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It had been a while since I’d done anything that was more than three hours. And if I did, a nap would follow pretty quickly. I’d hit the pillow as if I had done a six-hour race. But then Nate, inGamba’s head of field operations, suggested we do his favorite ride ever.

If you’ve met him on one of our trips, you know exactly how he was describing this to me. He bounces when he’s stoked (as the kids say) about something and his eyes get really big. The grin is ear to ear and you just can’t help but say: “Yes, I want some of that in my life.”

Next thing I know, I’m on a 17-mile Mountain Bike trail riding a Pinarello F8 with Zipp 202 wheels. The ground felt like quicksand and it was very slow going. To say I cursed him for those two and a half hours on that trail is to put it mildly. Fortunately for Nate, I was alone most of that time and so could only take my frustrations out on the pedals.

The route that Nate chose started innocently enough, down Carmel Valley Road. There was a chill in the air, the traffic was light at first and before long, non existent. After three hours I stopped for water at a fire station, and when the fire chief found out the road I was taking he pointed to my tires and said: “What, with that?”

Clearly he didn’t know that, well, I had been a pro rider, so yeah, I’m going to do the fire road “with that.” I made it to the camp site, around the closed gate that said “no bikes” and up the mountain on the fire road that quickly turned into a goat path.

I remember at one point thinking, “All that’s missing is a river to hike through.” Not long after, I found one. There were grumbles, but I just kept trucking we were sleeping at Fort Hunter. I had to get to the other side of the mountain and this was the only way to do it.

As I’m pulling to the end of the ride, I just caught up with our friend Jim, who had driven ahead with the gear and as I’m handing the guard my driver’s license, I turn to him and say: “I’m gonna kill that little Fu#$%.” Did I mention that Fort Hunter was a military installation? Luckily, Jim was quick on the draw and got me out of that mess.

Six and a half hours in the saddle, some cyclocross and a lot of swearing – it all added up to one of the best rides ever. And the next day, we rode out of Fort Hunter, down one of the most beautiful descents I’ve ever seen onto Highway One before heading up the coast past Big Sur into Carmel. Here’s that ride.

It’s funny how the mind works, and how quickly all the bad stuff fades. I look back on it and think, “that was awesome.” It’s not that I enjoyed the goat path, but two days of point-to-point riding and two 130km rides – my first in a long time – feels really good.

This #fitbyspring thing now actually has some momentum. I’ve already lost 10 pounds and am riding pretty regularly, starting to control what I eat better and feel I’m well on my way to getting to Donkey Week in some sort of fighting shape. It’s great to start 2016 on such a high.