September 5, 2016

The Full Monte

I turned out of the parking lot, leaving the group to head home after our post-ride snack. My rear wheel felt squishy and slipped—did I just ride over something I hadn't seen, or ... was my tire flat?

Bad karma. After being dismayed at the sight of five discarded CO2 inflators and two empty inner tube boxes on Montebello, I had a flat. Note to the unknown rider who left the trash behind: You carried it there—carry it out.

It was a day for mechanical failures. One rider had met us at a rendezvous point, Cupertino Bicycles, with a broken spoke. He had tried to repair it with duct tape (which, MacGyver, does not solve all problems). This being a Monday, and Labor Day to boot, the bike shop was closed. Another rider in our group flatted (twice); the cause had not been found. (Hence, the second flat?)

It's been a while since I've gone up Montebello, and today it hurt. Whoa, that lower section was steep. I kept watching for the landmark mailbox (American-flag themed); the grade eases up at that point. Did I miss it? Maybe it's gone.

Whew. There it was. A welcome break, till the crux stretch near the top.

We had a large group today, and the men were outnumbered! (A nod to our ride leader, another woman.) Apparently one of the guys appointed himself ride sweep and kept me company on the climb. People charged past, panting and gasping for air, and I was just spinning along. My sweep was surprised when I rode strong up the the steep bits at the top, nosing ever so slightly ahead of him. “I'm impressed at the effort you put in up there!” he remarked. [Uh huh.]

There wasn't much of a view today; there was so much haze across the valley that the Diablo range wasn't visible. Wildfire smoke, still? I could smell it. The sun reflected off the hangar at Moffett Field and the white peaks of Shoreline Amphitheatre. That was about all you could distinguish.

I was relieved to discover my flat tire after turning away from the group; otherwise, some of the guys would have felt obliged to stay and help me fix it. I found a shady alcove and set to work.

The cause of my flat wasn't obvious, either. Ah, well. Plenty of time to sort that out later, at home.

39 miles, with 3,435 feet of climbing

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