Training Camp in Santa Barbara, Week 2

Monday: Recovery Ride
Tuesday: 4 hours v-endurance, 3x15x5 Tempo starting at hour 2.5
Wednesday: 3 hours with 1 hour of fartlek (variable intensity) on hills
Thursday: 5 hours v-endurance
Friday: Recovery Ride
Saturday: 5 hours, harder efforts on the hills
Sunday: 5.5 hours v-endurance

There are many reasons why I love being a bike racer. My ride on Tuesday reminded me of a few of those reasons. Riding from sea level to 4,500 feet on steep, winding switchbacks, and sneaking around imposing gates that read “Road Closed” makes for satisfying training. Stuffing my face full of delicious greasy goodness afterwards elevates the experience from mere enjoyment to certifiable bliss. For the sake of alliterative effect, I have distilled my love for cycling into the “Three ‘A’s.” Here, they are: the reasons I enjoy being a bike racer.
The first of the “A’s” is adventure. Finding new roads to explore is one of the highlights of any ride. The more hours you train, the more opportunities there are for exploration. Here in Santa Barbara, the coast runs east-west, and a large mountain range follows the coast to our north. The mountains are part of Los Padres National Park, and there are only a few paved roads that run through them. Because there are so few roads through the mountains, the overall road-density is rather low when you get out of the main part of town. If you want to expand your training rides beyond a few standard out-and-back loops, you have to get creative with the poorly maintained Park Service fire roads. On Tuesday, I got a little creative. After reaching the top of Refugio Road, I followed the ridgeline to a rocky dirt road. Flooding from a recent rain storm has cut deep channels in the road, and there were large slabs of exposed rock to carefully weave between. Eventually, I found my way to a closed gate with a sign on it that read, “Road Closed.”
This brings me to the second of my three “A’s,” access. I’ll admit, the gate stopped me for a moment. I could hear the sound of machinery moving up the road ahead, and I knew that there must be some construction going on around the bend. Nevertheless, I resolved to press onward. A mere gate would not stand in my way. As I climbed over the gate, I noticed that the road surface was chewed up and tire tracks from large construction vehicles covered the soft dirt. As I remounted, my tires immediately sunk into the freshly graded soil, and I had to weave my way from track to track to find the firmest ground. After a few hundred meters of slow going, I caught up with the road grader (identical to the ones we have in NH). I jumped out of the way as the driver put the machine in reverse and nearly squished me under the massive tires. Only after I carefully climbed up on the side of the road and inched my way around the side of the vehicle did the driver look down from the cab and give me a look of utter confusion and surprise. I offered no explanation and continued on my way. I had a few more interactions with construction workers and park rangers on my way down, but no one challenged my right to pass. Even on a road clearly unsuited for road bikes, I was welcome.
On my way back into town, I satisfied the last part of my love-of-cycling triumvirate; appetite. At the end of a four hour ride that had turned into five, I had a strong hankering for cheeseburgers. I knew just the place to satisfy my yearning. I hung a right after descending the winding San Marcos Pass, and headed straight for my new favorite post-ride hangout, In-N-Out Burger. I clomped up to the counter in my cleats; my face flecked with dirt from the dirt on West Camino Cielo, and ordered a double cheeseburger, animal style, fries and a coke. I can tell you in all honesty that a burger has never tasted as delicious as it did that Tuesday. I can’t say that I wouldn’t eat as voraciously were I not a cyclist, but I am certain that I would not eat with such gusto and satisfaction. Nothing can justify gorging oneself on cheeseburgers, burritos, ice cream, and yes, the occasional salad, quite like a long day on the bike. Here’s to you, appetite, the last and greatest of my three “A’s!”




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