After the excitement of the Desert Tri and then last weekend's awesome Solvang ride, yesterday's Malibu Canyon did feel a bit more low-key, except for the 4:20 wake-up call. As soon as my phone went off, I thought to myself "I don't want to do this", so I hit the sleep button and enjoyed 9 more minutes of bliss. When the alarm rang the second time, I managed to drag myself out of bed and I was at Zuma Beach in Malibu by 6:15 so that I could pick up my ride packet. Then I went back to the car, drank coffee and waited. And waited some more...
Zuma Beach - Not a bad place to wait around
I had signed up for the Malibu Canyon Ride just a few weeks ago, mainly because I had a free entry and figured it would be a good experience. Plus, it was a local event. After last weekend, when I *loved* everything about the ride, I was looking forward to this one as well, but the course profile made me really nervous. In fact, I had initially planned to ride the metric century but dropped to the 50-miler because I felt so intimidated by 8,000 feet in 62 miles (in comparison to 6,000 in 50 miles - gulp). As people kept arriving and I was soon surrounded by a population of spandex-wearing individuals, I figured that it was time to get down to business and get ready to ride! I was still unsure of my ability and how the day would go (nice personal vote of confidence), but I saw quite a few people whom I knew which, for some reason, bolstered my spirits. I don't usually sport too much "team" apparel, but I did for this ride, and it was nice to identify other CalTri people.
Teammates - Sort of...
The start was a bit more organized than Solvang - only because I was actually there for it - and the 100-milers went out first. Around 8:30, the metric century and 50-milers got our start. We were off!
We headed south for the first few miles on PCH, and then swung left up Latigo Canyon (Latigo means "whip" in Spanish - yes, it definitely whipped plenty of people's butts!). That was the first climb of the day - and it ended up being the easiest one too. I enjoyed it, except for the part when the road was a bit narrow and tons of Porsches cruised by us, apparently on their Saturday ride. The second climb was a beast - I felt like crying at least twice, I definitely cursed it on multiple occasions, and I probably would have unclipped and walked if I could have done so without falling over. Also, during the second climb, we had crappy road conditions - on part of the ascent and part of the descent. It wasn't as bad as last weekend, but it did not make for an enjoyable ride for part of the way.
This is somebody else's image - he sent it on to me; my Garmin only read 6,200 elevation gain; regardless, it was a long day of climbing!
I hit PCH at mile 42, and if I'd had an easy left-hand turn, I probably would have headed straight back to the finish line and my car. But, there was a ton of traffic, I didn't feel like stopping and dealing with it, so I hung a right and cruised along PCH for a few more miles before heading back to the car. Which got me to 60 miles!
Last week's and this week's rides were vastly different - in the experience and the terrain (except for some of the bumpy roads that I did not enjoy). Both were beautiful rides, although I did prefer the wine country of Solvang and, on the whole, the consistent ups and downs rather than the crazy-hard climbs of the Malibu area. The people doing this week's ride were much more "serious" about it all. But I had significant take-aways from both of these experiences. First of all, I am no longer intimidated by the whole group ride dynamic - I'm not fast, but I can hold my own, especially when I'm climbing! Also, same as last week, the hardest miles were not at the end but somewhere before then. By the time I'm at those last 5-10 miles, I start to feel better - probably because I know that I will end soon - and I relax a bit on the bike. Finally, a major take-away from both of the rides - I need to get my fuel in order! I feel that I'm just not very smart about eating and drinking enough before I start the ride and also during the ride. Again, peanut butter and jelly, which I kind of dislike in general, is a great go-to food/fuel, so that has been a nice discovery. However, I need to carry something salty, like pretzels, because I find myself craving salt like crazy. Also, along the same line, I should include salt tablets in my bike-bag or bento-box. Just put them in there and pop one or two on occasion. It was a very warm day (I cannot believe this weather!), and I did not feel prepared for that.
Finishing this ride felt like more than an accomplishment than last week's - it was a harder ride, physically and mentally. But, I also had some major rewards at the end. Wading into the Pacific Ocean was such a treat for my legs! Also, I was still craving salt, so stopping for a coke (in a glass bottle) and BBQ Fritos to keep me "up" for the drive home - a total win.