At week 5 of the Low-Key Hill Climb Series competition, our new, revitalized team shook up the established clubs and racers, and set the bar high. Team Bicycle Trip is still leading the series's team competition, ahead of such huge clubs as Alto Velo/Webcor. They have twenty times as many members as we do, but not twenty times the quality!
Notice that I said "team," but since I'm still officially racing for Team Santa Cruz through the end of the season, not Team Bicycle Trip, I am exempted from having to measure up to those lofty standards! Good thing too, because I was mostly using this "race" for my own devious purpose: pump the team's coach, Mark Edwards, for some much-needed tips on how to structure my training for the 2008 racing season... I succeded in gaining his confidence, then extracted highly sensitive training theories from him, and memorized them with my highly-trained steel-trap memory!
Dennis's 2008 Training Schedule
- Mondays: Very easy bike-commute, or day off.
- Tuesdays: "L5" workout with 4-minute hill repeats or intervals. (In Santa Cruz somewhere.)
- Wednesdays: "L4" workout with 2x20 or 1x40 FTP ride. (Likely on Page Mill. Plus bike-commute some of the time, but really slow.)
- Thursdays: Very easy bike-commute, or day off.
- Fridays: Very easy bike-commute, or day off. (Will add a second "L5" workout during the regular race season, unless there's a race the day after.)
- Saturdays: "L4" workout with 2-3x20 or 1x40 FTP ride with Team BT. (Might occasionally join Low-Key or Crow's Nest ride for kicks, but make sure to ride Hazel Dell.)
- Sundays: Day off. (Most of the time, unless it's going to rain on Monday or something. Might do that second "L5" workout during race season, on race weeks.)
I had a secondary objective: secure Margie Biddick's secret "Party Apple Cake" recipe. I managed to trick her into e-mailing me the recipe, by first partaking of her yummy breakfast muffins and complimenting her on her undeniable baking skills... flattery was my secret weapon! This recipe's very existence was only a rumor, but now it has been loosed upon the world:
Margie's Party Apple Cake
Combine and mix well:
4 cups apple, diced (I use 3-4 different types-organic)
2 cups sugar (turbinado)
Add and Blend:
1/2 cup oil
1 cup chopped nuts
3 eggs, well beaten
2 t vanilla
Sift together; add and blend:
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 t soda
1 t cinnamon
1 t salt
The batter is pretty lumpy - just keep mixing all ingredients with a large
spoon. Pour into creased, floured baking dish or muffin pans. Bake cake for 1
hour; muffins for approx. 30 minutes (325 for pan; 325 for pyrex).
Promise you won't divulge this recipe to our competition!
We carpooled from Santa Cruz in Mark's monster truck and Jim Langley's venerable Vanagon; We also had Geoff Drake, Scott Martin, Joe Platin and Matt Werner so things were pretty crammed! Kem Akol showed up a little later by himself. After parking in Pescadero we warmed up by riding Stage Road to San Gregorio, part of the Pescadero Road Race's route. The race course was simply HWY84 starting at the San Gregorio Market, a very old and cool general store from a bygone era. I don't recall ever entering it until that day; I had to use the restroom. And, after removing my cleats to spare the ancient wood floors, marvelled at the old building, the fun merchandise, sandwich cooler... and the savory coffee operation they had in place. Very nice!
After we paid our ten dollars we were given a yellow ID sticker and a start time, because this was an individual time-trial, not a mass start race. We would be sent off individually with 20-second gaps and I was nearly last with 10:29am. I chatted with my teammates, who all had earlier start times except Kem, and Steve Woo of LGBRC. Several guys had intimidating time-trial bikes, and one of them had this scary looking helmet with an insect's-eye visor, while most of us just rode what we brung. The weather was a tad chilly, but fairly nice otherwise and conditions would be great for a hill climb.
At 10:29 the nice starter-guy sent me off on my way and I concentrated on setting a nice, comfortable pace that caused just a very slight burning sensation in my legs; Mark had spilled this tip to me, and confided that it's the best way to increase our "FTP" (Functional Threshhold Power). This FTP thing will stand us in good stead during races where the average pace is high, and especially for hilly road races. But even my favorite races, criteriums, can be decided by racers dedicated enough to undertake this arduous training.
Highway 84 is very pretty, and had very little traffic. As I burned my way along the gentle slopes of the first half of the race course, I had time to enjoy the scenery and even spotted a huge red-tail hawk... how awesome! I nodded at the local residents as they tended their yards, and they nodded back.
A couple of guys timed us at the junction with Pescadero Road, and my "split time" was 22:53, which placed me in 26th out of 51 men. Pretty fun! It's amazing how well you can place with a less-than-blazing pace!
I also got to watch a VW club taking photos of that cool red barn. I've got some photos of my own of that barn.
Soon after, a nice woman pointed us toward the West Old La Honda Road turnoff... all except Kem who (we found out much later) rode on up 84, happily unaware of the error. I have a non-compact 20-speed bike now, and the gearing is a little tall for this steeper road, so I was forced to either up my pace or grind out a really low, lactic-acid-inducing cadence. I felt fine, so I rode a little harder. And I started to pass more people. I had only passed a few riders on 84, including Margie and the guy with the insectile TT bike helmet, but soon I had spun around maybe 10 riders, and one of the Alto Velo/Webcor guys. Fun, and the view was spectacular!
The last part of West Old La Honda is more gentle, and sheltered by redwood trees. I passed another guy or two, and soon heard the cheers of the welcoming committee standing along Skyline Boulvard a short distance ahead. Being a sprinter and all, I jumped forward and quickly made mincemeat of the last few hundred meters with a nice sprint finish... wheee! I ended up improving my placement on the second part of the course, for an overall 18th place. Mark was 2nd overall, Geoff 5th, Jim 12th, Scott 15th, Matt 17th, and Margie 2nd. (Joe didn't compete because he thought the $10 fee was too high... kidding! Come to think of it, he suffered just as much as us, but it cost him nothing... hmmm, maybe he gets the last laugh!)
The rest of the team was mostly there waiting for the last of us to finish, and munching on the bananas and other snacks the race organizers had lugged up the hill for us. After Margie arrived we waited in vain for Kem, then decided to go ahead and drop down Old La Honda Road, toward Portola Valley Road. That's pretty nuts, because then we decided to ride back up it right afterwards! Ugh, that's a tough climb, but Jim, Matt and I chatted our way up to ease the pain.
Afterwards we formed a rather ragged pace-line and set a quick pace back down 84, up Pescadero Road's nasty Haskins Hill for some more race-course scouting, and back to Pescadero town for some recovery food. Kem arrived just as we were leaving him to his unknown fate. Whew!
Margie celebrated her anniversary in style at a Santa Cruz Bar & Grill, and Margaret and I were treated to a tasty dinner at Michael's on Main with our friends Rob and Diana Jensen... I am not worthy!