Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Bridge that Ate People

4:30 Am, pavement looks dry, pretty sleepy but I know the ride will be awesome if I just get out the door. It is the first weekend in a while that I am able to hook up with the Brumbys. I am a bit late in hooking up with them and I meet them just before I get to Val Vista (just after they have left) and latch onto the back. I thought they were taking it a bit easy until we hit Power and then they ratchetted it up to 24 mph to rocket up into Apache Jct.. Two people drop off the back but I am holding on. Then everyone stops for a flat. I am cooling down and see a small group of slower riders head off. I take off after them as the rest of the group will catch me I am sure. After a half mile or so I catch the other group and we hold together almost up to where the real climbing starts where we are caught by the rest of the group behind us. This is the first time I have made it this far with the group.

As we start the climbing it is raining. It is also moderately chilly. I am amazed I am not the last guy up the first hill today. Descending down the other side I have to stop though as a guy has a broken a spoke and I offer help. He has a bladed low spoke count wheel with odd nipples that don't take a standard spoke wrench so I can't help him. Even with my fiber-fix spoke.

While we are trying to figure out his wheel a guy on a triathlon bike comes into the turn and loses it. He slides about 20 feet on the wet pavement and onto the shoulder. The lady behind him goes down too. I don't know if it was because she hit the brakes to keep from hitting him or not but she didn't hit nearly as hard as he did. Both had wheels out of true and roadrash. This would be the first of the carnage today. Down the hill and around the corner a rider would have an incident with the bridge that eats people. It's a steel decked bridge and even in dry conditions it makes me a bit nervous. When it is wet it is pure evil.

He gashed his leg open right down to the bone. Fortunately the MCSO deputy that passed us while I was helping the guy with the spoke problem, was able to help. I don't know how they evacuated him but he was gone when I got there and there were a few people left to warn others about the bridge. I have crossed that bridge in the middle of the night, in the driving rain, and heat of the day. It is a tough customer in any conditions. When it is wet it is even dangerous to walk across.

I am fatigued but I am determined to make it to the end of the pavement and back. The further we ride back the more rain we get. The skies clear up behind us but we continue to ride with the storm and wet. There is a crazy headwind climbing to the end of the pavement and I keep expecting to see the others coming down the hill. It is only after I have crested that the group is coming back towards me. They are roughly 5 minutes ahead of me I figure.

I could have easily done mid 50's down the hill on the way back but I am braking hard to keep the speeds under 40 mph because of the conditions. Back at canyon lake marina is the regroup but I need to get some water and mix in some energy for the climb out. There are still a few riders waiting for some buddys when I get back out to the road.
They catch me up again around the top of the climb out and we form a paceline that I hang with back until we get to Crismon road. I pulled once but the front two guys kind of took over which I didn't have too much of a problem with since I was tired and I still did want to save something for Monday morning. I found my way back to Sonic for a good first breakfast. I figure I need around 1600 calories extra today if I want to recover before Monday. It was a good ride.

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