Sure, I could strap on a power meter or do a stress test or some other robotic method to figure out my fitness. But, I don’t. When the training needs to get serious I prefer to make the rounds to the out of town group rides – lots of unknowns make it more real. This time of year, the rides are peppered with visiting and local pros out for the good weather.
Here’s my list:
Swami’s Pre-ride (harder than A) then A-ride
I know there are more, but these are the ones I can vouch for. All fast, all hard, all ready to filet my softer sides.
Typically I make the rounds starting in late November, but this season is an atypical one for me: rain, family and travel.
This Saturday it starts with Swami’s Long. Most will riders meet in Encinitas.
We all park in Oceanside at 715ish, and ride south to meet the group. Two reasons for this: get warmed up, the Long route pops back out to the coast here. Specifically we park at the free parking across the street and under the bridge from Joe’s Crab Shack.
You’ll notice on the Swami’s website the “World Famous Saturday” ride is 40 miles… only in the winter is the Long route on.
Here’s what you can expect – strava link
- Be prepared for the weather – we start on the coast and go inland out to Valley Center. I’m serious, go look at Weather.com at several towns along the route… might warm up, might get a lot colder.
- We roll tempo down to Encinitas to meet the A group.
- The “A” group will have 40-100 very fast cats, ready to claw your out of town eyes out.
- Visitors I’ve seen – Taylor Phinney, Mark Cavendish, Chris Horner – it’s a little late to see those guys, but ya never know.
- Once the ride turns East, it’s on… and it’s hilly… and if you come off you have no chance of catching, so no sense in conserving.
- There used to be a re-group at “the church”, that isn’t happening – probably Andy’s fault. They will slow a bit, but it’s not the 10 minute water topping, pee stop it once was.
- After the church, A ride goes South and Long goes North. For the most part, it’s pretty chill for about 20-30 minutes.
- Woolford Pass – 2 miles up. This is where I get dropped and ride my guts out hoping to catch a few guys at the top and be in a group to the store.
- The store is the only stop. It’s long for the fast guys, and painfully short for me. Hustle. They will NOT wait, and you will NOT know how to get home with Toto.
- The ride back to the coast is probably my favorite. Super fast, super rolly, super twisty. Feels a lot like being in Europe, like you might just be a pro.
- The final feature is the parade of speed on the long bike trail. Imagine all kinds of people out walking, skating, riding with the young families and pack of 20-30 riders going 20-30 m’s/h. Keep your head up, and on a swivel.
We usually hit it back to San Clemente pretty fast, so bring a snack. Traditionally, the Burger joint at Pico and the 5 is our final stop… but it has been sacrificed to the freeway gods.
Hopefully you and I won’t be sacrificed Saturday.