For the past few years I’ve made it my goal to try to bike at least three century rides per year. In addition to that goal, my overarching goal for my century rides this year is to complete the 100 mile courses for all the rides that I have done the shorter courses for in the past. The three courses I want to complete this year are the Tour de Cure in Roseville, which I did two weeks ago, the Strawberry Fields Forever ride in Watsonville, and the Foxy’s Fall Century in Davis. Those are all courses that for one reason or another I had ridden the metric century (65 mile) course rather than the full 100 mile course.
This weekend I rode the Strawberry Fields Forever ride. Watsonville is a pretty long drive from Davis, so me and Jiro decided to crash at my friend Tim’s place in San Mateo, placing us a little over an hour’s drive away from the event. For our pre-ride dinner we ended up at a Brazilian barbecue restaurant. I had heard about the restaurant, Espetus, from one of my friends, who basically described it as a carnivore’s heaven. I think that’s a pretty fair description.
There are guys that come around with these humongous skewers of meat and swords with which they cleave off a piece of meat for you to eat. The green side of the disc basically signals to those meat sword wielders that you want more meat. It even says, “Yes, please” on it. Yes please, I would like more meat.
When you’re done, you flip the disc to the red side, which says “No thanks.” No thanks, if I ate any more meat, I would keel over and die.
In the morning the three of us woke up and made the drive to Watsonville. It rained a bit on the way there, and when we arrived at the registration area it still looked like it was going to rain, so we decided to ride the 65 mile course. I also found that one of the spokes had popped on my front wheel, which also contributed to our decision to ride the short course. I was kind of sad that I would be missing my goal of riding all 100 mile courses, but we would later find out that it was the right decision.
I am lazy, which gets me into all sorts of trouble. It doesn’t sound like someone who would wake up at 5:30 in the morning to ride a bicycle for 65 miles is lazy, but believe me, I’m lazy. It’s a weird stupid kind of laziness. Like I’ll wake up at 5:30 and drive 70 miles to get me to my century ride, but I’ll be too lazy to drive to the store to buy batteries for my bike computer or a new tire for my wheel. So for the last couple of century rides I’ve been riding without a computer, not knowing my speed or how far I have to ride to a turn, and I’ve been riding on a wheel with a big fat chunk torn out of it. Today the tire finally gave out. The area with the chunk torn out of it completely opened up, exposing the tube inside to the sharp rocks on the road. To make matters worse, I had forgotten to pack a spare tube.
Luckily Jiro and Tim were behind me. I ended up borrowing Jiro’s patch kit to patch the hole in my tire, and then used Tim’s one and only spare tube to get me back on the road. I felt really bad when Tim later got a flat and didn’t have a spare.
Later on in the day the tire tore open again and I got another flat. Luckily a passing rider had a spare tube, so I patched it up again. This time I used a dollar bill (which I had to borrow from Jiro) to cover the tear in the tire. It seemed to hold ok, even getting me up the final climb and down the fast curvy descent. But alas it gave out again with only 7 miles left until the end. I was actually really lucky that it didn’t blow out during the descent. I probably would’ve lost control and crashed at high speed. At this point I decided to call the SAG wagon and take the car ride of shame to the end of the course. So out of a planned 100 miles, which got changed to 65 miles, I rode a grand total of 58 miles.
Ahh well. There’s always next year. I actually don’t mind riding this course again. It’s a pretty scenic ride. The first rest stop is by the ocean and it’s pretty well stocked, even having a barista serving espressos and lattes.
For a portion of the ride the course takes you through strawberry fields which seem to go on forever. Hence the name, Strawberry Fields Forever. The strawberries are ripe on the plants, so the whole area smells of strawberries. It’s quite pleasant.
The rest stops are all pretty well stocked with food. I remembered all of the food and scenery from the last time I rode, but for some reason I didn’t remember the brutal climbs. Before the lunch stop the course takes you through a series of short but steep hills.
The last one was particularly bad, since my legs already felt like jello from the previous hills. This hill was littered with corpses, people who had to stop for a breather or people who had to get off and walk. I was determined not to be one of those corpses. I started upwards.
“Just keep breathing,” I think to myself as I start pushing my way up the hill…
Breathe, push. Breathe push.
When a climb starts to get steep, my upper body starts to bob as I push down hard.
Breathe, push, bob. Breathe, push, bob.
As the climb starts to get really steep, I start weaving the handlebars left and right.
Breathe, push, bob, weave. Breathe, push, bob, weave.
After a while I can feel a cramp start to form and I grimace in pain.
Breathe, push, bob, weave, grimace. Breathe, push, bob, weave, grimace.
If you cramp for too long, your leg inadvertently locks up and you can’t pedal anymore. There’s nothing you can do but fall over in pain. There’s only a little bit of hill left, I pray that I make it to the top before my leg locks.
Breathe, push, bob, weave, grimace, pray. Breathe, push, bob, weave, grimace, pray.
As I make it to the top, I let out a loud roar. Then switch into a high gear and let gravity turn my hard earned potential energy back into kinetic energy as I fly downhill. Last time I rode here, all the breathing, pushing, bobbing, weaving, grimacing and praying couldn’t get me to the top of the hill without walking. It’s a really cool feeling knowing that you’re that much stronger than before…
Anyways, I was bummed out that I didn’t finish this course, but in the end I had fun and am looking forward to riding the 100 mile course next year. At the end of the ride they have some awesome strawberries and cream and I’m looking forward to eating them again.
Things I am thankful for:
- bikes and biking buddies
- beautiful scenery
- SAG wagons
- fresh strawberries