No amount of leaves would do what needed to be done I'm afraid.

  5. Man Matt thanks! Your post reminded me that I have failed to replenish my saddlebag with the emergency TP. Rolaids are also an integral part of my long-haul rides. Not that it matters. I haven't gone much over fifty miles for quite awhile now. I'm not sure why, other than laziness.

    I opened my road atlas a day ago and a printed copy of a 116 mile loop I did last summer fell out. You may know it: Titusville-Merrit Island Refuge-US One back to New Smyrna. Hot and not beautiful but easy, little traffic...the redwoods, on the other hand...

    Back when I was building restaurants all over the south Coyote and I were doing windshield time somewhere in the far reaches of I-10 and gastro-disaster set in. Green-in-the-face imminent doom gastro-disaster and I was faced with the side of the Interstate as my only option. Then an exit magically appeared and I said "Coyote for the love of god pull off I'm gonna die' and he did.

    At the bottom of the ramp was...nothing. No gas stations, restaurants, Stuckies, nothing. Just a pristine, inexplicable Port-o-Let. Two rolls, as obviously-never-used as can be imagined. What happened in there does not need reporting.

    There may be some mysterious (and benevolent) organization in the world who is doing this work. It is comforting to think so. But I take it as further proof that perhaps we are cosmically linked.

    Good luck with the space ship.


    1. Hey TJ...I will now be carrying a partial roll along with my other stuff. Boy, when you need it, you NEED it. Funny you had almost the SAME exact of all people understand how TRULY Miraculous it was to find one JUST when you needed it MOST! (Maybe it's Mother Nature saying "OH NO! You're not gonna do THAT to my beautiful greenery, no sir! Here...take this" and appears out of nowhere in a strange location in pristine condition. Whoever the benefactor is, I was REALLY grateful! (reminds me think of the old joke: a bear was out in the woods doing his business, and a raccoon walks up and starts chatting with him...the bear asks if he has a problem with uhm, you know...'stuff', sticking to his fur, to which the raccoon replies "no" the bear picks him up and wipes with him). Sadly, there's never any raccoons around when you REALLY need them.