Saturday, November 28, 2009

Post-Thanksgiving Day Blues

Not the normal 'blues' you are thinking of- I'm talking about the BLUE HUES of the sky this AM when we were out at 5:30 for our ride. Rain was predicted, but being the Southern California Optimists that we are, we figured, 'No, it will rain later in the day!'. Well, at "O-Dark-30", often it's a bit hard to tell what the sky has in store for you. Today, all signs were 'go' as we started out. No wetness on the ground, stars in the sky (even though intermittent clouds could be seen with the reflected light of the city), and a mild breeze coming off the ocean.

Oh, how I, and my 'mate', miscalculated. About 30 minutes in, the colors that cracked through the horizon were an angry mixture of magenta's and blossoming blues. It looked like the sky was bruised as the Earth was hurriedly waking up. And as the pitch blackness gave way to the steel greys and mottled mixture of color, we were witness to the violence on the surface of the seas. White caps the size of ships came hurtling towards shore, their path about to come crashing, literally, into the landmass in front of them.

A perfect example of the force of the front with which we waged our slug fest- a downhill portion of our ride I usually average 40-45 mph (simply coasting) was instead replaced with a grueling, grinding cadence to try to stay at 20mph. My average watts at that point were around 450-500. Very interesting. And very challenging.

Those of you that have ridden around the Palos Verdes Peninsula know, however, that one moment you are fighting with the forces of nature (today in particular, the god Aeolus) but the next moment, you are the beneficiary of what was once an 'opposing force'.

Now those were sweet and precious minutes indeed! If only every ride could feel as if i had wings! But that's part of the fun, isn't it? To take what we envision as the perfect moment, and strive to attain it. Whether it be on a bike, or at any snapshot in time. A chance to turn the 'blues' into a breathtaking explosion of energy and color.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Who's ready for the FINAL(S) push?

Not sure if any of the world's top bull riders are nervous on the eve of their last weekend of work in 2009, but i sure as $%#@ am anxious to see how it all sorts itself out! Bring it on, buckaroos!

Yes, it's already been said, but let's be repetitive. THIS IS THE MOST COMPETITIVE RACE THE PBR HAS EVER SEEN. And if you are fan, and don't watch these next 3 days on Versus, and then the final day on NBC, i'm going to personally see that the PBR revokes your Fan Club membership, removes you from their 'Team PBR' Twitter account, and bans you from any future events.

Just kidding. I don't have that kind of POWER, you all know that! But you should be glued to the tube for the next 4 days. It's been good, but it's going to get down-right dramatic in 24 hours.

JB's looked cool and confident every time i have seen him, and so has Kody. JB's always got that 'Cheshire' grin too, which makes it seem like he's got a secret he's dying to tell you, but just can't. Kody may not smile as much, but his happiness was clear after every Round the first weekend. I think he's saving the biggest 'emotional release' the PBR has ever seen for Sunday, if in fact he wins the World Title he's been dreaming of his whole life.

"Word Up" awards to Ryan McConnell and Robson Palermo for their first weekend exploits. Many of you know in a previous life i did a 'little bit' of competing, and to see these guys step up and deliver in their respective ways has been a reminder that EVERYONE wants to be the best, but only a select few can channel and execute the emotions and actions necessary to come out on top.

Four more days. Four more chances to grasp greatness. A buckle and a title await one man.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Where for Art Thou, Sea Level?

"Rest Day" #2 here at the PBR World Finals turned into a 'killer' day on the road. And there was very little 'rest'. Took a buddy's advice and drove north on I-95 for roughly 30 miles, then made a left onto SR156. That was the only easy part of the morning.

Good thing i really like climbing. This 'hill' was not for the faint of heart. 17.4 miles UP. Literally. 28.0 KM for those of you more metrically inclined. If you are lucky enough to own the book "The Complete Guide to Climbing (on a bike!)" then you have read about this hill in the "Nevada" section. And it was well worth the effort to get there. The climb starts at over 3000 ft. of elevation, and finishes at over 8300ft.

Now, for a sea-lubber like myself, this poses some unique mental and physical hurdles. One, that crushing feeling in my chest that started to occur after about 30 minutes of exercise had to be monitored rather extensively. Two, most climbs i do last, at most, 20-25 minutes (this took me 2hrs to complete), so the never-ending visual of a 'tilted' horizon took some getting used to. Three, the temperature variance was off the charts- even leaving as early as 7:30AM, it was still almost 70 degrees in the valley, but by the time i reached the 'summit' (which was actually the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort), it was in the low 40's.

Nature vs. Man tally on the day: 10 cars passed me, but over 50 different birds flew above and around my slow-moving form. Of the 10 cars, 4 were actually trucks- either Forest Service or delivery. I'd take those odds any day on a bike ride.

After somehow not giving up, and taking pictures at the top for a few minutes (note SNOW-covered 'run'), it was a speedy descent. I decided to make things interesting by alternating 30 seconds 'HARD' with 30 seconds recovery...that really started to take its toll...i figured my heart would be acclimated on the way down, but no such luck. It still reverberated throughout my chest, neck, and head all the way to the bottom. May not have been the smartest thing to keep 'pushing' after feeling this way, but it was overwhelmingly motivating to be zipping along between 30-40 mph for half an hour.

If you are a climber, i would put this on your 'to do' list. Especially if you find yourself in Sin City, in shape, with a bike, a car, and a few hours to 'kill'.

And by the way, no cell service starting at about 7 miles up, so make sure you have that ROAD ID on...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Red Rock Extravaganza-Fantabulous!

Early AM 'call time' again today, but for a different reason...had to get on the bike fairly early due to the TEMPERATURES we are having in Las Vegas. After three days of watching the PBR riders heat up the Thomas & Mack Center, i felt i needed to catch fire on the road.

I revisited the Red Rock Visitor's Center Loop that i did on Saturday, but this time there was a notable difference...i brought along my buddy "Double D" (aka Dave Degelia), and instead of staying inside the 'park', we extended our ride all the way down Rt.159, and even west on Rt.160 (towards Pahrump, NV).

If you are out in this area, you HAVE TO ride these roads. They are that picturesque and magnificent. As i like to say, "Fantabulous"! (a joke amongst my close friends). I did my best to represent the 'Versus' colors, and even though today's few fellow riders were in stark contrast to Saturday's hordes, there were still enough 'rabbits' and 'targets' to keep things interesting.

I'm hooked on this area- i may head north to ride another route suggested by a bike guru friend, but it seems every-which-way i turn out here, there's a hill to climb, which means a smile to be had.

And don't forget, no matter where you go, don't forget those Road ID's...seriously.

PS- i thought my power output was getting better lately, but man, today was total confirmation of the 'wattage wonderland' i'm living go from Las Vegas to the Pyrenees as quickly as i did? RESPECT!