In an attempt to finish my last CAM requirement, I had decided a week ago or so that I would ride from my apartment to Chantry flats and back to complete my final century. I thought I had mapped it right. But with stress from work, and my usual ditziness, I erred. But in erring, I gained something far more valuable than those 100 miles.
So, for those the least bit interested, let me tell you…
I invited a small group of riders to join me on this “Desperado Century” (I named it so, since I’m not on top of my game ride/shape-wise, I felt this was my last ditch effort to get a century in and, more importantly, it was a route I’d yet to determine fail-proof. The group included mostly men in this area with two women (neither of whom could join ). I called them cowboys, keeping with the theme, and because their individual personalities could be considered “rough and tough, on the range” types. These are seasoned riders with personalities to boot, and I had a mix. Cassave (whom I affectionately call Clint, because he is not only tough/slick/fast but damn good looking like Clint is), Thomson (one of the strongest riders I know, but as you all know, unbelievably personable and a blast to be around – sort of the herder if you will), VanceMac (whose laid-back demeanor and sweet smile belies the quick draw hill climber hidden beneath along with a quick wit and gentleman demeanor), Scootcore (the jokester and chivalrous rider who never leaves a gal to ride alone, nor does he get mad when the gal stops twice to talk to people she knows while climbing up a huge hill) and Jschen (the youngin’ in the group – always there to make sure everyone is fine and all is going smoothly, and like an ever-ready battery, never tires on the bike or…of me).
These cowboys all showed up at my place today. I live in a small one-bedroom apartment and, of course, my neighbor over heard (given that we are in such a close knit building and not because she is over sensitive – she’s actually a sweetheart) and called to ask what I had going on upstairs. Well, I had five men over, of course! I fed them bagels and coffee (black, every one of them) and then we were off. Well…no we weren’t. I had dropped my Garmin down beside my coffee table and couldn’t find it. After a desperate search, I found it, but then it wouldn’t mount on my bike as something was caught in the back. OMG! After all the drama, I finally got the damn thing on the bike (the cowboys waited patiently but with a discerning eye), we were off!
We road through Sherman Oaks to Griffith Park, did a loop (Trash Truck Hill was our first climb of the day) and then headed up Senora to Mountain, over Verdugo and into the Descanso Gardens area. The weather, albeit cold, was perfect. No wind, just sunny, blue skies and fresh air! The pace was aggressive but nice, and, of course the cowboys waited for me on the climbs (with Scoot and Jschen sticking near me). I was worried they’d get bored, but with the crew we had it was perfect. Just the right balance of great personalities. The only downer was that I kept worrying about the miles. I was so concerned about finishing 100. I kept bringing it up over and over. Not sure why.
As we came upon Santa Anita and the climb to Chantry Flats, Cassave and Thomson were off like lightening (but of course) and Jschen threw it in overdrive and went right up behind them (may have even caught them). I, on the other hand, hit low gear and cranked up it. My last two months of heavy work load and no mojo had hit me hard. Never have I climbed that slowly up Chantry! Luckily, true blue Scoot was there riding along to make sure I got up it. Along the way, I ran into Il Bruto and his gang doing a quick ride up. It was great to see him and Laura, Sassy (she’s a hottie!) and Francis. I wished them well and off Scoot and I went up the hill…but then, there was Clem and Renee Bartoli! What a treat. That dad and daughter are two of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and it was wonderful to stop and catch up with them. Again, Scoot waited patiently, and off we went to finally make it to the top of Chantry. There were all the cowboys spread out, comfy on the lawn. I loved it. I joined them; we met a new hot chick (who didn’t want her picture taken but took ours) and saw my friend, Laura. It was warm under the sun, and this was my favorite part of the day.
After a long rest, we took off again. I realized it was getting later, I was spent (did I mention that I’m not on top of my game) and I again began worrying about my miles. I was obsessed and kept mentioning it (thank goodness cowboys are patient and hard of hearing). We breezed through Pasadena back to the Rose Bowl and climbed up and out of it, hitting Lida. Here is where the trouble began. For one, I had heard a “clicking” in my back wheel all day. I’d heard this before on other rides but never as bad as today. Well, turns out, I have a broken spoke! (on one of those few spoke wheels – scary). My legs were also starting to cramp. I hadn’t fueled well and really had ridden on almost no fuel at that point (57 miles and 330 calories). My climb up Lida was pathetic. Then Scoot got a flat, we waited while he fixed it. Then I discovered I had one! Then we waited…while he fixed it. And then off again. But we’d lost considerable time.
I figured we’d make it up at Goldstein’s and I’d just take my bagel to go, but I was hungry and fatigued. So, I sat down to eat. I had a blast sitting there with the cowboys, just joking and talking. Once we took off again, I realized that 100 miles would not be happening for me unless I was willing to ride around my neighborhood for 20!
We were losing daylight and Bill, Vancemac and Cassave had ridden over. So, sure enough as we headed into Toluca lake, we lost two. Then, as we headed into Sherman Oaks, it dawned on me. I didn’t care that I wouldn’t get the 100 miles. I had cowboys, damnit! All day long! And I’d worried about miles? Funny thing, when I mentioned this, Clint said, “see my fancy computer?” and pointed to his handlebars. Nothing was there. He didn’t care about the miles or elevation gain. He’d just come out to ride with good company. As we headed into Sherman Oaks, he road off into the sunset in his orange jersey, and I thought, “that there is a man, I tell ya.” (okay, I actually didn’t see him ride off, but I was thinking something close to that anyway). As we got onto Valley Vista and into the last stretch home, another cowboy, Thomson, pulled up beside me and I commented again on how mad I was at my obsession with the miles and he pointed at his handlebars and said, “see my computer?” – and again, there was none! Both of those incredibly strong riders were out to have fun. Note to self: become a cowgirl! As we got to my place (77+ miles and 5,000+ climbing), Jim took off as well. Then there was one. Jschen and I headed over to El Toritos, had some good food and conversation and then he mounted his trusty steed (his Volvo?) and rode (drove) off into the sunset (toward San Diego).
All in all, a wonderful day. I you, cowboys. You all made my day just great and I learned some from you too. Thank you for trying out a ride that I think I will keep as is – 80 miles, no more, maybe a little less.
Pics to follow...