Some backgroung info: The points leader in the Giro d’Italia wears the Maglia Ciclamino (mauve jersey). You get to be the points leader by out-sprinting the other fast men of the peloton for stage wins and intermediate points.
The plan was for the Descenders to have a pootle on Monday after having hit it pretty hard the previous Saturday. I hooked up with the boys early on a very beautiful and slightly chilly Memorial Day.
To make it a little more interesting, I introduced the guys to the concept of sprinting for town signs. What you do is sprint out for town signs along the way and the first person across the line gets a “point”. Since it’s Giro season, I called them Ciclamino points. It’s a fun way to add a little excitement to a ride and it’s also a great training technique, adding intervals to your pootle rides. Everyone agreed and we were off.
The first sign was entering Rancho Santa Fe. I noticed it when Guido went screaming past me so I jumped on his wheel and passed him a little too early for the actual sign, at which point Jim goes screaming around me for the point. Wow, that guy was fast. The funny thing was that I was the only one who actually saw the sign, everyone else was just having fun. I really have no business sprinting for anything other than another beer from the fridge, but it is very fun.
I think the next sign was for Carlsbad. Jim noticed this one and we went for it and he got it. That boy is fast…
The Leukadia sign was just after turning left onto Hwy 101. I didn’t tell anyone about it and nabbed it with everyone else wondering where I was going. Ok, that was less than fun so I decided to tell them about all future signs just to make it more interesting.
I was really amped up for the Solana Beach sign – it’s about 2/3 the way up a slight hill out of the San Elijo lagoon. I tried to talk Rob into leading me out, but he was not convinced. Crossing the lagoon, I attacked early and gained a nice 30m gap on the group but Jim turned on the gas and closed it back down. As soon as I saw him coming across I slowed down and waited. I put him on the front and congratulated him for catching me. My sneaky plan was to have him lead me out and I’d nab the sign with fresh legs at the end – I learned this valuable lesson from Mark, btw. I waited for him to go and gave it full gas to pass him at the last moment, but it just wasn’t enough. I did everything perfectly and was still almost a whole bike length in arrears. Like I said before, he’s fast!
The Del Mar sign is maybe 30 feet past a light that is always red. It’s all about gear choice and being able to spin it really fast. You pick a gear low enough that you can give it immediate power from the start, but high enough that you can keep increasing speed as you accelerate. You can’t shift, it’s just too short. I managed to win this sign (fair and square) by about 2 centimeters. This was the last town sign of the day and Jim earned his Maglia Ciclomino – I hope at least his legs were sore (mine were!).
Rob wanted to do Torrey Pines (inside the park, of course – is there another way?) and I was happy to oblige. It’s one of my favorite hills. For some reason, I started the hill in the back of the group – I need to give my position more thought. I powered past everyone but Rob who was on the front, looking strong. I got within 10 meters but he hung tough up the long straightaway. I thought he might rest at the curve and tried to gain a few yards, but no use – he powered on. It became clear that if I wanted the KOM points (no one had said anything about KOM points, btw) this was going to require something extra. With the Maglia Verde in mind, I went full gas and passed Rob just before it flattened out. At the stop sign, I slowed to wait for Rob (and breathe!). Rob went right past me and it I realized he was going all the way to the golf course. Now I had another gap to close down! It turned out later that Voris had suggested to Rob to gap me and make me chase in an attempt to crack me – what am I going to do with these guys?. I had no other choice but to go full gas again and barely made it to the traffic light before Rob.
We regrouped and headed back down the hill, on our way home. I put in a little dig climbing out of the lagoon and Voris chased – I have a rule, I have to attack on that bridge. I always do and it almost never makes sense. But there you go.
Everyone was still feeling a bit sparky on the way back and there were plenty of breakaways to chase down. My legs were starting to feel it a bit. At one point I got dropped after loudly declaring the under-bridge path clear of water – it had a foot or more flowing over the path and everyone (well, mostly Voris) took off while I was staring dumbly at the water. I chased and chased without catching him. Nice one, yeah, I deserved that.
We got in a paceline for the last long stretch of the SR-56 bike trail. Jim went first and really rocketed up the tempo. Then Rob goes balls-out and I’m on the back wondering how I’m going to pull through. Voris kept the tempo really high and then I’m in the wind. I did what I could and retreated back to the safety of the slipstream. We went like this as the group whittled it’s way down to just me and Voris. Btw, it sucks when you come off the front and think there are 4 people in the paceline but there are only 3. It creates an “oh shit” moment where you end up chasing for the back of the group when you’d much rather be resting.
So it’s me and Voris and he’s pulling really hard. He comes off the front and at first, I can’t come through. I begin to wonder if this is really an attack, but figure not since Voris had stayed out of all the previous ciclomino shenanigans. I give it everything I have to do a respectable pull and Voris attacks. He comes out like a rocket to my far left (same move he did on Wynola Road. btw) and left me there wondering what to do next. Well, there was only one thing I could do – watch him go. I had nothing more to give.
So that’s how the Descenders take a pootle. I have to say it was one of the funnest days on a bike in a long time. Thanks guys – looking forward to the next ride!
Elevation chart if you’re interested. Click to zoom.