2021 #23 – The Sequoia Century Ride

Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. Well, on the Edge of Summer 50K I rolled my left ankle (the non-bionic one) pretty bad that I woke up with feelings of déjà vu. Did I just bust the ATF ligament again? I did the whole RICE thing but after two days of soreness, I was starting to feel pretty miserable. I’ve written before that doing 50 long distance anything (bike, ride, swim, whatever) in a given year takes a lot of sequencing, planning, not to mention serendipity and luck. As my luck would have it, saw a sign in Los Altos about The Sequoia Century ride. I’m not really a distance biker, but what the hell. YOLO and all that. Here’s my Strava activity:

Sequoia Century Ride

I’m a very casual, reluctant biker. I don’t even have the “proper” gear, not a big fan of suicide shoes (with clips) and the occasional rides (Mt. Eden, Montebello, Stevens Canyon, etc.) have been in my used bike, running shorts and my $30 shoes! But had a gut feel that most of what I’ve learned from ultra running (especially hydration & nutrition) carried over. But 10+ hours of sitting on a hard seat with running shorts? Uh, no thank you. Bought myself a pair of biking shorts with a butt cushion, high powered front/rear lights that can flash for 12+ hours and a patch kit. I did practice a few times taking apart the tires, stripping the tubes and putting it back. I knew physically I was able to cover 100 miles on wheels, but there was a little bit of anxiety because it’s a new thing.

This was a beautifully designed course and I think there were really only three traffic lights, two to cross Foothill Expressway (Los Altos) and a right turn signal in Woodside. I’ve ridden up El Monty, but never to the top of Page Mill. The muscles were activating to the new activity and had to find a rhythm to stay aerobic. The descent down Alpine Road was pretty, the cold morning air making my eyes tear. One one of the switchbacks, I saw what looked like a dog on the other side of the road. As we got closer, it was a full-sized coyote! We nodded at each other, but I was moving too fast to take a picture.

I had the route preloaded on my Ambit3 and as it turns out there were also route arrows on the road because this DIY event had just gotten over. Stopped at the Loma Mar Store (closed ‘cos it was too early) to chow down a Pro Bar and continued on. Cloverdale Road and Gazos Creek Road were pretty, farms everywhere, cows grazing, coastal flowers starting to show up on the sides of the road.

This stretch of Hwy 1 was a little sketchy. With roads freshly paved (or being worked on), there was no shoulder and I had to ride on the edge of the right lane. Had a couple of cars whiz by and was definitely hoping they don’t clip me. Briefly shot past the Bean Hollow Road turn and had to backtrack.

Pit stop at the Arcangeli Store at around mile 45. Best artichoke bread ever, but unfortunately they didn’t open until 11am. Dang it. Another Pro Bar and more Tailwind. Stripped down some layers and headed out on Stage Road. Another short section of Hwy 1, a turn on Tunitas Creek road and behold The Bike Hut!

Christine Pielenz and Bill Laven own the Potrero Nuevo Farm. They converted an old one car garage building into a 24x7x365 R&R (rest and repair!) stop for bicycles before heading up Tunitas Creek Road to Skyline ridge. This was so cool! I looked around, reloaded my Tailwind, left my donation, grabbed some pretzels and dates and back on the road again. On an ultra run, crossing the half way mark is a psychological booster and this was no different. Mile 56 and onward and upward.

After a detour (to make this a century), back on Tunitas Creek Road for a sustained 4 mile climb amongst beautiful new growth redwoods. It was quiet out here, nice and cool, but it was slow going. As soon as I turned on Swett Road, got off on the bike and pushed it up. My quads were on fire and I had no energy for riding this little steep hill.

After that steep, long climb, the descent down Kings Mountain Road was much welcomed. Though, I didn’t realize how much you load your upper body on the descents, tapping the breaks on the switchbacks. My shoulders were on fire by the time I got to Roberts Market. 80 miles in! Joaquin Road off of Alpine Road was another place I simply didn’t have the legs to push up. That’s one steep hill (though short). One more shorty up Page Mill and I had a big sigh of relief when I got to Altamont. All downhill from here on to the finish.

Pulled into the finish line in 9:50ish. Not bad, I suppose for a first century ride. At some point, I simply got tired of pedaling and not going anywhere, especially the uphills. Also based on how I’m feeling post ride, a hard 50K on foot is probably much harder than this ride.

Update: Right before I started writing this blog, I got the best news in a week. “Your ankle is pristine” said my podiatrist after looking at the x-rays. *whew* Hopefully I can rehab, run some flats (maybe another century ride?) and get back to the trails.

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