Saturday, January 8, 2011

Epic Ride Saturdays Are Back (Thankfully)

What really got me out of bed.
Even though I've had some decent rides the last few weeks, I must admit I've been a little down on the bike.  Due to weather, I didn't ride much in December.  But when I did, I was having a ton of mechanical issues.  And then, of course, there was last Saturday's epic failure on the New Year's Day ride.

So when the alarm clock went of at 6 AM this morning, for the first time in a long time the thought crossed my mind to stay in bed and blow off riding.  But guilt quickly set in.  And possibly an even stronger motivator was that I had just received my 2011 OC Velo kit, so I was looking forward trying it out.  Vanity, I know, but you've got to go with what works, right?

I rolled out of bed, got myself sorted and headed out to meet the crew downtown.  When I got there and was handed the day's ride slip, I started to feel good about my decision to ride.  We where scheduled to head south down the Coast Highway and then cut inland through an industrial area of Irvine - all pretty routine.  But then I saw that we where then going to cut back to the Coast Highway for the ride home via El Toro Road and Laguna Canyon Road.  This is some good riding.

The first half of the ride through Irvine was pretty routine.  It was a big group today and the mood in the pack was friendly and conversational as we moved along at a moderate 17-18 MPH.  Then it was time to cut back towards the coast.  To get to El Toro Road, we had to make a 3 mile climb up Irvine Center Drive, which is under construction - not the most ideal scenario.  But where the hill crests at the junction for El Toro, you suddenly find yourself in the wild (to the extent a major thoroughfare in Orange County can be considered "wild") and going downhill - all the way to the ocean.

View of Laguna Canyon.  El Toro Road comes in from the left just after the freeway crossing near the top of the picture.
About 4 of us jumped off the front and headed down El Toro towards Laguna Canyon Road, which is about 5 miles to the north.  There was not much traffic and the road was surprisingly clean of debris given all the storms we've had.  At Laguna Canyon, we got a green light and without pause took a left and kept rolling until we hit downtown Laguna Beach.

We stopped at the "officially designated" OC Velo regroup point, which is a Circle K Market (note: no bathrooms, use the gas station next door).  Everyone else came in about 5 minutes later.  After a quick re-group, we set off north up the Coast Highway.

As we started to ride, the first thing I noticed is we had a tail wind.  "Nice", I thought, "This will be fun".  And it was.

PCH North of Laguna Beach
The stretch of Coast Highway between Laguna Beach and Corona Del Mar may be the best stretch of riding in Orange County.  It's right along the beach, well surfaced, rolling and relatively undeveloped due to the surrounding area being a state park.  We formed a pace line and took turns taking 30 second pulls all the way to Corona Del Mar.

From Corona Del Mar to Huntington, it's pretty congested with a lot of traffic signals, so it's tough to keep a rhythm and the pace line ceased.  Instead we all just rode along.  We pulled into Huntington Beach about a half hour later, which is the end of the "official" ride.

But after we had a coffee, one of the other club members and I still had to ride another 5 miles on the Coast Highway to get home.  This is where the real fun started.  At the last red light before a long stretch of open road, 2 other riders caught up to us.  You could tell by just looking at them that they where fast.  So when then the light turned green, my friend and I nodded at each other and immediately got on their wheels.  I guess we figured that even if they where the sensitive types who didn't like hangers-on, they wouldn't even notice us as we'd already have been dropped before it even occurred to them to glance back.

Trip mile/Split time/Split/MPH (Don't forget we had a tail wind)
But we didn't get dropped and stayed with them for the 4 miles until our turn off.  The first two miles are slightly uphill.  The second two are pretty much flat.  Why didn't I have this speed last weekend when I really needed it?  By the way, the guys where totally cool with giving us a free pull.

So yeah, this was a well timed and great ride - order in my biking world seems to have been restored.

The Ride...

21 comments:

The Green Girl said...

Whoo hoo! I'm thrilled to hear your ride went so well.

Kate said...

Wow! That's some sweet speed, tailwind or not. Glad all is well with your bike world again. Maybe you were just having an off day on the last ride. Incidentally, I think my son plays in a volleyball tournament around there this summer, and if I wasn't such a bad mom that I choose my own bike trip over my kid's tournament (I say that tongue-in-cheek...I watch a lot of volleyball; I can miss one tournament), I'd get to meet you guys. But, at that speed, certainly not ride with you. :)

Caratunk Girl said...

Holy cow, what an awesome place to ride. That is way more interesting than my living room! ha ha

I was in Hunnington Beach once, I bet that is tough to keep the rhythm up with all of the interruptions - I remember a lot of lights and a lot of bikinis...

Shawn said...

Looks like agreat route...and no snow!!

DRog said...

Great ride! ....total paradise

Shannon (IronTexasMommy) said...

Great ride Patrick! Glad you had fun and no technical difficulties! Sigh.. I miss living in California sometimes. Loved the pictures! :). Oh! And I love the race kit! Very nice!

Cynthia O'H said...

What a sweet ride - fast and gorgeous! I laughed at how you bribed yourself to get out there today; I thought I was the only one who did things like that!

Goose said...

Looks like a beautiful ride, glad you got your game on!

Kovas Palubinskas said...

Sweet kit, glad you were able to live up to it!

Christi said...

That sounds like a great ride!

Jennifer said...

Nice ride and nice kit too, so pro looking! Glad to hear your getting your fix again. Cheers!

Jill said...

Welcome back bike world order!!!! Excellent ride!

Glenn Jones said...

Nice ride! I was reading in the news that they were doing some construction on PCH around El Moro. Adding retaining walls or something like that. Be careful there! The cars like to buzz pretty fast along that stretch of road....

misszippy said...

Speedy riding! Sounds like a blast and way to hold the tires on the last few miles.

Barbie said...

Thats a perfectly awesome ride there Patrick.

Jason said...

Glad you are back bro. Those are some crazy speeds regardless of tail wind or not.

Keep that good feeling going.

P said...

Kick-a** ride for sure - well done!!

valen said...

nice looking kit. and good speed on the flat!, you gotta love finishig a ride like that

Aimee said...

Again, I am so jealous! That ride sounds and looks awesome! Woohoo for a great ride!

TRI714 said...

Nice recap. envy !!

Big Clyde said...

Coming to this post, after I read about the fatality on the same stretch of road. What a tragedy, but I am also glad that you (and the victim cyclist) were out there doing what you love. Ride in honor of him/her on your next one.

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