Note-Ward Industries saved half of this original post (up to seeing Ish at lunch) when Yahoo Geocities went belly up. The last part of the post will eventually be recreated from emails and faulty memory.
After two hard 200 mile races looked forward to this ride. Not timed so only goal was to finish at 7:30, right before it got dark, and to keep Diablo Cyclist group together, Failed on both items.
As noted earlier dog bite hindered my training--and finally, on Wednesday nite before ride, when I was supposed to be tapering, I went balls out on climb up Diablo and on sprint down Danville Blvd. After a few weeks of riding on a sore ankle, worrying about rabies etc. it felt good to cut loose. And now not worried at all about 200 mile distance.
Lots of the usual doubles crew weren't going to be doing this ride--either vacationing or got their 3 doubles in. One-three and five are the magic doubles numbers. Some people do one double, Davis, hate it and don't do another. Others go for 3--to earn "California Triple Crown" status and yellow jersey. The next level is 5-where you earn placement in the "1000 mile club" and get a white jersey that looks like part of an Admiral Dewey Dress uniform. So I was going (along with Jack) for our 4th, and last one of the year. Ironically, my earlier goal had been to do 3 doubles to earn the yellow jersey--but after the guy in the yellow jersey came up the wrong side of Ebbetts, and the rides had become fun and not a struggle--I didn't care about the jersey any more.
Weather turned unseasonable cool the week before Knoxville, and forecasts predicted 40 degrees through Napa in early morning, and nothing more than 70 degrees in the afternoon by Lower Lake and Lake Bereyessa. It turned out to be a little warmer than predicted, but not by much.
I went for a test ride at night with my portable Cateye's that throw out 90 and 1000 candlepower--the same lights I couldn't see dookie with at the beginning of Mt Tam. Riding around suburban subdivisions still could barely see. As an alternative I have an old unreliable Niterider that takes up a water bottle holder and craps out suddenly after 45-75 minutes (bright bright 10w white changes to quick yellow fade to nada). As we were going to be riding for an hour in the dark in the morning, and who know for how long at night--I went out the day before and got a new Niterider that you can knock up to 15w or down to 6w, and it tells you how long your top tube battery had. Guess I will have to do Devil Mountain Double next year to justify the expense.
Finally staying at nice/ inexpensive motel in Vacaville-unfortunately in the outlet (useless stuff) factory store area. When I set up for my test ride my Zero Gravity brakes were crapping out. I did my best to fix them, got them barely workable, and headed toward a listed bike store that took me away from suburbia and towards downtown. In a nice old 4 block downtown found Ray's Bicycles--where co owner Chris did a quick brake repair and gave me a bicycle map of the area which allowed me to take back streets and a great trail to Pena Adobe Park--where we'd check in later in the day and start the ride tomorrow morning. Saw Diablo Cyclist member and doubles vet Jeanie unload a tandem she was testing for tomorrow. Later met California Mike and Doug in downtown Vacaville where we went back to Ray's Bikes to buy some stuff (damn-beautiful cogset mobile wasn't for sale.) Some of the stained glass windows up high with bike themes reminded me of the Madonna Del Ghisallo Cycling Church--wow, it's been a year since the surreal trip to Italy.
Shoulda brought camera on this ride but didn't. This taken day before in Ray's Bicycle in Vacaville; bicycle themed stained glass reminiscent of Madonna di GhiselloChurch, patron saint of cycling church in Lake Como, Italy--which ironically I was at a year ago.
This marked the third great cycling year in a row, but the first absent associated bullshit and angst. Have Diablo Cyclists and especially our "bonus mile" club to thank for so much enjoyable riding--though I ride better (more competitive) when I'm pissed. Dinner was at a good pasta house in downtown Vacaville--unfortunately I had the same thing Doug (of long trips to the outhouse) had which would guarantee me stomach problems the next day.
Low key checkin Friday night; like most of the doubles you just show up and grab your packet with your number and get to sleep. As only 200-250 crazy people (more for Davis) do these events, no vendors or checkin festivities. Back to motel, and without my usual doubles room mate flipping through old movies it was too damn quiet. Saw part of Ali's title fight against Patterson in 1965, --damn was he fast, and read in the motel lounge, but was quickly asleep at 11pm until the 3:45 wake up call. Outside was warmer than expected, quick drive down to Pena Adobe Park which was also warm, so warm in fact that Doug decided against taking the jacket he had planned on wearing. . No mass start for this ride--many people already taking off. Knowing that there would be a clothes drop at rest stop 1 and that we'd be riding in the dark for an hour I still took glove liners and two vests. Jack, who had driven up from home, was at the start-ready to get going at 5:30 and 0 seconds. Doug had to go to the rest room at the last minute. It is 5:34 and Jack was raring to go. Keeping this group together may be harder than I thought. (At Davis, Jack decided to blow rest stop 1 off so he could jump on a tandem train while Doug got in a long restroom line--which would start the ever increasing time gap throughout the day. Later, when California Mike, who rode with Doug, asked me how much time we spent at the lunch stop, I yelled "lunch stop, what lunch stop, Jack didn't let us take lunch...") But a 2nd ride description said "most of the climbing is in the morning" I was hoping we could 4 man the 2nd half of the course while finishing right before dark..
Beginning of ride is through Vacaville subdivisions. Mike, Doug and Jack were wisely using low power lights as the full moon, streetlights and other riders w/ lights didn’t necessitate a powerful light. I took my new high power light with me. Though mostly (thank buddha) uphill I was still wary of nighttime riding and not setting any kind of pace. Noticed that while some riders were using minimal lights, some riders looked like they stole the light towers from Pac Bell Park.
Light coming up and suddenly ride is so much better as you can see. First I saw that I never switched on my odometer. Then Jack saw me riding about 2 feet from the yellow line and kept wanting to know "why I was riding in the middle of the road." Uh--goatheads all along shoulder and no cars out at 6:45am. Later in the day California Mike riding in middle of the road--told him he's lucky that Jack not around to see this.
Soon hit the Mt George climb and Jack took the lead which was fine as this would help us stay together. Mike is fast on the descents but tends to get sawed off on the climbs, and I am the fastest climber but the worst descended. Jack and Doug good all rounders-with Jack having incredible stamina--seemingly never getting tired. Weather is good--until the downhill into Napa Valley which is encased in fog. Somehow we lost Doug on the climb, which wasn't noticed at first as on the descent we had to pay close attention to the road through fog covered glasses. Feet cold, had to go to bathroom badly, dew on arm warmers, luckily brought glove inserts, too cold to stop--Jack, Mike and I pacelined up Silverado Trail. One partial break in the clouds where hot air balloons float 50' over vineyards, but soon back in the fog. Rest Stop 1-Napa Ecological Reserve-mile 37-@ 15 minutes at rest stop, at 7:45. Did I mention that I have to go to the bathroom.
Wasn't keeping close track of time at rest stop but it was set up poorly in a vacant field. Only two outhouses for mass of riders with two distinct lines (usually large group arrive together at 1st rest stop), line I got on didn't move for 5 minutes. (Banks in the 1960's got rid of separate lines for each window, why weren't outhouses together w/ one line for both.) I got off line to grab some food and went on the other outhouse line as Doug was pulling in--and Jack anise to leave, I'm not nearly ready. Jack and Mike take off--I leave about 5 minutes after them after grabbing some carbs, endurolites and hammergel, and getting rid of lights. When I'm ready to go Doug still taking care of business, and I have to leave NOW if I want to ride back to Jack and Mike.. So much for keeping group together.
Next 12 miles flattest part of ride along Highway 29 and Silverado Trail. I'm hammering and passing a few lone riders, but no pacelines to latch on to or come through. Difference between timed events and this--no urgency among many riders. I picture Mike and Jack riding a 2 man and putting more time between them and me. Soon hit 8 mile climb of Howell Mountain Road, I figure I am 7 minutes behind Jack and Mike. I hammer up climb as here is where I can catch up to them--passing scores of riders. Pass one Grizzly Peak Cyclist who says two Diablo Cyclists passed him about 5 minutes ago--"isn't one of them Jack." (Everyone knows Jack) He asks me where our fixed gear contingent is--told him "the crazy people" are not on this ride. (Later at a rest stop woman, seeing my Diablo Cyclist jersey, would ask me if I was riding a regular bike or a fixed gear.) Diablo Cyclists have a reputation...
Didn't catch up to Mike or Jack on uphill, and now 2 mile sweeping downhill which wasn't bad--I took it well and wasn't repassed by anyone. On Pope Valley Road think I spot a Diablo Cyclist jersey in the distance, hammer and catch up to Mike, and we ride in together towards #2-Knoxville Road/ Lake Berryessa. Told him that we should have all left last rest stop together and could have done a 4 man paceline and stuck together, but in reality course too hilly for that now. Now sun is out and getting really warm--and of course I have to go to the bathroom.
Get to rest stop #2, at mile 71, at 10:15. When we leave this rest stop it will be around 300 minutes since we first started, at this rate we'll finish the ride around 7:35--a few minutes after darkness. But the course supposedly gets easier. Wound up staying here for about 20 minutes.
Two pleasant surprises at the rest stop. I call out my number to checkin and lady says "I already have you down Jay." It is Veronica, old time Delta Pedaler member who usually rides a tandem with husband Tom, who was also working at the rest stop. I hadn't seen them since I drafted off their tandem for half of the Holstein in 2003. They were seemingly the two people who loved riding the most and did their own thing, and were immune from the infighting and chicanery of the Delta Pedalers. Where the heck has the time gone? Other pleasant surprise was that this was ANOTHER clothes drop off--and I didn't relish the prospect of riding around with pockets filled with glove inserts, arm warmers and two vests. Kept one vest and was real happy to get rid of the rest.
Oh the downside--ONE f'n bathroom with another long line. Many people joked on line that we have to move fast when we are in there--shit, I was ready to pull out a newspaper and sit around for 10 minutes. But after loooong wait hustled in and out and planned to stop again at 1st gas station or winery I saw.
Jack ready so he takes off, Mike follows. I am getting some HEED scooped by workers by funnel, wolf down a Cliff Bar and then plan to hammer to get back to Jack and Mike. As Doug last person to this rest stop he is again not ready to leave.
We were almost immediately on Knoxville Road, a 32 mile stretch that goes (slightly) uphill towards Lower Lake. Great plan I had to catch a bathroom along the way--unfortunately the whole road is so desolate that there is NOTHING on the road except the Homestake Mine. For a desolate road it is nicely paved (unlike the Geysers) except for the occasional dip in the road that is supposedly flooded in the winter.
Catch up to Mike and then Jack--who hints that we better ride at a faster clip if we want to get in before nightfall. But I don't care--I feel so f'n bloated I'm going to stop at the first bathroom I see. Meanwhile riding hard, Jack and I playing tag with one of the many riders wearing a yellow triple crown jersey (were YOU the person riding up the wrong side of Ebbetts???) We are zooming past lots of riders when Jack flats--I make the decision to keep going so I can stop at the bathroom that doesn't exist (maybe at the water stop along the road.) I had just met Jeanie, an old time Diablo Cyclist and veteran of doing speedy 200's, the week before and she comes through on the back of a tandem with 4-5 cyclists in her draft. But then the road gets a little steeper and I go forward, and one guy comes with me for the remaining climb--past the water stop with NO outhouse and the Homestake Mine with the cheesy entrance sign, heck, almost no one ever sees it.
At water stop dumped one bottle of HEED--getting sick of it and noticed my stomach reacting to it, and filled up with water. Much better--but 14 remaining miles to lunch stop was oh so painful. Passed lady in yellow jersey who yelled out "don't you say hello." It is Kitty, triple crown stage winner and who I rode with for the first time a week ago. But I chided her for NOT wearing a Diablo Cyclist jersey--"how am I supposed to recognize you when I pass." Now just dreaming of Lower Lake Lunch stop with lots of porta potties.
Pull into #-3 Lower Lake Lunch Stop, mile 108, at 12:59. In retrospect, with a 20 minute lunch, now running to 8pm. But no other Diablo Cyclists in yet so plan to take my time. But once again THERE IS JUST ONE F'N TOILET, and a long line.
On the plus size RAAM finisher Ish and wife Nonnie giving free massages and no one at Nonnie's table. Why not. I must have gotten a 15-20 minute massage. Nonnie noticed bandage on ankle, she asked and told her it was from dog bite. Ish laughed "You don't have much luck with dogs." He remembered when I flipped over dog in 2001.
Felt good—saw that Jack was already in, didn’t see Mike or Doug. They came in a little later and Doug went over for a quick massage, then they went over to eat, with Jack ready to go. I planned to hit the Lower Lake bathroom, wanted to fill bottles and didn’t need to rush, so I told Jack to go ahead, and told Mike/ Doug they’d probably catch up to me as I’m going to make frequent stops along the way. So after a half hour I was off.
When left Lower Lake didn’t have to stop at gas station. Last year on the classic from Pope valley to Lower Lake and back I had done this route. Starts off as a climb out of Lower Lake and here I passed a few riders. But all of a sudden my right arch was hurting, had to go to the bathroom, was thirsty, and was tired. A few riders passed me on the bumpy/ rough Big Canyon Road, where you had too stay alert to miss the frequent bumps. All of a sudden stomach, energy level and foot bugging me—my odometer was off but figured not to far from Middletown—the midpoint where I stopped on my solo ride last year.
One thing to mention about the course, marked really well by the Quackcyclists and many roads were straight through with minimal turns—17 segments 4 miles of more. Suddenly in Middletown and stopped at gas station/ mini market.
As no lock started bring bike back to bathrooms with me but guy at counter told me to leave it up front, he’d watch it. Then of course men’s room was taken, but women’s was not. One stall restroom-ridiculous when they designate sexes on it so I went in to women’s. Finally, no line, as long as I want, clean restroom……Two minutes later a knock on the door and a jiggle of the lock. I didn’t answer and came out a few minutes later. Three women waiting for bathroom—dirty looks.
Then I bought a Diet Coke and pulled out a Cliff bar and sat around inside with shoes off eating it. Was there for about 20-30 minutes, figured Mike/ Doug now would be close.
Started off solo but with renewed energy for last 5 miles on Butts Canyon Road. Caught up with a guy—Mr Doubles and women. They weren’t motoring but I got ion their draft for about a mile and then pulled at an easy 15-16 while we talked about Mt Shasta ride. Thing guy was surprised that this was my first year of doing multiple doubles. Was going to now try Sustained Energy, but without knowing my predicament Mr Double said that for people new to SE they sometimes get gas. Oh—no thanks. At rest stop woman wanted d to know when we’d be leaving, but I intended to quicken the pace and was going to try to come in before dark—even with 15-20 minute massage lunch and 20-30 minute Middletown stop. (Rest stop #4-Pelican Lake-132 mile-3:20-55 minutes behind schedule) Even though almost an hour behind schedule the terrain was supposed to get easier. Ha.
Doug of Nevada was riding sag and asked him if he saw Mike/ Doug. Said he just came from other side of Middletown and they were on the road with a sag wagon. Oh crap. Ten-fifteen miles behind, and stopped with a mechanical. Long rest stop at Middletown had not really gotten them much closer and I’d now have to hustle to make it back by nightfall. Probably got out of this rest stop close to 10 minutes—fastest stop all day.
Instead of flat were no on long rollers on Butts Canyon Road. Usually riding in some gully, where might get hit by a tricky wind which would slow the downhill. But more likely got support from a strong tailwind, and was doing uphills at 15+. One guy flew by me, and I got on his wheel, and we traded pulls, ramping up some of the uphills to 20+--though there were enough long uphills without a wind assist that dropped speeds top 8. We seemingly flew into Rest stop #5-Lake Hennessey-Pope Valley Road-mile 157-4:55, still 54 minutes behind.
Foot was hurting again so I took some time, maybe 15 minutes, sitting in chair, rubbing foot, with diet coke and cookie. Told rest stop worker that was sick of HEED, would now be only on water—she wanted to know if I wanted a shake which they had in cooler. Afraid that stomach may revolt I declined, but most workers were really nice though without the insane enthusiasm of the Terrible Two, but more organized than the Mt Tam Double.
At stop girl resting, upon seeing Diablo Cyclist jersey. wanted to know if I was riding fixed gear. We also talked about Strawberry Fields. But then time to leave for rest of easy part of course.
About a dozen folks at rest stop, and lots of pick up bags there, but for next 28 miles on Highway 128 may have passed 1 rider—never saw anyone else in far distance or far behind. In fact, when not worried about boat traffic zooming by on road with narrow-disappearing shoulder, or worried about endless uphill which slowed speed to crawl, worried that I was lost badly. At one point pulled over and took a whiz, and put on backlite in twilight, and though I may see a cyclist come up. No one. Sag wagons which were numerous earlier in the day were now nonexistent. So I just kept going—climbing, climbing. I knew 27 miles to final rest stop where my lights were—and if I was going correctly should get there by 7:00. Damn, would only have about 15 minutes of daylight riding.
Hit rest stop 6-Pleasant valley Road at 7:02. Innocuous rest stop at the side of a store where I found my two bags among not that many that remained. I still didn’t remember my number. I asked worker who told me that half the riders had come through. Only 13 miles remained-found out it was a straight road (good), slightly uphill, but was a farm road with no streetlights. Ah shit—but at least new Niterider had ½ its power still stored-so could easily ride 15 minutes at 6 watts in twilight and then turn on 10-15 watts for last ½ hour. Grabbed a power bar and was off—first time I didn’t have to use the can all day. Still warm-pockets stuffed with extra clothes from the morning (should have sent them back to last stop) except for arm warmers.
Road went slightly up and nice stand of trees and rural houses on each side—dusk has solidly arrived. Figured I’d be riding ½ hour in the dark—but with no turns felt OK. Forgot that on the map Pleasant Valley Road looks like a major suburban thoroughfare on the west side of Vacaville. Forgot that the dreaded Mix Canyon Road intersects it,. Forgot that some years there is a Vaca Valley Climbing loop offered. Now I was intent on staring at the edge of the road to make sure I didn’t slip off the shoulder on a sudden downhill turn, but none was forthcoming.
Oh yeah, my odometer was out.—so no idea how fast I was going or how close I was to the end. Darkness hit and I was traveling about 15mph on the slight uphill, once again NO ONE up or down the road. Time just seemed to drag. All of a sudden a whirl came by, a guy standing on pedals and hammering. Shit—I might as well follow and I did. I think guy, Mark A? from Grizzly peak Cyclists (Jack knew him, of course) though he’d blast by me, when he couldn’t pace me off his wheel I went to the front and we exchanged pulls. Speed now about 20 and much easier either following someone light or having another headlight illuminate the road. Two or three intersection when I’d yell out straight and Mark would yell back yeah—he doesn’t know my penchant fro getting lots. Then sudden left turn-Mark hammers and I follow over Highway 80 boom—we’re back.
No rousing reception like the Terrible Two or adrenaline rush from catching riders at Mt Tam. Jack waiting in street clothes and wondered how I was doing. Felt great-told him I had stayed at Middletown to use bathroom and then see if Doug/ Mike would regroup. Jack had come in at 7:30—in retrospect I should have ridden with him—but then would have forgone massage. Jack said he also didn’t see many riders, just passed anyone he could.
Jack left and I waited for Doug/ Mike to come in. Chewy chicken but two great pasta salads and good salad. Most folks knew each other—many wearing their “triple” jersey or talking about Furnace Creek. Nice incestuous group who really love these 200 milers. This one had great scenery and was challenging but disappointed didn’t ride as a group—though now recognize that you can only ride as a group on 100 milers where there are no time constraints. But letdown as this event wasn’t timed so no sense of urgency. And no pushing to the limit. I think next year I’ll focus on 100 milers for fun and 200 milers for time.
Jack and Doug come in about 8:50, with woman from Sacto that Mike is trying to set Doug up with until they find out she’s married. But they were ecstatic—Doug’s 3rd and Mike’s 5th. Now I’m pissed that I didn’t do a 5th ride—don’t want the yellow jersey and though the white one (for 5) looks like an admirals dress whites…oh what the hell, having 4 is cool. And after all the TT jersey had father time and was orange and black, and I’m only getting orange and black jerseys or ones with skeletons or devils on them. ,