Here in the eastbay, 3 Bears is a legendary bike route. This ride has daunted me all summer. Today would be my first time tackling it. Tracy arrived at my door all little past 8 am and I have to mention that she was a little hungover......however despite this fact she was ready for a long ride.
As we mosied down my street we debated on Old Tunnel Rd. or 3 Bears. Being the considerate training partner that I am I let Tracy decide ....I was sure that she'd pick the easier ride....but the girls is a ravenous rider and 3 Bears was on the menu .
From my house we rode to Cedar turning left on Spruce toward Tilden Park. Spruce is a decent climb and was a sign of things to come. Easy ride through the park....er, if you don't count my wipeout. As some of you other heavybottomed cyclist have noticed, we're fast on the downhills. I was quite a ways ahead of Tracey, and when I lost site of her for too long I slowed and turned around...as I attempted to do this I cut the turn too sharply and landed in the ditch....a stellar landing I have to say, I managed to land in a nice pile of leaves avoiding tree branches, rocks, glass bottles or other potentially dangerous debris. Quite a bit of laughing ensued as Tracy pulled up "are you okay?" All that falling as kid has come in handy, my shoulder is a little sore today but nothing remarkable. After regaining my composure we continued down the backside of Tilden then left on San Pablo Damn Rd....yes that would be the same rd. my AAA driver got lost on a couple of weeks back.
Grey and cool the ride along this rd. was still quite nice. the resevoire on our right and fairly wide shoulder for the most part traffic was sparse at 9 am. We noticed quite abit of road kill on this ride, the usual possum, skunks, and two large deers over the course of the morning in fact....pew! Despite roadside carnage the ride was revealing to this newbie what all the hoopla was about.
I want to say we turned right off San Pablo Damn Rd...was it Creekside Ranch? This rd was residential and intersects with the more rural Alhambra Rd. At this point Tracy said, "this is where it gets interesting" The first of 3 consecutive hills, Tracy said that each climb would get harder than the last....I wasn't asking too many questions...I wanted to avoid dreading anything and to be surprised...Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
We saw a few TNT riders, their sag wagon reminded me to Gu and hydrate as I was riding on an empty stomach so far. As we approached the first hill, I began to trail behind, Tracy is a commuter cyclist, lugging her 3 y.o son around in a side cart daily to school so this hill sans the kid was cake ....albeit soaked in rum!
I'd catch up on the downhills and then we seperate again as we approached another hill. Briefly I found myself struggling to keep up and than I told myself to STOP! I needed to find my pace and settle in. This was a hard ride and pushing too hard would not be smart. I let go of trying to keep up and that's when I started to enjoy myself.
I remember at one point my legs felt like rubber as I pressed on....holy crap this was a long hill....with no end in site! The shifting problems I always seem to have continued and I had to work on finding the right big ring little ring combo....this ride gave me plenty of practice for sure and towards the second half I started to see some improvement.....though I still think I need a tune up.
We took a break at the crest of the last hill on Bear Creek Rd. and then were rewarded with a long killer stretch of downhill. Just when you think your home free the ride down slows and turns into a nasty little reminder of what lies ahead on the otherside of San Pablo Damn Rd....the backside of Tilden!
That nasty little climb out of Bear Creek Rd. fatigued my legs to the point of pain....yet another sign that I was reaching further. The climb up the backside of Tilden was taking it's toll....even Tracey who had confessed to feeling "queasy" during the break on the crest was begining to slow...abit....I could see her up ahead still...whearas before she was mostly off in the distance. Her cell phone rang and I could hear her saying .."the zoo?...COME GET ME!!" She's amazing, tired, hungover and talking on the phone while riding up the backside of Tilden. Do I know how to pick a training partner or what?
The climb up Inspiration Point was harder than it had been on previous rides. Usually I come from the Moraga/Orinda way and it's a long flat ride before the climb. Today the climbs were much closer together and I could feel the lactic acid build-up and fatigue at the start of the climb towards IP. At one point I howled...in attempt to psyche myself up...a little auditory motivation if you will. IP felt further away than normal, in fact this ride was taking on a "Twightlight Zone " feel..........it seemed like we would never get there. Finally will arrived at the parking lot and I let out another "woohoo!" and was greeted by that knowing smile of other riders in the vicinity.
I waited with Tracey until her ride showed up, I declined the ride home and continued on down the rd. Total saddle time 4.0 hrs and I'm sure we covered 35 plus miles....long hilly miles including the portion from my house.
Got home, fetched T and we hit the fleamarket and a couple of yardsales . I got a good deal on some small loaf pans...perfect for gift giving. I want to make cherry chocolate bread this year....do I sense a Goldilocks metaphore?