SATURDAY, JULY 28Ukiah, CA to Santa Rosa, CA
Staying at Santa Rosa Bible Church
66.9 miles today, average pace 14.3 mph
Total ascent 1,335 feet (the few grades mostly 3% to 6%)
It's all about Carmen … this beautiful child of God has very quickly become a bike rider. She didn’t start out that way on the East Coast, but today she smoked the ride. She wanted to ride with Sarah D who was going to be riding with me (after Sarah D stood me up big time yesterday), so we all took off together. A number of riders missed one of the first turns, and I found myself leading the ride. We got to the next turn, I asked somebody to chalk it, and kept going. They let me lead for a while because I had picked it up a little, and then Carmen came up to me like she was going to pass me. I teased her about thinking she could pass me and picked up the speed considerably, leaving her calling to me not to go so fast, that she couldn’t go that fast. So, after putting some distance between us, I gradually slowed down and let her catch up.
Some of the other riders were in front of us a ways, even out of sight, and this time I increased my speed very slowly, telling Carmen to just keep up, pointed to my rear tire indicating that she should draft me, which she understood because I have been teaching her that for weeks. So the miles went by, and I was still slowly increasing my speed. When I looked in my mirror, low and behold, there she was, close or still drafting. Three of the faster riders were now in sight up ahead, riding three across, blocking our lane. A few more miles and we were now behind them and I hollered load enough for them and Carmen to “pick it up or move out of the way because there are some serious riders behind you, wanting to pass." One rider dropped back a little, so there were only two riders in front of us. I slowed down a little to draft on them at their speed, which was still a faster pace than Carmen had been used to. After a little while and a few more miles, I asked Carmen if she was ready to rock, and I immediately got an enthusiastic ‘yes’ response, so I called out "passing right" to let them know we were passing and I took off back up to the pace we had been going, and guess who was still in my mirror? Yep, none other than Carmen.
Except for downhill, the fastest pace Carmen had previously gone is 14 mph. I had told her earlier at the 10 mile point, that she had just gone 10 miles at 16 mph, and she was excited about that. Now I was setting a faster pace, and she was staying in my mirror, even when I was hitting 20 mph. The only time she fell back was when we would hit a hill that was a little longer, or had a grade greater than about 2%. Once over the hill she caught right back up. So we passed the 20 mile point, and I told her she had just done the last 10 miles at 16.9 mph. Then I decided to find out what she could really do, so I upped the speed a little more, staying close to 19 and 20 mph, and she continued in my mirror. The next 5 miles had some longer uphill grades, and she was falling behind a little, but tried to stay with me. I finally lost her from my mirror because of a couple longer inclines, but she arrived at the van stop doing the last 5 miles at 19.8 mph. All in all, a very impressive achievement for this young lady.
We had a quick van stop to refresh, and I was ready to get going. Turbo Tom took off with Carmen behind him, followed by Sarah, then me. After all the fuss at the van over Carmen and how she was smoking the ride, that was the last I saw of Carmen riding for the rest of the day. Sarah and I rode the remainder of the day together, enjoying a more leisurely pace, all the while wondering if Carmen had kept up with Turbo. We arrived at the next (and last) van stop and Carmen had already left.
The second section today found us riding with a triathlon that was in the biking part of the event, a couple times along our route. The first time we joined them as they were passing their aid station, and even though we told them we were not part of the race, they said it didn't matter, that we could help ourselves anyway. So Sarah grabbed a Clif Bar as she rode by, and I grabbed a bottle of Gatorade. We were with them less than a mile both times. My knees were doing much better, and they needed to be better for the last couple of miles to the church. We hit some short but tough hills before finally getting to the church. I was even able to get up out of my saddle to pump up the hills.
When I got to the church, Carmen was outside waiting for me, hollering, "I beat you to the church, I beat you." I gave her a big hug, and told her how awesome she was! She very enthusiastically told Sarah and then all the other riders as they came in all about her day.
It was a beautiful day for riding. No jacket needed this morning, just my vest, and then later no vest. Just sunshine, clear skies, and lots of vineyards. Vineyards, vineyards, vineyards everywhere we looked. Grapes of every kind. And what for? I bet not a single grape vine will produce a single drop of chocolate milk, even if a brown cow eats the grapes! Useless I say! : ) But, another bit of beautiful scenery for us to view and enjoy.
We were on our own today at the church, preparing our own meals. Tomorrow we roll into San Francisco and the next day is an off day. It should be fun!