The day started like any other: with the blurry-eyed, light-headed walk to the bathroom for the morning pee. Next up was a step on the bathroom scale, followed by swallowing about 10 useless vitamin and supplement pills. Then it was a difficult journey up the stairs to the kitchen. Whoa! This isn’t normal. Stairs? I’ve been living in Santa Yenz for the past three months in a one-story house with the absence of the torturous invention called stairs.
On Monday, Spencer, his girlfriend, Karol-Ann, and I drove to Big Bear to stay in a hostel for altitude training to kick off the season right. It’s snowy and cold up here at 6,800 feet and I can already feel the altitude boosting every conceivable area of performance. Not really, but that’s the goal for the next month.
Anyways, I went upstairs and started making breakfast. Mushrooms go on the stove first. Then when those are cooked I add some canned salmon. Usually I mix in some egg whites but I didn’t have any eggs. Next, I put the oat bran in a pot, chopped up an apple and two or three bananas and threw them in to cook with the oats (or oat bran in this case). Enough about breakfast. Now the ride.
We drove down from Big Bear to Redlands, going from a winter ski resort to the sub-tropics of Socal, with streets lined with palm trees, blooming flowers, and orange groves ripe with citrus in such an abundance it just falls off the trees and rots on the ground. I made a quick stop at the produce place across the street that we parked on and scored a 25-pound bag of oranges and some cheap lettuce and avocados. $6 for 25 pounds of oranges. It’s hard to beat that.
It was a short ride over to the Redlands Classic final stage Sunset course, where I did 6×4′ V02 intervals. I nailed them. That could have been the whole ride right there followed by a short spin back to the car with Spencer and Karol-Ann. A day of V02 is a good day in itself. But the mountain back up to Big Bear was too intriguing. It beckoned to me in a ghost-like whisper, “Keeeeennneeeett, Keeeeeeennneeeett. Come cliiiimb meeee. I daaaare youuu. I doubt you have the leeeeeeggs for iiit, you whiiiimp!” I couldn’t be called yella’ like that so the next portion of my ride was going to involve a 50-mile mountain. Here’s the day in photos:
Arriving down close to sea level just outside of Redlands in the quaint little fast food strip mall of Mentone.
Karol-Ann and Spencer getting excited for some intervals.
Bigguns eat food after intervals finished.
Now Bigguns fueled and angry and want to ride more!
The finest ride food establishment known to man. Circle K. While in there, completely out of the blue, someone commented on how white my teeth were. I think I just stared at him and said, “uhhhh.”
Well if my teeth are somewhat white now, this aught to do the trick to yellow-em up. Two bottles of Mountain Dew (one regular the other Mountain Dew Red Zone), two king-sized Snickers (almond has more calories than peanut), one apple pie, one pack of gummy fruit snacks, one gatorade. Not shown is the food I already ate for the first 2.5 hours of intervals: one 600-calorie flask of maple syrup, two water bottles of maple syrup/whey protein mix, two oranges, and two tripple decker white bread sandwiches made with…take a guess?….more maple syrup. And I’m not talking about real maple syrup either. I’m talking about good ‘ol Umerican high fructose corn syrup, flavoured and coloured like maple syrup. Just the way Mom use to make it.
All set to go with a huge hump of food and extra clothes on my back, I began my conquest of that big beast off in the distance.
1,000 feet of climbing later and I hadn’t even reached a noticeable base of the mountain.
8 miles of climbing down, 42 to go. Although a sign about 5 miles later said it was 49 more miles. Thanks Caltrans. And to tell the truth, it’s actually not all uphill. Only like 30 more miles of it is uphill.
At 7,500 feet I began slowing down quite a bit from fatigue and the high elevation, so I pulled out my secret weapon. If one of these doesn’t do the trick, you’d better find a gas station quick and down 30-60 ounces of High Rev mocha from the cappuccino machine, because you’re on the road to bonkville, and it’s a one way street. Unless you’re on a bike, in which case one way streets don’t apply to you. But then, come to think of it, you wouldn’t be bonking if you were in a car in the first place. So forget everything I just said. Just know that that apple pie tasted real, real good.
The apple pie did the trick and I avoided any sort of cracking. In fact I had good energy all the way home, maybe too much energy because when I got to the hostel and my key wouldn’t open the lock to my room I kneed a hole in the door out of frustration. No one has noticed yet. Here’s the view from the summit at 8,400 feet.
It was a cold, dark descent down to Big Bear Lake. Total hours for the ride: a little under 6. Total feet of climbing: 12,600. I stumbled into the hostel, made a big pot of oats and cooked fruit, took it in the bathtub and laid there eating it out of the pot for half an hour as my fingers and toes came back to life. A ride like this will leave you so content, dead tired, and mindless that you’ll care about nothing else for a long time. Or at least until tomorrow.