Monday, February 2, 2009

Food Park

The idea of starting a South Orange County, Critical Mass ride is something that my ridding friends and I had often discussed. Something about completely taking over a lane of traffic and riding down PCH, is well just awesome. For a number of reasons, however the idea has never really taken off and materialized. Sure there is a ride in Costa Mesa, but I would have to drive to get to it. That pretty much defeats the purpose as far as I'm concerned.
This weekend however, I realized that it didn't matter. As much as I would love to be accompanied by a huge group of cyclist every last Friday of the month, who are all inexplicably riding in the same direction that I need to go to get home. It's just not realistic. South Orange County doesn't need to start up a critical mass ride. Its already got one it's called Food Park. Which I somewhat inadvertently rode in this weekend.

If you've never heard of food park, its a big (50-100) riders, fast, unorganized, unsanctioned, un-permitted, race speed ride. There are two climbs, a few sprints, and allot of areas where stop lights slow things down. I would think it's comparable to Gimbels, but I really don't know because I've never ridden in the Gimbels ride.
Anyways... Saturday started off mellow enough. I had just put some new GP Attack & GP Force tires on my road bike. Continental says they are supposed to improve speed, steering, and traction. I wasn't expecting to notice a huge difference but they look damn cool.
My plan was to ride north to Huntington and I left around 8:30. That's about 60 miles round trip from Dana Point (I think). I had two bottles of water, some shot blocks, and an espresso GU. The day was beautiful and sunny and I as turned north onto PCH, I got the feeling that an epic day of riding was ahead.
In fact I think I wasn't the only one with that feeling. Orange County roadies were out in full force. Riding through South Laguna and passing what looked like a group on a charity ride, I realized the new tires were really damn fast. It was in fact a very noticeable difference, something I would soon come to appreciate even more.
A little more than half way through Laguna, right after I passed main beach, a small group of cyclist merged in front of me. There were about six in full race gear ridding very slowly. Up the road there were another three sprinting madly, like they were riding in a break away. I slowed down and rode behind the group in front of me, taking time to drink some water. I rode like that for about a minuet, not really thinking much of it. Then suddenly and without warning, I felt a rush of air and the sound of spinning gears approaching. Seconds latter I was consumed by a huge Peloton. Before I knew it I was ridding in a group of elite level roadies at least 50 strong. I looked around and thought to myself, "fuck yeah, I'm ridding in food park".
(photo montage- The view of Food Park, heading North leaving Laguna)

I had ridden in food park before, but I had always turned out before the group hit PCH, to head back to Dana Point. This is something I will definitely not do it the future, ridding in Food Park heading north on PCH just feels bad ass. Period. It's awesome really, bordering on total chaos and really fuckin fast. As the group came over the last hill in Laguna I found myself on the outside and towards the front. Looking at the hill that lay ahead I thought about feathering the breaks and tucking in behind the guy in front of me. I though about my friend Mark the racer's advice, "Don't ride in the front allot", and I though about the 20 miles that lay ahead on the way to Huntington. Then a car flew buy blaring it's horn, and I thought fuck it.

I grabbed the drops and tucked way in, gained a shit load of speed and found myself in the front of the pack pulling a 35+mph and about to head up a hill. Well I crushed that hill, 2nd to the top in fact, I kept the pace for a little longer. Then bonked spectacularly and got sucked back into the peloton. Overall I would say that segment of my ride qualified as, "epic" and I'm looking forward to next week. The rest of the ride after that was fairly uneventful and I managed to snap a few photos on the way back. I think everything feels toned down after you've pulled for a group 0f 50 guys going 35-40+ down coast highway. It's also come to my attention recently that at least one food park rider even reads my blog, something which thought briefly about while I was riding in the pack. So if you happened to see me on Saturday and you recognized by bike, whats up? I guess you know who I am now and perhaps I'll see you next week.


kale said...

Maybe socal isn't so bad after all...


libertyonbikes! said...

epic post for an epic ride.
you kill me with those sunset shots, they just seem to be to good to be real.
cool you pulled and up climbs too....
ahh the life not in the northeast.