Training in Huntington Beach, California, Week 6

Monday: Recovery
Tuesday: Recovery
Wednesday: Recovery
Thursday: 3.5 hours, v-endurance
Friday: 3.5 hours, v-intensity, 4×8 minutes progressing intervals (high threshold-VO2)
Saturday: 5 hours, v-intensity (Food Park Group Ride)
Sunday: Training Race + extra riding to 3hrs

You’ll notice that I’ve changed the heading of this latest journal entry to reflect a recent shift in my location. On March 16th, my lease ended in Santa Barbara as I had expected to be flying back to Boston at that time. Of course, the only thing that you can expect as a professional cyclist is the unexpected, and that’s what I got! About a week before I was scheduled to return to NH to enjoy what’s left of winter (a lot from the looks of it), I got an email from my director telling me that the team would like me to stay in California to race in the season’s traditional kick-off, the San Dimas Stage Race. Having a large family does has its advantages, particularly when scrambling to find a place to stay between the expiration of my lease in Santa Barbara, and the start of our host housing for San Dimas. My Uncle lives in Huntington Beach, and he graciously offered me the guest room in his lovely home, just a half-mile from the beach and the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).

The riding in Huntington Beach vs. Santa Barbara is a study in contrast. Where Santa Barbara has thousands of feet of climbing on rough dirt roads, Huntington Beach has miles and miles of flat four-lane thoroughfares. Where Santa Barbara lies nestled in the shadow of a towering mountain range, preserved as a National Park, Huntington lies nestled in the shadow of a concrete jungle, serviced by three international airports, the nation’s largest commercial port, and a massive web of perpetually congested freeways. That is in no way an attempt to besmirch what is actually quite a lovely town. I have to admit, though, it took a much more concerted effort on my part to find roads that inspire the joy of bicycle riding.

One thing that the LA area does possess in abundance is weekly group rides attended by cyclists blessed with year-round fitness. Whether you show up in November, March, or August, you will find a large contingent of lean, tan, and incredibly fast amateurs ready to tear your legs off for a few hours early on a weekend morning. I got my first taste for this at the Saturday morning, “Food-Park” group ride, which has occurred, in more-or-less its current form, for almost 30 years. The ride leaves from the intersection of Harvard* and Main in Irvine. According to the regulars, the ride was sparsely attended on Saturday. Apparently, 50 riders is a paltry turnout for a ride that ordinarily attracts about 75-100! Perhaps they were scared off by the morning drizzle that left the pavement damp and the air a little humid (like I said in an earlier update, I hope this pleasant SoCal weather doesn’t make me soft!). Either way, those that did attend did justice to the ride’s reputation, tearing through the thirty mile course in just a little over an hour.

The ride embodied much of what I love about cycling. In particular, it served as evidence of the great diversity of cycling communities. Seldom will you see a pick-up basketball game or a golf outing attended by a 16 year-old with braces, a middle-aged accountant, a 22 year-old professional, a 50 year old national champion, and a few women ranging in age from 17 to 67. True, you don’t see a lot of racial diversity in the sport of cycling, and it tends to attract the well-to-do with the promise of expensive equipment and a bourgeois jargon bursting with French and Italian words. Nevertheless, cycling gives people the opportunity to mingle with, learn from, and measure oneself against people from many walks of life; certainly more than any other sport that I can think of. This ride was no exception, and I am happy to say that it has been added to my ever expanding web of memorable cycling-related experiences.

I’m eagerly anticipating my return to New England. Monitoring the chatter on the Upper-Valley-Velo Listserv has made me both homesick for and heartened by the cycling culture thriving in the Upper Valley. I can tell everyone is getting very excited for Tour of the Battenkill, and I for one cannot wait to see some dominant performances by Drummond Custom Cycles riders! Enjoy the warm spring days, however few they may be. I will see you all soon.

*One thing I’ve noticed about California is that they tend to name their streets after places back East. For example, riding back up from the PCH to my Uncle’s House, I pass Hartford Street, Alabama Street, Atlanta Street, and Indianapolis Street. I think that the pattern is a fundamentally human one. We tend to name the places we settle after the places from whence we came. Hanover, Hampshire, Jersey, York: these are just a few example of us Easterners doing the same thing. The only exception in our case is that we also name the places after the people from whom we took the land; Lenape, Pequot, Abanaki, and Penobscot, just to name a few. In this way we maintain a tenuous connection to our ancestral homelands and effectively appropriate the ancestral homelands of others for our own. Or maybe they’re just street signs?




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