Saturday, June 25, 2005

Terrible Two 2005

(June 25, 2005) Terrible Twos, start w/ Domo Tom, Steve and Jack, finish with Jack, 208 miles (special edition with 10 bonus miles), 16,480' climbing, 14.8 mph, 5:30-8:43, 82 of 227 riders

As didn’t want to do DMD where it gets dark around 7:00—knew I’d have to do this one if going for Triple Crown.

Known for heat on the afternoon climbs, but weather report for 60’s and 70’s with morning fog. One jersey, vest and arm warmers, and buff was fine—but had to keep stopping and put on vest throughout the day. Often cold, never freezing. Right calf/ knee got tight. Weather kept changing.

Trinity Climb-Overcast & fog up and down
Geyers Sun on climb-overcast and cool on downhill
Skaggs-Sun on climb-cool on downhill
Stewart Point-Partial sun on climb-cool on coast
Coast-Overcast cool but not freezing, tailwind
Ft Ross-Overcast but steaming warm

Seems that each year there is a ride I do that makes me a little nervous—which is good motivation for training and then get preoccupied with trying to figure out how I’ll do ride in reasonable time. This year the ride to make me nervous was the Terrible Two—though I didn’t get nervous enough to lose that last 5-7 lbs I’ve been carrying. Truth be told, the climbing-16,000 feet—didn’t worry me, it was the 208 miles of this original edition. After all, I had finished Davis twice feeling like crap and barely hanging on, and Davis is the EASY double while this was one of the two hardest.

To prepare I read half dozen Terrible Two web ride accounts from the web—unfortunately half the stories ended in a DNF. Downloaded and studied an elevation chart profile of the course which showed 8 relatively short (2-4 miles) but steep (many sections of 20%) climbs. As wanted to finish course by 9:00—right by nightfall, I came up with a pace calculator based on the stories and elevation profile. Some of the “universal truths”—the 2nd half of the ride much harder than the first (1st 109 miles, 7500’ climbing, 2nd 91 miles 9000’ climbing), with the downhills e universally treacherous (windy, pothole marked, gravel laden.) The Skaggs climb was often over 100 degrees with the Coast very very cool. And as "luck” would have it—for the 30th anniversary of the ride the organizers were going back to the original route—which added 11 hilly miles (“adding appx 45 minutes”) to the course. (Note: they remeasured the course and discovered the regular route was only 197 miles—not 200.) Finally, everyone universally took a page out of Jack’s textbook and said to hustle in and out of the 6 rest stops en route--the first being at mile 50!

Luckily I like climbing and hot weather—though most Diablo Cyclists looked a me like I am crazy and didn’t know what I was wishing for. The saving grace was June, who is a super climber while tentative on the downhills—she said she didn’t like Davis, found it hard, while she had a great time on the Terrible Two.

So I figured out that to finish by 9:00, before nitefall and an hour before the coveted free tee shirt deadline, the prevailing wisdom would be to conserve energy to the lunch stop, and get there by 12:50. And spend less than 90 minutes total at all rest stops.

The 4 big climbs of the Terrible Two. TRINITY (3.2 miles, 8% average) is fairly steady with some steep sections that gets your from the Sonoma Valley to the Napa Valley--the downhill is fast, wide open, curvy and damp. GEYSERS climb is also fairly steady--now warm, with a double summit. Probably my favorite--the downhill sucks over a road under ill repair. Right after lunch is the longest climb of the day, SKAGGS--which is hot, steep, and also double summited. The worse is FT. ROSS--only 2.5 (10.5% average grade) miles but after 170 miles, its uniformly steep and seems impossible. Graphs from Santa Rosa Cycling Club website.

Other training included some epic rides. Week after Sierra Century did a 100 miler with Jack and Big Mike, then next day went back to Gold Country and did my own Terrible 2 with 3 epic climbs—including Charleston Grade. Then I came in first on Wednesday night Ranger Station slugfest, first on Diablo Cyclist ride with bonus miles on Morgan, and next day 2nd on flat Diablo Cyclist ride on rollers with 4 racers and two triathletes and Big Mike. I was happy as was doing long miles at speed, and seemingly ready for 200 miles of hell.

Weather report called for patchy clouds with morning fog and partial clearing with 60’s-70’s. So much for an Indian Summer Terrible Two. But I didn’t want to bring tons of clothes to weigh down my pockets while climbing, my exercise induced asthma would flare up if cool and damp until it hit the magical 70’s (on Thursday it was less than 70 Santa Rosa until close to noon), and I tighten up when cool and feel real loose when warm. Of course I rather it be in the 80’s than 100’s, but given a choice I rather it be 100 than in the low 60’s—but it looked like 60’s would be the call of the day.

The day before got to expensive crappy motel (Ramada-Ronhart park)—thanks NASCAR--whose scores of fans jacked up motel prices. . Cambria Bike shop used to be by motel, now moved to other side of tow. Took a ride from motel to Willowside School to loosen up—20 mile roundtrip was horrible, narrow country roads jam packed with cars. Roads had no shoulder or a shoulder/ bike lane that would suddenly end. For once riding near the venue was worse than riding in East Country.

Was going to eat at Tuscany Italian restaurant but got email from Steve Berry a few days before that said he would probably eat at Mary’s Pizza Shack. Niceness of Diablo Cyclists have slowly moved me away from “loner” mode after Pumpkincycle chicanery, so I contacted Tom, Jack and Steve re dinner palns—first two coming up later in the day. Steve was already eating but invited me over. I hardly ride with him but he has sent some very informative emails in the past and rides with an ACL brace which I can relate to.—wasn't sure I would recognize him at restaurant. But found restaurant and Steve was looking out for me, he was eating with a guy who regularly does 800 mile brevets and would race the course the next day. Steve gave me lots of encouragement and said I’d do fine, he said it with so much conviction I almost believed him. 'But but but—if I suddenly collapse like I did in Davis…' was always in the back of my mind.

Back at tiny motel (world's smallest room for 2 people) met up with Tom who brought his Seven instead of a vintage steel bike—he was going as light as possible for this one. Tom is about equal to me on the climbs (better on the short ones, less so on the long ones) , much much better on the downhills, and probably a little quicker on the flats. I have more endurance. In short a real good rider, and he DNF last year.

Only woke up once, didn’t need the MP3 player and got almost 5 ½ solid hours of sleep.
Over to the Willowside school at 4:50 which was already packed with riders. Between getting number pinned onto jersey, depositing lights for designated rest stop (either #5-Ft Ross or #6-Monte Rio; I was living brave and had them sent to Monte Rio, as people said you don’t want to climb Ft Ross with added weight and if you need lights leaving Ft Ross, with 28 miles to go, you will miss 10pm cutoff for DNF (this year 11pm with added miles, but who wants to ride country roads for 2 hours at night.) At 5:10 some people in lot said :10 minutes to THE SPEECH.” I went over at 5:25 and was way in the back of a huge pack of cyclists—could hardly hear organizer. He was talking about mile neutral lead out through town, to be careful on descents, and how course was re measured for this edition and they found out that they were 4 miles off. Great the course was just 7 miles longer than usual. Later Jack told me that the error was at the beginning, so it was 11 miles longer—in the past riders did 197 miles—not 200.

Start in huge pack with many riders not holding a great line. Some riders jumping in oncoming traffic lane and then jumping back in at last minute when they pass a few riders. I am tempted to be aggressive and move up a few riders at a time, and to move up on small rollers out of Santa Rosa, but I keep reminding myself that this is not a 48 mile race, this is not “won” in the first half, my goal is not to beat anyone (except Jag-wire Jeff's first TT time) but just finish while not being half dead, I see Steve up ahead but about a dozen riders between him and me and I’m taking the passive approach, Jack looks real determined and in his own zone, Tom and I bsing while I watch for the speed up and slow down, speed up and slow down and FULL STOP. The pace car is supposed to be tripping lights but we hit a few red ones along the way.

Soon out of Santa Rosa and mob still as tight and unruly as before. Some guys aggressively ride though, and on Bennett Valley uphill rollers I start moving up slowly. One or two steep sections and then there is a gradual breakup. Steve and Tom right in front in a paceline and I’m about 15 seconds behind chasing by myself. Not a good move for conserving energy but we’re not going that fast and a tailwind. All of a sudden Steve’s group goes one way, some riders behind them yell wrong way and they take the other side of the fork. Then boom-we hit Trinity Grade, I shift and click-click-click-drop my chain and can’t recover. Stop-put chain back on but am on a 10%+ grade, have to go downhill ('what is he doing?' other riders probably wonder) so I can get to a flat section and clip in.

Start going up but chain drop has unnerved me and the air is thick with fog, not the greatest for my exercise induced asthma. I went by lots of riders but not really digging in, a few riders passed me on the climb and thinking back to the Death Ride repeated the mantra-“ride at your own pace-ride at your own pace.” A few times took deep breaths and my glasses steamed up.

Passed one of the Fighting Bobas, fun group race team from last year's Tour of Unknown Coast with “How Ya Doing” plastered on their butt. This years slogan on butt “What's Not to Like.”

Seemingly finished the 3.2 mile Trinity Grade (8% average, max 15%) unscathed but set no time record up it. In any event 1 of the big four climbs done, this was easy. Now remembered it was twisty and fast down to the Napa Valley and the description was spot on. And as an added bonus it was super foggy outside and couldn’t see 50’ in front. A few guys came by on the downhill but I was seemingly in no mans land—the racers/ climbers had already gone and I was at the head of the 2nd tier riders. I kept riding the brakes, listening to the squeak from the wet brake pads hit the wet rims.

Then found out what Terrible Two is about. At start there are lots of surly riders-preoccupied with finishing, mass start. But en route you forge alliances, seemingly with the same people you will see over and over and over. On Hwy 29 I hooked up with 3 riders and we rode hard, each sharing the pacemaking, until we caught up to a large paceline that had been about ¼ mile in front of us. We latched on right before the Silverado Trail turn, and after we hooked on we were content to sit in the back.. A guy named “Norris” (late found out he's the Campy Only guy) and two guys in Death Ride jerseys (one the Blue Lakes jersey) did most of the pulling, some times the yo- yo on the back was so bad I’d go onto the road to slow down, be tempted to go to the front but remembered to “conserve energy.” One time a guy with a Quickstep kit went to the front and picked up the pace but he was a rarity and promptly he came back in line. Hit rest stop #1-Calistorga (mile 51) at 8:23, 17.1 mph average. +17 ahead of my planned 9pm pace.

Rest stop impressive, you call out number, workers cheer you on. Premeasured endurolights and tums, packets and big jars of Hammergel. Mini cliff bars and usual centuy food. Only disappointment that no Cytomax (ha-reading this years later), only Gatorade and Hammer Nutrition products—all which warn you that if you switch from them to a simple sugar product during a ride terrible things can occur. So if you get sick of HEED or Sustained Energy you are stuck—and I still had Cyotmax in one of my bottles.

Saw Tom at rest stop and after 9 minutes told him I was going and he followed. When we left a wave of cyclists were now arriving including a 70 year old (at least he looked 70) that some workers fondly called “the King.” For a while not pacelining, impetus had left and Tom and I just bs’d for a while. Though some vineyards where some big dog named Buster was chasing after another dog on a leash—to the amusement of the NACAR type owner while terrified woman of the smaller dog called out “please get your dog away from us.” A little climb out to the Alexander Valley, then a sudden downhill that Tom took well and I didn't. I saw him up the road hook onto a 2 man paceline, and I’m in no mans land. Knew that I couldn’t catch him on flat terrain and didn’t want to use up needed energy so just sat tight until a 4-5 man paceline came buy. I hop on the end and rode in the back until we were back with Toms’s paceline. Here we all started rotating, and as luck would have it I went to the front on an uphill extended roller. I felt good and I didn’t want to slack so I just kept the speed up from where it had been on the flats, soon I had enough and looked back and everyone had dropped off. I waited, reintegrated and took another pull and soon dropped off. Next time we went though I just pulled for ½ mile. Tom said “you don’t pull for long, do you.” Heck, with a 7 man paceline we should all be taking short pulls. In race-1/2 would be an eternity.

I don’t recall how we got there but soon we hit “The Geysers." At the start of the climb the sun came out, my breathing became better, I loosened up, and I pushed up hard. We rode for awhile with a guy who had a Litespeed Siena—bought it because of daughter with same name, and then we talked about Italy. Soon we reached first summit, fast downhill which Domo Tom rode away from me on. Second summit and I pushed hard to regroup with Tom—going by two guys from morning paceline with Death Ride jerseys. If this was the hardest climb, damn, this ride will be easy, I thought. Sun is now out strongly, I bug Tom about his wearing wool jersey. We get to about 300’ of the summit rest stop and Tom says "race you to the top." He wins, stupid thing to do but lots of fun. In at Mile 81 rest stop at 10:41, +19 ahead of schedule. 15.7 average speed. In rest stop for 12 minutes—take a V8 but it doesn’t sit well with me so I don't have any others. Reload hammergel, endurolights, stuff pockets with mini cliff bars and more gatorade.

Rode much of the beginning of the ride at the same pace with Doubles Vet and Campy Only guy Eric. He kept getting photos of my bike at rest stops--no doubt because of it's Campy Record seatpost. I actually would have been in one photo at the top of the Geysers climb (arrow) but of course blocked by another rider. (Campy Only photos)

The next part of the ride was damn scary, diving into the Geysers crater on a steep, bad twisty roads covered with potholes and cracks. Strange illusion—after steep part it seems like road goes uphill but you are flying. Here Tom shot on way ahead of me, I didn’t even have the illusion of keeping up. Then, all of a sudden a “slow” spray painted warning would appear on the cracked pavement, and the cracked pavement would suddenly end and a 100’ stretch of gravel would begin. Thank buddha for gravel riding in Italy.

Passed a woman in a Terrible Two jersey on a slight uphill and she secretly gleaned onto my wake—I didn’t know this for a couple of miles so I didn’t say anything when dodging a pothole. When I discovered her she thanked me for the pull—no problem. Then a downhill section appeared and she easily passed me—and a guy wearing a nice looking orange jersey from a Mountaineering Store shot by and I was back all alone.

Soon a slight uphill and I easily rejoined orange jersey and woman. Luckily we were soon back on paved Dutcher Creek rollers and three manned towards lunch at Lake Sonoma, across from where Santa Rosa Wine Country ride turns around. Hit the lunch stop at 12:18-109 miles in the books (was so busy in 3 man paceline had no time to really celebrate 100 mile mark) +32 ahead of 9:00 finish pace. 16.4 average. My bike at the lunch stop. (Campy Only photo)

Domo Tom already has big sandwich. But big climb of day is starting-Skaggs Sprigs, so I just go for one slice of bread and a few slices of turkey. Great not to be eating a cliff bar and hammergel. I see Ish-he had crashed on a tandem, tire blowout from brake overheating on fast section of Geysers. Little bloody but OK-but his ride is over. I tell Tom I’m leaving as Jack must be up the road, but Jack still at rest stop. I’m leaving anyway, don’t want to get tight, feel good, sun is out-“time to go” Only 15 minutes at lunch stop.

Sun is out and now I’ll find out what is beyond Lake Sonoma rest area—on Wine County Century we turn around and head back the way we came. But this isn’t the Wine Country Century. The frighting Skaggs starts off gentle and finally warm. I roll up sleeves, put on some sun tan lotion as I’m cranking up hill. About every minute I see another rider on the climb and I go past with ease. I pass the guy in the orange jersey. One guy goes flying by me and I decide to pick it up a notch—with Phil Ligget’s description of Museeuw in the back of my mind “Museeuw is now in trouble, but there he goes again….he NEVER GIVES UP—EVER” and I catch up to him. Turns out young guy is riding with a low 39x25. Ouch. We eventually make a left turn on a narrower road and the grades start picking up. Meanwhile I’m munching a Cliff bar on the climb like I had on the others—which saves time at the rest stops.

See water stop set up but I don’t need water. Nice—finally-downhill with nice quick glance of Lake Sonoma off to the side. Downhill ends to quickly and it is back to climbing. Climb goes on for awhile and I’m feeling great—van off to the side of the road with water but I again decline to stop.

Now big descent starts-wide open, but as soon as I start going down I’m cold. And kinda hungry. I pull over for third time tody to put on vest—when sag wagon pulls behind me to see if I am OK. I am but figure that while I’m stopped might as well get a water refill, which they do nicely. I ask if they have any food and more mini Cliff bars—which I’d eat en route to next rest stop. Great great support. After appx 3 minutes at impromptu water stop I’m off and suddenly I am tired. Not weary tired but sleepy tired. I think I’m at work and it is time for my afternoon nap.

I’m riding all alone and could have pushed it up to 17-19 but just tooling around at 15—thinking that if tarps set up at next rest stop I’m going to lay down for 15-20 minutes—like I had done at Fiddletown a few weeks ago. I am really battling staying awake—which is a new feeling on the bike. Ironicaly everything else doing OK, meditarsal cushions on arch seem to be working well, right calf is a little sore from the cold, my arms are hurting a little from riding in the drops on the cold downhills, and left instep kinda sore—but these are not big problems compared to my need to sleep. Soon “Norris” (turns out to be Campy Only Eric Norris comes by) we chat and I pick up the pace to match his. Traveling a nice strectch of tree lined road with creek off to the side—kind of like Volcano run, and soon at Camp Gualala. Mile 137, 2:53-42 minutes ahead of schedule which would be the high point of the day. My bike at the Guala rest stop--more interesting photo if camera was pointed 45 degrees further right and I'm seen dozing in a chair. (Campy Only photo)

Hit bathroom and got rid of a lot of Cliff bars. Then headed over to chairs (no mats) and made a deal with myself to sit quietly for 10 minutes—no looking at food or eagerly wanting to jump on bike and leave. After about 5 minutes Jack pulls in—I say hi but stay quiet—want the full 10 minutes of rest.

I’m staring into space and woman rolls in and asks workers how she is doing. They answer “Rebecca—except for a woman on a tandem you are the 2nd woman to come thought.” Wow--I'm keeping pace with teh 2nd woman on the course. Throughout the day workers will know riders and riders will know other riders—as someone said not a lot of people do these rides. Then Jack pulls in. After 10 minutes I finally move—now sick of Gatorade so vow just to use water the rest of the way. They also have a choice of a strawberry Hammergel and chocholet—I fill with chocklet which turns out to be a mistake-it is like drinking Bosco. But taking a page out of CA Mike’s playbook, I get a regular rootbeer and drink half of it—it taste great. Jack has lost track of Tom—he started Skaggs climb ahead of Jack but Jack hadn’t passed him and I didn’t see him go by.

17 minutes in the rest stop—by far the longest of the day.

Jack and I start out together and noticed that after each rest stop (except Lake Sonoma where you immeidately hit the Skaggs Spring climb) kinda lazy and some of the impetus is gone for a few miles. As Tom and I had done after Calistoga rest stop, Jack and I spend a few minutes bs’ing and riding at a slacked off pace. Then we hit a bunch of uphill rollers and the intersection where we’d ususaly go straight and hit a 1.6 mile, 10% grade “The Wall.” But today the ride was back to it’s original course, we turned left, and a bonus 11 miles that wasn’t nearly as steep as the wall, but relentless in and of itself. On the long uphill I rode away from Jack and hooked up with 3 guys—two of whom I had ridden with earlier in the day. (Mountaineering orange jersey guy and 25 cassette guy) On the short flat sections I’d ride with them, I’d go out on the uphills, they’d catch up on the downhills. On a long downhill I said that I’d see everone later—guy in Sacto Wheelmen jersey who I bs’d about the Sierra Century jersey said “right,” but sure enough I was soon off the back and had to scramble hard to get back with gruppo on next uphill. They all complained that they rather do the steep wall and be done with it than this additional 11 miles of attention getting hills. Finally we were at the top, and the blast of cool air from the ocean was hitting us. I pulled over—gruppo went by to start downhill plunge, and for fourth time today stopped to put on vest and arm warmers. Rebecca and big guy from last rest stop went by and sped downward. I followed and—surprise—road was actually paved.

Glad I had stopped to put on vest and arm warmers—not cold or foggy but overcast and noticibly cooler. Wound up coming out at Sea Ranch, left turn onto Hwy 1 South, which creates a series of rollers while the ocean crashes onto large rocks. But once again, nice tailwind going my way (had lucked out in last two Wine Counrty rides and Tour of Unknown Coast—getting tailwind on the Pacific) Looked down the coast—trio I had ridden with about ¼ mile away—starting 18 mile coastal ride to Ft Ross and next climb from hell. Rebecca and Big Guy about 500’ up the road, so I put on the afterburners and put in an effort to catch up to them. Thinking about it—all hard efforts today were good tactical decisions to catch paceline in th front. Hooked onto the back, big guy doing all of the pulling. Turns out that both real friendly and this was a EZ event for them. Guy put on pro races and did Boston-Montreal-Boston. Rebeecca had done Bres-Paris-Bres. Both 800 milers.

Coast is overcast and cool but not foggy and cold. Occassional car passes-maybe one a minute. We’re bs’ing and when big guy looks like he is losing some steam I go to the front. He tells me about Mix Canyon Road in Vacaville—supposely a 25% at the top—when the Navigators saw that they scrambled to put a 28x on the back of their bikes for a race. Rebeccca told us about B-P-B.

All too soon we were at Ft Ross rest stop. Both thanked me for helping pull—big guy was real happy there was no headwind. Supprisingly big guy and Rebecca weren’t riding together—this ride is about making stratigic alliances whenever you can. Unfortunatley only 1 porta potty and everything from breakfast wanted to come out. Jack rolls in about a minute later—I look at him and say “time to go.” Jack says he is feeling a little low oin energy, but he leaves w/ me as I tell worker about revenge I just enacted on Jack for bypassing Davis Double reststops. In at 5:34, 9 minutes at rest stop, 36 minutes ahead of 9:00 pace.

As leaving mile 172 at 5:43 I start imagining that can do the last 36 miles in two hours. HA. Ft Ross climb is all that it is cracked up to be. A super steep "The Mt Diablo ramp section" is right at the beginning, which catches me by surprise. It is now real cool and foggy again-glasses steamed up. When I go to stand and power over climb my lower back ties into a knot.

Huh—it isn’t the SI joint—my lower back hurts—badly. So this is where I collapse on this double-huh. I go and stand again to make sure-OH SHIT. I sit forward and keep bowing towards the bars, like usual, but back is killing me—though better when seated than standing though front wheel is lifting off ground when sitting..

I get off bike, take a naperson, and do some stretches. Jack comes along “You OK!” he calls out. Tell him my back just gave out but I’ll be OK and I'll catch up to him. After a minute I get back on bike—it still hurts but a little more flexible. I also find that if I sit straight back, like I’m riding no hands, helps. Air is damp but I’m sweating bullets, Repass Jack and hit anothr steep section. Thinking about getting off the bike and walking but no fn way—even if odometer keeps showing 3-4 mph—I can’t gett any power.. On map climb is only 2.5 miles (average grade 10.4%), Trinity was 3.2 but seemed much shorter—this is going on forever. Another steep section, I start doing a wheelie so I have to stand—OUCH. Reach the top—get off the bike—do about two minutes of streches and then soft pedal starting the downhill. Jack is soon back on my wheel.

Rolling, curvy downhill starts. The good news is that my back feels great when I stretch out in the drops, and the sun comes back. The bad news is that the curvy. Steep downhill surface is “not the best. “On your left” Jack Passes with big guy from the coast—on the uphill roller I scramble to catch them and pass. “On your left,” Jack passes on the downhill again. This goes on seemingly forever. I tell both of them that I’d love just a nice flat portion of real estate where I could spin and loosen up.

Jeeze—for once I get my wish—we get on the Cardoza highway and have about 9 miles of flats. Everyone takes a turn at the front and we pass one rider who hops on, and then another who hops on…we pick up about a half dozen riders including Rebecca who had left the last rest stop 3-6 minutes before we did. It is now close to mile 190 and I feel so much better than at Davis—when I get to the front I stay there for last 2 miles into Monte Rio rest stop. Workers clap when we come in-9-10 paceline strong-I am stoked, as I thought I'd be dead by now. It is 7:29—last 22 miles took us almost 2 hours. Now only 16 minutes ahead of 9:00 pace, but I feel real good.

At Monte Rio-like all the other stops, worker grabs bike and voluenteers to fill drink—I just want water. Bags O lights and tee shirt waiting for us, I just use 1 of 2 lights I brought for front and back, and return other lights and tee shirt where they’ll bring it back to the start. Some good trail mix—I’m sick of cliff bars and hammergel so I get a few portions of it. Look at Jack and tell him to sound the alarm—“time to go” and we’re off after just 7 minutes at rest stop. But shortly stop again as Jack needs to change glass lenses—another 3 minutes.

Hit Occidental rollers, elevation chart says average grade 2.5% but feels a lot steeper and they are right. If at beginning of ride or in a big paceline we’d have zoomed over it but now we’re not doing much more than 11mph. No one is in front of us, and no one coming from the rear. In the twilight, with heavy stands of trees, it is now real dusky. We are on Bohemian Hghway when Jack says that “he is not sure this is the right road.” Oh crap—this zaps a little energy.

I recognize this section—back 6-7 years ago, when Frank, Verena and I got off course on the Santa Rosa Wine Counrty Century, and were scared to do 100 miles, this is where we backtracked to get back on the 60 mile route.

Jack and I finally get off the uphill rollers and start the downhill rollers on Graton Road. Finally a non steep, non twisty, paved road. I am motering—so is Jack, and we pick up two riders along the way. One rider, Max, askes if we did the DMD. He says this ride is harder due to the steeper climbs. (Finishing times show the TT to be faster than DMD. TT winning time 8 minutes faster, #4 rider who did both did TT 19 minutes faster, though #20 rider who did both finished DMD 25 minutes faster. Steve finished the TT 93 minutes faster, Campy Eric 116 minutes faster--not sure faster translates to easier though.) Jack and I just missed making the sprint to the stoplight crossing Highway 116—which had us waiting for 2 minutes, and in retrospect killed our chances to catch the next group up the road who finished 2 minutes ahead of us

In any event we four manned while Jack and another rider got into a heated discussion on how to pronounce Guerneville Road. Heck, I didn’t care, we were on track, I felt great and we still had daylight. As a precaution I turned on my front light, zoomed as hard as I could when I go to the front with 2 miles to go, and pulled our mini paceline into the Willowside School. checkin "119" I yell "118" Jack yells out. Sounds cool.

I felt great and was pumped. Psyched—turns out new jersey is NOT R Crumb tee shirt look alike as I didn’t like that design or old rose, green, white jersey. The new one is a great looking orange and back one. Put bike away and got two helpings of lazanga and mexican payeta. Saw Dan and Doug who had written TT story on web that I read. Steve had come in about a half hour after Jack and I. Saw Bob M. by decaf coffee machine—he came in a little after me. A real respected rider, so I knew I had done well. We got a reading on Tom who was an hour out—he came in about 10 minutes before the free I DID IT Tee shirt cut off—he had thrown up, bonked and gotten lost. Some other rioders came in complainming that the were only a few minuts late for the tee shirt—but no allowances made.

Turns out 82nd place—upper 36%. Less than a half hour off of the top woman finishers time, and 2 minutes behind the 78th place gruppo—damn stop light. Not bad for rest stops-Calistoga 9m, Geysers 12m+1m vest on downhill, Lake Sonoma 15m+3m water stop, Camp Gualala 17m+1 m vest on downhill, Ft Ross 9m+1m stretch half way up climb and 1 m stretch on top of climb, Monte Rio 7m+2m Jack glasses. About 78 minutes plus 2 minutes at Highway 116 red light—and seemed to get shorter as day went on.

Went back to motel—unpacked and saw Toms car sitting outside. Went downstairs after 10 minutes and Tom had phased out @ drivers seat. Reminded me of college days when someone would get plastered. I carried his bike upstairs and he tumbled into bed without watching any old movies. Next day I left seedy motel early so I could meet up w/ Big Mike, Donna, John et on Delta Pedaler coffee break—only problem, on a beautiful day only 2 Pedalers were at the coffee stop.

Love the beautiful orange and black jersey with the grim reaper—only problem is that is says we did 200 miles and we did 207 (jersey is year specific) and it says it was 100 degrees and it wasn’t even close. Funny, when I saw that I thought for first time all day about Jo-Jo and Whiny Mike, who talked about the 100 x 100 (miles by degrees) ride they did the two years I couldn’t ride—though second year it wasn’t 100 degrees or when it was 100 degrees they didn’t do 100 miles, or something like that. Excitedly, I tried to get them to recreate the ride in 2003 so I could try it, but it was just anyother little secret thing with them, so they’d just talk about it but wouldn’t do it again when I could ride it. (In retrospect, apart from "Gruppo Pumpkincycle chance to shack up Deathride" we never rode 100 miles as a trio.) But now, three years later, had done a 200 x 85 and you know what they could do with their 100 x 100.

Thursday, June 9, 2005


(June 9, 2005) The Death Ride, 5 passes, 125 miles, 14 avg, 5:30 to up Carson at 2:38. Bike Mike, Ca Mike & Jack on this ride but hard to ride together.

Yahoo Geocities dumped the site this report was originally on--recreated from email & notes.

-Temp -Warm in Morning to Markleeville, Partially Sunny on Monitor but clouds moving in, cool on Ebbets, clouds picking up—prediction of thunderstorms. Partially sunny back in Markleville—felt like 80 but much cooler. Switched from sleeved jersey and DC vest (ditched arm warmers) to sleeveless jersey and clear vest. Cooler by 10 degrees up on every pass but OK.

-Kirkwood-got to switch to one bedroom-nice place ($100 more for 3 days)

-Ate at Kirkwood Inn, built in 1890’s—nice place.

Instead of cheezy Lake Tahoe Motel made a good move staying at Kirkwood Ski Resort Condo. Yup--that's snow in the hills in JULY!.

-Mike came in at 11:45. Had dozed off when he called, had to flash lights on balcony, in car to find place. Beautiful-- pitch dark outside.

-Friday Big Mike, CA Mike, Jack and Donna and I did Blue Lakes Road. Really nice 24 mile out and back at nice pace. Later in day would get Blue Lakes headband for Donna and Mike. At 7500 feet drinking like crazy-note a little SOB when pushing hard, slight headache. But notice that when it is 60 degrees it feels warmer than where we live-when 80 it feels cooler.

Day before the gang went up last year bonus pass Blue Lakes Road for a warm up.
-Went to check in at 2:30. What a zoo. 30 people on K-L line, no one on other lines at end of alphabet. Then long long line to pick up preordered clothes. By the time we finished didn’t want to look around. Donna told that spaces would be opened, for $100 cash, at 10pm. (Had to park on road, Turtle Rock Park stuffed)
-CA Mike comes over for pasta, sausage dinner. We drive over at 9:45—wait in line-Donna & Mike get in—packet only has number-no patch etc.
-Sleep 114:45, wake up 12:30, alarm clock 3:30—leave Kirkwood 4:30—park on road about ¼ mile away. People camping on shoulder of road. Long trek to bathroom—I’m barely ready at 5:30-Donna going to leave at 6:00. Pass both Mikes at start who are milling around. CA Mike rides downhill with me but I’m out to BEAT LAST YEAR BY 1 HOUR. Figure I can get to Carson with 30m less rest stops and 30m quicker.
-Warm-warm warm down to Markleville on speedy downhill, feel good. Think it is going to be a 90 degree day. At the end of Blue Lakes Road, Donna and I pose in front of what CA Mike dubbed the Big Mike Memorial. After saying that we saw CA Mike quickly leave the area.

-Woman drafting off of me to checkpoint, we get on Monitor I think I’m going to ride away from her-wrong-she just jumps out—breathing a little labored in coolness of morning but no way I’d catch her. LOOSE WEIGHT NEXT YEAR.
-Passing lots of people, but passed by lots of people also (10:1 ratio) but tons of riders on road. When do they start? 5:00?? Again have to pass people close to yellow line. See Steve on way up. EZ to Monitor 1.
-MONITOR 1 6:51 (last year 6:55) +4 min
-Real long shadows down Monitor. Sunny but some clouds in sky. Comfortable. Can see riders come by from shadows before they pass. No one says on your left—which is scary when I’m passing a slowpoke on right and someone screams by. Suddenly 4 bikes in front of me hear POP-blowout, everyone jams brakes and slows down. Unbeknownst to me Steve had passed me on downhill and was behind the guy.
-Topaz Rest Stop (mile 25, first rest stop+10 minutes)—no Cliff Bars but mini Cliff Builder Bars.
-Start climb up and scores of riders now coming down with whining gears and occasional screech of brakes. CA Mike arrives when I’m leaving. Small stones falling off rocks in right. Soon pass Big Mike who had not stopped yet. Pass Steve—then he digs to get back to me, which helps on headwind when we get close to Monitor top. Took advantage of running water guys who did a great job. Saw Donna coming down when near top—only about a dozen riders followed, but then after 5-10 minutes lots of other riders on the road coming up.
-MONITOR 2 8:37 (last year 8:48) +11min
-On way down feel really good. Actually start by munching mini Cliff Power Bar but sits in throat—toss in bushes after one bite. Settle in behind some medium speed downhillers. Get to a roller, ready to power over when some chubby person yells “I’M ON YOUR LEFT” and zooms by me—rest of downhill I stay behind them and on part I could get to 50 they were blocking road so I couldn’t pick it up. As soon as we swing to climb I pass and say nicely “ON YOUR LEFT. “
-Have been standing a little to much so going to cut back a little. Stop at Centerville for serious bathroom stop #2 and drink. Guy at sink says clouds, still very high and white but covering much of sky, means that thunderstorms may be moving in. Oh shit. Impetus to ride harder, Women (who supposedly looked like St Pauli Girls) yelling from house on Ebbets but I had pushed past without looking around., Start up Ebbets and feel good. Half way up start riding w/ Colnago rider from Auburn who Big Mike zoomed past at Sierra Century. This year they had kilo markers on road which was cool. Speaking of cool-it was cool outside. Get near top and worker singing a folk song-called out to get him to sing Doors, sang a little “Light My Fire. Arrive at cow grate very quickly.
-EBBETS 1 10:23 (last year 10:38) +15min .
-Very quick down to Ebbets 2. Not to many people coming up-road narrow enough so not to many people passing. Mentioned to someone that road was knarly-someone else surprised that I said it and found out until the end road isn’t bad at all—a great road compared to Morgan Territory or the crap found on the terrible Twos. Saw a few people with new Terrible Two jersey and always talked about lousy downhills there. Hermit Valley stop great—someone had pre sliced bananas as they said that in years passed loads of banana wrappers in bushes-trees after event. Here they had massage therapist also, as well as packets of hammergel. Serious potty break #3-fig newtons and wheat thins. Jack pulls in when I’m leaving, Big Mike and CA Mike seen while climbing. But real cool (not cold) and overcast-started climb with arm warmers and vest—though quickly taken off. Passed by guy on Bianci with SPD shoes that resembled hiking boots—had to repass him (as earlier in day young guy with mountain bike shots and button down shirt.) Usually stayed as far over to the right as possible as loads of cyclists screaming down unlined road—one or two passing very far to their left. Nice tree lined road. Very quickly to—this pass only 6 miles compared to 8-12 miles of other passes (and 14 for Carson later on) Remark to someone at top that we now have two downhills but only one climb to go. Chuckles.
-EBBETS 2. 11:24 (last year 11:38) +14 minutes but in reality all rest stop time saved--26 minutes of rest stops thru Hermit valley this year, 43 minutes last year so 17 minutes less this year.
-Best downhill on ride (12 miles-ez turns that turns into rollers) marred by hordes of people coming up. Hoards is right word and you can’t set up on a sharp right handed turn as most likely 3 cyclists across road so one is over enter line. Sometimes 4 across. I yelled at two cyclists coming down—had to check behind guy in black Pink Floyd Jersey who slowed every time we passed a 3 across---and lucky he did as after a blind right turn some ass in a YELLOW TRIPLE CROWN JERSEY weaving on our side of the road. I yelled at guy and later some other cyclist bsing 4 across.
When we hit rollers I tried to get into paceline, but with wind aid I couldn’t pedal fast enough to catch group in front of me, so took it easy and flew into lunch. Mile 80—11:49, +16 last year) Thought I might see Donna but she missed lunch stop completely. Like Terrible Two lunch—one slice bread, 1 slice roast beef (no turkey this time, in case you do get sleepy) and one slice ham. No diet soda so ½ can of Coke. Only at lunch stop for 18 minutes (last year 23)—Jack and Steve pull in-Steve stays for lunch, Jack just grabs banana and fills water bottles. Jack and I ride back together, no headwind into Markleeville this year. On downhill rollers we catch paceline—on an uphill I go to the front but other guys want to pull so happy to let them. At Markleville lawn filled with people cheering. Steep uphill from Markleville to Turtle Rock park-Jack says he may get rain jacket—to Jack’s amazement I tell him I am changing jersey, shorts and may take rain jacket. I get to car-mile 90-12:42, 24 minutes ahead of last year.
After checkin relaxing on the lawn of the Alpine Courthouse, the next day this will be full of people cheering when we ride through.
Donna waiting, she did 2 passes, feels great, but argued w/ sheriff when he wanted to send her to lunch stop/ Ebbets that she wanted to get back. Additionally her cleat was lose. But she had a great time. Jack pulled up, said he had changed his mind-I told him I was going to take 5 minutes so he pushed on, saying I’d catch him. In 8 minutes (last year 12 minutes) left behind arm warmers, changed socks, jersey (to tri top) and shorts, and took thin clear vest instead of Diablo Cyclist one. Left mess behind that Donna said she’d take care of. New Hammergel and Jojo nut bar grabbed and I watered a bush.
Fast downhill (oh shit, well have to come back this way) to Woodford. No sign of Jack-but I figure better stop here to top off with drink—and I have since give up on Cytomax so fill with water and grab a few wheat thins while still on bike. While starting to ride pop some endurolights. Great-hammergel apple cinnamon instead of chocolate/ banana mix.
Two guys pass—one doing lots of work in the front and I hop on the back. At first a real effort to stay with them but with headwind—really string from the beginning, I work to stay on. After 5 minutes I go to the front and tell guy I’ll do work, but unfortunately pace them of my wheel. Guy going downhill shouts a greeting—must be Ish. Get in terms with Asian guy going towards Pickets Junction—at first he does work and then I take over, don’t know if I paced him off wheel or he stopped, but no need to stop at Pickets so I pressed on. Jack was in Pickets as I found out later—but I thought he was up the road. I looked back and in the near distance, no cyclists to form paceline with—on flat portion from Pickets to Blue Lake much worse headwind than last year. Cool but working so hard was real comfortable in tri top.
After Blue Lakes road steepness picks up. A few cyclists passed me but going at too fast a pace for me to stay with. I passed dozens of cyclists basically crawling in the cross/ headwind. No one remotely going my speed for me to tag team with. Nobody. The wind was brutal—at one point I got into the 27 for the first time all day. Couldn’t believe that I hadn’t come across Jack—he must be flying with his end-o-ride energy. See smiley face indicating 4 miles to go—4 mile is ez—but not on an uphill battered by a relentless wind. AT least no signs of thunderstorms.
Two guys whiz by—Terrible Two jersey and Pinnarello guy. Can’t let these two get away but I am sapped of all energy trying to catch them. Actually they aren’t riding together-Terrible Two guys surges on ahead. I get in back of Pinarello guy and he does all of the work. Smiley face on road-1.2 miles to go-I can hang on. Phil Liggets’s “he never gives up-never” reverberates in my brain. We hit the wall and make the turn—battered by side wind—comment to Pinarello guy how we never get tailwind—suddenly we do, for about 500’, but this allows me to recover 1/ 2 way up turn and I go to the front. Now just have to get ½ way up wall and final turn. We catch Terrible Two guy, and I now start standing and kicking it into 2nd gear while leading the climb. Catch a few slower cyclists who are blocking an unofficial cameraman, then see the real cameraman and the visitors center and start of downhill to Carson Pass stop. Cameraman is urging a fist pump but no need to elicit an exuberant response from me.
-CARSON PASS 2:38, +33 minutes faster than last year.
-I exchange stoked congrats with Pinarello guy as we thank each other for the work. Make sure I get crunch pop from cut kid-not a fudgeicle. Here they are handing out 5 pass pins—trouble is one of my stickers fell off (actually at car two others were coming off, due to the humidity—Jack would also be missing a sticker.) Funny banter with guy checking for 5 stickers but got pin. Looked around for Jack, didn’t see him. Grabbed some wheat thins, banana, filled bottle (it was almost empty) and sat in lounge chair—in cover wind was blocked and sun was shining down strongly. Wound up sitting next to Pinarello guy who was from San Jose. Didn’t care if Jack was going to rush through this stop, after rushing though rest stops all day long, and rushing out of this one last year when doing bonus pass, I was going to enjoy this one. Jack arrives about 5 minute s later—and he is of same mind frame—to sit around and relax at this rest stop. We don’t leave for 34 minutes—later CA Mike tells us he “pulled a Jack” and when he got to Carson just grabbed a banana and split. Hee hee hee. New Steve pulled in about 20 minutes after I did, he enjoyed the ride.
-Start going down and Jack passes. Terrible crosswind and I get huge case of bike shimmy—brake and it still goes on—forgot to hold top tube with legs. Ready to pull over but wind is fierce where bail out is so I keep going and shimmy subsides. Passed by loads of riders screaming downhill—a few cautious ones. Love when I get back to flat section by Blue Lakes Road and have to actually pedal. Steep down to Woodsford but wind has subsided so fun—sign posted 35mph, and that is what I’m doing so I can stay in middle of road. A few guys pass on downhill, when road straightens out I dig to catch up with them. Two guys really strong and I just sit in the back. We hit first series of sharp uphills and I spot Jack ahead—tell people that I’m with that I need to make junction, so I pull back to Jack. “Hey, want to get into a paceline.” Then big steep uphill where my legs cracked last year, this year didn’t crack but one guy takes off, I stand and though putting out a comfortable pace can’t come near to what guy is doing. Donna at car-I’m back at 4:04, 11 minutes ahead of last year (if I deduct Blue Lakes Road) but 12 less minutes of breaks. 14.0 average speed-slightly higher than last year.
Finishing the Death Ride--the last climb back to Turtle Rock Park.

Donna and I go over to fest. Sign death ride poster-pumpkin in lower right corner. Donna gets patch. , we wind up (2nd year in a row) at table in front of speakers. Music OK but it is like sitting in a bar where you can’t her anyone. Jack joins us. Good bow tie pasta salad-GREAT chicken. Big Mike comes in 30 minutes later-CA Mike in about another 20 minutes. Band takes break—everyone sounds jazzed about Death Ride.
After doing 5 passes for the first time the day before--CA Mike &Big Mike both jazzed--I'm pretty happy also.

Saturday, June 4, 2005


(June 4, 2005) Sierra Century (Plymouth), 123 miles, 10,000' climbing, 16.9 mph, 6:30-3:00, BEST CENTURY EVER!!!! w/ Big Mike, Jack, Ward Doug

Comments I left on the Sacramento Wheelmen Website--who knew that by next year the greatest ride would be kicked out of one of the two Counties they were in, and meet disaster on the modified route, and in two years would be no more.

"I’ve done most of the century rides in Northern California and yours is consistently THE BEST. Apart from the great route and having everything spot on from well stocked rests stops to an organized registration, your bike club/ event workers are so incredibly enthusiastic—it is really appreciated. I do have to laugh though—a few years ago the bonus 120 route was a “secret”—now it is on your satellite photo poster.

Speaking of routes—this same weekend there is another double metric that is supposedly a tiny bit harder. Oh no. You should consider adding a Shenandoah Road (out of Volcano) option to the ride. (ouch)

Thanks again for a great ride.-Pumpkincycle"

From 2004 Ride Report

Donna is now starting to climb much better—if she keep working at it, and gets inspiration from looking at my “I tamed Slug Gulch” pin during the next year, she’ll be able to do Slug Gulch next year.

Real festive post ride atmosphere at the Amador County Fairgrounds, with a simple pasta meal combined with good salad, and specialty bread. Ate outside on the lawn, and as karma would have it about 20 Diablo Cyclists all were eating next to us—more impetus for the need to ride with a group that rides centuries together.


For a few weeks prior to this ride Donna was worried about Slug Gulch. So I had proposed and she readily accepted a Slug Gulch trial run, whereas you start from Plymouth and hit it at mile 25. I wanted to scout the approach so I wouldn’t hammer on the severe rollers before Slug Gulch. So, a day after a hard ride racing Tunitas (for me) and Morgan Territory (for Donna) we went up there and I was surprised how easy it was. Donna didn’t want me to stay with her on the climb so I slacked a little and bs’d with an engineering professor, Ed, from Sac State. When I got to the top I told him I’d turn around and ride back for my wife who didn’t want me to climb w/ her. He said—you’re living dangerously, but I figured that Donna would be off the most severe initial sections. (I had told Donna that it gets easier-but professor had said-tough part up ahead.) I went back down-got her in the middle-Donna said she thought I was going to be around the next corner—but she did it, the hardest section, and gained confidence for Slug Gulch the next week. Donna didn’t expect to do a “metric” that day, but we continued on the “secret 120 miler” rout to Hwy 88, and then up to Cooks Station for 60 miles.

Noted that when you make sudden left hand turn Slug Gulch wall appears there are about 4 steep sections—each about 2x the length of the Mt Diablo ramp. After that there are just a few steep turns but after that the climb is very doable—with the last 2 miles almost gentle.

We went up early and we got to Plymouth at @12:15—early enough to have a chance to check in at the Shenandoah Inn (that I had made reservation for 8 months earlier as wanted to stay in Plymouth.) On the way up Donna told me Jo Jo sagging Chris at Tahoe Century—last year this news from Donna was devastating as I was still wondering what had happened to Gruppo Pumnpkincycle (and didn’t know punchline yet) and us not doing the Sierra Century signified the death knell; this year—who gives a fuck.

Of course last year dad had just died—and didn’t get on bike for 2 weeks until two days before ride. This year doing lots of long miles with Diablo Cyclists, kind of not focused on losing weight so +5 more than I should be, and may not be as fast as last year—but my endurance/ climbing is much much better. After bonking on Slug Gulch last year I did it great 2x on Plymouth-Slug Gulch metric short course, but I was looking to exact revenge this year and I was going to attack-attack-attack. Ron, the king of the oldtime members of DC said the gruppo was leaving at 7:30 but I had told him no way, I was leaving at 6:15. Since then some other DC’s indicated that they were in for the 120 and 6:30 would be a good starting time- and I knew Jack would have everyone leaving on time—so I decided I’d leave at 6:30 but not a second later, otherwise I’d go off solo.

In any event Donna and I were able to check in, and we took a 20 mile out and back to Shenandoah School Road (uphill rollers into headwind) to Sobol Winery--12 mph out, with Donna slacking on the uphill rollers, 19 mph back with Donna doing a good job staying on my wheel. Then noticed it was getting hot—unlike last Sunday—hot tub was a little to hot, finally pulled my chair into the shade and would doze off for a few minutes, and wake up to the sound of some bike yentas sitting across at the pool. Lucky us—there was no one else around, and without them all we’d hear would be the birds chirping in the Oak Field behind the hotel.
Plymouth area becoming Napa North--lots of wineries springing up. Losing up bike ride taken in the area the day before--fitting to do it in my PUMPKINCYCLE jersey.

Drove over to checkin—less than 1 mile away. Finally know that fair grounds parking lot is left turn by old brick building. Checkin as usual was great—beautiful patch given out--lots of maps with routes, and satellite poster for sale —including the “secret” 120 course. I found Neil, the ride director, and gave him a hard time for not disclosing route before Jo-Jo and I did a practice run 2 years ago.. Neil said that by now many people know the "secret route." That OK—I had no doubt that even with 6:30 start we’d get to 2:00 cutoff in more than enough time. On Sierra Century map Donna commented that Slug Gulch didn’t look much harder than Rams Horn.

Drove to Jackson for dinner at Buscaligia’s—Jackson the most interesting town in the gold country and only 12 miles away but some slow portions through Amador City (interesting windwill/garden store) and Sutter Creek, so it takes more than a half hour to get there. Jackson has interesting stores and nice motel—but glad we wouldn’t have to drive over any earlier in the morning. In Jackson good used book store where I found the perfect cycling book for John “Around the World On a Bicycle” by Thomas Stevens. It is about an around the world trip that the author took on a hi-wheeler in 1884. Originally published a 2 volume diary, this centennial reprint whittled down to 133 pages, full of woodcut illustrations, and ancient english language.

Met Jack for dinner-good meal even if we couldn’t shake much bread out of surly waitress. Dinner salad and mushroom appetizer very good-pasta fair, but end of meal I wish we had sat outside as restaurant was very noisy. Big Mike was somewhere in Lodi at the time. Dinner over before 8:00—good coffee takeout at Martel, I went back to fairgrounds to see if I could find Doug and Ward—they were camping out in tent city behind registration hall. Found their cars and tent site uninhabited—bike unlocked (they’re not from NYC), left a note. Went back and pinned number on tri top jersey with funky pockets and promptly fell asleep at 10:00.

In 2003 real nervous and up at 3:00. In 2004 dad’s death, doing ride solo, death of Gruppo Pumpkincycle—not nervous but thinking about a lot of things and up early. Tradition held, I was up again at 3:00—but not nervous as all—just anise to get going. Put on MP-3, rolled out of bed at 4:45. Plan was to leave motel at 5:45—around time we had first started the ride the last 2 years. Magic Italian feed bag-soy cake, odswalla bar, banana, mini muffin from conti breakfast, along w/ bad coffee. When we got to fairgrounds and had to park “in the fields” for first time in 3 years. Donna soon ready to go, and she took off at 6:00 to do the 100 mile course with Slug Gulch. I had gone to registration and dumped off raffle tickets, took a bunch of goo packs, and had another banana. Got bike ready and it was 6:15—I was ready to go but with the promise of good group of Diablo Cyclists to ride with I went to the can again, and then went over in front of registration. Jack, who I did the Davis Double and half of Santa Rosa with, was ready to go. Doug and Ward, who had brought me back to group in Santa Rosa soon appeared. Told that June and Steve were leaving later—too bad, June great climber and Steve strong all around rider. Also MIA was Big Mike—he knew about DC start time but was nowhere to be found. Oh no—great riding with him due to our divergent (complementary) styles, except for big climbs he’d be strongest rider in group—so he’d be missed, especially during fast first segment of course.

6:25-“time to go,” but we waited around another 5 minutes to see if Big Mike appeared. No sign of him, so without him I figured I’d do a lot of early morning pulling—plus it was cold, and the course starts off on a fast downhill. I was amped and cold, so I started hammering from the get go—even if a little scary with many riders on the fast downhill on Old Sacramento Road with cars first coming to the event squeezing the road from the other direction. I kept wanting to latch us onto a longer paceline where we wouldn’t have to work, but we were passing scores of riders. Finally spotted two riders wearing Bike Planet kits—reminded me of me and Big Mike, though to a lesser degree. The bigger guy pulled on the flats and the other guy sped up on the eventual uphill rollers. At one point I lost track of the Big Guy, and after a series of uphill roller asked the other guy if his buddy was up or down the road. Funny answer—“if the road is going up I’m in front and he’s in back”-if the road is going down he’s in front and I’m in back.:”
Doug, Ward, Jack ready to go at the Amador County fairground start--where the heck is Big Mike to clear a path for us on the fast part of the course??

Real cool when we got to Hwy 16—CHP stopping cross traffic for us to go through.

After Hwy 16 severity of rollers picked up. Our four man group held together very well, and “Bike Planet” guys fun to ride with. Road was crowded, some people riding 4 across, and there were some definite rough patches on Irish Hill Road that would suddenly appear. All of a sudden on one downhill-uphill combo some geek in red shorts flew down, cut everyone off and got to top of roller. I got on his wheel and on the next roller combo I just jumped out ahead of him. Same on next roller. Later found out that guy had dropped back but continue to cut off riders, and Ward told him he was weaving-and red shorts took offense. I can’t imagine Ward saying anything with ill will (Jack, Ward and Doug all mild mannered.)

Donna and I on early downhill rollers. Think Jack is the mystery Diablo Cyclist is in front of me--and I think taken by Photocrazy.

Close to Ione I was bsing w/ Bike Planet guys, when suddenly I told Diablo Cyclists that we are skipping 1st rest stop and going to secret bathrooms. I had previously told Jack, but when we hit Ione and I turned left while ride turned right, Doug yelled out where I was going-I yelled back “secret bathrooms.” Not enough time to tell “Bike Planet” guys about it. I continued on, figuring that they’d catch up with me later, but Ward, Doug, Jack following me—which is dangerous as I tend to get lost in Contra Costa. But real secret bathrooms by the Steam Engine, Doug hadn’t brought goos so I split power bar with him.. I had only drunk 1/3 of a bottle for first 21 miles—not enough. Jack had us out of there in less than 6 minutes. We had gotten to Ione with an average speed of 21.7 mph—had left 41 minute after last year but now only 35 minutes behind (had left 48 minutes earlier in 2003, 42 minutes behind)--6 minutes faster over previous years. Rollers and small hills (Italian rollers) on backroads from Ione to Sutter Creek where we'd catch up to Donna.

With Big Mike we would have gotten to Ione faster—but at least he’d be pooped by the time he caught up to us. Now rollers to Sutter Creek were becoming steeper and longer—no longer rollers but a series of small hills. After the first fast section a little impetus had left, we all backed up but don’t recall more than a couple of people passing us. Sometime we were just bsing—I was sky high and bsing a lot—when girl in front of us yells out “Jay, Jay?” Turns out we caught Donna. Pulled out the camera-took her photo, and off we went. Everyone took turns leading the charge up the next hill. Suddenly we were on fast downhill, and going into Sutter Creek-I joked with Doug that there were secret bathrooms here. I think he wanted to stop but Jack/ Ward were pushing on to start the great 12 mile climb to Volcano. Entering the most picturesque Gold Country town of Sutter Creek.

Volcano Road is one of the nicest sections that is shaded, with creek alongside. Even though uphill it is really not steep until the last 2 miles (Fabio Hill), broken up by a false flat—and for some reason (flag was totally neutral) it feels like a magnet pulling you up. I pulled for a long time-then Ward went to the front for most of the climb and we were going over 20mph. One guy with a Trek went to the front—good, let him pull, but then Ward dropped his chain. After getting it back on I brought group back to Trek guy, Ward went back to the front and kept pace high—he gets Enrico Carsarni award.

We go close to steeper Fabio Hill and two guy came flying by. I got on their wheel and one guy dropped off. Smaller guy went out strongly and I just stayed on his wheel to first false flat. Next time road went up I went out hard but not in great interval condition like last year so expected guy to be on my wheel. He wasn’t so I went into time trial rhythm and went hard up to last climb from stop sign. Now 18.1 average speed, and 25 minutes behind 2004, 11 minutes behind 2003. (Remember we left 40+ minutes earlier in past years.) I got bike set down, helmet off, grabbed some grapes from tuxedo shirted guy, and had camera set when Diablo Cyclists rode in—but when they came in they made sharp right turn before tuxedo guy—bee line to outhouses.

I walked over to restroom (not drinking enough-still dark yellow) and then refilled bottles—great rest stop where I had banana, breakfast bar, some fig cookies (better than fig newtons.) Could have had sandwich or about 20 other things. Also downed 3 cans of V8. No Rosie in town. They only had Gatorade (or water) but I still had some cytomax power from Ione rest stop. Anticipating Jack’s “ready to go” I went back to my bike and Doug yelled out—he’s holding a BIG BIKE where top tube was by his neck—Big Mike had arrived! Great. He may be fastest century rider but slowest person getting ready-he had left close to 7:00.

Big Mike had hammered to catch us, and we were making great time. Jack set a nice but not killer pace up Rams Horn, figured that Big Mike probably needs a rest so I just rode up a Jack’s pace—commenting on wussy poetry on burma\ shave type signs (“Spin Your Gears and have no fear”,,,,”Soon the top will be really near.”) I figured they needed to incorporate the word “beer" into more of their signs. Group kept together, and I warned them of the false flat and stout uphill to and right after Daffodil Hill. But then I thought what the heck am I doing—Jack, Ward, Doug and of course Big Mike are great downhillers and I’ll be off the back on the 11 mile downhill to Fiddletown Road. I had to get off the first half-which is windy and curvy, before being passed, as the second half features more level portions punctuated by small uphill rollers I could regroup on. So I took off after Daffodil Hill—rode with a guy who I pulled to the Fiddletown turnoff. He promptly passed me on the downhill—which I expected. On the downhill I expected everyone to pass me. But surprisingly no one else did—until—BIG MIKE shoots by. He said he was going to take it easy until he knew I was up the road—I told him that I had to go early as I expected to fall off the back from whole group if we all started together. Big Mike slacks off a little so I can stay on his week, and I follow the big guy towardx Fiddletown. With about 2 miles to go I go to the front, Mike wants to repass but I tell him that he should take a rest, so if anyone near Fiddeltwon starts to sprint he’d be ready to go. This would foreshadow what would happen later.

Into Fiddletown with a 17.8 average. Now 29 minutes behind 2004, 12 minutes behind 2003. As started much earlier both those years, actually running 12 minutes ahead of 2004 and 36 minutes ahead of 2003. More importantly, was dead at this point last year—now I felt great. Jack, Ward and Doug roll in a couple of minutes later. Bonus to hammering to rest stop is that you gain a few minutes on Jack’s real tight schedule.
Oh no--Big Mike has his shoes's off--that usually means a 25 minute rest stop. But he did take alot off so I could stay on his wheel to Fiddletown.

Started up sharp climb on Tyler Road—last year pooped out while chasing Bill up this, but now Ward setting a nice pace and I’m just hanging with him as everyone else right behind. Soon we are on Bridgeport School Road where a 6-7 paceline shoots by us. I thought Big Miek would go to the front and run them down, and I’d ride 2nd wheel, but no one came forward so I bridged up to the group and jumped ahead on an uphill roller through the pockmarked forest. One guy came out of the group and we slugged it out for 5 miles until Cedar Creek Road—I slowly rode up Cedar Creek-no Diablo Cyclists so I thought someone had flatted, I started peddaling back when the DC pelaton shot by. In the back was the surly guy on Domo Bike from Davis—he was a lot friendlier today. Big Mike passing some of the isolated real estate in the area.

Approaching Mt Aukum Road-we had riden so far to this point (70- miles) but in reality only about 15 miles from our starting point. Ward suggested we take it easy as Slug Guch soon approaching—good idea, so even though we were keeping up a businesslike pace Big Mike wasn’t hammering off the front on the downhill and everyone was well behaved on the uphills. This is portion I had ridden with Donna the week before so very familiar. Now short and sharper uphill rollers--a few riders tried to pass, but I’d go and stick on their wheel—and then slow so we’d regroup. Jack started opening it up here also. I had already drained one bottle and with 9 miles of Perry Creek/ Slug Gulch I wanted two full ones. Both Jack and Big Mike said they weren't going to stop, and would give me water but I decline the offer. So, we passed Perry Creek Water Stop-Jack and Mike went on ahead, and I pulled in with a sense of urgency—to get back on terms with them.

So instead of getting off the bike I spot drink container-big line for one of them. I roll to empty one-in between crowd of cyclkists-start filling up bottle. "Its lemonade" says one”, I don’t care—I turn bike around while on it-wack someone. “Sorry” I blurt out and off I go—figure I am 2 minutes behind Jack and Mike. Ward and Doug roll in, but they are going to refill at rest stop at leisurly pace-so off I go. Don’t want to do what I did last year and blow up while chasing, but want to catch Jack and Big Mike, so again try to time trial without going crazy. A triatalete who had never done the course catches up yo me, I tell him about Slug Gulch so he stopps hammering. He is in for the 100 miler. I give him the advice to be ready in his easy gear for sudden left turn—which I am still not sure where it is.

UNTIL SUDDENLY I AM THERE. Sacto Wheelmen do a great job hanging PVC signs on all the seminal turns but instantly recognized this one. You come off a sharp downhill where you are tenmpted to be in a medium gear and all of a sudden a sharp left and THE WALL is in front of you-18-20%. Some guy on side of road yells-“Down Shift,” I yell back I already did.

My hammys now a little tight but otherwise I feel great hitting Slug Gulch. I’m in compact 27, which is like having a 31 in the back of a standard double. I’m standing but effortless climbing past lots of people wheezing and deep breathing. It’s not easy but not hard either. Darn-I imagine how good I’d be doing if I lost the 5-7 lbs I should have. Off first hard section-reprieve, and see Big Mike up ahead. I try to sneak up to him and try to make shadow puppets behind but he has a mirror and knows I'm behind. I see Jack in the distance and start cranking towards him—catch up to him on 2nd hard section and then I take off. Catch up to racing girl who had paced in Bridgeport School Road Forest—Holly who races with “Palo Alto Velo is thin and a good climber, she is also standing on the pedals. I catch up and she says “you attacked your group again.” I laugh-I told her I didn’t attack—they left me behind at the water stop, which got me going. I take off, standing for longer than the usual 55 count strech. Flat part and then on SUPER STEEP number 3 or number 4. Here I lost track as there was one more steep section than I expected—I countinued to fly past other riders while I was humming “When the Music’s Over.” Certainly I couldn’t keep this pace up for a long time but I was exacting revenge for 2004.

Boy on side of the road with hose—went by, I yelled out “HIT ME BABY” and he doused me with cold water well after I passed. Still felt great. Only problem some hot food developing—NOT pain at bottom of foot that plagued me on the Davis Double and in subsequent rides (corrected with an additioan cheep Dr. Scholes layer.) Oh, another prblem, bug flew inside jersey so I spent a few minutes playing squash the bug and dump it ouf from jersey bottom. Glad Photocrazy wasn’t on this part.

Sharp uphill right turn, but remembered it would get flat soon—in fact I remembered riding back to the exact spot for Jerry in our post Sierra ride last year. Now road was much more gentle, I went into a harder gear—passed a few more riders and suddenly was at Omno Ranch. Felt great-let me have the pin! 12:20—1 ½ hours before cutoff. Now 4 minutes off of 2004 (but 37 minutes net ahead) and 35 minutes ahead (83 net ahead) of 2003. Put bike against school, got some bananas and fig bars, took off shoes and sat in beach chair by wading pools when Jack rolled in. A few minutes later in came Big Mike and a few minutes later Ward and Doug—who had leg cramps. This is one of the great rest stops of all rides--uncrowded and surrounded by trees.

Again getting to rest stop early paid off—when you hit this beautiful oasis at the top of the world—I could have lounged out for 90 minutes, tken a snooze, and left right before 2:00 cutoff. But of course my legs would have felt like shit and everything would tighten up. So after 24 minutes, probably 21 for Jack and 18 for Mike, Jack sounds the “ready to go” alarm. Big Mike as a huge plate of food and gummy bears—he looks like he is ready to lay out for his 55 minute lunch. But I urge him to stuff gummy bears in pockets and lets go -- no sympathy as Jack didn't let me have lunch on the Davis Double. Jack is right--though I’d love to hang out its best to keep pushing on. Doug indicates he is staying behind, I’m not sure about Mike. Jack and I leave, Ward catches back up to us and then I’m happy to see Mike arrive—even though he is chocking/ chomping down on food.

Riding at a nice pace through the Omo Ranch road towards Hwy 88, when a trio of riders fly by—Holly and two others. On the uphill rollers Holly and I pick up the pace-here is where I learn she is a Cat 3 who hates to do intervals—as I tell her why I didn’t like racing. Her husband is a Cat 3 also. On an uphill when I take the lead she tries to stick with me, at one point I jump out and pull shzrply left-Ward yells that I’m weaiving. I turn to show him that I pulled out the camera and was setting up for a photo, when I see that Holly was right on my wheel exepcting the next jump. We get to one long section and I start to go, with Holly chasing, and her husband yells out “HOLLY NO!” She jumps back in line, so I drop right behind them so I can get a pull up to Highway 88. But when they pass the water stop guy yells-“commerative bottles” and they pull off. I continue onto Hwy 88-stop to take photo, and pleasantly surpirsed that monster cattleguard has plank over it. Unlike last two years, this stretch actullay passes very very quickly—in fact whole ride is shooting by.
Big Mike, Ward, Jack and Doug. This looks like the great El Dorado Forest but Doug had stayed behind when we hit that--so maybe run in before Perry Creek Road/ Slug Gulch.

This is part of course that Big Mike is going to own, like Jerry did a few years ago, but Mike isn’t up yet so I start going down Highway 88. Jack jumps out and I get into his slipstream. Lots of fun flying down. Quick turn onto Shake Ridge Road and we are continuing on downhill rollers—though puncuated by some sharp uphill rollers. On one Mike goes flying by and I start chasing but it is useless. Woman ahead of me is going at a good clip so I draft behind her to rest—then thank her and take off after Mike again but to no avail. Soon Jack and Ward come though and I get a nice pull from them.

We hit the Fiddletown Speedway—more downhill rollers punctauted by some sharp uphills—Ward notes that the uphills much more noticible the 2nd time around. Some guy on a Rex bike passes on an uphill roller—can’t allow that—so I repass on the next one and we start upping the pace. We hit a downhill section and I’m smart enough NOT to challenge on a downhill so I just stay in the Rex guys draft. We can always see Big Mike down the road—but don’t think we’ll get back to him.

Suddenly a guy comes along the right side of me and squeezes past the Rex guy in about 6” of space to the dirt shoulder—without saying anything. I say something to the Rex guy, we are now both pissed at this sneaky intrudy, and we get on his wheel. On an uphill roller Rex or I go to the front but intruder stays with us, and then on the flat-downhills he pushes ahead. We draft behind him and soon we are back to Big Mike.

At this point I just want Mike to be able to kick intruders butt in a sprint finish. I go ahead for some pulls so Mike can rest, but Mike keeps sprinting out, with intruder on his tail. First two times we get back on terms and situation repeats. Third time I’m get lazy and sit in fourth wheel, figure Rex will bring us back to Big Mike and Intruder, but Rex has lost steam, and we are suddenly 100 feet behind the two big guys going crazy up the road. Rex and I ride hard trading pulls, but all we can do is keep Big Mike and Intruder in sight—and it is all over when I go to the front and Rex drops off. About 200’ behind now, and they disappear from sight. When I pull into Fiddletown I ask Mike who won the sprint—he says they were both dead so they rode in together.

Jack and Ward pull in about a minute behind. I razz Mike that we have to sprint to all the rest stops to get a bonus minute or two before Jack says “time to go” and that today we had lots of time compared to Jack’s brutal Davis Double timetable. Remembering what happened in Davis I fill up one water bottle with plain water—what a novel concept—which works out great. Our speed has inched back up to 16.8—and just 6 minutes behind 2004 (with our starting 41 minutes later, net 35 minutes ahead.) Feel great after 113 miles—can’t believe ride is almost over.

We hit Ostrom Climb right away—I figure may as well keep it together so stay at Jack’s pace—who is definitely going faster than he did on Rams’ Horn when I also paced with him. We get to a women who is stetting a nice pace, but someone yells car back so she just stops on the side of the hairpin. We pass her and a dozen other cyclists and suddenly finish this short—2 mile-- but steep climb.
Jack on Ostrum--he is real steady until he can "smell the barn" and then picks up the pace.

Hit the Shenndoah intersection-all downhill from here—and was going to wait for Mike and Ward but Jack smelled the end of the ride and took off so I followed. We had slowed to make the turn as some of the 100 milers were steaming down the course, but we soon repassed them all. At Davis I thought that Jack just doesn’t get any slower from the start of the ride to the finish, , but now he was riding faster than he had done all day. I’d go to the front for a halaf mile, and then Jack would go by and take a fast pull. For some reason the course was changed so we didn’t make the sharp left on Shenendoah School Road, but stayed on the main drag. A 4 man paceline about a ¼ mile in front of us—and though no uphills I figured we could catch them and Jack and I dug in. Unfortunatley a cyclist at the midpoint, and for some reason after a line of cars passed us they stayed behind the midpoint cyclist—effectively blocking the road into Plymouth.

Total time 6:30-3:00, 8.5 hours., ride time 7:16 for 123 miles, 10,000 climbing. Average speed 16.9. Later Mike was kinda disappointed that his average speed was under mine (16.5) as he definitely was faster both times to Fiddletown, but the climbs killed his time. If Mike had been with us at the beginning of the course, no doubt our average speeds would have been over 17.
Back at fairgrounds our group links up with some other Diablo Cyclists who did shorter course and had left later. Psuedo Western Town in fairgrounds one of the nicest venues to finish a ride at.

Go to car and change—ready to go to food area when Donna pulls in--her greeting to me, “damn-you finished before me.” But she had done the whole 100 miler—including Slug Gulch. Great. I walked over to see if anyone around yet-ran into Peter the Benecia Cylist racer. Donna and Miek walk in-give Mike the ceremonial Guiness Stout. Later we are joined by all of our Diablo Cyclist gruppo, and Paul, June, Stephen and one or two people I didn’t know (inc Johanna who'd I ride parts of the Death Ride with in future years)—in the exact spot on the lawn I saw the DC gruppo come in last year when feeling like shit. Feel incredibly great this year.