Three Faces of Hawk Hill: Training Week 2

Tuesday: 20 Miles

I am getting the hang of morning bike rides. It doesn’t hurt when it’s so beautiful and sunny. Although I did snooze my 5:25am alarm, it wasn’t as much of a fight to get up. The sun already filling up the apartment. It wasn’t hard to coax me outside. It was warm…until I hit up the backside of Marin. I remembered then that the sun hadn’t yet hit the headlines.

Thursday: 20 Miles

I debuted my OrNot get up on Thursday morning! I was so psyched to wear my new bibs, sleek blue jersey and (because gloom was apparent) my windbreaker. The latter proved to be a lifesaver. The morning was the polar opposite of Tuesday’s ride…quite literally. The wind was ferocious. Despite leaving a bit later at 6am, I chased or passed few cyclists in the Presidio and over the bridge. I braced myself hesitantly as I crossed over, trying to stay upright as the Westwardly winds fought me. As if I wasn’t already convinced of the strong wind by the pure tension coursing within my body to stay upright, the faulty bridge rail’s tuning pitch chorus eerily blared in my left ear. Later Derrick said if the bridge sings, it means the wind is going at least 30 miles per hour. Yeeesh.

I was relieved to make it over the bridge, a feeling that was short lived. Cranking up the first part of Hawk Hill proved even more terrifying as wind pounded my helmet. I knew I wasn’t going down to the Headlands. But promised myself I’d at least make it to the top of Hawk Hill….until I rounded the very first corner and struggled to right myself. Fear hit the bottom of my stomach and I immediately turned around. The feeling of almost flying off the mountain is a hard one to ignore. Behind me I found a pack of men cranking up the hill. I thought I saw “quitter” in their eyes. But I didn’t care. I stopped at the overlook on the Lincoln Highway and finished my cereal bar (sticking to my learned lessons. See previous post). I was glad to be done with that hellish ride.

I pivoted my route to Lake and then down to the edge of GG Park to round out my 20 miles. The wind was still present, but not so beastly. Perspective is a wild thing. By the time I arrived home, blue skies and warm sun blanketed the Panhandle and I felt disoriented. Definitely the harshest ride I’ve had yet.

Saturday: 19 Miles

I did grieve briefly for my weekend morning routine of sleeping in. But getting up at 5:30am is getting easier(ish). My Hawk Hill route was cold, a bit wet, and slightly windy…but child’s play compared to Thursday. The back of Hawk Hill descent was a little dicey with how foggy and slick it was…but I took it easy. Adrienne and her husband are in town and having visitors is definitely a huge motivator to early rides before everyone else’s day begins.

Sunday: 52 Miles

What does bliss feel like? Training has revealed what it is for me: It’s the warm heat of the sun in the morning that heats me and the earth around me. It’s being in the middle of nature, smelling the natural oils coaxed from the rising sun. It’s the light sheen of sweat on the back of my neck as I move my body. I felt that going up Hawk Hill one (warm) day. I’ve felt it on hiking trips. I felt it on my long(set!) ride on Sunday.

We looped up and around China Camp. I took it easy and made sure to stop regularly. The last time I attempted 50 miles was Paradise Loop. Due to poor training, poor technique, and pushing myself too hard — I triggered my knee injury, which set me back months. So Sunday I was careful. It was warm and wonderful! I had to stop at a gas station to snack up (lesson learned) before going onto China Camp. China Camp was a gentle roll. The way back to San Rafael was warm, and I caught some beautiful bougainvilleas. We grabbed fries in Larkspur to salt up before going up Sausalito on the way back.

**Bonus Ride** Memorial Day: Easy 15 miles

To soak up the sun and stretch my legs a tad, we biked out to the ocean. Gust be damned, we laid out and sunbathed until we got too cold and too hungry.

From WTF to A Lesson in Fuel: Training Week 1

Week 1 Training Recap:

Tuesday: 19 Miles (+2 miles commute)

To train – I have to do morning rides. Getting up early is simply rough. I like mornings. I like sleeping in. Peeling myself out of the sheets, I started Day 1 with the thought, “What have I done to myself?”But once I was out on the road, I’d warmed up – it felt good. The best part about morning training? Having the whole evening free! Bliss.

Thursday: 20 Miles

I had my first ride back up Hawk Hill since before my knee pain. The sun was setting over the ocean and the fog was nowhere to be found. The best part? Riding over Hawk Hill and descending over to the lighthouse. The road curves and dips along the coastline. It feels like flying.

Saturday: 41 Miles

My first solo long trip. I’ve mostly gone on long rides with Derrick. I feared boredom ahead out with all of this alone time. But I found joy in it. I didn’t have to keep up with anyone – I took my own pace. Enjoyed the scenery. Stopped when I needed or wanted to pause. It was a beautiful and warm day. I thought about going 30 miles, but ended up pushing 40 so I could take a lunch at MH Bread & Butter — a perfect San Enselmo stop for coffee and a killer breakfast salad. Derrick and his cycling friend Joe met me there. And Derrick rode back with me.

Sunday: 30 Miles

Sunday was a lesson in proper fueling…or lack there of, in this instance. I ate some gummy bears for a sugar boost before I left for the ride. Before I headed out I grabbed 1 water bottle and a gel pack. On top of Hawk Hill I felt my stomach rumble. Uh-oh. I savored half a gel pack. I didn’t eat the second half until I was over the bridge and heading down Lincoln Highway. By the time I made it past Lake, down to Ocean Beach and onto the Great Highway, hunger had hold of me. I knew this wasn’t good. I had the thought of bailing…but I didn’t. As evening turned to night, I went into autopilot mode. My legs pumped as food plagued my vision: Fries…a banana…a flat coke (a cyclist on the bridge had one tucked into his jersey pocket)…no, ginger ale. I stopped by the polo fields and downed a bottle of water to fill my stomach and numbly texted Derrick to please start dinner. I entered the apartment and immediately wolfed down food.

A lesson in fuel: If your stomach rumbles…it’s too late. I’m going to eat / nibble…something…every hour from now on. Lesson learned.