Thursday, December 3, 2009

It Must be Time for the Superbowl...

Written Jan. 28, 2009

I don’t watch football, heck I don’t even know who is playing in the big game. So, how do I know that the Superbowl must be near? Well, for the past four years I have become ill within days of the big game. I woke up this morning just as sick as a dog and wouldn’t you know it, the game’s right around the corner! It’s almost like clock work at this point…. Odd.

Oh well though, I would much rather get it out of the way now than become sick later in the season. And, on the bright side I was able to race 12 in Temecula this year whereas last year I got sick the week prior to the race rather than the week following the race. Nice.

I have also noted over the last couple of years that there seems to be a crazy weekend of weather every September, that it’s probably going to rain on my birthday ride, and that New Year’s Day rides sound a lot more fun than they usually end up being =)

So, I know it’s only January, but I’m am already thinking about a ride which I would like to complete some time this summer when the days are particularly long. I set out to complete this ride at some point last year, but the sun was already setting between five and six pm and I had no idea how long the ride was going to take. I cut it way short and still got home around seven. I don’t like having to take short cuts or not completing what I set out to do and I did have a light with me, so I certainly contemplated continuing onward with the route I had originally planned… But the more I thought about it, the more dangerous it began to sound. I knew it didn’t make any sense, that wasn’t up for debate. When things begin to sound legitimately dangerous though, that’s when I start to think a little rationally.

Here’s the ride: I left from Roseville and went over to Folsom, but the ride could be started anywhere in the area I suppose. From Folsom I headed up green valley, took malcom dixon, then deer springs? I think it’s called. I didn’t take the Jergens cut accross because I knew this was going to be quite the ride as it was and I wanted to spend more time riding stuff I’d never seen rather than adding unnecessary pieces of road which had been previously traversed. So I looped back around to Green Valley again and then continued to follow it up to Placerville. From Placerville I jumped on 49, then took the 193 down into the canyon. I had never ridden this road before and I was extremely pleased with the descent as well as the climb back out of the canyon which followed. I climbed and climbed and climbed and then took a right on a little side street which was shown as being a through road on whichever map program I had looked at that morning while eating my cereal…. I was irritated to find that the road turned to dirt and that many of the smaller dirt roads which turned off were not labeled with street names. In hindsight, it seems silly to have expected this detour to have gone through to where I expected and to have assumed that the road would be in good condtition. I should have thought seriously about the area that I was in (nearly Georgetown) and realized that the hwy was the best bet. After riding for what seemed like forever down this po dunk dirt road, I finally popped back out on the hwy. Dangit! Not only had I not ended up in Georgetown where I had intended to pop out, I had actually looped back around and found the hwy once again about 3 miles down the road from where I had originally turned off! Talk about some ineffecient navigation. Oh well, at least I knew once again where I was.

After riding the next three miles of hwy for the second time that day, I continued onward past the ’shortcut’ street and rode 193 into Georgetown. I took a right on Main St and headed out into the middle of nowhere. I knew I was headed into the middle of nowhere though and so I stopped to buy some nutrition at the local market and fill the bottles before my excursion. I had packed some food for the day before I left home, but I knew I was going to want a couple of bars just in case things got out of hand further up the road. The little store had a $5 minimum limit for using a card. The lady working at the register also had no idea how much Clif bars cost, I’m assuming because they probably hadn’t sold one in a number of years…. This was good and bad. It was good because she only charged me $1 for each bar. It was bad because I really only wanted two and really only had space to carry two as well. It must have been a little chilly because my pockets were crammed full of stripped off clothing. I think I had learned a little from prior crappy weather rides at this point too and I had packed a jacket knowing full well that I was probably going to be returning after sun down. Oh, I had my light too. I will not put a light on my bars until it gets dark. I won’t do it. So, I carry it with me in my pocket all day long and install it just before sunset. Anyway, space was limited and I now had five bars to stash somewhere. I remembered reading that you could stick bars to your toptube for easy access. Maybe you can with some types of processed energy sticks, but not the ones I’d purchased.

If memory serves me correctly, I think I ate a one, tried to stick one to my stem, stowed the others and set off towards the great unknown. If you stay on Main st out of Georgetown it becomes Whentworth Springs Road, which according to the map will eventually become Ice House Road and loop back down to Hwy 50. My plan was to follow this road all the way to hwy 50, then ride various surface streets back down through Sly park, pollock pines, then eventually back into Placerville and be home free from there. They were kind enough to put mileage signs on this back country road to let you know how far you were away from this or that place as appearantly there were places which were considered destinations and could be reached by traveling wentworth springs. The first of these signs listed places which were not too distant, 8 miles, 11 miles, etc. It was when I reached that first 8 mile destination that a new sign listing places wich were 40+ miles distant that I bega second guessing the completion of this little epic voyage. I didn’t recognize any of the places being named on these mileage signs, places like ‘Uncle Tom’s’ and what not really let me know that I was out in the sticks. It worried me that a place as insignificant as Uncle Tom’s would be listed and yet there was no mention of something somewhat important like Interstate 50. How freakin far away could the freeway be? I rode on another 3 miles, 2 of which was a steady 11% grade (according to the sign coming down) before stopping at a Mosquito Road which I remembered would eventually bring me back to hwy 193 or could take me all the way back to placerville if I found the right turns…. Apearantly my detour from earlier in the day had not yet sunken in.

Luckily, a group of dirt bike riders was regrouping at the very spot which I was standing, thinking about which direction to go. I asked them how far hwy 50 was up the road and they just laughed, probably not a good sign. One of them remarked that it was probably another 40 miles and the terrain was worthy of a Tour De France Super Stage… Also not good. What about Mosquito road back down to the river? Again, Laughter. I should have known better, these guys were on dirt bikes and had just been riding the road I was questioning taking back to placerville. It was now around 3pm.

Perhaps these dirt bikers were gaurdian angels sent to keep me from becoming hopelessly lost in the vastness of the Tahoe National Forest with nightfall quickly approaching. I had to convince myself that continuing on towards the freeway was stupid. Even if I rode my ass off, I’d probably get there in the dark and still be what, 3, 4, 5 hours from home? I only had a 3 hour battery for my light so it looked like I was going to have to turn around, as much as it killed me to do so. Luckily I had done a good portion of the climbing on my way out, and I descended for days, first back to Georgetown, then back down to the river. Then, I got my ass kicked climbing back up to Placerville and for some reason I had decided that I was going to take the long way home after reaching the summit. Like I was trying to convince myself that I wasn’t a total wuss for not finishing the whole loop. I put lights on in Placerville because I wanted them ready to rock and roll for the creek crossing I knew was coming shortly, and headed out Cold Springs rd before making a left on road which I can’t recall the name of, but which takes you down to Lotus Rd. I crossed Lotus and headed out Luneman rd all the way down to the creek and crossed it in full darkness (yeah on the road bike) before climbing the super steep grades of Jergens to get back to Deer Valley road. Upon reaching Deer Valley (or is it Deer Creek, or Deer something else, Or something totally different?) I felt sure that I was actually going to make it home. It was a little up in the air up to that point.

I made it home right around 7pm, thouroughly dissapointed in not being able to complete the ride, but also knowing that I would indeed be giving it another shot again during the summer months. This second try will start earlier (I think I left at like 10am) and will not include my little excursion off the hwy before Georgetown. And, realistically, I still may need to bring lights!

I am coming to realize too that there are only so many big days to be had during the year and that rides like this one may not happen simply because it makes little sense to be on the bike for 12 hours and not be racing…. It’s too taxing to have a ride of that length not mean something. This all makes sense though, and being sensible is not something that I am particularly good at so I have every confidence that I will complete this epic at some point in the future. What a blog that one will be, eh?