Monday, September 11, 2017

Birthday Ride, go BIG or go HOME!

Last Saturday was my birthday...I turned FIFTY SEVEN! How on earth is that POSSIBLE? Only THREE YEARS AWAY FROM SIXTY???

Or maybe sixty isn't really THAT old. Yeah..that's the ticket...not old at ALL! Just a spring chicken, pecking around for seed. Yep...I think that's what I am.

Anyway, I felt like going somewhat 'big' on a bike ride to prove I still can (and to see where I am in my 'comeback) I ditched the weekly Saturday Morning 'group ride' and went solo. I don't do much solo anymore...too many close calls w/ cars..I think there's safety in numbers on road bikes. But I made an exception on Saturday (and besides, nobody else wants to do MY rides).

Here's my Strava screenshots (in case you've never seen a Strava ride). After the ride I connect my Garmin to my PC and it automaticly uploads any new rides. Then I click on it and this is what comes up:

This is the main page of my ride. It's got a title (in bold) and also a description (I entered both). Then off to the right of that is the specifics of the ride. Distance, moving time, elevation gain, estimated power (in watts), energy output (never paid any attention to that spec). Then below those in smaller type is my average and max speed, average and max heartrate, calories, temperature (typically taken at the end of the ride right before I turn off the Garmin), and elapsed time. Then below that tells me which Garmin unit I used (my Edge 500 for this ride) and which bike (I can select any of my bikes on the Garmin before the ride, each bike has different specs...tire size, etc). And to the left of the Grmin I used is some small pictures: these are pics I took and uploaded into my ride. I'll include them at the bottom.

Scrolling down the page is the aerial view from the GPS. The start (and end on this particular ride) is the little checkered circle off about 3-O Clock in the loop. Below that is the altitude profile of the ride showing both altitude (the vertical scale) and miles (the horizontal scale). This particular ride (Figueroa Mountain) is one of two HC climbs in the entire area (the other is down in Santa Barbara...Gibraltar Road). MANY Pro teams come to Santa Ynez in the winter before the season starts to train in the Santa Ynez area, and Figueroa is a big part of's the closest they can come to a big European climb here in the states. Narrow road, switchbacks, and a good 10 mile climb gaining over 3500'. That's just the can see there is a 14 mile run-in to the base of the climb, which gains about 800', then there are some small descents on the climb (and one bigger one) as you can see in the profile.

Below the Alt profile begins the "segments" that people have created. A segment can be pretty much anything, but typically they are climbs, descents, sprints, and in many cases portions of climbs (not sure why people do that).

Here I've clicked on the segment "Fig Mtn Rd - Happy" (for "Happy Canyon"). It then opens up MY specifics on that particular segment. The gold circle to the left with "PR" in it means that I set a Personal Record on that segment. My time was 1:23:30, and it shows a shaded bit of the altitude profile, and then on the aerial view it shows the segment in blue. To the right of that is the classification (if it's a climb). This one is an HC (in the red circle). Then over to the right of that is the "Leader Board", which is where I rank in the BIG scheme of things (I was #667 out of 2259 people who have done this climb). Note: for every person who does a 'segment', they only get 1 spot on the leaderboard, their PR. I've done this climb many times and when I PR it, I move up in the leaderboard.

Of note here is the KOM (King of the Mountain as you all the FASTEST guy) on this segment: it's none other than Tejay van Garderen of BMC, with a time of 44:37! So MY time was just UNDER 40 minutes SLOWER than TJ's! Damn he's STRONG...he was pretty much DOUBLE my speed up the entire climb! And if you look at #3, you see it's Nathan Brown (of Cannondale Drapac, who just did the TDF and wore the KOM jersey for 2 nights!)

Depending on the ride, there may be just a few segments, or on longer popular rides there can be dozens. Fig is a pretty popular ride w/ the stronger cyclists. Most in my Saturday morning group ride have never done Fig, they're scared of it. I LOVE this climb! However it is VERY temperature dependent. I knew as the day progressed it was going to get pretty toasty on the backside (I do a counter-clockwise loop). The winds are from the NW, and as the climb begins you are almost totally in blocked areas until about mile 7 of the climb, when you come around the mountain and suddenly there will be a headwind (a gift from GOD to be sure). On my first lap (which I PR'd) it was still relatively cool, so I was riding strong and felt GREAT! Got to the top, zipped up the jersey and descended into the wind. The descent is actually pretty horrible. The upper few miles of pavement aren't too bad...but the lower miles are HORRIFIC!  Holes, cracks, patches, and me on a standard road bike w/ 23mm tires (meaning pretty much ZERO suspension effect). And the descent is steep...many pitches over 15%, so your arms get very tired, and your feet are very tired from suspending your entire body (the road is so crappy you can't hardly sit down or you'll hammer your butt to the seat).

So anyway, this is the end of the segments...besides the yellow (gold actually) MEDALS (Gold is a PR) there are silver for 2nd best, and bronze for 3rd best. These medals are all ME comparing to ME. How am I doing? Am I getting medals? PR's? IF so then I'm getting stronger. And according to my birthday ride, I AM stronger! I did TWO laps (climbed it TWICE) and yes, the 2nd lap was much slower than the first. It also was 100 degrees for the 7 protected miles of the climb on the backside. I can safely tell you that when doing a 10 mile climb, 100 is pretty dang HOT! I took a lot of 30 second 'time-outs' in shade on that climb, just to get my heartrate down a bit before heading back out into the sun/heat. But I made it, and then another horrible descent back into Los Olivos (where I parked the car). So that's two 40 mile laps with 4835' of climbing in each (most of it on the BIG climb). I'm actually pretty proud of this shows that my 'comeback' has been a success..I'm right were I want to be: on the razors edge of my fitness, able to set BIG PR's (and there's none bigger than Fig)!

And so...the pictures I took w/ my cell phone and uploaded after the ride:
 Who knew there was a herd of BUFFALO along my ride? This herd is on Baseline Road, about 6 miles out of village of Los Olivos (where the car is parked). They were very docile, weren't scared of me at all. I like that, unlike some COWS I've seen!

 Here's a view of the mountain. It doesn't really look like much but it's a 4500' climb from where I'm at taking the shot. You can see fog/clouds to the left of the picture. It's about 8:30am here (took this during my 1st lap). It's a beautiful morning in SantaYnez!

This is what the road ahead looks like in the bottom mile. It's holding a pretty consistent 11% grade here. On the 2nd lap (when I took this shot) it was QUITE HOT here.

Here I'm on my 2nd lap and in the last 2 miles of the climb (where I now have a HEAVENLY headwind, cooling me off but even further slowing down my pathetic climbing speed). You can see the road below winding up the mountain. Actually the last 2 miles are my favorites...the grade has dropped to between 6 and 8 % grade (which feels almost FLAT compared to the 10 to 12% you have further down the mountain).
Anyway, I figure it's not to shabby for a 57 year old recreational rider who works for a living...I can live with that. AND I'm still getting faster! Not sure how many more years I will be able to make that claim, but for now I WOO-HOO! And I HOPE to be still getting faster 5 years from now (when I retire)! Wouldn't THAT be something!



  1. HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY, MATT! So sorry I'm late with this but I wasn't here at work yesterday & thus did not have internet access. Your ride sounds impressive, as always! :)

    The Vuelta had a great day on Saturday - Contador attacked & WON on the Angliru & ALMOST made up enough time to get on the podium. Almost a fairy tale! I'll probably remember Contador's final mt stage & his final race forever as it was even more impressive to me than his Tour wins. Honestly, watching him attack & pass all the riders in the break & then staying away to win that stage made me tear up.

    Unfortunately, I was not so happy with Sunday's stage. Besides leading the overall, Froome led the Green jersey competition but if Trentin, the spinter who had won 3 stages, could win the Intermediate Sprint and the Finale Sprint, he would get the Green jersey instead of Froome as long as Froome didn't finish in the Top 12 Sunday. Well, when was the last time you saw the overall GT rider SPRINT the last day? Froome did & ended up keeping the green jersey. It PISSED me off! Hell, he WON the whole race & was the VERY rare rider to EVER win the Tour & Vuelta in the same year, did he have to be a PIG & take the Green jersey too?!

    And great news that Team Cannondale lives for at least another year! I haven't read if the sponsorship is secure for longer, have you?

    Did you see that Tyler Farrar is retiring? Not totally surprised but I'll miss him. But the shocker is that Talansky, at age 28 is retiring too! Since he completely faded at the TDF, maybe he figured he wouldn't get another job if Slipstream did go under? Or maybe he realized when riding the Tour that his heart & passion was no longer in it? Still, I was shocked to see a rider who was entering his peak years leave unless physically unable to continue. Plus, he's one of the FEW American GC riders. Wonder what both of them will do next.

    I spent all weekend watching the Irma coverage & am still stunned. If I hadn't already decided that retiring to FL was NOT what I'll be doing in the next 7-12 years, I would now. No place in that state is safe! If your roof doesn't get blow off, your house floods with stinky, disgusting water OR you &/or your house fall in a sinkhole! I feel so badly for these people as for some, their entire lives will be upended (no house & no job as workplace also affected). I'm not sure what it "all means" but maybe, just maybe we shouldn't be building so much in flat, sea level land? What do you guys think?

    Gotta run. Oh, & "my" Buckeyes lost, so I hope you liked your "birthday gift", Matt! ;) :)

  2. Hey Susie....I wasn't going to say anything about the OSU loss...was just keeping that little smile to myself! (it WAS a really special little gift to be sure...they've been SO dominant these last few (MANY?) years). I'm sad I wasn't able to see the Vuelta, especially the Saturday stage when Contador went out on top, visions of el Pistolero in my mind. Glad he was able to go out that way. And yep...Froome...what can we say? I was really hoping SOMEBODY would seriously challenge him...we'll see how things go next year now that the Superteam Sky has lost a few TOP mountain guys (will Nieve be a GC guy on his new team? He SHOULD be!) Also shocked by the Talansky retirement...WTH? At 28?? There must be something going on we're not privy to. He should EASILY have another 5 years. No surprise to me either about Tyler...he's really faded to the back of the pack the last few years.

    OK...gotta run...happy Wednesday!