Tag Archives: training run

The Last Two Weeks – Canada & Wine Country

Training Run XIX Key Data:

  • 60.24 Miles
  • 4 Hours 34 Minutes
  • Average Speed 13.2 MPH
  • Top Speed 31.1 MPH

Well not actually Canada but Cañada Rd. down by the lovely Crystal Springs Reservoir, a great road that is apparently popular with those working on their intervals. Every Sunday in Spring and Summer a long straight, relatively flat, section of the road is closed to auto traffic for the enjoyment of all. To get there we first hit the very familiar Bay Trail and hooked right to cross San Carlos on Edgewood. Also very familiar these days… heat, lots and lots of hot exposed riding. Our favorite thing in the world is becoming an unavoidable aspect of our experience. Things I hate while cycling in order, wind then heat. Oddly enough when it’s hot out you find yourself wishing for wind and when it’s super windy/freezing you wish for heat. Together these things are nice (maybe?) but as separate things to contend with, swearing will commence. I digress, there was heat in them there foothills.

Training Run XX Key Data:

  • 41.41 Miles
  • 3 Hours 9 Minutes
  • Average Speed 13.1 MPH
  • Top Speed 31.3 MPH
Fast forward a week to this past weekend and Team Springer rejoined with the Batistas to form a cycling Voltron (like a peloton but with anime robot cats) up in Russian River wine country. We rolled into the hotel parking lot and immediately disembarked to attend a release party at Hawley Winery. Well we ended up showing up to the event right as it was ending but the good folks at Hawley filled our faces with cold water, “hella pulled chicken,” and chardonnay. The post chardonnay return trip back to the hotel was somehow much more enjoyable, I wonder why?

Training Run XXI Key Data:

  • 29.45 Miles
  • 2 Hours 4 Minutes
  • Average Speed 14.2 MPH
  • Top Speed 31.5 MPH

Day 2 up in Healdsburg, Team Springer & the Batistas met up with Leah’s co-worker Brian who is also training for the ALC and went off on a short stint through green vineyards. It was a lot of fun having so many compatriots to chat with and afterwards an equally fun lunch full of the requisite burgers.

Also we managed to sign ourselves up for the I Care Classic century and the Strawberry Fields Forever metric century. Team Springer will be busy right up to the ALC.

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A Weekend of Blood, Sweat, and Gears…. and More Sweat

Over the weekend Leah and I managed to string together 3 solid days of riding totaling about 172 miles including our first century. A couple of weeks back I decided that a supported ride would be a good experience and signed us up for the Primavera Century, run by the awesome folks at the Fremont Freewheelers Bicycle Club. But first:

Training Run XVI Key Data:

  • 25.27 Miles
  • 1 Hour 44 Minutes
  • Average Speed 14.6 MPH
  • Top Speed 30.9 MPH
Daylight Savings Time is awesome! Why is it awesome? It is awesome because it is now possible to come home from work and  squeeze in a solid 2 hours of riding. So on Friday night that is exactly what we did. Maybe it was the the thrill of t-shirt weather, maybe it was this thing called “improved fitness”, maybe it was a combination of these things, but we managed to ride fast. Uphill, downhill, no hill, didn’t matter, we were able to keep higher speeds than our average and if there had been more daylight we would have kept going; however, I was smart enough to look up the time of sunset beforehand and planned accordingly.

Training Run XVII:

  • 37.4 Miles
  • 2 Hours 42 Minutes
  • Average Speed 13.8 MPH
  • Top Speed 31.6 MPH
Then Saturday rolled around and we met up with our good friend Bibi who had just purchased a fancy new bike herself. We BART’ed over to the airport stop to avoid the hills around Candlestick and had a nice (so hot) ride along the Bay Trail before heading back to confuse the hell out of passengers on the SFO Air Train. You have luggage! I have a bike! At the airport! Check out my shorts! By the way Air Train is awesome in that it has some serious air conditioning.

Training Run XVIII – Primavera Century Key Data:

  • 103.68 Miles (New Team Springer Record)
  • 8 Hours 12 Minutes
  • Average Speed 12.6 MPH
  • Top Speed 34.1 MPH
  • Elevation Gain 5,627 ft
  • Average Temperature 85.7 °F
  • Top Temperature 100.4 °F
  • Standstill falls 2
  • Flat Tires Spotted in First 10 Miles – 15+
  • Bottles of Cytomax/Fluid/Gu/Water Consumed: 20 something
Sunday. Game time! War face! Other inspiring exclamations! We spent the night before in Union City anticipating having to get up at the crack of dawn to get 100 miles of riding done between the hours of 6:30AM and 5:30PM. Have you ever ridden the Calaveras Road? Have you ever ridden the Altamont Pass? Have you ever ridden the Dublin Grade? Have you ever ridden Palomares Road? Have you ever done all of these things in temperatures ranging from 75 to 104? If you said yes to these questions you should have said hi to us because you were also at the Primavera Century. Yeah there were hills, the first and last being particularly awful. Especially the last hill which started at mile 92. Yes mile 92, as in I have just ridden 92 miles and what I want is to now ride up a ridiculously steep and long grade! YES SIGN ME UP FOR THIS NOW! An elevation profile for perusal:

And the heat! When we hit rest stop number 3, we high-fived massively. We had hit the halfway point, from here on out it was all smooth sailing back to the car…. no, no it was not. What happened next was a 15 mile loop over the Altamont Pass. The second, and I mean literally the second, we turned onto the Altamont Pass Road the temperature increased by 15 degrees. Hill, heat, hill, heat, and no shade anywhere. At one point we finally came across a somewhat tall bush that shadowed a small section of road and we immediately pulled over to hide from the infernal sun. A group of riders behind us looked on and immediately joined us, so we huddled together trying to stay within the shade while we cursed the science of solar heat.

All complaining aside though, we did it. We managed to ride 103 miles and when we finally got to the finish line and went to checkout (no rider left behind policy) with 3 minutes to spare before 5:30PM, the amazing staff of the FFBC swarmed us with plates of food and lemonade. Thanks guys for putting on a great event.

And now some obligatory photos from a time when I was still capable of thinking about taking photos (e.g. early on in the day).

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Going faster in SLO County

Training Run XV Key Data:

  • 93.76 Miles (new Team Springer record)
  • 7 Hours 29 Minutes
  • Top Speed 34.6 MPH
  • Average Speed 12.5  MPH
  • Elevation Gain 5,890 ft
  • Improvement of previous 50 mile best by 16 minutes
Last weekend we headed down to San Luis Obispo to partake in Passover/Easter festivities but did not take a break (that’s this weekend) and brought the bikes down with us. The ALC ride heads right through this area and due to this fact I tried as hard as I could to choose a ride that did not overlap the ALC route. So all signs pointed to heading north, heading north of course meant tackling the Cuesta Grade of the Santa Lucia Mountains on 101, a 4 mile long ascent of 7% average grade. Later I would discover this is roughly equivalent to a TDF Category 2 climb. Huffing and puffing up the side of a highway over a 4 mile climb is interesting to say the least. You can see said climb in the elevation graph below, it would be the giant massive spike heading up to the 10 mile mark.

If you are actually looking at that graph you will also note that this ride was not flat in any way and nearly 3/4s of the way in we ascended the Santa Lucias again on rt. 41 heading to the ocean town of Morro Bay. But first, the jagged section in the middle! Here’s the thing… San Francisco is not a warm place, minus that one week in October, and I’m pretty used to heading out in wet, foggy, 50 degree weather. San Luis Obispo is not these things and even at a measly 70 degrees, the heat was absolutely killing me. At some point in the middle of our loop around Santa Margarita Lake I started to overheat massively while in a short climb, like bright-red face and throbbing pulse overheating. Once I got to the top of the hill, I got off the bike, laid it down on the side of the road, took off my helmet, laid the helmet on the side of the road, and started to pace (and swear) while contemplating (mostly swearing) and thought about ways to cool down (more swearing). Leah met up with me a couple of moments later and after realizing that I was not in any mood to talk, pedaled away while I prepared myself to continue (by swearing). We both downed our two water bottles and fortunately were able to resupply ourselves in Atascadero with fluids. The country side was nice though and I managed to sneak this shot from the saddle of Leah in Ranch country.

Ok now back to the Santa Lucia Mountains. After we had crossed them (again) on rt. 41, Leah says “Let’s do that thing where we go fast and cover ground quickly.” So we did that and next thing I know we are setting a 17 MPH pace down to Morro. As we turned on to Los Osos Rd. to head back to San Luis Obispo Leah took the lead to set a pace. After a minute or two, and a couple of upshifts, I noticed that we were really cranking on the flats back to town. I was a little surprised when I looked down and noticed that we were cruising along at a 23 MPH average. What a great way to end a 90 mile ride! To make it even better, when I woke up the next day a) I felt exceptionally undamaged from 90 miles of riding and b) I got to spend time with family.

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Ze Trainer, Going Back in Time, and Getting 86’d

It’s been awhile but that is mostly because of the rain a couple of weekends ago; however, we were ready! Having diligently checked the weather report to ensure no wind assault escapade occurred again, I went ahead and purchased a Cycleops fluid trainer to ensure butt in saddle time. The trainer even came with a DVD to simulate the effort a crit rider would experience in a 45 minute race. At first I scoffed at said DVD and instead pedaled away on a rainy Saturday while watching an epic action movie.Then Sunday came around and the weather was even worse, so with some reluctance I insert said DVD. It was what one would expect, some guy riding around with a camera on his head so you could feel like you were in the race, BUT along the bottom were some guidelines around what your level of effort/heart rate should be at any given time. Let’s just say said workout DVD wants you to pedal like an insane maniac for 45 minutes straight. The floor was shaking like I had 3 driers running, the windows fogged up, which I assume is due to the amount of sweat that was pouring out of my body (yes this is gross), and after a brief cool down I got off the bike and felt like I had been riding all day. So all that said, the trainer worked at being a workout. Now I can relax about getting in bike time when the skies do not cooperate.

  • Total time on trainer thanks to rain 3 Hours 50 Minutes
  • Total miles on trainer… ask me again if I ever buy the sensors to track such things.

Last weekend however ended up being nice, so we set out to rack up the miles.

Training Run XIII Key Data:

  • 18.95 Miles
  • 2 Hours 8 Minutes
  • Top Speed 22.1 MPH
  • Average Speed 8.9 MPH

We had some social plans on Saturday and given our incredibly late start which included a not so fantastic brunch, we decided to take an easy day. In reality this was a step backwards in time as we decided to:

  1. ride in the city
  2. not get all geared up
  3. use the hybrids

It was like going back to the days of our very first “training” attempts when we lacked all the futuristic gear we have now. It was also like going back in time physically as I was about as slow as I ever was when we first started “training” and whined pretty much the entire way out to Golden Gate Park and then whined even more the entire way back. It was probably good to get this out of my system as the next day was about being serious again.

Training Run XIV Key Data:

  • 86.27 Miles (New Team Springer Record)
  • 7 Hours 10 Minutes
  • Top Speed 34.6 MPH
  • Average Speed 12.0 MPH
  • Elevation Gain 6,123 ft

Ride. Ride some more. No go farther. Wait a sec…. no sorry keep going. Keep going. Keep going. Annnnnnnnnnd keep going. Ok stop. That is basically what 86 miles of cycling feels like. Sunday we headed up to Nicasio Reservoir in our quest to increase our top mileage. It was an interesting ride with several climbs, descents, and wind blown flat sections but the scenery was a nice foray into cow country.

What I have quickly learned, is that after about 70 miles, one’s longevity is not measured in miles nor time. The deciding factor to determine how far you can go is solely limited on how many Clif Bars you have jammed in your jersey pockets and how much water is left in your bottle. *Note to self, jam more Clif bars in jersey pockets* The rest just happens, miles go by, time goes by, scenery goes by, and you end up in a content cycling daydream. Then you wake up the next morning and wonder why you are so damn sore.

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From Bad-Ass to Ass-Kicked

This weekend we learned how little things like wind and cold can make a 27 mile ride feel worse than an 80 mile ride. The upside was that my new Garmin Edge 500 arrived in time for our rides, freeing my cell phone from pulling double duty as my GPS tracking device. The cell phone method works but as I learned even with a fairly robust battery the phone cannot handle rides over 6 hours without draining down to 10% battery life.


Training Run XI Key Data:

  • 80.56 Miles (New Team Springer record)
  • 6 Hours 19 Minutes
  • Top Speed 32.7 MPH
  • Average Speed 12.7 MPH
  • Improvement of previous 50 mile best by 32 minutes
Onward and upward from 70 to 80 miles. We hit the road later than ever but thanks to Daylight Savings Time we fit this ride in with some sun to spare. The GGB was less crowded than usual making for a much less frustrating transit to Marin. From there we rode back through Larkspur, Ross, and San Anselmo but this time around cut over through San Rafael over to China Camp State Park. To add on some extra miles the ride then went on to the Paradise Loop in Tiburon. All the while we were “killing it,” and by that I mean our non-hill speed averaged around 16 MPH. We decreased our best 50 mile time by 32 minutes, that’s huge! After we got home we were both exhausted; yet when we woke up after some serious procrastinating we got ready for………


Training Run XII Key Data:

  • 27.89 Miles
  • 2 Hours 52 Minutes
  • Top Speed 30.9 MPH
  • Average Speed 9.7 MPH
  • Wind gusts 40MPH
  • Feet Ascended/Mile ~100
  • Swears Uttered/Mile ~5

The. Worst. Ride. Ever. Awhile back I had planned this route to Pacifica, thinking that it would add some variety to what, at the time,  was our usual mix of city and airport rides; then a couple weeks ago, I opened up the route and decided to add San Bruno Mountain to add some “difficulty” to the ride. Here’s the funny thing (or not so funny thing), somewhere through all of this I forgot to look at this thing called a topographic map; so when Leah asked me this morning how bad the hills were, I responded, “I don’t think too bad.” Har har. Then we check the weather report which proclaimed “WINDY.” Yes indeed, if we had looked a little further we would have found that this meant there were 35 – 40 MPH gusts, something that we quickly discovered while swearing at the world about 5 minutes into the climb on San Bruno. That climb was followed by what normally would have been a nice downhill section; said section was a furious wind tunnel in the wrong direction, basically creating a massive air brake. Thanks to my Garmin I was able to follow our lack of progress and see that even on a downhill I was going 10 MPH, that’s how windy it was. In comparison, under normal conditions on a similar hill I should have been hitting 35 MPH. Then that climb was followed by another slog through Daly City, followed by a particularly brutal slog up Sharp Park Road in Pacifica, followed by another slog up Chestnut St. in South San Francisco, followed by the wind beating the hell out of me around Candlestick Point. And that is how a 27 mile ride did more damage to my body and mind than the 80 mile ride that preceded it. Leah has politely (ahem) pointed out that I am never allowed to plan bike routes again. Here is Leah pretending to smile after making it to the top of San Bruno Mountain.

And here is the profile of the route we managed to survive in a wind tunnel.

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Training Run X – Lagunitas

Training Run X Key Data:

  • 70.18 Miles (New Team Springer Record)
  • 6 Hours 18 Minutes
  • Top Speed 32.6 MPH
  • Average Speed 11.1 MPH
  • Number of times Lee nearly fell over while at a complete stop with one foot unclipped 2
  • Number of times Leah caused someone else in cleats to fall over 1
  • Improvement of previous 50 mile best by 26 minutes
  • Leah’s blood pressure while crossing the GGB … immeasurable.

I don’t have too much to say about this ride other than White’s Hill, which we were told is closest training hill to the “Quad Buster” on the ALC, was not nearly as horrible as we had been expecting. After crossing the ever crowded pedestrian side of the Golden Gate bridge we made our way through Sausalito, Mill Valley, Larkspur, Ross, San Anselmo, Fairfax, and finally Lagunitas. This was an out-and-back run, the way back being much easier in terms of the hills/mounts involved. Leah really made improvements in her descents, tailing my rear tire with gusto and hitting the 30+ MPH mark. The potato patch drizzle kicked in across the Mill Valley bike path to the point where we both had to stop to wipe off our glasses in fear of killing some innocent pedestrian in the foggy haze. The fog made for less tourists on the bridge, but the ones who braved the weather to stand in the bike path taking pictures still had Leah’s wrath to contend with: “ON YOUR RIGHT! HEADS UP! BIKE!”  70 miles, new record, done!

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Back in the Saddle Again

Also known as our first “Century Weekend,” also known as Training Run VIII & IX. After taking a week and a half break to discover Spanish culture (in Spain of all places) we quickly realized that the clock is ticking and there are not that many weeks left until ALC; so, we got on the bikes and decided to ramp up our training to get ourselves back on track. The primary goal over the weekend was to put in two significant back to back rides to better simulate the 7 days straight we will experience on our way to LA. What we encountered was a test of chamois and bodily endurance, take that for what you will.

Training Run VIII Key Data:

  • 62.64 Miles (A new Team Springer record!)
  • 6 Hours 8 Minutes
  • Average Speed 10.2 MPH
  • Top Speed 32.6 MPH
We had intended to meet up with the actual ALC training rides that leave from the Sports Basement by the Marina, this past weekend’s Saturday ride being a combination of Hawk Hill and the Tiburon Paradise Loop; however, Team Springer isn’t necessarily known for being early to rise. We got out of the house a little over an hour after the official ride had left and decided to copy the route with the minor addition of roughly 21 extra miles that it takes to get from our Bayview home to Chrissy field and back. All along the way we kept running into the ALC Sweepers who were hanging out to catch any stragglers which was somewhat pleasing; yet, we were in no hurry to attempt to become part of the ride. The major pro and con of this ride is Hawk Hill, which involves a really tough segment of steep grade hill. The con is that you have to ride up the hill, the pro is that you get the view from the top and a really fun descent back down!
The rest of the ride after Hawk Hill was essentially a redo of Training Run V.

Training Run IX Key Data:

  • 47.57 Miles
  • 4 Hours 15 Minutes
  • Average Speed 11.2 MPH
  • Top Speed 24.1 MPH
  • Tires flattened by unseen small bits of broken glass 1

After putting in the first 62 miles on Saturday we woke up even later on Sunday with a mind to accomplish at least 20 more miles for the weekend. The Bay Area weather decided to cooperate and gave us a perfect warm sunny day so we set off towards the airport and the flat Bay Trail thinking that the lack of hills would offer a nice recovery ride. That same weather convinced us to go much farther than we had originally intended and we ended up stopping near the Oracle campus and one of it’s many pedestrian/bike bridges. As I was following Leah on the way back somewhere near the airport, I began to hear a PSHEW PSHEW PSHEW PSHEW noise coming from my front tire, a fantastic signal that I was losing air rapidly. After stopping in the parking lot of a not so great looking Mexican restaurant complete with a couple fighting in their car right next to us (awkward), I discovered a piece of brown glass wedged into my tire. Out comes the 270a290128e9012 tool multidevice I carry for such occasions and my latest toy, a CO2 cartridge inflator (screw pumping). In short time I had the tire replaced, I had the tube inflated, I had a short but effective reminder that CO2 cartridges become about -40 degrees when you let the gas out, and the fighting couple continued to fight (still awkward). After that the rest of the ride home was uneventful; however, I did begin to notice that my body was starting to breakdown somewhere around the 100 mile weekend mark. My sit bits were beginning to hurt, one of my calves started to cramp, and my hands were screaming a symphony of carpal tunnel destruction from gripping hoods and drops and flats for nearly 10 hours over two days. Somewhere in my mind I was reminded of this set of cycling rules (not entirely serious….. maybe) our friend Ken had sent us, specifically rule #5 which states, “Harden the f**k up.” All signs point to the fact that the more you ride, the less it becomes a game of physicality and more of mentality, I’m sure a million marathon runners would agree with some similar mantra.

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Training Run VII – Three Bears and other assorted hills

Training Run VII Key Data:

  • 36.56 Miles
  • 4 Hours 8 Minutes
  • Top Speed 37.2 MPH (new personal record)
  • Average Speed 8.8 MPH
  • Elevation Ascended 3334′
  • Elevation Descended 3220′

Hills! Leah and I decided that we should get some hill training in to prepare for things like “The Quad Buster” and “Twin Sisters” on the ALC route. Our local cycling expert and good buddy Ken took us out to the East Bay to train on the Three Bears. After that we were all still feeling spry so we extended our ride up to Tilden park and we learned more about hills than we bargained for. There is this funny thing called “grade,” and while on a bike, high grades don’t always equal high-five moments. Going up is a sweaty grind where things slow down, the slope becomes endless (at least in the Berkeley hills) and any thought of a normal flat surface leaves your mind. Then in a idiom proving moment, what goes up must come down, and what should be a fun, fast coast can turn into a frightening assault on your nerves. I tend to be a little (not completely) fearless when it comes to descents on a bicycle (and jumps!) but El Toyonal’s grades are deadly and its steep downslope through switchbacks gives one an exercise in selective braking or in Leah’s case an exercise in non-stop braking. Combine this with a complete unfamiliarity with the terrain, rough roads, moderate traffic, and cliffs, and you get a wonderful combination of mentally exhausting mileage; however, somewhere in the midst of this I hit a new personal speed record of over 35 MPH on a 20 lb piece of aluminum. I shall be back El Toyonal and next time I shall not shy so quickly from your booby traps!

Look at this altitude profile for Training Run VII!

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Training Run VI – Bayview to San Mateo Bridge

Training Run VI Key Data

  • 39.85 Miles
  • 3 Hours 22 Minutes
  • Top Speed 33.5 MPH
  • Average Speed 11.9 MPH
  • Inspring People Met 1

This ride was essentially a redo of Training Run III; however, this time the road bikes made all the difference on the hills over Candlestick. Plus, we discovered the awesomeness that is the Bay Trail and picked it up just before Coyote Point.

We were planning to make this a light ride since Leah was running a 5k the next day.  We wanted to take it easy so her legs weren’t worn out, and thought a fairly flat, 30-mile ride wouldn’t be too bad.  When we arrived at Seal Point for a much needed bio-break, we met a man who was en-route from San Jose to SFO. Not only that, he makes the 120 mile ride, 5 days a week.  According to his “log book” he had put some 280,000 miles on his old beat up Diamondback mountain bike over the last 25 years. After hearing his story, we decided that we could make it a couple more miles to the San Mateo bridge. Short story shorter, we ended up hitting the San Mateo Bridge almost exactly at the 20 mile mark making it a 40 mile day. Whoops, sorry Leah.

Could be the weather, the new bike, or the choice to hit the bay trail but this time around this was a really enjoyable ride and I have a feeling it is now part of our regular rotation.

Also as a side note, on the way back we stopped at a McDonalds for another bio-break (what else is McDs good for when on the road?) and I must say that walking into a McDs fully decked out in sweaty exercise gear while people jam meat/soy filler into their gullets is awesome! No really try it sometime and you will discover the level of stink-eye that we experienced. LYCRA MAN SHAMES YOU!

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Training Run V – Paradise Loop

Training Run V Key Data:

  • 54.53 Miles
  • 5 Hours 20 Minutes
  • Top Speed 27.8 MPH
  • Average Speed 10.2 MPH
  • Appendages Road Rashed 2
  • People on Golden Gate Bridge (Too many)
Hey remember those road bikes we purchased? Finally after waiting out the work week we were able to hit the road equipped like people who know what they are doing (somewhat). Armed with new bikes, clothing that is not cotton, and SPD cleats, we set off to conquer the fabled Paradise Loop.
Cleats are an interesting beast. You snap in and your foot and the pedal arm become one. To remove said foot one must twist or move slightly to the side. It all sounds so simple yet with no practice can lead to some very unfriendly scenarios. Here is a scenario! You are slowing down to wait for your compatriot, you have lost most of your momentum and want to put your foot down to stop, you forget you have cleats on and pull your foot up, said foot stays attached to the pedal, now with no momentum you and the bike fall over onto the pavement. Does this sound far-fetched? Well it’s not and here is the outcome of said scenario.

That’s just the leg, the arm also got chewed up nicely but don’t worry the bike has no dings or scratches. This incident aside, the rest of the ride went well. Happy fun time, well except for the fact that the Golden Gate Bridge has closed the western span (aka the bicycle side) and have forced everyone to the eastern span. Guess what happens when you combine cyclists who are just trying to get across the bridge with nine million tourists who are all looking up at the towers and cheesing for the camera? Life comes to a crawl, a very frustrating crawl involving constant yelling. “ON YOUR LEFT!” “HEADS UP!” “MOVE OVER!” “STAY TO THE RIGHT!”

50 some-odd miles seemed both short and incredibly long all at the same time. My mind says “get back on the bike tomorrow wheeeeeeeeeee,” meanwhile my body says “I hate you! Take another hot shower!” And that is why we train.

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