Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ohio and Sequoia

The Ritchey at home in Ohio!
When my Giant TCR Advanced SL was thoroughly crunched in a silly accident back in March, I replaced it with a Ritchey Break-Away. The Break-Away frame is designed to come apart and fit snugly into a regulation-sized suitcase, making it the perfect travel bike! And as if to justify the purchase of such a travel-able bike, it wasn't too long after taking delivery that I booked my first trip with it.

Last week, my bike and I set out for Beavercreek, Ohio, where I'd build it up and tackle the same bike paths and back-country roads I used to ride before moving to San Francisco. I had a few doubts:
  1. Would my bike even fit into the suitcase? (Answer: Yes! But barely.)
  2. Would the airline charge me the $200 bike-check fee? (Answer: No!)
  3. Would my bike make it to Ohio without sustaining significant damage? (Answer: Yes!)
I picked up the bike at baggage claim in Cincinnati, and then my mother and sister picked me up and we drove to ol' Beavercreek together. I built the bike up later that day and then brought it into a local bike shop for a sanity-check. (Hey, it's my first time doing this!) By Friday morning, the bike was all set.

Riding in Ohio is relatively flat, but you can find some lightly rolling hills, and even some really short, steep hills, if you know where to look. The rides were actually a bit more challenging than expected -- I'm used to Marin hills, where you climb up a hill and then descend for a while. You don't get breaks like that on flat ground -- it's all pedaling, all the time! 

I managed to get out for rides on Friday (35 miles), Saturday (65 miles), Sunday (20 miles), Monday (25 miles) and Tuesday (40 miles) before dismantling the bike, packing it back up and heading home to San Francisco. I also ran on Saturday (4 miles), Sunday (14 miles), Monday (6 miles) and Tuesday (8 miles). It was a seven day trip, and I didn't miss a single workout. The Ritchey's proving it's worth already!

Sequoia 200K

It seems like I go home to Ohio for Memorial Day every year; it's becoming a tradition. But another tradition of mine is riding the Sequoia 200K the weekend after. The profile of this ride is in sharp contrast to my Ohio rides: 120 miles with over 11,000 feet of climbing. The most challenging climbs are Redwood Gulch, China Grade and Tunitas Creek Road. The first two are notable because, well, they're just damn steep. The last is notable because it's a towering, 2,000-foot behemoth, and riders are forced to tackle it close to 100 miles into the day's adventure!

Anyway, I say this has become a tradition because the '13 edition marked my fifth consecutive year tackling the ride's now-familiar yet always-gorgeous roads. I set out with +Vitaly Gashpar at just after 6:30am, but an unfortunate flat meant we rode much of the first sixty miles on our own. Fortunately, we linked back up at the lunch stop and tackled the remainder of the ride together.

I was a bit worried about this ride for obvious reasons: the distance and the elevation gain dwarf any ride I've done so far this year. And in previous years, I'd "started" my season a bit earlier. Heck, by this time last year, I already had several centuries and one Ironman under my belt! Fortunately, my legs responded surprisingly well. I didn't set fire to the course, but I didn't fail miserably... and my legs have bounced back from that abuse nicely. I'm feeling really great, especially when I compare my current fitness to the same period of last year's training cycle (April)!

What's next?

I may head up to Tahoe with Vitaly for a brief weekend at altitude, but San Francisco's forecast looks spectacular and I know that only a limited number of beautiful weekends remain before the summer fog ruins everything. We'll see. Otherwise, it's back to routine for a few weeks until early July, when I start to put some finishing touches on my form ahead of Vineman 70.3. More to come!