There is an “I” in Team
Turns out there is an “I” in team. It happens when you’re the only one that shows up, but that’s another story. I recommend the Bike Around the Buttes leaving from the sleepy little north valley town of Sutter, CA. The ride occurs every year in mid-late April and circumnavigates the Sutter Buttes known as the smallest mountain range in the world. That being said it explains why it’s the ideal first century of the season – it’s amazingly – delightfully flat.
Winds of Change
The “I” in team Spruzza arrived at the ride HQ around 7:30 AM. The first sign of concern was the large, beautiful American flag flying proudly over the Sutter Youth Organization building pointing southeast and rippling fully unfurled. Like Peyton Manning lining up behind center one yard to goal and seeing a nickel defense, I called an audible, when I first set foot outside my car. The full century I planned to ride, but honestly hadn’t trained for, changed to the 40 mile loop I was more prepared for.
The Gravitational Effects of Wind
I did mention the course was flat, only 392 feet over 40 miles. What I found was that 20+ mph head winds feel and ride exactly like the effort and pace up my favorite Folsom Crossing Strava segment about an 8% grade. Typically my flat and beloved five mile stretches in Folsom slip under my wheels at the pace of about 17-18 minutes. The first five mile “beep” from my Garmin 500 shocked me at 26:14. Just like the lovely voice from my car’s GPS when I make a wrong turn, I heard an inaudible “recalculating” in terms of how long this wind hindered 40 mile loop would take.
Physics and Geometry
Just a few miles north on Acacia road the ride turned west on Pass Road. My first anticipation was relief turning from the brutal head wind into a crosswind. I was wrong. If I had the time and the right measuring tools I could have determined each riders mass by the degree of their right handed lean into the wind. I weigh in at about 175 and was leaning about 3 degrees. Go figure.
At mile 17 and the end of a 6 mile cobbled stretch heading due north in the middle of the original “nowhere” a portable canopy was stationed with a beautiful spread of drink and refreshment. I stopped briefly for some rice cakes and a banana. The aid station was the northwest corner of the course loop. Remember the wind was blowing northwest. As soon as I downed the rice cake and banana, I chased it with a couple of swigs of water and was anxious to get moving. I swung my right leg over the saddle clipped in and pushed off. I’m almost 60 so I’m conscious about keeping my mind quick and sharp, but I was still dialed into that 3 degree right lean only now the wind was blowing to my right. Tipping point…almost but I recovered.
With the Buttes on my right and the wind at my back the ride home underscored every reason I ride. The cobbled pavement turned into near glass and the wind I’d been fighting now pulled me like light into a black hole. I flew. While the first 17 miles sucked up nearly 2 hours of my life the last 23 only ate one.
All in All – Just Do It.
Next year if you need to spin and stretch for the 2014 riding season keep “Bike Around the Buttes in mind.
The “I” in Team Spruzza