Monday, January 12, 2004


(October 2, 2004) The Grizzly (North Fork, Ca.) , 100 miles, 10,000' climbing. w/ Big Mike

Doing this one this year in lieu of Lakeport, which has bittersweet memories from last year—last century done with Joann, last time Bert alive and healthy. On Santa Rosa Century saw rider with cool Grizzly jersey and then Big Mike tipped me off that he was thinking about this one. So no Lakeport this year—maybe the Giants wouldn’t have their season end on the same day.

With jet lag now have a bad headcold and have been tired all week. Original plan was to work half day then drive to Oakhurst but can barely keep eyes open on days preceding this weekend, so I take a sick day and whenever I wake up I wake up. Kind of like my training this week—piss poor—just have enough energy to feebly turn cranks. Between cold and jet lag and 10000 and 1 things to do upon returning from Italy I wish this century was next weekend. But it is not, and the 10,000 of climbing I ain’t ready for.

Zonked in bed late on Friday and go to Brentwood at noon to fill up the feedbag and get tons o cough drops. I am definitely not prepared for this. Long long long drive down to Oakhurst.—bad traffic on Highway 99. I thought drive would take just a couple of hours but making a huge loop. Real real real strange driving around and seeing squat “Loves Truck Stop” and other neon strip malls, after seeing quaint ancient Italian villages.

Mariposa has the first thing of interest, I do a quick U turn on roadway to get to Mariposa Roast Coffee Company. Guy just brewed fresh decaf but has none to taste as “no one in mountains drinks decaf.” I buy ½ a pound. Unfortunately he doesn’t have any of the cool plastic logo traveling mugs Donna loves when I buy, but he has a TRAVELING ESPRESSO MUG for $2.50—just what we were looking for in Italy.

I get to motel at 5:15—last minute arrangements were to meet Big Mike at some other motel. I can’t believe I first arrived in town this late-I look off balcony and Big Mike is at my motels parking lot, as he looked for me and asked for directions to his motel across town. If we had planned better we would have driven down together-as it turns out Mike has a good idea to stay over and bike in Yosemite the next day. I’ll probably be collapsed the next day—but Donna also thinks it is a good idea to stay over in my condition, and seeing Yosemite appeals to me, so after the ride I’ll move my stuff crosstown.

Mike and I discuss jersey attire—it was cool that we both wore the same jersey (Sierra 04’) on the Napa ride—and he is going to wear the Big Gritz Grizzly jersey. I have one to, but don’t really like it (the Speed Gritz much nicer in person than it was on line-should have gotten that), plus my theory is that everyone and their mother wears the ride jersey on the specific ride—we have to wear em’ on another Century. In any event I have Mr. Rossi of Siena’s jersey which I like more and more.

We drive down to North Fork—directions form lady at motel who wants to keep me off of curvy roads (she never saw Italy) has me doing a huge “J” and 30 miles later-right at dusk, we get to registration. We missed preregistration by about a half hour but a worker comes out to talk to us, gives us a much more direct route from Oakhurst to North Fork, and gives us a dinner recommendation. Dinner with Mike at Mountain House which I didn’t have great expectations of—they had a lot of pasta dishes, I was ready to rake them over the coals after Italy, but the ravioli was quite good. We plan to meet circa 6:30 at North Fork the next morning and start ride about 7:00.

Supposedly quite cold overnite in the area, and worker told us that though the temperature is a little unseasonably high that it will be real cold at 7500’ at Cold Spring Summit. The elevation map is getting me sicker than I already am—basically we start at 2500’ feet and do a series of 4 serious climbs, each one a little harder. At miles 75 we reach the highest peak—Cold Springs—and then it is straight straight down. So basically, after mile 75 I wouldn’t see Mike.

Take my hourly aspirin, vitamin c, and bottle of water, and then go out and get a large coffee (lady at AM-PM mini mart was nice enough to make me a fresh pot.)

I pull in at 6:30 and parking lot is packed. I park almost blocking entrance—hope no one rear ends me—and luckily a big truck pulls in behind me. It is Mike, and he gets the last spot in the lot.

I had eaten my usual bagel and banana in the motel room, here they had a huge breakfest spread featuring egg/ sausage casserole. But I wasn’t hungry before a climbing ride, where I’m sick, and they have jesus proverbs all around. I start making fun of them and Mike tells me I better stop or something bad will happen. Don’t worry, I tell him, I have the medallion (OK I gave that to Coker, I have a key chain) from the patron saint of cycling, Madonna del Ghisallo. But I still think Mike doesn’t want me to tempt fate. See Jack at the breakfast—would see about a half dozen (Tom and Doug, Tom and Doug, remember their names) Diablo Cyclists, besides Big Mike-O Delta Pedalers.

Ready to leave at 7:00—exactly, I’m ready to leave. Mike is doing whatever he is doing but not getting ready. He is finally set at 7:15 and we start out on an immediate downhill, and he sees that he put on wheel backwards, so his first ½ mile didn’t register.

We are finally rolling and it is a sunny uphill, 20 miles that go from 2600’ to 4500'. I'm dehydrated and drinking like crazy but maintaining a nice pace uphill. At one point some people pass so I kick it up a notch, and repass them. Big Mike flying by everyone also. At one point I crank it up again, and pull into the first rest stop at mile 13 just to refill my water bottles—Big Mike pulls in and he's surprised I had stopped at the first rest stop. “Just refilling bottles” I shout out and off we go continue the climb—I must have a fever—no need to pee, just drink, drink, drink, and finishing for the dozen assorted cough drops I threw in my back pocket.

Short 3 mile downhill that Mike bombs down—at one point he waits for me as Photocrzy guy is hidden behind a turn, just when I halfassed pulled on my arm warmers. Then the second climb from mile 23 to 28, from 4500’ to 5250', much easier than the first. On this stretch I’m cranking like crazy, only passed by two guys in racing club jersey, and before I know it I see sign for rest stop ahead. Right behind sign is a clearing and an UNBELIEVABLE lookout to the Sierra Nevada mountain range. This may be best dramatic scenery on ride—or at least tied for seeing ocean stretch on Tour of the Unknown Coast. I double back and wait for Mike as he brought along an Instamatic camera. We get off the bike and take a few photos—the rest stop is only ½ mile down the road, also on the overlook side, and same great view.
Big Mike and me by the scenic overlook near the 2nd rest stop--great view in the background.

The 27 mile vista rest stop is also the lunch stop for people doing the 100k route (out and back) so they have sushi (a first) and make your own turkey or ham sandwiches (good deli.) Also unique is that they only have water in the jugs, but 3 different types of sports powder where you mix your own. A real good idea.

Next segment is a long downhill, punctuated by a tiny climb (thank god) before the 40 mile rest stop. Mike cranks it into high gear, he is chased by a guy in a swiss jersey, and I just manage to ride 100 feet in the back watching the swiss guy chase Mike. At one point it looked like it was getting close, but then Mike took off. I didn’t feel that comfortable even on the flat twisty parts—either wasn’t used to my bike after riding Coppi in Italy, or clogged ear was throwing off my equilibrium. On rolling uphill I stand and crank past Magus Backstrum, get to rest stop close behind Mike.

To get us to 100 miles there is an uphill out and back-7 miles up and then 7 miles down. At rest stop, which we’ll see again at mile 55, young girls joking they wish they had music—older workers glad there isn’t any. This rest stop is situated between the trees in the forest—pretty cool. Weather holding up-sun is out but very comfortable.

I take off one jersey, roll up my knicker legs, and start the climb from 4400’ to 6500’. It isn’t hard-don’t remember any steep grades, and Mike and I riding together. No one passing, we passed lots of cyclists (girl on Lightspeed—I suddenly remembered that the bike I am interested in is called “the Siena”) but a few people already coming downhill (we did see some people start when we pulled in at 6:30.) Granite tailings on the road—wonderful—will even get me to go down slower. When we reach the 7 mile turnaround Mike wants to keep going to get back the ½ mile I have on him, and to see where the top is—we ride another mile or so past the turnaround until the road goes down, but no real great view.

Going down is a straight shot, Mike is long gone. One guy flew by me near the end of the downhill section, so on the flat part I cranked past him.

Rest stop was unbelievable, sat in a chair behind the food table and could have gone right to sleep and been happy. Under a stand of trees, well off the road. More sushi (I finally had a piece,) and some little mini-pastries, the size of a quarter and real sweet; plus the make your own sandwiches, sports drinks etc. No porta-potties on this ride—we had to ride in and use camping toilets 1/8 mile inland. Jack pulled in, and later Doug who talked about this ride alot also pulled in. While I could have sat in the clearing all day, I was ready to ride, Mike really wanted to sit in the clearing all day. We probably spent over 30 minutes here, and everything tightened up. Also felt like I was losing my voice. Best rest stop on any ride is on THE GRIZZLY.

The rest stop before THE GRIZZLY CLIMB was supposed to be at mile 62, but we hit it just around the bend at mile 60. The Grizzly Climb is 14 miles, 4400’ to 7400’—kinda like Mt Diablo. Most of the ride along a narrow country road with no cars on it (looked a little like Ebbetts)—in fact we may have seen a dozen cars all day, with half being sag cars or sag motorcycles.

Sun was out but not that warm when we started, and Mike said that he hoped it rained a little. Huh. After my blasphemy at breakfast the god of weather was bound to listen to Mike over me. But it was nice and sunny.

My legs were definitely getting tight—I couldn’t stand as much as I wanted to as I was out of breath too quickly. Also, stupidly my snot rag was buried beneath all the clothes that I had stuffed in my jersey pockets. Three young guys came along and were flying—usually I’d try to grab their wheel for awhile but wasn’t even tempted to try now.

Unlike the earlier climbs this one had a few steep sections. Over one hairpin I stood and powered over it, but a steep section began right away. Oh fuck, after not going into the x32 for any ride since Slug Gulch/ Sierra I went into it. Never at risk of burning out like on Slug Gulch after dad died, but the x32 was welcome—though I wouldn’t have it much longer. No more calling out “hi” (I had answered one "hi" with a "bungerouno" earlier in the day) as I now passed quietly.

I figure we were climbing northwest, Yosemite and the mountains were to the northeast, and suddenly the sky got darker, thunder was heard off to the right, and it started sprinkling. Warm enough where I wasn’t going to stop to put on my vest, and never heavy enough where glasses got wet, but Mike got his wish—it was drizzling. Rolled knicker legs down, steep sections punctuated by short—very short-straightaways where I’d yell at Mike for giving us rain. Not to many cyclists on the road, we were ahead of most people, and when the steepness of the climb picked up, my legs were again burning, I put my head down, got into the zone, and pedaled to the theme music from the “Tour de Flanders DVD playing in my head.” At one point left the back road we were on and the end of the climb was on a main road.

Around a turn, under darkened skys and with a chill in the air, got to mile 74 rest stop at the highest point of the ride. If one at mile 27 was unexpectedly good, this one was disappointing—I had thought that there would be a great panoramic view from 7400’ feet, while all we could see were the circle of trees around us and the road.

Only one regular bathroom so small line—old lady from Berkley Bicycle Club who rode a tandem with “a young guy” in front of me. Mike pulled in and we did the same thing, put on all the clothes we had. Grabbed some bananas and bread, and set out for 25 mile downhill from 7400’ to 2600’—expecting to freeze.

Actually started with an uphill roller so I powered over this and tried to start out fast---knowing that Mike would eventually zoom past me but would rather him do it at mile 90 than 80. Was freezing at the beginning, but within 5 km the sun was out and it was getting warm. Mike and a dozen other riders zoomed past me on the downhill, and I didn’t expect to see Mike again.

Actually I misread map—steep downhill ended at mile 84 and ride levels out along Bass Lake. Any chance of me regrouping with Mike ended when I stopped and pulled off my vest and arm warmers—I’d stop again and pull of 2nd jersey as it was again over 80 degrees. The road was real rough—reminded me if the road around Lakeport. Guy from Fresno Bike club waited for me the 2nd time I stopped, I had been pulling him since the terrain became flat. They use this area for a training ride and he’d tell me what was coming up. At mile 90 switched with him, and I was more tired than usual on a century and barely hanging on when he pulled.

Then it happened—at mile 95 there was a girl up the road and a medium sized dog running after her and barking. Dog kept up with her nicely and she was going at a pretty good clip. I put on my brakes and slowed down—trying to figure out how to pass the dog, and girl, and not have dog that I'm deathly afraid of take an interest in me. Dog looked like he was ready to cut her wheel or nip at her legs.

All of a sudden there was an uphill roller, and dog was still chasing the girl. I slammed into high gear, blew past girl, and quickly dropped Fresno Bike guy. Adrenaline rush.
Downhill then final climb uphill to parking lot—about 2 minutes before Fresno guy. Mike already changing

Felt better-downhill walk to area w/ BBQ meal inside. Saw Jack and Steve and other Diablo Cyclists. Food was good. Luckily stayed over to see Yosemite the next day—then long long long drive home.

Below-some photos of Yosemite including nice one Big Mike took through the wheel of the bike--he was always going for the artsy effect while riding. After touring Yosemite we took a bike ride through the Yosemite Valley.

Favorite Rides of the Year

7-MONTEPULCIANO (best destination but a relatively short bike ride)
9-SANTA ROSA (Wine Country)

Best view is sudden view of the Ocean on THE TOUR OF THE UNKNOWN COAST. Best view at rest stop and best rest stop on THE GRIZZLY. Most interesting place to get off the bike MONTEPULCIANO.

2004-7326 miles, 3460 trainer minutes

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