Itz been a tough 8 years (physical-wise). Some 8 years back I just got burned out... from racin, from ridin bicycles and I guess just from the idea that I was only a few years away from the BIG 5 OH. So I stopped completely and in the period from late 97 to last year did under 150 miles on a bike (per my cyclecomputer) and many thousands on my motorbikes. Anyway, got fat and eventually, unhappy. Motorcycling has been a '2ndary' thing, that now became a focus. As fun and technical as it is, it still lacked something, something less removed from the environment, something more 'dependent' on me, something more in the 'speed of life', something more connecting to what I was riding thru and somehting less noisey.
Last year, late in the summer I finally decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and change all that. Struggled thru many months of difficult progress, pedaling in squares, puffing hard over the smallest rises and 'trying' not to get discouraged. Things were slowly and steadily imrpoving. At least until this past Dec, when a Hummer driver almost hit me head-on while he was passing a group of cyclists around a blind turn.
I avoided the deadly impact zone, but went off the road and suffered a broken shoulder socket, shattered shoulderblade, 5 broken ribs, punctured lug and the inevitable broken clavicle. It wasn't until mid April that I was able to resume ridin the bicycle.
But I did with a vengence. Determined to not be put off or countered, I rode with new determination to not only find condition, but also find all the wonderful things cycling has/had given me over the years.
This past weekend, unintentioned that it would be, became a 'coming' out. Sat. rode fairly strongly with a regular 'training' group in both hill and flat and fast 'race-pace' road work; then went off on my own for another 1 1/2 hours to accumulate a total of 60 miles.
Decided, after waking yesterday (sunday) that the day would be a 'coming out' of climbing and descending. Now I've done climbing days every week, since May, but none to test me over almost 4 hours of riding. Yesterday was the day. A day to enjoy all the best our small valley had to offer.
Out at 8am and easy 7 miles to the base of the 1st Climb - Old San Marcos Rd, up some 3.5 miles and 1500 ft., then up to East Camino Cielo and another 1,500 ft. Down Painted Cave Rd. a particularly steep and dirty path for most it length and then a highspeed rip down Rt 154 under fairly light morning traffic.
And once again at the valley floor the slow and steady ascent of foothill road to the Toro Cyn area - another 2,000 ft of up and down and rolling climb. To hook up to what has always been my most feared climb. Feared not for length or ultimate steepness, but for its unforgiving 1 mile length. Ladera Rd jumps up from the ascent of foothill and goes over 1100 ft in a mile of straight roadway. Take a pool tabletop and tilt it to 9.5 gradient, never a slackening, never an increase, just brutal straight every inch uphill.
The reward at the top is another uncomparable view of the valley AND the connection to Bella Vista Rd with its magical downhill swing. Tight and turny, Bella Vista, done east to west, is my cycling vision of powder skiing.
With occasional breaks to take in views or quiet moments, the day was everything I had missed for almost 8 years. The swoop down Bella Vista was just short of heaven, accented by the short climb back up to and the roll along equally breathtaking Mountain Drive. Back down to the valley, a short stop to recoup and reflect and the easy roll home on the most perfect of days.
All told, 64 miles of perfection for a wonderful morning of riding.
For anyone who feels like I did, discouraged and lost of resolve. Don't give up. Whatever the result of your efforts, its all worth it. As good as the rides are we remember the most, it just doesn;t get any better than the one you're now on.