A few weeks ago, I saw an announcement for the Silicon Valley Time Trial Charity Challenge, a charity event that allows participants to ride the course for Stage 6 of the Tour of California a few hours before the pros. After reading that the perks of participation included special access at the finish area, I signed up immediately. Cue fantasies of seeing Dave Zabriskie and his Captain America skin suit in person!
Only after registering did it occur to me to look at the course map. At first, I was excited to see the route covers roads I ride regularly. Then I realized the finish line is at the summit of Metcalf road, a beastly 1.8 mile climb with an average grade of 10.6% that I have never even attempted. A few minutes (and expletives) later, I started formulating my game plan. First priority was climbing Metcalf at least once before race day.
I recruited my training-partner-in-crime, Carin, to ride the course with me a week before race day. The plan was to start from Lake Almaden to get in a good 9-mile warmup before hitting the start on Bailey.
In typical fashion, we couldn’t drag our lazy bums out of bed in the morning and started our ride at noon. My legs were feeling good during the warmup, Bailey climb, and rolling hills down in Morgan Hill. Things started to fall apart when we started heading north on Santa Teresa. It’s five miles of flat road with soul-crushing headwinds that make you feel like you’re moving backwards. We stopped at a market to get some water and cool down before heading up Metcalf. Since we started so late, we were riding at the hottest part of day and suffering. We agreed it was best to cut our losses, ride straight back to Lake Almaden, and tackle Metcalf during the week.
Tuesday morning, we actually managed to meet up at 7am to ride up Metcalf. We planned a route with a 6 mile “warmup” up and over Silver Creek and battling the headwinds on Basking Ridge before starting the big climb.
After a few minutes of delaying the inevitable, we started grinding our way up the hill. As usual, the wind was blowing in my face. My legs were burning, my heart was pounding, my mouth was cursing, and my eyes were constantly looking down at my Garmin to see how much further I had to climb. 21 minute later, the road finally flattened and we reached the summit.
After a very scenic cruise down San Felipe, we were back at our cars and went into the market to get some post-ride goodies. After grabbing a vegan chocolate peanut butter cookie, I spotted a couple wines with awesome names and couldn’t resist buying them. There’s nothing wrong with buying booze at 9am on a Tuesday, right?