Yesterday, I led out the small group ride of around 60 registered riders at the 2nd annual “Spirit of Giving” Run, Walk, & Ride charity event for the City of Modesto via the Stanislaus County Bicycle Club. It was mostly a 5k running race with over 400 participants, but this year, the SCBC was included so I volunteered to help out in whatever capacity was needed even though I was scheduled and registered to run in the race. I rode over to the downtown area at 11th and M streets where the festivities began. The course was mostly a west to east direction with most of it following the Peggy Mensinger Multiuse Path which runs through Dry Creek from La Loma to Claus Road and then back the same way. Our club President, Susan Dion, and board members: Louis Levin, Dave Enz, and another board member, along with the Modesto Police Department protected and controlled key intersections so that the riders could pass safely. There were a few roadies, many people on mountain bikes, and families with small kids on Walmart hybrid bikes. The low temps combined with the wind chill was excruciatingly painful on the hands reminding me that I really need a real pair of long fingered cycling gloves for the season – another stark reminder that I’m not in San Diego anymore. Anyway, the 12 mile ride was quickly over by 10:30 Back at the finish, awards for the 5k race were well underway, and I heard the name of one of my very talented riding pals Alisha Rice being announced as the 3rd runner overall. Alicia has had quite the big year qualifying for the Boston Marathon twice despite a nagging ankle injury. My favorite part of the day was watching the “Chase the Grinch Out of Town” quarter mile run for kids 10 & under By 11:00am, I was commuting via bike back towards home along North 9th street reflecting on this past year of 2011 and wondering what lies ahead for 2012. Looking back, this year was the most satisfying in recent memory – maybe ever. I finished what I had set out to do by riding five double centuries and volunteering at one earning the much coveted California Triple Crown Gold Thousand Mile Club membership and a really cool and rare jersey in the process -- a great way to end an epic year of cycling.
While navigating through crowded car lanes of Christmas shoppers over the Briggsmore overpass, an old familiar voice from my past echoed in my head which was strange because I rarely ever recollect these memories in my day to day life. Over thirty years ago, we were doing interval wind sprints between whinning and puking our guts out when the voice of my old football and track coach Jerry Van Legen was announcing one of his profound megaphoned statements. In his deep, calming voice he said, “Gentlemen, with every hard sprint, you’re either getting better, or getting worse…., but you’re certainly not staying the same”. He was right. I'm satisfied with my personal results for this past year, but something is definitiely missing. Winter is here, and I don’t want to hibernate. I still have that desire to to keep moving forward. So, for the winter, I'll invest in some winter gear and keep riding, but at a much slower LSD pace maybe three or four days a week to extend my base. For next year, I’d like to ride beyond the comfort zone of my typical 200 mile events. I’m looking at the NorCal RAAM Challenge, a 390 mile, self supported 36 hour endurance bike race that runs between Sacramento, the Napa Wine Country, and the Pacific Coast which takes place in September of 2012.
Before that, I’m looking at entering the California Triple Crown Stage Race – a collection of three of the toughest Doubles on the schedule which includes: the Devil Mountain Double, Terrible Two, and Mt. Tam Double. My training for these will focus on climbing since the average of elevation gain on these three are around 18,000 cumulative feet – twice the elevation that I’m comfortable with. The other path I'm contemplating is completing a brevet series with the Santa Rosa Bike Club of four rides beginning in February with a 200k, March is a 300k, April is a 400k, and finally working up to a 600k in May. My work schedule will be the dicatating constraints of what path I choose. Either way, I've got lots of work to do.