Saturday, May 13, 2006

Crapping out on the CENTRAL COAST DOUBLE-2006

(May 13, 2006) Central Coast Double-2006, start w/ Jack, Kitty, Don, California Mike and Steve. Have the pleasure to ride with Kevin (Wolverine from Furnace Creek 508) and Lori up the Coast.

Damn-I thought Yapoo Geocities lost this one for good. But "thanks" to the Ward Industries recovery project, you can read about this one in every sickening detail.

Lots of nice things to say about this ride. It is really like a longer Tour of the Unknown Coast--meaning real rustic, rural, and picturesque. Start inland in Paso Robles, take poorly paved secondary roads out to the Coast for @45 miles. Then up the foggy/ overcast Coast on Highway 1 for @45 miles, half on relatively flat rollers (past Hearst Castle) , then on attention getting ones. Then at mile 88 we turn back inland for big 9 mile climb of the day, while thermometer goes up 30 degrees. But while TUC ends after climbing the "Wall" and "Endless Hill," at mile 90, on Central Coast there is 120 miles left of rollers through Fort Liggett (don't picture a Fort, picture a big, barren meadow in a valley that the heat lays in, with some non descript buildings thrown in,) larger rollers and more heat back inland, and then south near (or partially on) Highway 101, while the westerly winds build towards twilight.

While support is uneven (some rest stops well stocked, some not so; some bulk Hammer products while other staples of doubles-bulk Hammergel and Tums missing; no ice at some stops, limited sports drink), almost all the rest stops have REAL BATHROOMS (when does that ever happen) and plenty of sags passing by. Except on Highway 1, usually the only vehicle passing all day is a Sag vehicle. Luckily two impromptu water stops en route--the second one is when I cashed in my chips...

A few strange things. We checked in nite before at K-Man cyclery (ironically had stopped here when going down to Solvang Double.) They wouldn't give out numbers--indicating they'd be picked up at the start as last year some people checked in but never rode so they were looking for people not on the route. Damn-this would mean that we'd hastily have to blow 5-10 minutes in early morning doing a sloppy job pinning number on. We also were told that we need photo ID to get onto Fort Liggett--more on this later.

Mike found this new Italian Restaurant in Paso Robles, and he made reservations for four as we were going to be joined by some of his friends from Fresno, Lori, a top endurance cyclist competing for 1st place in the stage races--I had met her and ridden part of Mt Tam Double with her last year. Her friend Kevin, who had raced the Furnace Creek 508 5x also joined us. The next day I did the first part of the coast with them, basically Kevin pulling us along, so 'thanks Mike--good dinner planning.' As we ran into all Diablo Cyclists during checkin Mike had to scramble when we got back to restaurant and change reservations to 9--muscle-bound but good natured owner kidded with us but no problem. Food was great and nice meal in outside courtyard, though noticed that while it was very warm at 6:30 the temperature rapidly dropped an hour later. (Forecast was a high in low 90's during the day but high 40's overnite-what a swing) Lots of good stories all around with so many doubles vets, and Mike having now done a 400k brevet just north of here a week ago. Funny seeing Kitty and Lori interact--both going for top female rider crown in 3 stage races (total time from Devil Mountain, Central Coast and Terrible Two) but very friendly and complementary to each other--I was thinking what other sport would this occur in? Kitty reveals that she researched Lori's training miles on the 'net. Then like all pre day doubles--great evening ends too early as early to bed as ride begins at first light 5:40am.

Mike/I staying in, a town I can't pronounce which he finds funny. (I find interesting that while Expedia had all rooms in Paso Robles booked there are a few vacancy signs., so we didn't have to stay in Ascandato.) I sleep well until 2am, then just toss around until 3:30 alarm. No MP3 as it broke last week-tough week as home computer net not working either after attack by ad ware--a little more riled up this past week than I'd have like to have been, and little stupid things didn't get done--like actually ran out of coffee.

Actually lots of things didn't get done--I'm much lazier than last year. For example at mile 43 there is a legendary 12 mile downhill to the Coast on Santa Rosa Creek Road. Jack, Don and Steve all agreed that this had to be one of the worst roads they had ever been on- sharp turns, loose base, potholes-and years back a couple of Diablo Cyclists had wiped out on it. (Also heard about a steel bridge someone did an endo on last year) What I wanted to do was take out the mountain bike once during the week and practice downhill over rough roads--but when it came time, nah, didn't do it. Last year I would have found time to go mountain biking almost every day. Damn-forgot camera to bring to great dinner at Paso Robles, and didn't drive by myself so couldn't retrace course and take photos next day. But for a week leading up to Central Coast heard about California Mikes 400k brevet into the Valley headwinds--right above where we'd be riding at Central Coast. In bleh! town of Greenfield (1950's cheap strip mall after strip mall) he had stopped at a bakery where counter girl though his Diablo Cyclist jersey meant he walked with the devil. We rode through town and the only unique, modern, cool looking building was California Mike's Devil bakery.

Early next morning we make 10 mile drive to Paso Robles town square--seemingly only thing we've seen for days that is not 1950's strip mall ugly. (note to self-try staying in Paso Robles next year. Pick up numbers. Takes us a while to set up and we are ready just a couple of minutes before mass start. Though we are going to start right away on gentle rollers it is cold--breathing labored and feet cold as not wearing liners. Some brave soles anticipating the 90's later not wearing knee warmers but I am glad I have them on.

I don't like start of ride as with shallow rollers the mass keeps together on the uphill and then flies down at close quarters together. A few times I hammered on the uphill to give myself some space on the downhill, but that just meant getting passed ASAP once we crested. Don enjoyed this part as he shot away--never to be seen again--but with a mass start I wish it was either flat or severe rollers so we could string out the group. Besides, climbs not long enough to get warm but downhills were both crowded and cold. Finally after a dozen baby rollers and a few better sized ones things started to thin out.

At the end of the series of uphill rollers, at mile 31, we are soon at the first rest stop--which is the only piss poor one of the day. One rickety outhouse on a trailer has a few guys doing Sierra Club dedications off to the side. No bulk Hammergel, just a few packs. One guy grabs a few and is told to leave some for the riders behind us. Except for bananas no real food or Hammer type liquid food--someone promised that next rest stop would be more fully stocked. This glorified water stop signified the start of the dreaded Santa Rosa Creek Road. I quickly left as didn't want to be passed by hordes of riders first coming up, and expected the worst. While it did start off steep and with potholes it was much better than Coleman Valley Road was last week--it was just a very winding Morgan Territory (north.) Luckily when passed the isolated rider called out "on your left"--half way down Steve hammers by and shouts out that road now starts to level off. (Later everyone acknowledged that many repairs had been done to it from last year.) About this time Lori, Mike's friend who joined us for dinner the night before, came by. While road was rough I stayed about 100' back but when road smoothed out/ leveled off some more I drafted for awhile and then took a pull at 19-20. Felt strange that I was helping someone who is competing with a clubmate for overall fastest woman rider--but Steve had warned me that I better get into a paceline up the Coast, and as I had ridden with Lori at Mt Tam last year it was almost like riding with a clubmate. This dilemma was short lived, however, as suddenly Kevin, five time Furnace 508 racer, comes past and basically would pull us at 21-25mph until the midpoint stop on the Coast.

Overcast and light fog--though not enough to have glasses fog up like they have all year. Go through nice looking town of Cambria--looks like they have interesting shops unlike useless ones in Solvang. At mile 45 we turn up Highway One-past Hearst Castle (past where I had camped years ago where it was windier than hell before sunset.) Most of this section of Highway One is relatively flat, with a nice wide shoulder. Sky clearing as we pushed on, and slight wind from the northwest. Kevin kept the pace consistent but high --he'd only slack off a tiny bit on a pronounced uphill, where Lori would pick up the pace (someone said she finished 1st on Climb to Kaiser.) A few times I'd go to the front but only for a minute until a rested Kevin would zoom back to the front--at dinner he had indicated that he rode a Litespeed and he had never seen an orange one, I'd now joke that the only reason he let me go to the front was to see my orange Litespeed.

All along we could see a large paceline about 1/4-1/2 mile up the road-- one Steve had hooked up with. We'd get a little closer when road turned uphill but the uphills weren’t long enough or steep enough for us to catch, and Lori made a good call "we'll catch them at the rest stop." Once in a while we'd fly by a lone rider but no one joined us. I was so happy not to be riding this section solo as I'd be going 5mph less if doing so. Finally pulled into rest stop #2 at mile 67, joining Steve and his paceline mates. Real rest room and nice spot overlooking ocean, but wanted to make time to leave with Lori, Kevin, Steve and larger group. But they had hidden the Sustained Energy & Endurolights (last year someone took the bottle) and when they finally pulled it out a short line forms waiting for "hits" so I left rest stop @2 minutes behind Lori & Co. Unfortunately not a good selection of sports drink (the hated Revenge) and no Tums, nor much food so I had a whole banana with a bottle of SE.. Highway 1 now turned steep-- "Italian rollers" (ones you get out of the saddle on-trying to power over, then you see how far away the top is and you plump back into seat) and shoulders were useless on curvy downhills. Sun breaking through but still cool--glad that still had kneewarmers and thin woolen tee shirt on. Could see paceline up ahead far in the distance and on each uphill-downhill-uphill segment they'd seemingly loose one person who I'd pass on the uphill segment. Some riders would pass on the downhills but I'd quickly repass on the uphill. Steve must be doing great, thought I'd pass him on this segment but I never did. One guy and I kept leapfrogging each other, so we decided to ride together as much as possible. Winds up this guy is NOT on our ride but a racer training on Highway 1 who'll take photos on the way back when he is on the ocean side. Once he found out I was in for 200 miles he was happy to pull me to next rest stop at mile 87 (where workers kept yelling at him to give them his number until I told them a few times that he wasn't part of Central Coast Double.)

Another rest stop overlooking the Ocean. Another banana, another bottle of Sustained Energy, and downed TWO cereal bars as knew I should have eaten a little more. Already went through most of my Hammergel and a foil pack from last stop--they still didn't have bulk refills, good sports drink, or big selection of food. Took some time at this stop taking off wool tee-shirt, arm and knee warmers (unfortunately they DON'T collect clothes--this would be perfect place for them to do so) as now turning back inland for 9 mile long climb of the day, Nacimiento-Ferguson Road. While I was leaving Jack pulled in. Sharp right turn over a hidden cattleguard, and steep road where a higher and higher view of the ocean was seen from every switchback.

Funny-on century rides doing a major climb at mile 87 would be something that legends were launched about, but here we still had half a ride to go. On beginning section, steep pitch, my lower back went out--which meant I could only sit and spin, which I'm not the greatest at on a climb. Smartly I got off the bike and took 1 minute for impromptu stretching, and then stayed seated until the grade diminished somewhat. Midway up passed Steve-he yelled out "what took you so long." Joined by Grizzly Peak's Mark who I had ridden up Mt. Diablo on DMD, and while he is a veteran of doubles--he told me that he did not finish DMD due to stomach/gut problems. Did not finish, wow, what could happen to a good rider to DNF??--unfortunately I would find out later About 3/4 of the way up I got into my rhythm, my back loosened up and I was able to stand and scurry up the rest of the climb--GREAT-I thought-half the ride and hardest climb over with and I feel good.

Now long and unsteep downhill to Ft. Liggett lunch stop in the middle of the valley. A few people flew by and I jumped on the end of the paceline Felt good but no tremendous zip in the legs so had to be attentive as too much work to get back on if dropped. It was hot in the valley and I was getting real real thirsty--going through water and SE bottle to quickly, with salty rind forming around my mouth. Geeze-3 hours ago my feet were cold. . But the only thing I was worried about was steel bridge going into Ft. Liggett; last year Lori's riding buddy caught a front wheel in one of the gaps on bridge and went end over end-resulting in serious injury. Enter the fort--ready to stop at guard shack and pull photo ID that we were told was needed to enter--no guard on duty??? (nor when other Diablo Cyclists came by at different times.) But soon at mile 113, steel bridge no problem, and picnic lunch spot set up outside. Lori and Kevin there, taking leisurely lunch. I take my meat eaters special sandwich on wheat (ham, turkey, bread, nothing else that may provide aftertaste) -grab a banana and a soda, go over and stretch on table. Now time to eat-look at food-I AM NOT HUNGRY! Can barely get the piece of ham down. I don't/ can't touch anything else.

I wouldn't know it at the time but probably onset of heat exhaustion--my body shut down whereas I was ALWAYS thirsty for the rest of ride, increasing nausea, and eating anything was repulsive so I didn't/ couldn't eat a thing apart from finishing the Sustained Energy drink between mile 88 and 162. So, for final 5 hours would take in 60 grams of carbs--should be near 300--and they were mostly from soda. In retrospect I should have put Endurolites in my water bottle, and taken Tums with me. At lunch when I shouldn’t eat and thirsty I should have made a Sustained Energy drink and just downed bottle on the spot--but I didn't even look for SE as Jack had warned me that it taste like shit when it is warm. No matter, I since found out that there was NO Sustained Energy at the lunch stop.

Stretch on table, still not hungry-but down 1/2 can of soda re thirst. Lori and Kevin staying at lunch--Jack rolls in and quickly rolls out while I'm drinking soda. I set out-probably not at stop for more than 15 minutes--my longest one of the day.

Jack had warned me that uphill rollers out of base were in a valley with still/ hot air, and while probably not over 90 it was definitely warm. Hmm, rollers not that bad. Climb a cement barricade to get out of base and on Jolon Road, which supposedly is going downhill but a headwind has us going 14 mph. Hook up with a few people but now having trouble staying on wheel as I'm quickly getting very very tired--both sleepy and fatigue with some nausea. When I make the turn I see a driveway in the shade, I go to sit against fence for a few minute but aggressive dog behind fence has me getting up quickly. Kevin and Lori roll by and we ride together for a few miles over pronounced rollers. I have quickly downed 1 1/2 of my water bottles and both Lori/ Kevin also drank most of what they have--luckily an unplanned sag/ water stop was up ahead with ice water. When road flattened out Kevin picked up the pace and I couldn't hang. Now feeling nauseous about 30% of the time. Pulled off again and for a few minutes closed my eyes as I slumped on someone’s mail box--pickup truck pulled over to see if I was OK. Back on bike--pass Jack changing a flat-I didn't stop as now determined to get to 4th rest stop at mile 145, and I was barely hanging on--figure I can take a long time at next rest stop and then ride with Jack.

Get to Harden Square rest stop--with an old community center type building in the middle of nowhere. Very sunny outside with two cyclists already slumped in what little shade there was. Grab can of Mountain Dew, and when I go towards the bathroom I notice entrance to hall--walk in and in a BIG WHITE ROOM surrounded by big windows and a Grandfather clock ticking away. Two cushiony chairs in the back of mostly empty room that sound of ticking grandfather clock reverberating in. Looks like movie set. I stretch out on chairs for about 20 minutes, go outside, Jack has arrived. I try to eat--ice pop and 4 corn chips is about my limit. I try some Gatorade but it is repulsive. Then told that they had some V8 tucked away (lots of food hidden at rest stops on this ride) but after soda and Gatorade don't want to mix in tomato juice. Still incredibly thirsty and more spurts of nausea. I tell Jack that I may drop off his pace but at beginning we are doing OK-trading pulls. But I'm drinking like hell--in a few miles one water bottle downed and soon feel like throwing up 70-90% of the time. I keep sticking finger in my mouth trying to make it happen--ask Jack how Steve, who barfs once on each long ride does it. We hit some rollers and I am rapidly losing it. I'm so zoned out that at one point Jack (being Canadian nice) tells me to pull my jersey down as my midriff is going to get burnt--actually it is up in the back and I'd get a burn a little higher than where "plumber crack" begins. Jack, like at end of Davis last year , says I should drink some plain water and I tell him that is all I've been doing so for last 50 miles,. Again I'm almost out, just 15 miles after last rest stop--with another 19 to go to next one. Jack mentions that June hammered this section last year--wow, as I can barely keep going straight.

Another water sag up ahead, mile 162, we stop to fill up but I can barely keep standing. One person who Jack knows pulls in and says that even with Endurolites I needed something in my drink and gives me a few packets of lemonade type mix but I can barely get it in the bottle and can't drink it. Sag driver has personal stash of Cliff Bars, which I love, so I ask for and get one. Take one bite and have to spit it out. Front seat of van in the shade looks inviting--I tell Jack to press on--I'm going to rest for 3 minutes..............3 minutes becomes 6 thing I know I hear "Jay is that you??" It's 20-25 minutes later, California Mike has arrived. I see him, yell, "great, lets ride" step out of van and promptly stumble around. Mike tells me I'm in bad shape, which I know. Maybe I should have gotten back in van, tried drinking, eating again and and rested another half hour--after all about half the riders were still behind us. But I felt like crap, disappointed that any chance for a good overall time was gone, and still had 19 miles and a major climb to next rest stop. So I did something I had never done before--"I'm calling it a day, I'll sag in"

Sit in van for about 15-20 minutes before sag driver starts me out to next rest stop. I'm so out of it when we pass a Diablo Cyclist jersey with a Camelback I roll down window and yell "go Steve"--I didn't realize that it was Mike who was also riding with a Camelback. Driver an older guy who had a stroke a few years back and still does some of the doubles. Nice guy, though I almost barf on the spot when he says "and at the next rest stop they have HOT DOGS." Route was still undulating but didn't look bad--of course I was zoning out in while riding in a van.

Pull into Bradley School, mile 179, see Kitty as she is ready to go. Shortly afterwards Kevin/ Lori pull in and wonder how I got there before them--I dejectedly tell them I sagged in. Bradley best stocked rest stop of the day--they have applesauce on ice--I down 5 in a row, and then just sit in the sun as it is now getting cool. When Kevin/ Lori leave they invite me to ride in with them but I decline. Short time later Jack pulls in--then Mike Figure there is another 2 hours of riding to end (mile 210) so I might as well sit around and try to get sagged in about when Mike will finish.. Two guys talking about someone who did Santa Cruz 400km rando last year and couldn't do this ride the next week--told them my buddy is doing it now. . Later on some guys talked about how they'd never do the Santa Cruz rando as Mike did as killer winds pick up in the afternoon. More testament to Mike's fortitude. Sure enough--the overhang starts blowing about and temperature is quickly dropping. I wonder what happened to Steve--and then he rolls in--now happy but told me that he laid outside the last rest stop for 30 minutes from exhaustion and he threw up twice. Another trooper.

Funny thing--I see lots of people straggle in who I rode with in the morning--now well behind Mike (including me.) Also, while most riders look exhausted, the ones at the end look happier--they’re keeping their friends together. At 7:30, when I had hoped to finish, I start pestering for a sag to take me in--they have no radio contact with the sags so they have no way to contact anyone riding the final portion of the route. It is getting cold, I have a cup of soup, and wonder if I'll get back at midnight just when legendary sag driver Lee pulls in with a full load but makes room for one more.

Felt a little better as 3 seasoned riders also being sagged--when I wondered what happened they all said "its the heat." One guy had even done Brest-Paris-Brest a few years ago from the intermediate start group, and I was trying to get tips from him for Mike. My nausea must have subsided as Lee chomping on a rest stop hot dog. He'd turn on outside music when he got close to a cyclist on the road, but kept admonishing rides to turn on their taillights, critiquing their placement and effectiveness--and why they should be on steady state and NOT blinking. Heck, I have the worlds smallest taillight, after this I went out and got a powerful one. This part of the route near the freeway, relatively flat but with crosswind.

Finally got back to Paso Robles at 8:30. Though I dq'd I still got a patch, which will be hung upside down. No sign of Mike who has car keys so I put on my lights to ride to church where post-meal was. One block up was Mike who had gotten lost so we rode to meal together. Loads of folks we knew--turns out Kitty and Lori rode in together, Don had set a blistering time, and Jack did his usually steady thing--while Mike and Steve also finished nicely. I was kind of po'd at myself--and didn't understand what had happened, but great having such a good group to eat with--even if everyone is much happier than I am.

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