I’m about a week late in starting. Typically — or at least the first two years of what’s become this annual springtime tradition of doing 10 rides up the Verdugo Mountains in 30 days — I get the first ride logged before the end of March and the beginning of daylight savings time. But scheduling and bad weather and a modicum of lethargia conspired to keep me out of the saddle until this afternoon when I drove over to the Beaudry trailhead in Glendale and proceeded to pretty much amaze myself at the energy and power and stamina I had. Of course, it certainly helped that I’m hauling 32 pounds less than I had the previous two years, but still.

In the past I wouldn’t even record the time of the first climb because there’s usually one or more wind-sucking stops along the way. Today? Throw out the guidelines kids, I made it all the way up nonstop. But better yet, let me put it in perspective. My personal best time over the 10 rides in 2004 covering the 2.17 miles from the trailhead at the bottom to the water tower up top was 36 minutes and 16 seconds. My best time last year, which came on my 10th and final ride as 34 minutes and 57 seconds . Today, on my first ride of 2006, I clocked in at the water tower at 34 minutes and 03 seconds — a full 54 seconds faster. Right out of the gate.

Holy fucking shit!

And the sick part is: I could’ve gone faster. There were stretches where I was purposefully just takin’ her easy even though I could’ve given it some gas had I wanted to.

That’s a remarkable feeling. Something I haven’t experienced in tooooo long.

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But anyway, I made it up to Tongva peak and found it looking pretty much the same as it always does. The vista was a tad of a let down. After the rains and wind from yesterday I was hoping the city would have a just-scrubbed freshness… but I could barely make out the downtown skyline — not even the rise Palos Verdes peninsula was visible in the haze/fog. Oh well, it was still hugely peaceful and serene… if a little melancholy looking down at the L.A. Zoo in the near distance.