Swami’s Ride – A Humbling Experience

Garmin Player here

You know how sometimes you think you’re the shit?  You think you’re fast or you think you’re in good form? Or maybe you feel good about yourself and your training thus far?  I was feeling that today when I decided to ride the Swami’s Ride— you know to get a little intensity.  For those not familiar with the Swami’s Ride it’s world famous for being the fastest ride in San Diego County.  Many European pro cyclists and pro triathletes ride the Swami’s Ride when visiting San Diego.

I hadn’t ridden all week and thought I would have rested legs and would be able to hang on to the group.  Well I’m here to tell you that I suffered and got dropped like a hot potato when the pace picked up.  It was a humbling experience. Here’s how it went down.

We left Nytro in Encinitas heading North on PCH at a moderate conversational pace.  We picked up a little momentum as we made the right turn on La Costa Ave.  Right turn on El Camino Real and all was still good. But once we made the left turn onto Levante it was like someone stuck a red-hot poker up someone’s “bleep” and it was all I could do to hang on.  My legs weren’t warmed up yet being only a few miles into the ride.  The pace was so high that we were running stop signs in the residential area — something I’m not really comfortable with.  The group was at least 60 riders maybe more.

Entire Swami’s Loop – Elevation, power, Heart Rate

Entire Swami’s Loop- 250 Normalized Power or 3.7 w/kg

Left turn onto Rancho Santa Fe Road and I’m thinking I need to get to the front and set tempo — to my liking.  I’m looking at my SRM power meter and doing between 330- 360 watts just trying to stay next to my 2×2 mate.  My FTP is only 270 watts, so you know I was suffering.   I was red-lining and I had to pull off the front and sit in.  Just then I was passed by all the guys I had been holding at bay.  Right turn onto San Elijo Rd and the pace continues to quicken. I saw the peleton thinning out and I had to weave through “traffic” to maintain position and contact with the group as we went up the little roller before the Elfin Forest Rd.

Now for the real “meat and potatoes” of the ride–Right turn on Elfin Forest and I’m hanging on by a slender thread.  At one point, my best five minutes from my SRM download, I averaged 184 heart rate with a max of 187 heart rate with a Normalized Power of 316 watts (4.6 w/kg).  I hang-on long enough to crest the firehouse roller.  Finally a little recovery as we hit a fast descent with sharp turns and then the road straightens out.  Gaps are formed and I’m bridging to close them — fully exposed to the wind at 40 mph+.  We come off that hard left at the bottom of the descent and I have to hit the gas hard to close the gaps.  More data from my SRM shows that I held over 700 watts for 17 seconds to close the gap from that hard left.  What’s the reason for the gaps– TOO MUCH DAMN BRAKING ON THE DESCENT.  Now I’ve really put myself in the hurt locker and I see the front end of the group get up out of the saddle and accelerate again just as I’ve made the junction.  That was it, one acceleration too many and POP! I’m off the back.

Best 60 minutes Elevation, Power and Heart Rate

Notice my Intensity Factor is 96%, my Normalized Power 265 watts 3.9 w/kg

Now that I’m off the back I take a couple of minutes to recover and then hit the gas again.  I picked up some of the other riders that had been dropped and we formed a little pack.  I made it to “the church” and regrouped with those that were faster than me today.  It’s humbling to pull in and everyone there has already recovered from their sprint and are joking, laughing and using there hands demonstratively trying to make sense of the chaos that is called the bunch sprint.  It was a short stop this time and we rolled off towards Del Dios Hwy.

I felt worked going through Del Dios and Rancho Santa Fe but I was hanging on.  Until we exited downtown Rancho Santa Fe and a rider wearing a Pista Palace kit attacked the first roller leaving us looking at each other like “well are you gonna take up the chase?  I’m spent!”  It took a few seconds for us to react and by that time Mr Pista Palace was shifting again and again still out of the saddle and creating a sizable gap.

The rollers and the twists and turns of riding through Rancho Santa Fe (RSF) are a huge adrenaline rush especially in a pack.  But the road surface is terrible.  For an area so exclusive and with so much wealth residing within, I can’t understand why the roads are in such a bad state.  Don’t the rich pay their taxes?  I digress, Mr Pista Palace has timed his attack perfectly.  His continued strength through RSF has confirmed his initial “I’m the strongest rider here today!” statement when he attacked.  He stayed away until the sprint at San Dieguito Rd.

And that’s it.  I got my ass handed to me by the big boys.  But you know it’s good for me.  I don’t fancy the taste of humble pie and some days you get a modest slice and some days the whole pie is shoved down your throat but hey that’s cycling – there is always somebody faster.

9 thoughts on “Swami’s Ride – A Humbling Experience

  1. Great write up George! I feel the same way every time I ride with Swami’s, so I only do when I feel ready to red line it, over and over again.

    • Jerry,

      Thanks for reading. It’s funny a couple of weeks back I had a good showing on the Swami’s Ride. I guess that’s just because the fast guys weren’t there.

      go Vireo!!

  2. I guess everyone has bad days, as a matter of fact I had one today…just didn’t have it.

    But I think you’re more of an endurance rider so your body is not conditioned for this pace. Bet you would have eventually passed them all on a long ride.

    • David,

      Thanks for reading my blog. It’s not a matter of having a bad day. I was really on the rivet the whole ride. It IS that fast of a ride. And you are correct, that is not the pace I ride at when doing Ultras but everyone needs a little intensity to improve their cruising speed.

      Red Eyed Vireo

  3. George,
    Your recent Swamis experience sounds exactly like mine everytime I show up for some punishment. I always joke that the climbs just aren’t long enough in that ride for me to hang, but as you say, a little high-intensity riding on occasion is good for the speed, and even better to keep the ego in check!

    • Matt,

      Good to know that riders like you and I suffer on the Swami’s ride. I always thought it was because I was slow.

      So I might be able to do the White Mountain Double afterall. You signed up?

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