Our fearless ride leader loves hills. If the choice is "hills" or "more hills" he will always choose "more hills". So when he said he had found a new hill, one that most of us hadn't been up, that was some interesting news. (To be fair most hills are ones I haven't been up. I'm just learning all the classic climbs around here.) I think that perhaps in response to his underselling of Farm Hill at the first ride of the season he felt the need to hype this hill up a bit. Of course things like that go straight to my head, take up residence, and start playing mind games.
The day started very clear but a bit cold. We got up around 7 - both of us because Tom was not just going to be shadowing me for the day but he actually volunteered to be an official SAG driver for this ride. Having a SAG wagon out there is great for psychological support - knowing that if something does go wrong you're not completely stuck helps a lot. Having the SAG wagon being driven by your partner is an extra special bonus.
We got to the meeting spot around 9:15 - enough time for a bit of chit-chat before the briefing started and enough time for Tom to get his bearings regarding his official duties. After the usual pre-ride routine - stretching, going over the route, and safety briefing - we were off.
The beginning of this ride started out very similar to my ill-fated first ride of the season. Out to Sand Hill Rd, then to Alameda de las Pulgas. I quickly lost touch with some of my friends but given the climbing coming up I didn't feel like rushing myself in order to keep up. I wanted to keep as much in reserve as I could. One thing that was interesting - I went farther on Alameda de las Pulgas than I had before - so after that point there was plenty of new scenery. I did my own pace until the first rest stop where I tried to be efficient. A quick visit to the rest room, some water, some Shot Blocks, a quick hug from Tom, and I was off.
Then the climbing began. The first thing after the rest stop was a hill they call "Alameda de las Steeps". It was a nice little wakeup call, and made me thankful for my big cassette in back. After that Parrot Drive was up and the real fun began. And by fun I mean not fun.
I will say this - it did match up with what Chris promised. And I did climb it. I had to walk a couple of spots near the top of the last hill (it's really 3 hills), and at the stop signs I had some trouble getting going again. Tom was waiting at the bottom of the hill so I got to proudly tell him that I didn't walk it. I scarfed down a gel (WTF is "Montana Huckleberry"?) and got back on with it. It felt like a really long ride to get to the second rest stop and I was REALLY hungry. A nice BLTA (BLT + avocado), a nice sized rice-krispie treat, and I was a happy camper.
After lunch it was some more familiar roads back home - except that there was one big hill left. One completely unnecessary hill. La Cresta. I'm going to assume it means "the crest". But we had to get UP to the crest. And there was only one way to do that - by going up. Yay, more climbing.
After La Cresta we were pretty much done. It was mostly flat/downhill all the way home. And I've never been more glad for that!