my own alpe d’huez

mixing up the training has been a blast for the last few weeks. the great thing about ‘supposed’ tri-training is that mixing and matching your workouts creates an ever changing, creative blend of physical exertion. when the body is burnt out from running, swimming is still an option. when it’s too hot to grind out a track workout, the wind generated by cycling will take the edge off…and so on.
tuesday and wednesday, i figured in the spirit of le tour being in the alps, i’d create some moderately hurculean workouts to show some solidarity for my comrades (menchov? ekimov? popovich?) in spandex. i took the bike to work on tuesday, planning on running at lunch, then cycling home from work. cycling back to work on wednesday morning, swimming at lunch and then lifting after work would round out the two days efforts.
tuesday’s run was warm, but nothing too bad (thank God for a drinking fountain at mile 2 and 4). i headed home on the bike at about 5pm into relatively warm conditions. rather than take my normal 17 mile flat route home, i thought i’d enjoy some of the coastline and ride through newport coast and out to pch, followed by a trip up laguna canyon and back to the house. the route i planned had what i knew to be an epic decent, but i’d never been through the area that i would take to get up to the top of the decent. i wasn’t sure if it was a simple grade or something more epic. before leaving work, i quickly mapped out the route, memorized all the turns and then clipped in for the trip home.
the first couple miles went by quickly over some moderately tough rollers through post work traffic, but then by around mile 5 i made the turn onto the hill. it began easily enough with a fairly slight grade, but was turning ever so slightly as to obscure what was coming ahead. slowly, the angle picked up and before i knew it, i’d come over a false flat and was faced with a wall in front of me. i channeled the peloton and dug in for the climb. the new bike is outfitted with a computer that includes cadence. i’d heard or read somewhere that 80rpm is a good training pace, so i stuck to that and kept the gearing right at a level where i could maintain that. my speed dropped fast and i turned into a human sieve…with no summit in sight. i kept grinding up the climb which had now stretched into several miles. shortly after mile seven, though, i topped out on the main climb and was treated to an amazing view of newport coast, looking down into one of the many wilderness parks that dot the coast.
there were a handful of smaller climbs before i topped out and began the decent down to pch. the climb had been completely worth it, though…the downhill was long, smooth and had long, sweeping turns. i was able to hammer the big gears and get over 40mph on the ride down. that’s crazy fast on a bike. quick thoughts of hitting something in the road flittered through my mind and i briefly thought of pulling a kessler (vs. canada, since he broke his collar bone) but put the frightening images out of my mind and just enjoyed the speed, the weather and the view.
before i knew it, i was down on pch and pedaling along the coast with a nice ocean breeze pushing me along. several more rollers greeted me as i headed down to laguna beach and just before the last drop and climb, i stopped briefly for a gu and some fluids, and was greeted with another great view of crystal cove and the betty ford house out on the point. i pulled out the cell phone and took a shot.
the rest of the ride was a comfortable stroll through laguna canyon with a stiff breeze pushing me along and temperatures in the completely reasonable range. i rolled onto our street just at 24.5 miles and, for taking the long way home, i’d been completely rewarded by one of the more memorable rides i’ve ever had. i think i’ll make this route a regular ride since it features all the great aspects of riding in southern california. hill, ocean, favorable winds and amazing views…it was a day for the history books.

10 thoughts on “my own alpe d’huez

  1. You’re right – tri-training does give you a lot of options :) My first bike workout is next weekend … I’m going to have to find a route that’ll take me two hours to complete!

  2. Sounds awesome! Although the idea of going that fast downhill still freaks me out a little – at least it’s not something I have to worry too much about around here.

  3. Hmm, I just put up a post about not being a bike guy but your description of you ride almost makes me want to change my mind.
    Aren’t the memorable runs/rides so . . . memorable!

  4. What goes up must come down…love those fast decents, but admit I too have those flash/crash thoughts…but only briefly the fun outweighs the fear.

  5. geez, jeff, you work two miles away from where i work. i’m on the corner of jamboree and macarthur, tall gray buildings. i do one third of your route each way when i commute to work running. (live on the balboa peninsula). hi there, neighbour!

  6. That’s a fine route, and kudos on the hills! I’ve been working on my own hill routes, putting on the miles and trying to achieve true goat status.
    But that route looks like it is a perfect balance, and the Felt should be quite the perfect set of wheels for the task.

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