18 November 2017
1/D/95 – 850 feet climbing – ‘Round the South Bay (Clockwise)
This route has been travelled before, but not for a while and that was counterclockwise in August of last year. Clockwise was October 2015, as evidenced by my faulty memory, which was compromised on two occasions when I missed the correct turn. We lost less than one mile from these errors. The weather was cool, but not breezy, and we managed a fairly decent average speed along some very nice, in other brief parts, not so nice, scenery.
Certain segments on the back half will need to be amended. These were on marked bike paths, but were seen to be more suitable for pedestrians and joggers. We still managed by riding slowly and carefully, then rejoining the street, as planned. Even so, this route is the quickest and has the least amount of elevation gain. Isabella was contemplating returning home with the San Bruno BART at Mile 82, but with some encouragement and lots of guts, she managed to catch the train from the Embarcadero instead.
We had two riders joining me on this excursion, David MacAfee and Isabella deMatos on her fixie. Isabella and I also were laboring under the lingering effects of upper respiratory infections. Recognizing the comfort zone for a fixie and our respective health issues, I promised to keep speeds at around 16-18 mph, so that everybody would be able to keep up. This worked out very well, so that we could keep the group cohesive, benefit from the drafting effect, as well as call out potential hazards along the route with plenty of warning time.
Hazards emanate particularly from the debris found in the gutter. There are many marked and unswept bike lanes, with all kinds of sharp objects, that we managed to avoid in this follow-the-leader fashion. As a direct consequence, we experienced no flats or other mechanicals, and the slower average speed minimized the incidence of coughing and wheezing from colds. My average heart rate was 126 BPM and so we metered out our combined effort quite judiciously over this fairly long distance.
My GPS computer only shows a breadcrumb trail, no street names or regular map. My display only pivots very slowly after initiating a turn, so may show 90 degrees off the proper heading. This effect led me twice in the wrong direction, but the off-course alarm triggers beyond 500 feet, so was quickly recognized and addressed. Other mergers on and off bike paths I had visualized in advance with Google’s Street View. I appreciated the patience of my fellow riders, or perhaps they appreciated getting a short rest, while I figured things out.
Isabella was making sounds like she was considering returning with the BART station at San Bruno. She was not lacking in stamina, just needed some food. Pickings were nonexistent, until we encountered a Burger King at Mile 65, where she forced down some junk calories. I had warned everybody about my predilection of not eating during exercise, so was thankful for being reminded that a food stop was in order.
The last section via Third Street was fairly busy with traffic and stop lights. Whereas before I would usually be able slow down and time red lights without unclipping by noting turning traffic from the opposite lane, here we were forced to join the stop-and-go traffic for a few blocks. However, we made good time overall at an average speed of nearly 15 mph and arrived at the Embarcadero BART at 1530.
Keeping everybody in a group is essential on this route, in my opinion. This gives all participants the focus to maintain a good pace and allow the ride leader to call out dangers with plenty of forewarning. Otherwise, this type of ride through urban settings has been historically plagued by numerous flat tires. This group riding style also protects the group from traffic, by making them more visible and alerting drivers to be more cautious when passing a group, even if it is only three riders. My two fellow riders mentioned the enjoyment on this ride, though I was pedaling quite a metronomic cadence.
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