THE BATTLE PLAN
Dateline: Saturday, June 29th, 2013
As Little Joey Choo Choo and I rode out toward RockStore we had a friend with us. Kevin Jackson, the Little Giant. A Hollywood stuntman and cyclist, Kevin had no idea of the jihad lying ahead. He had no idea Little Joey Choo Choo and his BMC with electronic shifting was about to throw down with me and the Goat.
Kevin was just out for a good ride. But as we neared RockStore, I noticed that LJCC was cruising at a much lower speed than we normally ride over the roads of Mulholland.
He’s conserving everything, I said to myself. I smiled… he must be worried. So I formed my battle plan…
JENS. JENS. JENS.
I would Jens Voigt him. I would attack from the moment we hit the climb, build as big a lead as I could, and then try to hang on.
Not the smartest plan, I admit… but come on, it’s Jens!
We slowly pedaled our way toward RockStore… the tension was mounting in our 3-person peloton. Well, just with me and Joe, Kevin was having the time of his life.
We hit the base of the climb and I took off, finding a good rhythm and cadence right away. I could feel Joe and Kevin just sitting on my wheel, and within a 1/4 mile I was second-guessing the Jens of it all.
But I kept going, remembering Tim Krabbe’s terrific book The Rider — where he talks about climbing not being about strength or lung power or any of that… it is about finding that rhythm. Finding that cadence with which you simply lose yourself in the metronomic tap-tap-tap of the rhythm and you forget about the gradient and the pain and the suffering.
I found it.
I was locked in on my rhythm, my cadence. Tap, tap, tap… I never saw the amazing views around me. I never knew how far I’d gone or how far I had to go. I glanced back at one point and saw Kevin had fallen off, but LJCC was still on my wheel.
Ugh… this was going to be a disaster. He is waiting. Like one of those chumps who sits on Cancellara’s wheel in the last 5K of the Classics, refusing to work, only to blow by Spartacus in the end. Hmm… how did Spartacus counter that this spring?
He Jens’d their asses.
I raised my cadence. Raised my rhythm.
Joey began to fade.
THE FINAL PUSH
About 700 meters from the summit there is a guy who takes your photo when you come around the switchback. RockStore Photos. Check them out.
As my photo was snapped, I looked back… no Joey Choo Choo.
But I knew his Colombian arse could be lurking right around that switchback… waiting for that last, horrendous bit of RockStore — the last couple of hundred yards where it crests to 10% and your legs burn and you want to die.
Tap. Tap. Tap. Never slow down. Never give up. I felt good.
And then I hit that last horrendous part.
And I got out of the saddle and absolutely killed myself. Never have I experienced so much suffering on the bike. Like someone had set a match to my legs. Like my lungs were under 1000 feet of water.
Tap…………………. Tap……………….. Tap……………
I crested RockStore and glanced back. No Joey Choo Choo.
I did it. I won. I had no idea what my time was, if I’d bested my previous best, but I knew I had given it my all, and had conquered the demon of Little Joey Choo Choo. And how badly had I beaten my foe?
According to Strava… by one minute and 21 seconds. And I had destroyed my previous best time.
RockStore in a word…
Destruction of my previous best. A full 2 minutes and 9 seconds better than the fastest time I’ve ever ascended it.
Destruction of Little Joey Choo Choo. If you listen closely, go ahead and put your ear near your computer… you can hear him weeping.
Destruction of my lungs… what Joey Choo Choo didn’t see – because he was SO FAR behind me – is that after the climb… I was dying. A horrible, ugly death. I had left everything on the climb. I gasped and gasped and tried to drink but my hand was shaking, but I kept looking back and only saw empty road… what a glorious feeling.
20:49 was my personal best for RockStore before Saturday. Now, my best is 18:40… I wanted sub-18, but I will take it. Mostly because Little Joey Choo Choo was left weeping on the mountain.
In the end LJCC was gracious and cool and more than happy for me. He said he did his best to hang on my wheel; said he watched his power numbers and surely thought I would blow up; he said all the cool things a good friend and cycling buddy should say.
He was so nice that he made beating him not quite as much fun as I’d hoped.
But I know one thing… we will ride RockStore again. And I know there is a nasty competitive fire inside that Colombian body. And I know he is going to try and kill me the next time.
I can’t wait.
Thanks to Joe Hortua – Little Joey Choo Choo – for being such a great sport, and better friend. Thanks to Kevin Jackson for having the best attitude of pretty much anyone on the planet. What a glorious day it was.
How great a cycling buddy is LJCC? The next day we rode over 50 miles together, Joey taking me up “Mandeville” — a well known and really fun climb in the heart of Brentwood/Beverly Hills. Then we cruised out toward the Pacific, went up Topanga Canyon, down Topanga, then out PCH to Malibu where we had an excellent lunch which Joe paid for.
Then back home along the ocean. Some shots from our 87-mile weekend…
Trying to drop the Man
There are hills to climb in Los Angeles!
To the climbers go the views
The man, the myth, the legend
Pacific on the way home
Ride your bike.
Leave it all on the mountain.
Watch out for the road idiots