April 22, 2017
Story for Sorry, Mr. Squirrel, really...but then again...are you crazy!?
When the lady turns over at 5am and says, "Hey, you're supposed to go ride," at first I think I must be dreaming, and then wonder why she's trying to get rid of me. I've learned though, not to ask too many questions.
All of my wearable shorts are sitting at the bottom of the hamper, so I dig out a clean, but threadbare pair from many, many, many...many miles gone by, which I've kept around for just such emergencies as today, (good thing it's dark). Jerseys are all a mess too, so I squeeze into that one I bought when I was trying to convince myself I wear a medium...urgh...maybe someday. And today it'll have to do.
I chug a cup of coffee and head out the door before I'm awake enough to feel lazy. The caffeine, undeniably perfect weather and the silhouetted mountains against the still dark sky kick up the seratonin levels to a fever pitch.
As always happens when I think about climbing Wilson, I have this long internal dialogue while I fight the urge to just keep going straight, and flat down Foothill instead of turning up Angeles Crest. My desire for self-inflicted suffering wins, and I head up....and up...and up....except for that one mile reprieve a little past the ranger station.
Even though it's early, the motors still come: five or so crotch rockets, a few Harleys, a small Subaru rally, two groups of classic cars, (all in desperate need of tuning), a few work trucks, the mountain bike shuttle, twice, and oddly enough, a group of five Honda Odyssey mini-vans??? Despite the added challenge that breathing their poor emissions provides, I eventually make it to Clear Creek, fill my water bottle and keep going. But not before the only other cyclist up this early whizzes past me.
Damn, where did he come from?
My competitive spirit kicks in, and I give chase, certain I can catch this guy. It happens at Red Box, but only because he stops to catch his breath. He passes me again within a half mile. I imagine trying to catch him, but it's pretty clearly not going to happen.
About 30 minutes later, I hit Mount Wilson, which never disappoints. It is gorgeous, yada yada yada, and back down I go.
Having recently upgraded to wider wheels, the descent is mostly amazing! The one small glitch is a nutty squirrel that jumps in front of me, runs back towards the forest and then back at me again to shove his tail under my rear wheel all in two blinks of an eye. Sorry, Mr. Squirrel, but I can't let your suicidal tendencies ruin an otherwise perfect morning.
When I hit the climb to Clear Creek, my legs are none too happy. I slow it up, tell my legs to shut up and finish the short climb on the verge of cramping.
As I reach the top, I hear a voice call my name and for a second I think it's God about to tell me how to solve he world's problems, or at least how to feel good about my vote this year, but this time it's only good ol' Francisco. Always great to catch a familiar face out on the road, especially when it means giving my fading legs a break.
After a very brief chat, I head down the rest of the invigorating descent. Home in time to shower before my kid's soccer game.
As a bit of a bonus to this nearly perfect ride, when I get out of the shower there's a Strava comment from the guy I'd tried to catch all the way from Clear Creek. Apparently, when he passed me, he'd been struggling to catch up since before we headed up the mountain. It's a small consolation for letting him beat me to the top...but I'll take it!
April 22, 2017