Here's how our ride went:
Thom and I went over to the the start of Jo's ride. We thought we'd do Welch Creek, Calaveras and then Sierra . That translates into a whole lot of steep climbing. But that's what I need to be doing to prep for DMD. We got to the start a little late. We had to take the kitties to the vet for their last round of shots. The group was pretty much ready to go, so we told them not to hang around, as we weren't really going to be riding very far with them.
The five miles over to Welch Creek are pretty flat, a nice little warm up. Welch Creek Rd. is maybe a lane and a half wide, with a very steep drop off to one side as it follows the creek. Eventually you do move up from the creek and the drop offs lessen. It's been repaved since the last time I rode it and the pavement is nice. This road is steep! In three miles you climb 1540 feet, an average grade of 9.4%, with some long sections, 300- 400 feet that are above 15%. My average heart rate for the climb was 183 with a max of 191. I had an average cadence of 51 with a low of 32. There were some sections where I wondered how on earth I was still upright. Sometimes the wind seemed to be blowing me right back down the hill. It was pretty though. The sky was overcast but the hills are super green right now.
Three miles brings you to the false summit. We had planned on only going this far. It's a dead end road. The views are much better at the false summit. We put on another layer and turned around. We were both taking it pretty slowly, only doing about 15 - 20 mph because the road was damp and we were cold. I was leading as we went into the final turn and there was a huge truck right in front of me - on my side of the road. I was already on the right, maybe two feet out from the edge.
The first thing I did was hit my brakes - HARD and I steered for the extreme right edge of the pavement. The rear locked up just a bit and I released it almost immediately. But it was enough to send my rear wheel off the pavement and into the dirt. I kept the front wheel on the edge of the pavement and squeaked by. That sent my heart rate up twenty beats!
Thom says I barely missed the mirror of the truck, by less than an inch. He thought for sure I was heading off the edge into the ditch when the rear wheel went into the dirt. I could feel the dirt grabbing the tire and I just kept focused on the pavement. Fortunately, we were not on the drop off side. I'm not sure how fast the truck was moving as he came around the corner. He was definitely on my side of the road and he had a few extra feet to his right.
All I could think was I'm so glad I have good bike handling skills and I don't panic - until after. We got to the bottom and I was shaking as I pulled off into the dirt, partly from the cold and partly from seeing my life flash before my eyes - again! I was breathing almost as hard as I was on the climb. After a minute or so and a hug, we got back on the road.
We debated heading up Calaveras, but I was getting my usual bad event adrenalin headache. So we went back to the car. As we got to it, it started sprinkling. But the time we had the bikes loaded, it was a full on rain. I'm glad we decided to head back when we did.
We decided we would ride Welch Creek again, but be even more cautious on the descent. Probably not try to tie it into Sierra though - it is freakin' hard!