March 10, 2011

California Training

I went to California recently on my annual pilgrimage to somewhere warm, sunny and green to fight off the end of winter doldrums and to get a solid week of road riding miles into my legs.  Like last year, I headed to Los Olivos, CA, just outside of Santa Barbara.  Los Olivos is home to the Santa Ynez round of the US Cup mountain bike series, and even more appropriate for a week's vacation, multiple high quality vineyards and lots of climbing on quiet roads.

This year I headed to CA to ride with my girlfriend, Laura, and three teammates from my National Capital Velo Club road team, Tom, Rob and Rob, and Rob girlfriend (and my realtor), Tiffany. As we drove north from LAX to Los Olivos, it started raining and the weather report was for snow in the mountains surrounding the valley.  I thought it never snowed in Southern California!

Our first day of riding, we set out for a 100 mile loop that took us up and over two significant climbs.  We could see the snow off in the distance on the descent from this 15 kilometer climb:

Heading down the canyon, snowy mountains in the distance
Having been stuck in the snowy and cold East Coast for the winter, a 5+ hour day to start the week was a shock to the system, but I was happy to have finished off the ride not completely bonked.  I must still have some residual long-distance endurance left over from my fall of adventure racing. As the test-piece mountain in the area, Mt. Figueroa was still snowed in on our second day of riding, we headed out for another 80+ mile ride through the local canyons.  Some viciously steep climbs, but thankfully, they were no longer than 10-15 minutes each (with the exception of the hour+ long drag up Foxen Canyon).

Stopping for a bite to eat after summiting Drum Canyon
Day three brought more clear and warm weather and we headed up Mt. Fig, a mountain that overlooks the Santa Ynez valley and the route climbs almost 4,500 feet in 15 miles.  My legs were feeling pretty cooked and I wasn't able to keep up the 350 watt average that I held for the hour long climb last year, and instead enjoyed the scenery on the way up.

Unfortunately, the summit was snowed in still (lucky for me as the guys had to turn back and found me on the way back down - I'd hit a sharp rock and torn my sidewall - I was worried about a very long walk back home, but my Genuine Innovations inflator got me home - I have the Ultrainflate Plus, which is awesome for these trips because I can't always be sure which CO2 cartridges are available and it uses both threaded and unthreaded cartridges).

Heading to Mt. Fig

The start of the climb, proper
Heading up to the mountain summit in the distance
The descent
Day four brought an easy ride and tours of several local vineyards.  We bought tons of wine to bring home and really enjoyed our visits to Alma Rosa , Sanford , Dragnonette and several others.

Day five was an epic route - huge climbing (the first one on dirt), crazy descents (one was a 10 mile dirt road descent) and incredible views. Old San Marcos Road into Painted Cave Road hurt me and it took awhile to recover, but hung on to get to the summit of the mountains overlooking Santa Barbara and the crazy descent down Arroyo Burro road to the (suspected) nudist camp and back to Los Olivos.  Everyone looked a bit shelled after that 5+ hour loop.

Looking back at Old San Marcos Pass road
The view from the heights of Santa Barbara
Descending Arroyo Burro
We took one day off due to rain and got in an easy ride on day seven before heading to Los Angeles for the night and our flight out on Sunday.  We went out to dinner in Santa Monica and it was very cold - the locals were saying that it was the coldest they'd seen in recent memory... Oh well, I guess it's not always warm and sunny in Southern California, but I hope to go back again in 2012.

You can check out GPS routes of our training days here on the Ride with GPS site.

I'm off to my first mountain bike race of 2011 in Danville, VA this weekend - the opener of the Virginia Off Road Series and promoted by the Southern Virginia Mountain Bike Association.  It's a two day event, with time trial on day one and a cross country on day two (or an endurance race for those who are so inclined). The event also has a trail running race (Laura's joining me for this trip to do the half marathon to get ready for the Boston Marathon) and a free screening of the Ride the Divide movie about the incredible mountain bike race from Canada, through the US Rocky Mountains to the Mexico border.  Ouch.  I'm looking forward to seeing it!

- Jeff

No comments:

Post a Comment