Friday, January 3, 2003



A Club ride near the Marshall Wall, Marin County, with Donna. I could only reference this strange area from the the Holsteen Hundred Metric--little did I know that within two years I'd discover that this is a key part to the Mt. Tam Double Race.

(August 2003) HOLSTEEN 100, 102 miles, steep rollers w/ Thom & Veronica , 7:20-2:40 16 mph avg

Don't know why I signed up for this--I hated the ride years ago when doing the metric. But next week is TOUR OF THE NAPA VALLEY, which used to be the best century, and want to stay in condition--as no doubt Joann, Mike, Jerry (who did the Sierra) and I will blast through Napa; though Mike whining that he wants to start after 8am.

Started out riding solo but at mile 15 saw Thom and Veronica on their tandem. Rode with Veronica a few times--including the only time I went up Mt. Diablo from the South side, and a few times behind their tandem on Sunday morning rides. They start out slow, like a steam locamotive, but then get to a nice cruising speed which they hold steady and are great to draft behind. (Also great to bug them about their devout following of the high priest of retro--Grant Peterson of Rivendell.) They are decked out in matching wool jerseys--Grant would approve. So, with some early morning rollers out of the way I hopped onto their jetstream and got a free ride until mile 60.

Then the hills started--not good for tandems, and it was getting hot--not good for wool jerseys. After the cheese factory, around mile 75, they said they were going to rest and take it easy so I went off solo again.No big climbs on the Holstein but lots of steep, short ones--and near the end a headwind picks up. I felt real fresh and was zooming past everyone--including two women who were doing a "two man" that looked real pissed when I passed. Not a bad course, mostly rustic--but the Marin drivers do drive like shit and don't give you alot of room.

(August 2003) TOUR OF NAPA VALLEY, 100 miles, w Jerry--finished with Joann and Mike who had done metric course, 6:50-1:25, 17.7 mph average, 19.2 mph to Hennessey, 22:45 up Ink Grade.

If the DEATH RIDE was the apex of GRUPPO PUMPKINCYCLE, this was the start of the death knell for GRUPPO PUMPKINCYCLE and alot of other things. Mike was whining for two weeks how we should start (a 100 miler!) at 8-, Joann thought this was too late also but wouldn't tell him anything. Strange. Thank buddah for Jerry to provide perspective--when I told him that Mike wanted to start at 8- Jerry said "is he nuts." Jerry and I decided that the latest we'd start was 7:15. Mike called the day before the ride-he was staying up in Yountville with Joann, and agreed that we'd start at 7:00'ish. Cool--with Mike, Joann, Jerry and Dr. Y (also from Sierra Century) we'd have a strong group that we could keep together for the whole ride except for the two big climbs--MT VEEDER and INK GRADE. (INK GRADE is the 4 mile climb I had to walk the first time I rode the metric course--for good measure I went to Ink Grade four days before the ride and did a short loop including it to see if I could slam up it.)

Get up early; in car with Donna who was going to ride the metric with her girlfriends. Cell phone rings--it is Mike--he and Joann not doing the 100 as they have some flu, didn't get sleep, fatigue, mystery bug--reason always changed dependant on who was telling the story and when. I'm pissed. I usually goof around, pace myself and talk when starting out a long ride but now it is cold out and I'm pissed and ready to hammer.

Meet Jerry at the start, "where is everybody," repeat the b.s. to him, and we're off. Jerry's famous last words-"we're starting out early so we can take it easy." Oh!-did I mention that Jerry is a mountain bike racer and is very competative.. One guy passes us and Jerry, I and a half dozen other cyclists give chase. Before long only Jerry and I are chasing the guy. We start going up MT. VEEDER and Jerry is losing some steam on the uphill--and I had never done it--just heard how difficult it is. I take some speed off--the guy we were chasing--150' up the road, sees that and also takes off speed. Damn-is as weary as we were. He is the last person to pass both Jerry and me all day. VEEDER turns out to be much shorter and easier than I imagined. I get to the top and wait for Jerry-I should have kept going as a technical downhill follows--one that I stink at and Jerry excels at. Two guys pass us--Jerry is having none of that-he shoots to the front and one guy chases as I hang back with other guy--we are both spectators.

Metric course is actually nicer as it takes you thru the vineyards--while 100 miler takes us through suburbia. Long flat section to LAKE HENNESEY and Jerry is doing lots of pulling--my job is to remind Jerry that when we are joined by riders that he can drop back and let them pull. On the uphill section the paceline would fall apart, Jerry would take 5 minute pulls, mine lasted for 1 minute, and we'd pick up more riders until the next uphill.The run up from LAKE HENNESEY to POPE VALLEY is my favorite, as it is a wind sheltered gradual uphill. Here I started to do more pulling. Out of POPE VALLEY more pacelines, two guys came blasting trhough and tried to pace us off their wheel. We got to one blind section and I told Jerry-if the road is downhill you go, if it is uphill I'm going. Road went up, I went off the front, upped the pace. One of the two guys stayed with me, and I dug in past HUBCAP RANCH (which I didn''t even see) to the lunch stop.

I'm enjoying life on straightway going into gradual climb to Pope Valley on Napa Century--good action photo taken by Photocrazy or Miles...

After crowded lunch stop INK GRADE CLIMB; I did it in 22:49 and no one passed me. Less concerned about other riders--lets face it--there are lots of better climbers, but I NEED TO exact revenge on INK GRADE for my having to walk up it 6 years ago. (I went up just as hard during my practice run a few days earlier with no one around.) Waited for Jerry at the top, who then zoomed back down to the valley--he was taking off speed so I could stay close to him and he was still going incredibly fast.The TOUR OF THE NAPA VALLEY'S achilles heal is the route back along the crowded SILVERADO TRAIL--crowded with cars wine tasting, and the shoulder crowded with bikes riding slowly 3 across on the 20-40-60 mile loop into a headwind.

At the last rest stop we saw Jo-Jo and Mike who had done the metric century. Heard more bs as to why they didn't do the 100, but we teamed up to finish along the Silverado Trail, where riders from all routes converge on a narrow shoulder next to traffic and into a headwind. Someone mentioned that my wheel was wobbling; Inexplicity, an alloy nipple had brike and my wheel was taco'ing into the brakes. Shit--I came down the long downhill like this. I opened up my rear brake, so down the Silverado I'd either pull the paceline or ride well off the back.

Real funny story--with Jerry the powerhouse driving the paceline, we pass scores of riders and picked up a few for our paceline. Almost a dozen riders. Jerry kept leading the paceline, Mike was near the front, Joann was near the back and I was in the rear. One guy, wearing a Santa Rosa Rose Covered Jersey filled the space in front of me but couldn't keep a straight line, half wheels and keep weaving near Joann. Joann kept swerving away but Mr. Weaver kept coming close to her. So, we make the right hand turn west and Joann gives the sprint signal "Ciao Baby" --I go into a sprint with Joann on my wheel and we zoom past the dozen riders in the paceline. Mike sees us fly by, yells "Ciapollini" and flys by us. Jerry, probably wondering what the f is going on, kicks it into high gear and shoots by all of us. It looked like the charge of the light brigade--all to get away from Mr. Weaver.

At postride fest Donna comes in from the metric course and we enjoy the good foods with great local salads that Napa always provides--and for once some good music (no one playing bicycle instruments or polka music.) Rode this century faster than ever, but we missed a great opportunity to have tag teamed this course as a foursome, and something isn't quite right.

(October 2003) PEDAL 'ROUND THE PUDDLE, Lakeport, 102 miles, hills, 15.9 mph, Jay and Joann.

A great ride--unfortunately the end of alot of things. PEDAL is a unappreciated century ride with a great route, nice scenery (CLEAR LAKE) and very good support for an event run by a non-bike club. But it is late in the year, and "out of the way" (a few hours from the bay area)--and goes through towns that seem stuck in the 1950's.After blowing up a few years back, Donna was going to do this ride again, but not the 100. I told her that the last part of the 100 mile course is also the out and back 20 mile loop, and she could come off the metric, tack this on, and then have an 80 miler with the big climbs cut. out. She and Pat were game, while Joann and I planned to do the 100--and hopefully not get lost like the year before when the ride became a 109'er.

Donna and I drove up and went thru Hopeland, home to the unique Solar Energy Center (want one of those waterless urinals for my garage) We rode from the UPPER LAKE motel to the LAKEPORT preregistration center--told Donna to sit on my wheel and we did the out and back at 16.8--first time Donna ever went over 16 mph on a ride ever. Saw beautiful CLEAR LAKE that the first part of the ride hugs, ringed by the 1950's summer homes. A poor man's Lake Tahoe. Also saw the potholes and ruts in the street-remembered that they haven't resufaced some of these streets in decades.Pat and Bert met us at the motel, and then Joann. Bert doesn't ride bikes, he motorcycles and is going to go Ito the Indian casions while his wife and Donna went around the lake. He is complaining about being tired lately, and he had started/ was going to start getting a checkup. Donna kidded around that she'd rather go Indian Gambling with Bert than ride this route with Pat. Pat and Bert went into town to find a good resturant, I insisted on eating at Pirate Cove Pizza, which is the best pizza I've tasted on the west coast, and what I've always eaten before the PEDAL ride except for the time we ate at a good resturant in town, blew up on the ride and with each other,and didn't finish the course. Scorecard: Lakeport Pizza 3x=finish the ride, Fine Resturant 1x=don't finish the ride. I'm not superstitious but I'm sticking with the pizza. Donna, Joann and I go over--Pirate Cove had morphed from an old person bar the first time I was there, to a huge game room for kids last year, to now a sports/ family theme. Never know what changes to expect in Upper Lake.

Next morning is unseasonably warm; at least it wasn't the usual 48 degrees on the Lakeport Bank Clock. Fishing boats starting near the muni doc where the ride starts. As usual Bert sets Pat up, General Pat (always running early) had Donna out on the course while I was probably am still deciding how many layers to wear. Joann and I started about 15-20 minutes later, zoomed through town passing scores of riders, passed and waved to Donna and Pat, and then were off to the races--with Joann having the good sense to have us pace ourselves at the beginning. No huge paceline like last year--a guy from the Fremont Bike Club (Max) joined us for awhile and we run a 3 man around the lake.

Funny moment at "mobile home" rest stop--where everyone lines up for the two restrooms availabe (hint: NEED MORE RESTROOMS.) I had sprinted in with a fast group, sun was now out, it was getting warm, so I took off top jersey. I had underneath "Death Ride" sleevless jersey. I ordered it though I didn't do official ride, but hell, did 4 self supported passes, and figured would never do the real thing. Joann comes out of the restroom, sees my new jersey, and proclaims in a loud voice "YOU NEVER DID THAT RIDE." Oh shit-cover blown--but damn funny. Yet another reason Joann is my favorite person to ride with. I proclaimed for everyone to hear that that I did it self supported, which is harder than doing the organized event. ( In 2004 would do a solo training ride from Pope Valley-Napa to Clearlake and turn around right at this spot--bittersweet memory.)

We were riding easy leaving the rest stop, leading up to the start of one of the big climbs of the day--when 5 young guys flew by us. Joann and I retook the lead, then one of the guys repassed and standing on the pedals he set a fast pace up the climb. He looked like I did a year ago, when I tried to stand whenever I could, now I kept my butt on the saddle and sat on his wheel. Young guy was setting a nice pace, and didn't seem like he was getting tired, but I dug in to stay with him. Then we came to a part of the road where the grade significantly jumps--with Jim Morrison singing in my head "we want the world and we want it NOW!" (When the Music's Over, my favorite climbing song), I jumped on the pedals and flew by and kept the temp up to the top.

At the Yogi Bear Campground rest stop in the hills on the Pedal Round the Puddle--I'm proudly wearing the Death Ride Jersey though I didn't do the official event.

Young guy came in behind me within a minute and was jazzed and congratulated me--we then bs'd about rides I had done that he might like. A few minutes later Joann came up well ahead of the rest of the young guys. We started the long downhill, where Joann took a little off so I could keep up, and damn if I almost didn't miss the same turn as last year--didn't help when Joann yelled straight as she started making the correct turn. I don't need much help to go the wrong way.

Much easier than last year, cooler, we didn't go 9 miles out of the way, and in much better condition. Got to Yogi Bear campgrounds and workers running around with camera taking photos. More attention getting but doable climbs, and zoomed over the flat section of the course at 20+ mph. Donna and Pat loved doing the 80 mile route, Bert had fun at the Indian Casino--great BBQ steak dinner at the end of the ride. Last time I'd eat dinner with Bert-he would be dead 3 months later. Last time I finished a century with Joann.

GIRO DI VINO (Lodi) metric, flat, with Mike, Joann and Donna. WHEN THE MUSIC'S OVER...

This ride combines wine tasting with riding along a real flat course. Not a great idea--and as I don't drink while I ride I miss out on half the concept. But as course was flat, this was a change to ride with Donna and both of my Pumpkincycle "friends," Mike and Jo-Jo.There is a fundraising event before event, and Mike/ Joann got there early to set up Joann's LAF booth. The GRUPPO PUMPKINCYCLE jersey's finally came in (not easy getting custom jerseys when you only order 3., but we were wearing so many layers of clothes on the cool morning you wouldn't have noticed the jersey with Patti-Bob and Jim in front of Mt. Diablo). Donna and Joann wearing their "Ride for the Roses" jersey, which they inexplicity had done together. Actually almost first time since Death Ride (albeit the end of Napa) that the three Pumpkincycles rode together. A month ago went on a training ride with Donna and we accidently crossed paths with Mike/ Jo-Jo.. I can sense that things are different but couldn't get a handle on it. In any event, we'd be riding together today.

Did about 30 miles together--nice relaxed pace. Cool wind and more traffic, more crossroads than I remember from the previous year. At one point a co-ed group passes us-or we pass them, and before you know it we are all upping the pace.

Then a sharp left turn and a dog behind a fence begins to bark, and runs along their long front yard.. Kind of like my big accident in 2001, but then there was no fence and the dog ran out and undercut my wheel. Now, Mike takes off to spirnt and I take off behind him. When I sprint, which I just started to do more and more of, to get torque I stand and almost hang over the front of the bars. Great way to get some ooomph when climbing--I haven't sprinted on the flats that often.Oh, just for a scary aside-two days ago it was my birthday, and at a party at Joann's house talking to another (not wife) Donna who had a big bike accident at the beginning of the year. I just ordered a lightweight European helmet-and as Donna's helmet literally saved her life when some passing motorhome knocked her off her bike, she started to lecture me about how I need to make sure my new helmet is ANSI, SNELL, NASA, NASDQ approved. I also talked to Mike about pedals-I was still using SPD's and loved that I could walk around easily on them. Mike used both SPD and road pedals, and even though his SPD shoes were better than his road shoes, he said that it was much better riding with road pedals. Hmm, got me thinking about changing--but i don't want to walk like a duck when off the bike.In any event, when I stood and stomped I clipped out of the right pedal,. Bike weaved and I remember correcting. Next thing I knew is that I woke up in an ambulance--didn't remember being on ride, didn't remember my birthday. Donna was about 50-100' behind me and had seen me flip over the bars and smack on the ground. Easiest f'n ride of the year! Concussion and broken collarbone--memory didn't return until I was transfered from Lodi Memorial to John Muir, as former had no neurosurgeon on staff, and ambulance driver had no clue how to go, and I had to tell him what exit to get off.

POSTSCRIPT-felt like an ass, and depressed as in pain and insurance doctor would only tell me that my collarbone would take 12 weeks to heal, and not that I could start riding earlier. Thought I was going to be on the shelf for 3 months.

During this time my "Pumpkincycle" friends basically vanished. Eventually found out that can do things after 4 weeks--went up Mt. Diablo 6 weeks later (riding up 1 handed OK--coming down was a bitch.) But first month was depressing as hell. A few months later ran into bike mechanic I knew in Livermore--told him what happended to me--he then pulled off his shirt and showed me his broken collarbone--he had clipped out of SPD pedals a month before me and flew off his bike. In any event, like my hero Museeuw, wanted to come back stronger when faced with adversity, so decided to jump into racing. Was also ready to also join the DIABLO CYCLISTS as saw handwriting on the wall with DELTA PEDALERS and GRUPPO PUMPKINCYCLE, but a few last good training rides had me overly optimistic about the large group we'd have on century rides, minimally tag team them with Joann and Mike, so I didn't do anything. In racing termonology, I missed the move.The broken collarbone started the most fucked up, strangest 10 months of my life. It had two significant--though at the time unrecongnized-- ramifications. I began bike riding again on 12/7/03--drove to LOS VAQUEROS so I could ride solo. Afterwards there was a bike fest in Brentwood to celebrate the opening of a new trail with an inaugural bike ride. I didn't want to ride near people/ kids so I went to the fest and b.s'd with Bert, while Pat and Donna joined the scores of people on the ride. We bs'd for about 1 1/2 hours--while he urged me to give his daughter Sheri a hard time, who was running the coffee concession nearby (where is the soy milk?) Lately Bert was getting tired easy, but he'd joke that it was this old Italian thing that runs in his family and it isn't anything. He just had tests done at the local hospital, and results weren't back yet but he was optimistic. The next day his tests came back-leukemia--I'd see him die on New Years Eve.

I usually visit the folks back in Florida in they winter--but they always worry about my bike riding. Figure I'd visit in late spring instead-no need for them to know/ see me with a broken collarbone. Dad was disappointed but always stoked when we'd talk about my visit just a few more months away--but he was also feeling tired and went into the hospital for tests. As my little protest againts the f'n war (or to look like Roman Vainsteins), to my fashion plate daughters horror I had grown a small pony tail--and one night the person who cuts my hair braided it--daughter in more horror. I spoke to dad the next day, told him the pony tail story and Jessie's reaction, he just cracked up laughing. Last time I heard him laugh. I was going to cut it off when weather got warm, but now kept it on--wait till he sees it during my visit right after the Sierra Century. Dad never saw it-- he collapsed three weeks before my scheduled visit and was unconscious by the time I got to the hospital where he died the next day.

2003 Statistics, 6050 Miles, 4425 Trainer Minutes (Thx Arnie Baker)

Thursday, January 2, 2003


(Planning for Sierra Century Double Metric-con't)

In theory doing SLUG GULCH and the 120 miler was a nice goal, and I did a whole bunch of early spring centuries (in between the rain) including CHICO WILDFLOWER and SANTA ROSA WINE. COUNTRY But one day, going up the Berkeley CLAREMONT climb, having to stand for most of it in my 12-27 double, the GRUPPO PUMPKINCYCLE "directeur sportif," Joann, told me "nice job--Slug Gulch is similiar--just 3 times as long." OH SHITTY. I knew I couldn't stand any longer--I ran and put a 11-34 cassette and a mountain bike derailleur on the back.As we came closer to the event I knew I'd have to do a SLUG GULCH preride, as might as well do the back end of the 120 mile course. (Very familiar with the front end--metric course..). The trouble is the bonus 20 miles of the 120 mile route is secret--as there is a time cutoff after SLUG GULCH. Contacted the SACRAMENTO WHEELMEN, the ride director was kinda helpful--dropped a few clues but couldn't tell me the route.

Joann was as focused on doing the 120 as I was and the directeur sportif and I prerode the 2nd half of the 102 mile course--guessing (correctly) that after SLUCH GULCH you ride a beautiful 10 mile stretch (gently uphill) through the EL DORADO FOREST to Highway 88, and then guessed (incorrectly) that you continue up Highway 88--past the 5000 foot mark, to Cooks Station. (on a self supported ride Cooks Station is the place to take on food and drink.) Oh, SLUG GULCH--it was hard but not as bad as I expected. Joann warned me that there was a big difference doing it 25 miles into the ride as opposed to 75.The days leading into the 2003 Sierra were filled with training a trepidation. I kept figuring out the timing so we could safely make the time cutoff. We were lucky that we'd be joined by a very skilled rider, Jerry, who usually raced mountain bikes but is a powerhouse on the road. When I told Jerry that we had to leave at 5:30 to make the cutoffs he told me "you got to be kidding." Good to have his confidence around.

With SLUG GULCH in the back of my mind I rode mostly hilly rides (BERKELEY HILLS, MT TAM or DIABLO) 10 of 12 days. with one trainer session thrown in for good measure. Joann finally ordered me off the bike, so on Thursday, two days before the ride I just kicked around Berkeley. (Ironically, a year later I'd be off the bike for 2 weeks except for the Thursday prior to the event.) If Joann's enthuisam accounted for much of my motivation in becoming a good rider, the great Johan Museeuw accounted for the rest--and every night I watched the end of the 2002 Paris Roubaix where Museeuw goes crazy in the muddy cobblestones and rides away from the chasing US Posties.Go up to JACKSON on Friday and take an easy cruise down Clinton Road. (Taking two days off before an event, and then taking an easy spin the day before seems to work great, and I've tried to follow this pattern for all "big" rides" since.) Late in the day drive over to PIONEER Fairgrounds for the great checkin the SACRAMENTO WHEELMEN run. Dinner back at JACKSON, at BUSCAGLIA's, an Italian resturant off the beathen path overlooking a stand of Oak trees. One guy came up to Joann, Jerry and me semi-ranting about how he drove SLUG GULCH and how hard it looked. Jeeze, we thought, he was already spent, while we saw the local barfly fall over most of the outdoor tables Saturday-event day.

(June 2003) SIERRA CENTURY, 125 Miles, 10,000' Climbing, w/ Joann, Jerry and Dr. Yilma, 5:42-4:14, 14.3 average, cutoff at 12:55.

Cool morning and cloudy--we left at 5:42--16 minuted behind my anal retentive schedule that, if followed, would get us to the cutoff for the 120 mile route before 2:00. I couldn't sleep and had been up since 2:30--luckily listening to "Dancin Barefoot" on the MP3..ONE COMPLAINT about the SIERRA CENTURY. On the coolest portion of the day the ride starts with a screaming downhill for 6 miles. 56 degreees was never that cold. Here the ride is pretty flat and Jerry was taking long pulls. We were joined by a Professor from Davis, Dr. Yilma, who heard Joann calling out what was coming up ahead. Hit IONE and instead of going to the rest stop saved some time by going to the secret bathrooms. Then we hit the rollers between IONE and SUTTER CREEK. Another secret bathroom stop in SUTTER CREEK before hitting my favorite climb--the 12 mile 1000+ feet runup to VOLCANO, alongside a shaded grove and a creek. The grade isn't steep until the last mile or so--it feels as if a magnet is pulling you uphill. Hit the big VOLCANO rest stop well before 90% of the riders--in years past I'd get to VOLCANO when it was jammed packed. Saw Bill (Joann's soon to be ex), who was on a solo mission as he was becoming a premier long distance climber.

Mt. Bike Racer Jerry getting great food service at the picturesque Volcano rest stop.

Then up the steep RAMS HORN GRADE and continuious uphill rollers, where our group broke up a little.Then we hit the turnoff to the "E" ticket ride--the 12 mile rolling downhill to FIDDLETOWN. Jerry was flying, I'd briefly catch up on a sharp uphill roller, and then he'd take off again on the downhill. We got to the FIDDLETOWN lunch stop, mile 60, at 10:09, 45 minutes ahead of schedule.

Pulling out of FIDDLETOWN had some words with a loudmouth who commented on my 11-34 gearing. Didn't like when I disparaged his plastic bike, and then zoomed away from him on the climb. Jerry, on his plastic Trek, was laughing but of no help. We hit BRIDGEPORT-CEDAR CREEK ROAD, a twisty, slight downhill through a dense forest, that didn';t have the greatest pavement. I was living my PARIS ROUBLEX-FOREST ARENBERG fantasy, and our group was flying.Then the hard work started, to MT. AUKUM where we had started our training ride.. At the PIONEER PARK rest stop 40 riders had already come through of the 700 who had signed up for the course.

Then we hit the PERRY CREEK and SLUG GULCH wall. I had hot foot developing but did OK on the climb, we'd circle back and give Dr. Y. who was struggling a little encouragement. We hit the OMO RANCH rest stop at 12:55 (mile 84.9, avg 13.6)-a litle over an hour before the cutoff.Now that we beat the cutoff, and got the secret map of the 120 mile route, we lingered at the OMO RANCH rest stop-soaking our feet in the wading pools and collecting our "we tamed Slug Gulch" pin. I honestly don''t think SLUG GULCH was that hard--but I think adrenaline to beat the cutoff had alot to do with it. But with the adrenaline spent, the gradual uphill trhough the EL DORADO NATIONAL FOREST to Highway 88 was damn hard--the silence the four of us did the next 10 miles in was in sharp contrast to our joking around durning the training ride.

Finally we hit Highway 88, past the monster cattle guard with the missing pieces that swallows bikes whole. Here we started the 20 mile downhill--HIGHWAY 88, SHAKE RIDGE ROAD, FIDDLETOWN expressway once again. At mile 100 Jerry and I were hitting 30+ on flat sections. Revisited the FIDDELTOWN rest stop which was like a morgue this time, one more hard climb up OSTRUM ROAD, but the rolling downhill though the vinyards we pacelined home. (125 miles, 10,000' climbing, 14.3mph, cutoff at 12:55, 5:42-4:14)

HEALDSBURG METRIC-60 miles, small rollers, 7:15-10:45, 21.2 mph to mile 15, 18.7 avg. Donna had a big accident in Lake Tahoe a few weeks back, and had crashed into a tree on their dangerous bikepath. Now she was going to ride a hybrid alone for 40 miles,; proud of her as she now had a broken shoulder blade and previosuly she never ever tried to ride alone and be self suficient. I went out on the 60 miler and grabbed a few fast pacelines. (

MT DIABLO-North Side-7/22/03 75:15--Personal best. Only started NOT stopping at ranger station a few months ago and used to take me 90+ minutes. Doing these hard to get short of breath for Death Ride training. 8/4/03 72:30

(Below) Photos-(1) Doing the 18% on Mt. Diablo a second time so I can get my photo taken. Also scared of losing my breath at the high altitude of the Death Ride I always tried to get out of breath training on local climbs. (2) Ebbetts Pass--climb #3 on our self supported Death Ride was the toughest and seemed like we deserved a long rest when we got to the top--would never stop at the top of Ebbets again on the handful of official Death Rides I've done since.

(August 2003) GRUPPO PUMPKINCYCLE DEATH RIDE (91 miles, from Bear Valley to top of EBBETS, MONITOR, Markleeville, top of EBBETS and PACIFIC GRADE.) With Joann and Mike.

Sitting at work in 1999 I had the DEATH RIDE brochure hung on the wall--with the really cool skeleton jersey. I wanted the jersey badly, what a great idea to do it the first year of the new century. Some problems--I could barely get up Diablo once. My decendings skills were even worse, on a curve I'd frequently wound up in the oncoming lane. Figure I'd do 1 pass, maybe hang in there for 2, and get the jersey and then could proudly proclaim that I did the Death Ride. Frank, who was, a good climber, didn't get enthused when I threw out the idea. So, thoughts of doing the Death Ride died.

Quickly to 2003. My climbing is better but not to enamored with the thought of climbing with a crowd. And while my downhill skills have improved they've gone from lousy to fair at best--so going downhill in a pack doesn't thrill me. And the Death Ride has gotten so popular that it is hard to get in. DELTA PEDALERS annual campout near BEAR VALLEY--seemed like we could stay in a lodge nearby and ride onto the Death Ride course.Joann took to the idea (at the time any crazy ride one of us would throw out the other person would agree to do) and Mike surprisingly was in. Joann went up a few weeks early to scout the course, and I kept trying to get winded on Mt. Diablo--as really afraid of oxygen debt at high altitude. Wanted to make sure we saw Markleeville, and did a minimun of three passes in addition to the PACIFIC GRADE which is sometimes a bonus pass on the Death Ride. Numerous campgrounds along the way but only one had water (Silver Creek)

We were staying about 10 miles from Lake Alpine, and had the usual debate with Mike about starting time (noon may be just about right for him.) So I started at 7:00 and rode up to Lake Alpine, and Mike with Joann started about 45 minutes later and drove up. Actually I was glad that Mike had driven as I get warm quickly on climbs and was able to shed a layer of clothes. Got on Highway 4, which at this point resembles a 1 1/2 lane bike path. Passed Lake Alpine with steam rising from it, and tnen got to PACIFIC GRADE with a 24% downhill with some big hairpin turns, and beautiful Frederic Church like mountains on the sides.

Climb #1-EBBETT'S PASS (8730 feet altitude, 1700' climbing) This was surprisingly easy and was amazed how quickly we got to the top. Mike and I reached the peak together--may not have been the greatest idea for both of us to slow down to do this with cattle guard at the top. The decent ranks up there with Fiddletown Speedway, wide semi curvy Highway 4 with no cars and fantastic views of the valley off to the side. Stopped off at SILVER CREEK for water, then gentler grade to the base.

Climb #2. MONITOR PASS (8314 feet altitude) Now getting warm and switched to lighter jesey. Now we were on Highway 89 which had some traffic--luckily it also had a shoulder. Scenery not as nice as EBBETS, just trees and meadows to the side. Long climb but not a bad grade--as it got warmer I felt better.

I had a good tempo going and shot on ahead, Saw a huge peak (Leviathan at 8963 feet) and thought we were going to have to climb it so started motoring when all of a sudden hit the Monitor Pass tombstone marker. Waited awhile for Mike and Joann--felt great, Wondered what was on the other side but we weren't going to ride any further. Great feeling ended-I think my nervousness registered on Mike's heart rate monitor when I hit 44 on the downhill, and was still the slowest in the group.We then battled the headwind to Markleeville for food--riders doing the real Death Ride go through this valley on their way to CARSON PASS.

Big mistake in Markleeville, we sat around way to long (Mike loves to stay at rest stops) and everything tightened up.

Lots of desolate scenery--this lone smokestack off of "Highway 4" at the start of Ebbetts pass.

Climb #3. Back up EBBETT's. Long series of rollers back to the base of EBBETTS. My breathing, which I had worried about was fine Legs were tightening up. At SILVER CREEK CAMPGROUND, for a water refill, Mike and Joann looked weary. I felt weary, very weary, when going up the seeminly endless drag back to the EBBETS summit. Tiny Camelback that had a 4th bottle (3rd bottle on my handlebars) was bugging me. Got to that cattleguard, and just flopped alongside it to rest. Nice but short downhill to the nice and short and STEEP....

....Climb #4..PACIFIC GRADE, rumored to be 24% around one hairpin. But we were close to the end, close to the top. We climbed all so slowly--a headwind had picked up. Stopped at one hairpin near the top and watched Joann climb up--hill looked more frightening looking down and seeing someone come up than when actaully doing it yourself. Then it was a straight slight downhill back to Lake Alpine, and we pace lined in--Donna off at the side of the road to congratulate us--great I was ready to coast back down Highway 4 to the lodge, which would have made this into a 100 miler, but Donna convinced me that she should drive back the 9 miles. Great staying in a B&B (real shower-real mattress) than in a campground after a ride like this.Usually I'm a lousy 2nd day rider, but next morning solo'd over to Spicer Lake to meet the DELTA PEDALERS as they started their ride to Lake Alpine. Going up to the campsite is a nice climb --Cows with bells all along the road, sounded mystical--like Oriential Gongs. I felt good. OH SHIT--I DID THE DEATH RIDE (but ws it 3 and bonus pass or 4 passes??) --man was I jazzed.

Postscript--the following day we drove to Markleeville to the hot springs--Donna couldn't believe that we went over the PACIFIC GRADE. When we passed Silver Creek Camground big sign said "pipe busted-no water" If this had happened two days ago you would have found 3 dead cyclists. (91 miles, 12.0 mph

Wednesday, January 1, 2003

GRUPPO PUMPKINCYCLE-Introduction-1997-2003

Note: In October 2009 Yahoo Geocities--their free web page service for dummies, shut down. Up to early 2008 posts here are a patchwork of what was saved from Geocities and old ride reports.


The Gruppo Pumpkincycle Bicycle Club came about in the Fall of 2002 for numerous reasons. Chiefly, the local bike club, the Delta Pedalers, did less and less riding and more and more whining about meetings, rules, secret rosters, and advocacy consisting of trying to organize boycotts of local bike shops and debates over where to start a ride. I was just coming back into cycling after being disabled/ limited with a severe injury, and just wanted to ride--especially all of the grueling , hilly rides I had enchewed in the past. Luckily for me there was a new member of the Club that thought the same way, and eagerly encouraged me to keep trying tougher and tougher rides that I had no business doing. Our "directeur sportif" seemingly knew every cycling group in Northern California and she'd drag me to tougher and tougher rides, and at the beginning saved my butt when I was the last person up a climb. At the same time (while the Delta Pedalers couldn't get a new jersey approved) we were working on designing a unique, whimsical jersey. After all, Patti Smith should be on a bike jersey.

On rides we'd b.s. about politics, music and cycling in Italy; after epic training rides/ events, we'd write a summary for this website.We were joined by a friend who a few years back was one of the most easygoing people I knew, has a great musical/ political knowledge, and a damn good cyclist who would fly by me. But "Mr Counter Culture" was riding less and less, and complaining more and more. Now he was into telling everyone else how they should live their life, and was never enthrawled about this web site and other Gruppo Pumpkinycle antics. There was a seeming disconnect between his being a "member" and his actions, which would only become apparent a year later.2003 was amazing--I never would have predicted the rides that we successfully completed. The "directeur sportif" and I did the 120 miler in Santa Rosa (in a rainstorm) and the
Sierra Century (of Slug Gulch fame.) "Mr. Counter Culture" joined us as we did, self-supported, 4 passes of the "Death Ride" course a month after the real event.

But towards the end of the Summer things started to unravel, rides were suddenly cancelled--culminating in our planned ride of the Napa Century going down the toilet for reasons that didn't pass the smell test. Then in the fall we did the easiest ride of the year and I broke my collarbone--and heard from my two "friends" less and less. Something was amiss. The "directeur sportif" and I had planned to do a whole slate of century rides in the spring of 2004--for reasons that kept changing these also went down the toilet and I wound up doing them solo, and I never understood what had happened. I was riding tougher and tougher rides--the Davis 200, Sierra 120--6 passes of the Death Ride but was at a loss to figure out why our riding group collapsed.

Then, in early summer of 2004, the reason for all the chicanery became apparent. Angst gave way to being pissed off--really pissed off--which didn't subside until I returned from a "self awareness/ discovery" (yeah, I know it sounds hokey but it's true) cycling trip in Italy. Turns out that 2003 was built on on big lie; having an alternative bike club that focused on the essence of cycling was all a bunch of crap. The Gruppo Pumpkincycle Bike Club was a wayward home for midlife crises. But, under a grand illusion , from 10/02 to 10/03, the Gruppo Pumpkincycle Bike Club was the greatest Club of all time. The illusion motivated me and helped make me a much better rider. Its collapse in 2004 pained the hell out of me, but forced me to be a better rider still. (11/2004)

Below is a list of "long rides" (at least at the time I thought they were long) I did before the Sierra Century 2003. Ironically, I hated climbs and avoided climbing rides like the plague until the end of 2002. In winter 2001 (before a big accident when a dog undercut my wheel) I started working out on cycling for the first time in the off season (on rollers) and thought if I worked hard, my eventual strength would be to power along the flats. Geeze--was I in for a surprise. On the flats most people are faster than me until we are well into a ride, I can't accelerate and a crosswind kills me--but when the road turns up I can hold my own. If you would have predicted what I'd be doing before 2003 I would have told you that you were nuts.


DELTA CENTURY (Stockton)--metric--solo-flat--my first century on a hybrid bike. Was warned that winds would pick up towards the day, so I started with the big boys. I figure I was passed by 500 cyclists; I passed one woman who I still feel sorry for. Part of route was out and back--happy to finally see slower cyclists in the other direction, who started later. Amazed that we wound up all the way to Walnut Grove. Come mile 40 my back and butt and arms were killing me, luckily a school principal came along riding my speed (with a disc wheel) so we could b.s. all the way in.

TOUR OF NAPA VALLEY (Yountville)--metric-solo-some hills. Still on the hybrid, came across Dave, founder of the Delta Pedalers, riding a three man paceline. He invited me to come along, but no way I could stay with these guys. Got to Ink Grade and had to get off the bike in the middle of the climb and walk awhile. Did I feel like shit. Now-even on solo training rides in the area I go to Ink Grade and go bonkers and attack Ink Grade--kinda my revenge on that climb.


SUNRISE CENTURY (Lodi)-100 miles-flat-w/ John and Ann P. and ? on mountain bike. My first full 100--and on a real road bike (GT Course.) We were pretty slow and John/ Ann's new cycling friend on the mountain bike was slower still--we may have been the last people to come in that day. But we finished and we were stoked. Only time I saw water released from Pardee Dam.


CHICO WILDFLOWER-metric-60 miles-w/ John. Real strange going up to Chico, isolated 2 hours North of Sacrmaneto in the middle of nowhere. Never thought I'd return--ha! Seemed like the ride had TONS of climbing. John and I must have been the slowest folks on the course (but we had stayed out in downtown Chico past midnight the night before)--they had gourmet pizza at the finish but by the time we came in all they had was Pizza Hut/ Round Table.

WINE COUNTRY CENTURY (Santa Rosa)-80 miles-some hills-w/ Frank and Verena. We actually started as a big group (were there really more than a dozen Delta Pedalers at the start!) intent on doing the metric and it was cold, so three of us went to the front and started drafting tandems. We eventually noticed that the rest stop that we should have passed we never saw, then realized that we were on the100 mile course. Doing the 100 mile couse scared us, so we figured out a way to weave back to the metric course--ironically we got to all the rest stops as they opened for the 100 milers.

SUNRISE CENTURY (Lodi)-100 miles-flat- w/ Donna and big group of Delta Pedalers. We stayed together for most of the ride. Donna and the girls mad when I talked to "Anna Nicole Smith" wearing tight Death Ride jersey--as they contended that she couldn't have done the Death Ride.. They got more incenced when we'd leave a rest stop, and "Anna" would be at the next one without ever passing us--"she had to sag to it," was their contention. Towards the end Frank and I went off the front while the girls played in the sprinklers--and got the last helping of salad served.

Below-not on a century but circa 2000 on a bike camping trip with the Delta Pedalers near Bear Valley--a few years later I'd figure out were just a few miles from the Death Ride course.

MANTECA CROSSROADS (Manteca)-100 miles-flat-w/ Frank Advertised as a bunch of scenic water crossings so counted all of them as slugged thru the ride. Remember lots of opulant homes in the middle of nowhere for sale. We came across "Anna" and saw her gasping at the first rest stop.

TOUR OF NAPA VALLEY (Napa)-metric-some hills-w/ Dave and Frank. Memorable as we just bought a new house, and there were wild fires all over California--and Dave had been working all week putting them out. Chased Dave and Frank up the climbs, thought I might have to stand but was only 1-2 minutes behind them on Ink Grade. Dave was incredibly giddy now that his weeklong ordeal was over. Theme at end of ride was Polka Music, which everyone hated except for Dave who was drinking away and singing along--and then rode back to car without a helmet.

HOLSTEIN 100 (West Marin)-metric-lots of short, steep climbs-w/ Donna. Hotter than hell and Mr,. Stupid thought that the "Holstein" nickname was a nod to years gone by. Found the cows, and the 100 tons of cow shit which was odiferous in the 100 degree heat. Swore I'd never do this ride again Too hard.


CROSSROADS OF CA (Manteca)-100 miles-flat (?) Don't recall if I did this solo or with Frank. May have it confused with 1999 edition. Remember coming in fairly spent and seeing Jeff riding out, doing "bonus miles." How can someone do that after finishing a Century? Packed a camera so when I was tired I could stop and take photos of the "scenic water crossings."

Thought about doing the Death Ride--hell, would only have to do one pass to get the jersey. I could (barely) get up Mt. Diablo once. But no one else enthused and I'm to scared to solo it.

Below is photo from an out of town hilly ride Kings Ridge--luckily the group leader waited for me on the climbs.
PEDAL AROUND THE PUDDLE (Lakeport)-@75 miles and quit-hilly, w/Donna, Pat, Frank, Verena-After loving the metric that tightly follows the lake, I talked wife and friends into trying the 100. The 100 mile course moves away from the lake and turned out to be significantly more hilly. Group wasn't ready for it. Donna and Pat got lost (ironically where I'd get lost 2 years later), acrimony ensured-what the fuck, no one was having a good time so we rode in. I'm still pissed about quiting-only ride that I voluntarily did not finish.

2001 Injury-after getting serious all winter and using rollers for indoor training, on a beautiful, sunny day, a f'n family let their border collier run loose off their property. While in a fast moving paceline the dog undercut my wheel, I flipped-separated shoulder and torn knee. Knee surgery in October. Permanent partially torn ACL.


Rehab from knee surgery in Fall 2001. Weeks later went to physical therapy and couldn't turn the cranks one revolution. All winter 2001-02 rehabed on trainer and started dropping weight. Did a bunch of spring metrics, but my knee would tighten up around mile 40--PARTY PARDEE, WILDFLOWER, WINE COUNTRY, SUNRISE CENTURY.

Did the metric SIERRA CENTURY with Mary--towards last rest stop where ride breaks into going back to the finish or continuing on the 100 mile couse, Mike, Joann, Bill, Thako rode in looking dog tired. They started late and rode hard--Bill and Thako were just to pleased to join Mary and me as we rode in. Conversley, I was jealous of Mike and Joann who could do the 100 miler--which I couldn't dream of trying. Same situation at the end of the season at the TOUR OF NAPA VALLEY. I'm lusting after any and all climbing rides.

Below, Photos from 2002 (1) Up in Chico with Donna before the Wildflower, (2) Did "the Bears" over and over trying to rehab knee and start climbing, (3) At flat Lodi Vino metric ride

TUNITAS CREEK FROM HELL RIDE-@65 miles-I missed this ride last year when rehabbing, and heard how beautiful but hard it was. Went with Dave and Joann who linked up with a bunch of people Joann knew who are really strong cyclists. When I showed up Dave said "oh I'm glad you're here, at least I wouldn't be last." Thanks Dave--but it was all so true. Ride starts off climbing-Old La Honda-and I quickly break into a sweat and fall off to the back, Joann talks me up the climb. And unlike the local hammerheads--these guys are WAITING for us at the top of the climb--they'd wait at the end of every climb or turn, which really showed me something. But something was amiss, when we got to PESCADERO it was revealed that an art show was on Tunitas Creek Road, so we'd have to circle around to the south to get back "which wasn't much harder." Oh shit-it was brutal, but my knee behaved and for the first time in my life I got into a climbing rhythm. For the first time I passed Dave on a climb, and when he tried to repass I managed to stay ahead of him. After going on for hours my odomoter only showed 45 miles and I was starting to fall apart. Someone mentioned that we were at mile 60--oh hell, while waiting for Dave my odomoter had shut off and hadn't restarted. Getting a rush I shocked everyone, including me, and sprinted ahead of everyone the last 5 miles back. The notion of my being able to do a full 100 miler is dancing in my head.


Climb Mt Diablo Two and a Half Times--62 miles, 8300' Climbing, Climb Mt Diablo once with Bill and Joann, and then we met some DELTA PEDALER at the base and do it again--and at the end I went back up to the junction. Just 6 months ago climbing MT DIABLO once seemed impossible. Joann throws in a new standard--you have to climb the last 800'-18% twice to get your photo taken.

Climb Over the Berkley Hills to Thai Buddhist Temple with the DELTA PEDALERS, with bonus miles in the Berkeley Hills at the end. 76 miles. Another good climb that I never thought i could do--this time of CLAREMONT, 2 1/2 miles, 1000'. Hearing that SLUG GULCH of the SIERRA CENTURY is 3x as long I had my 12-27 replaced by a 11-34.

Party Pardee-metric-big Delta Pedaler turnout for this mostly flat ride with some climbing at the end and a good Cajan band. I had done this ride before where I ate alot at the lunch stop at mile 50 and then the climbs began--ouch. For once I don't recall anything eventful on this ride.


around this time, by accident, I bought the 2002 Paris Roubaix race. I never followed bike racing. I had heard that Paris Roubaix was tough and had seen "A Sunday in Hell" about P-R 1976 with Merckx and DeVlaeminck, but wasn't impressed watching a bike race over a cloud of dust. I heard that 2002 was wet and muddy and figured I'd check it out. The lyrical commentators (Liggett and Sherwin) were fun to listen to, and the wet, muddy conditions were tough, but still not appreciative or familiar about what I was watching. The announcers kept talking about how DOMO had strength in numbers, and US POSTAL was isolated--and they kept focusing on MUSEEUW --some guy who wasn't rail thin, didn't look cool, didn't spin like crazy, and got out of the saddle on the flats while grimicing. Jeeze--kinda like me. Then another crash which wipes out the DOMO team, with 40km to go MUSEEUW takes off and is chased by two US POSTAL boys. Announcers don't give JOHAN much of a chance--but every time he gets to the wet cobblestone sections he picks up speed-flying around corners, grimicing all the way. He wins solo by over 3 minutes. The rest of the year I'd watch and rewatch the end of 2002 PR for inspiration. When things got tough on a ride I'd picture Johan cranking away in the rain and mud, and try to channel some of his spirit.

PRIMAVERA CENTURY (Union City)-Metric-some Hills-with Pat. Signed up for the 100 miler, with Pat, tough senior who was planning to ride across the country in the summer to celebrate her 65th birthday. It was storming the day before-and weather forecast called for it to get worse the next day. Pat called me up early Sat. to tell me "we ARE doing the ride-I don''t care what the weather." Apart from avoiding hills, I was also a "sunny day" only rider. I grabbed my fashion plate daughter and ran to get a rain jacket and shoe covers. Came home later and another call from Pat to remind me we "WE'RE riding."Next morning I mistakenly drink a cup of caffinated coffee--then wonder why the rain is making me so nervous. Rain lets up when we start the ride--which spends too much time in the suburbs and stopping at red lights.. Then to a climb known as "The Wall" but it isn't bad at all. Get to CALAVARES ROAD--long rolling downhill which is sweet. Then to the flats to rest stop that is on the 40-60 and 100 mile course, and it starts raining hard again. We get to the rest stop and Pat wants to know if I want to go directly in (40 mile option), ride a little more (60) or still do the 100 miler. I tell her I'll decide when I get out of the outhouse--and inside the rain is banging away and I'm ready to stop at 40. But when I leave there is a patch of blue, and it is letting up, so we decide to do the 60--and even Pat isn't holding out to do the 100. More surburbia-more rain-tights and shoe covers waterlogged. Rain lets out when we get to a beautiful climb on PALMARAS ROAD--while waiting for Pat at the top I get sick of having to ride with so much on--so I strip down to my base layer. Maybe a mistake as cool downhill starts with my jersey pocket stuffed, but I hate being bundled up. At the end they keep pushing more and more lasanga on us as trunout was much less than expected. Still don't enjoy riding in the rain but showed me that I shouldn't worry about it.

CHICO WILDFLOWER (Chico) 99 miles-4500' climbing. Finished at 6:18-1:10 inc back 2 1/2 miles after forgot water bottles and one flat, 16.3 mph, 48 min rest stops

Below-when solo'ing rides I'd start timing myself as motivation to keep riding hard. Now I'm almostg enjoying climbing Honey Run in Chico.Solo, so rode this against the clock, and didn't know what to expect as a few years back metric was tough enough. Rain forecasted never developed but some headwind. Kept on getting into short lived pacelines; at beginning of ride I jumped on the wheel of a two man--some guy with yellow spokes--but he didn't look like he wanted me in the paceline.Most of route is interesting, small warm up climb at begining of ride on road that hasn't been resurfaced in ages (did anyone say Paris Roubaix?) then out to longer climb on HONEY RUN, with a screaming downhill.. Then flats mixed with some rollers out to TABLE TOP MOUNTAIN--a longer climb still. . Mostly open but rural, not much traffic. After lunch stop (where years ago I had too many pate sandwiches waiting for John to recover) long straightf segment through a windswept valley and then a turn into more wind and flat farm country. So, unfortunately, end of course doesn't live up the first 2/3rds. Rest stops are stocked with lots of local goodies. I flatted at mile 87 and just when I figured I'd take it easy, Mr. Yellow Spokes and friend flew past. I chased them in a crosswind to mile 95 and finally caught them, then 3 people flew by and I had nothing left to chase. Later-it turned out that the 3 people who passed were locals who were on a short time trial training ride. I has apologize to Mr. Yellow Spokes that I couldn't jump on the locals wheels and he said "you did great, you caught up to us.--which had me stoked.

WINE COUNTRY CENTURY (Santa Rosa) 120 miles-4500' climbing. With Joann. Heavy showers predicted for all over Northern California--but at 3:30am weather report showed clearing over one place in NorCal--Santa Rosa. When we started we saw a few DELTA PEDALERS doing the 100 mile loop--as it turned out rain clouds would chase them around all day. Our route went further out to the coast, where it was actually sunny--though huge rainclouds a few miles offshore. We were very warm during climb to coast as bundled up in rain jackets and other water repellant garments. Saw skeleton at the start of sharp downhill to the Coast, warning us to be careful going over the cattle guards.Some headwind going north on the coast, Highway 1--an Aussie joined us and did lots of pulling. We head inland and it is getting balmy--at @mile 60 a rest stop collects any clothes you don't want--we give away all our rain gear. Now beautiful rollers through wine country--and of course it starts raining hard. But rain is warm, so kinda feel like a little kid, and we keep leapfogging a guy who is pissed he is getting passed by Joann. Luckily stops raining, hardest climb, CHALK HILL, is thrown in at the end --then suddenly back in civilization. Another tough ride in the rain that was easier than expected and made enjoyable by my upbeat cycling tag team partner.

SUNRISE CENTURY, Lodi (100 miles, elevation gain-freeway overpasses) with Pat.

below with Pat and racer Larry who came by and pulled us on a windy section.
Pat in training to do her cross country trek to celebrate her 65th birthday, and told her just to stay on my wheel. Pat incredibly game, any time a paceline came by we'd intergrate with it, I'd tell them about Pat and paceline would be real receptive-Pat would hang in for 5 miles until having to drop out, and then we'd wait for another one. Luckily, on portion with big headwind Larry the racer showed up, and he pulled for a long while--then we sprinted to the next rest stop. He continued and I double backed for Pat. Fun paceline at end of day with three youngin', boy and girlfriend were duking it out aggressively for who would ride 1st wheel so I was content to stay in 3rd while their other friend pulled Pat along. All of a sudden they stopped--"time for stretching." At the end of ride thin girl with huge muscles told me she was a powerlifter (very noticable) and boyfriend guy went off to do yoga. Larry told me his theory about how you have to check out guys legs to see if they are shaved so you'll know if they are "serious,"-he didn't notice the girl Larry has gotten way to serious about racing. (104 miles, 16.7 mph)

***Planning for the SIERRA CENTURY DOUBLE METRIC--the journey is just as much fun as reaching the destination

below-on one of the many prerides as I wanted to see as much of the course as possible, and with well paved roads w/ little traffic--some of the greatest cycling anywhere (1) I'm coming out of the El Dorado National Forest--that monster cattlegrate is now gone (2) On training ride rode up to Cooks Station--gas everywhere else is about $1.50, trying to recreate a Museeuw moment as we both share knee injuries we came back from

The SIERRA CENTURY is the best century ride--hands down. The support is THE BEST, the course is challenging (lots of rollers with 2 big climbs) but interesting, and with little traffic. The ending segment is good--which usually "ruins" many century rides (ie Napa) that bring you back to civilization along busy roads. Not the SIERRA--you stay "in the sticks all day. And while no "OH WOW" scenery like on THE GRIZZLY or the DEATH RIDE (ok, jumping to another catagory of ride), the whole time you are riding among the trees as in the EL DORADO NATIONAL FOREST, or going through quaint towns like SUTTER CREEK and VOLCANO, making it a very scenic ride--probably best balance between nature and man made spots.

Actually I've never done the century course. Prior to 2003 I did the metric (63 miles) course a couple of times. In those days I hated climbing and the metric was plenty challenging with a BIG climb of RAMS HORN GRADE--which I thought must have been the hardest climb in the world; even though I'd hear the better cyclists talk in hushed, reverent tone about SLUG GULCH--which is found around mile 75 of the 100 mile course. They even had a bypass for SLUG GULCH-jeeze. When I finished the metric in 2000 I still had energy and legs and promised myself that I'd do the 100 miler in 2001. 2001 never came--a border collie whose owner let run loose has other ideas. 2001 was spend largely off the bike while rehabbing my shoulder and trying to put off eventual knee surgery--2002 was spent trying to do metrics with my knee tightening up around mile 40.

The beginning of the full century is run over the metric course, and damn, I was jealous in 2002 when some "friends" doing the 100 mile course caught up to me and then went on to do the century. Some in their group were so beat up from the first 60 miles that they abandon and came in with me. (Irony abound here, but would take to long to recount.) Winter 2002-03 I trained as hard as I could but needed a goal that would make me a little bit nervous for motivation. The goal was the SIERRA CENTURY, but to skip over the 100 miler and go right to the 120 mile-double metric option. In this way, for the next two years the SIERRA CENTURY would become the focus of my cycling season. continued....