Tuesday and Wednesday I just rode the trainer, riding a bit harder on Tuesday. On Wednesday, I got up at 6:30 and did 30 minutes before we took off for Palm Springs, fearing that we'd sit in traffic all day and I'd have to no time for a ride after we arrived. I was right. We sat in awful traffic from Magic Mountain to Ontario. The drive took over nine hours, hours five through eight utterly exasperating 80 miles.
In Palm Springs, I took three outdoor rides. The first was mostly flat, with a three-mile climb in the middle. Still protecting the shin, I resolved to pedal slowly, still in the big ring. So, I spent all day in the big ring in 52x17 and bigger gears. Geometry of Palm Springs desert riding is boring: straight roads and 90-degree turns. The three-mile climb was at the start of Highway 74, a three-mile ramp to the climb up San Jacinto Mountains. After the ramp, the road becomes a typical twisty and spectacular mountain climb that tops out 11 miles later. I had neither time nor legs to do the whole thing, so I turned around at the end of the ramp. Another interesting feature of PS landscape is that though the desert is flat, it's not completely flat. There are numerous uphill (1-2%) drags that last up to half a mile and provide a good opportunity for higher intensity training. I took advantage of the terrain and rode hard for most of the 105-minute ride.
That was Thanksgiving Day. On Friday, I did an hour and a half over most of the same roads, eschewing the climb, and making intermittent hard efforts. Riding the same gears as the previous day was more difficult. Oddly, the shin felt better than the day before.
Saturday, was another early, pre-drive ride. After two hard days, I needed a rest day, but I'd thought that the long flat drags would make it difficult to take it easy. I solved the problem by riding almost entirely in residential neighborhoods, checking out architecture, and really managing my 149th effort well.
The drive back was initially OK. We made it out of LA basin and up the grapevine easily. But driving in fairly dense traffic on a four-lane road through the mountains, it occurred to me that all these cars would have to fit into two lanes once we got to Central Valley. Sure enough, they didn't fit well. We came to numerous full and complete stops at random and unexplained places. It eased a bit after Highway 46, where many drivers left I-5 to try their luck on 101, and again, after the Pacheco Pass turn-off, but traffic remained steady all the way home. I'm never going on big driving Thanksgiving trips again. I think I said that several years ago. This time, I hope I mean it.