Saturday, June 17, 2006

Terrible Two-2006

(June 17, 2006)Terrible Two 2006 200 miles, 16,500' climbing, 100 degrees on big climb of the day.5:30-9:18; 102 of 283 starters , ahead of 64% of starters, 181 finishers by 11PM cutoff . Don, Jack, Doug, Kitty on the course but riding solo most of the day. Big stretch with Ish, Kitty and Grizzly Mark

Last year did surprisingly well on Terrible Two, even with 10 extra anniversary miles thrown in, and then did well on two additional doubles. But that was last year. This year doubles are rough, with hypothermia, heat exhaustion (DNF), and muscle meltdown. And when riding well, like at Sierra Century, unexplained mechanical, and lots of residual aches and pains. After Sierra Century while bike shop said American Classic wheels were good (the ones that had two blow outs), I had a string of continual flats, and with hand strength at 60-70% hard to change tires. Then bike shop said my cranks stuck in bottom bracket with new Phil Woods bearings--and they'll try to extricate bottom bracket in the winter--"but don't worry for now"--so I am. Brakes rattling around--maybe it is headset but hard to tell with stupid internal headset. Then handlebars not tightened down when bike comes back from shop--caught just in time for start of what should be a long training ride but my legs feel like crap, and we come across a huge bike crash that ends the desire of most of the bonus mile group after the ambulances leave. Shit, last year on weekend before TT did 100 miles on Saturday and solo'd 80 miles of gold country hills on Sunday, this year Jack and I limp through 80 miles and then do worse the next day on shortest club ride of the year--35 miles. At same time getting bad karma from American Classics so I decide on Terrible Two's, with lousy downhill pavement, to put on the heavier Open Pros with a rear tire I picked up on Halloween with the TT in mind-a 25mm Michelin (instead of riding my usual 23mm's.) Also realize that each year since started climbing I've switched to harder and harder gears--which in the TT's with plenty of 15-20% grades, may bite me in the butt. (Kitty and Cal Mike warned me)

pre 2003 39x27 (39 gear inches easiest gear) Doing no hilly rides
2003 39x34. (31 gi) As 34 is overkill, will change to...
2004 39x32 (33 gi) As love having 11-28-32 but too many gaps when racing on the flats, will change to...
2005 34x27 (34 gi) As lots of chain drop, change to ...
2006 36x27 (36 gi) Which isn't much easier than 39x27

So after going into Devil Mountain and Central Coast in what I thought was good shape and going out hard and falling apart on Devil Mountain, and DNF'ing on Central Coast, my game plan is to take it real easy at the beginning of TT My DNF at Central Coast means I'm not in the Triple Crown race standings, which prevented me from being hyped up. I'm not even going to try to chase Don, who has been riding many of the "easy" doubles on a fixed gear and then flys when on a regular bike--or try to keep up with Jack who has an "insane" rest stop schedule (at Central Coast he was one of few riders to stay at lunch for under 10 minutes.) Both Don and Jack just finished Eastern Sierra in almost 12 hours. Then there is Kitty who is 1st among the women in the Stage Race series--she also has an insane rest stop pace. So I'd bet the farm that they come in way before me. The only person I may see come in after me is Doug, a good rider but who hasn't done many doubles this year, is a little intimidated by TT which he has never done, and faded at the end of Davis Double. While the TT course is 9 miles shorter than last year, forecast is for mid 90's and upward , while last year was mid 80's tops. Last year I finished at 8:43--with reduced miles this should translate in a 8:07 finish. But with heat, lack of form, heavier tires/rims and harder gears I hope to come in a half hour off the mark, or around 8:40--which will still be before nightfall.

Day before TT I take an easy flat 30 miler out to Los Vaquaros--very warm early in the morning, great cycling weather; of course again see no other cyclists en route. (Central County a hotbed of cycling--not to many in East County.) Knee and thigh still sore--though only rode once (easily) since the weekend. Hard to believe that it was cool and rainy 2 days ago. By the time I drive to Santa Rosa it is almost hitting 100. Luckily not a NASCAR weekend like last year, so staying a a nicer motel than last year, for about the same $$$. Doug and I eat at Tuscany Restaurant which I spotted in 2005. Good meal and good conversation but strange that not a Diablo Cyclist dinnerfest like usual. Love pasta the day before a ride, but with heat losing much of my appetite. Tomorrow I better keep well hydrated and keep eating--so at rest stops I plan to down Sustained Energy shakes when they are really cold, and make sure my Central Coast hunger strike doesn't repeat itself. Doug is good conversationalist and a little apprehensive of the Terrible Two, so we probably BS a little too late so get to sleep close to 10:00 and set alarm to go off by 3:30--but in AM Doug is ancie and already up. Still cool outside-a shade under 60, so I decide NOT to wear tri top and take arm warmers, two decisions I'd regret later on. I also took some HEED (carried in a PEETS Coffee bag) so I'd have enough electrolites--but this year they had HEED at rest stops so I carried bag for naught.

New location of mass start in Sebastopol adds 5 miles to the beginning of the course, so more flat area for the pelaton to stick together until the mass breaks up on the Bennett Valley rollers. Get to high school by 4:45, unfortunately that morning is first chance to pick up number and afix to jersey, so bit of a rush. Men's bathroom backed up like always. Turn in lights, to be picked up at mile 185--can send them to an earlier rest stop on the Coast at mile 163, but if I needed lights on the Coast I'd sag in before riding over terribly paved long descent that brings you back inland. Setup bike-can't find good mesh gloves--luckily I have a beater pair in my bike crate. Before long some loony on too much caffeine is running around yelling "5 minutes to rider meeting...5 minutes to riders meeting." So what. Then minutes before the mass start the organizer gives a speech regarding what to expect at --but last year half the riders couldn't hear anything he said, and again this year no one in the back could hear any details--though just the word "gravel" was prominent. Didn't see any of my Diablo Cyclist clubmates. Here is where I made the best move of the day--slipped back into gym-no one in woman's bathroom and took care serious business.

Now 5:30, first light and we are off--first rest stop after one climb and 55 miles away. (I don't know what shocks century riders more who consider hard climbs unfair when they're late in the ride at mile 70 and that rest stops should be 20-25 miles apart--when I tell them at that on the TT the big climb is at 110 miles or that the first rest stop is at mile 55.) Jack up ahead; I don't see Kitty, Doug or Don, who my $$$ is on to finish the fastest in our group. I have no impetus, not riding aggressively, so more and more riders jumping ahead of me and more and more space between me and Jack. In retrospect while no reason to be over aggressive as no one is going to really improve at this early juncture--you have to work to maintain your position in the pelation like when you are defending your floor space at the Fillmore, and I'm not doing it. Soon in the 3rd or 4th group on the road as we zig in and out of Central Santa Rosa in tight formation. It is not until rollers on Bennett Valley Road--mile 14--that the pack starts breaking up. No Diablo Cyclists in sight. Unfortunately I'm with a couple of doufus cyclists. We start climbing and a group of 8 is hugging the right side of the road. I'm in the back, as to relax on climbs when I'm in the back I don't hammer. Two cyclists riding at the front to the left of our line. Car comes along, settles behind two cyclists blocking road--lots of curves so wary to pass. Girl in front of me yells "car back." Both numnuts don't move. Girl again says "car back"--cyclists don't move. Another car now behind first one, girl again says "car back"--nothing. A 3rd car now is blocked and riding next me to me, girl again says "car back"--both cyclists on the left don't move. Mindful of what happened at the Sierra a few weeks ago I scream "car back-get the fuck over and let the cars pass." After riders finally move over and cars pass this seemingly wakes me up and I go hard up the hills.

We start the first of five significant climbs of the day, Trinity Grade, which is perhaps the easiest as fresh legs or because not many 12%+ steep portions as we'll hit on all the other climbs. I'm starting to feel like a Sierra Club dedication is due, and mindful that the first rest stop is still 25 miles away I stop at the side of the road. Around next corner is a SAG handing out water--while I still have most of mine I figure I might as well retop--unlike last year when it was foggy it is nice and clear now and I'm sorry I dragged the arm warmers. You know it will be very very warm soon, Hit top of Trinity Grade and start twisting/ fast descent. Some workers along road with "caution" or "slow" signs--I yell out not to worry as I'll be one of the slowest going down this fast section, which leads into the Napa Valley. Go around a big sweeping left curve and at the side of the road is a crowd of cyclists. By the time I get to the bottom ambulances and firetrucks are racing uphill--find out later that a tandem had a blowout and two of the fastest cyclists around were thrown into the guardrail and taken to hospital. Shit--I've seen too many fuckin accidents this last half year.

Get to Silverado Trail and see some cyclists in the distance. Here is where you want to form a paceline for the 20+ flat miles through the Napa Valley to Calistoga rest stop. I catch up to one, turns out a guy from Santa Cruz Cycling Team that we were racing at Davis. He and I try to catch couple of riders way up the road but we aren't making any progress so we decide to take it easy and hope we are joined from behind. Last year I could have ridden up to cyclists up the road--but bike feels slower with non aero heavier rims and 25mm tires--or maybe it is just my shot legs. In any event we are soon joined by 8-12 riders--half who are willing to work at the front. When the pace starts dropping Santa Cruz or I go to the front to liven things up. Glad I took a bottle of Perpetuem and nibbled on 1/2 a Cliff Bar, so wasn't hungry at all.

Trinity Climb-3 miles at 1,350 feet. As 1st climb of the day am rested , and no killer grades like on later climbs, so "best" climb of the day. Fast descent into Napa Valley. (Graph courtesy of Santa Rosa bike club)

Get to 1st rest stop, mile 55, Calastoga at 8:47 which is +4 minutes off my same pace from last year (pace adjusted for more miles in the beginning and less at he end, where course is 9 miles shorter, which got me in at 8:43 last year which would translate to 8:07 today.) But with my being off form, heavier wheel and harder gearing, and expected heat, I am hoping for a 8:30-8:40 finish. Jack and Doug leaving, and indicate that Don is up the road. Kitty pulled in around the same time but left before me. I only stay for 9 minutes, whizz behind occupied outhouses, drink 1/2 a Sustained Energy Drink, fill up bottles with HEED and more SE, eat 2 fig bars and banana and take 3 Endurolights. And then I'm off. Not much of a rest after 55 miles but you have to be quick out of the rest stops when you can. Now I know where rest of Diablo Cyclists are--about 10 minutes up the road. Next 18 miles flat to rollers and then a stiff climb up Geysers Road.

Figure that if I make up some time I can catch up with most of them on the climb. Fortuitous timing, RAAM top 10 finisher and great guy Ish comes along. He had been at accident scene. I last rode with him 7-9 years ago. He says hi--tells me about what happened earlier, and then pushes a hard gear at 22 mph. Disregarding California Mike's advice about riding to hard to early I get on Ish's wheel and stay there for the next 18 miles. When road goes uphill, or telling a story Ish doesn't slow much. Lots of people jumped on behind when road is flat but would fall off on the uphill section. Usually I find it easy to hang on uphill rollers as everyone else's speed cuts sharply while mine doesn't, but here I have to stand and ride hard to stay behind Ish who is effortlessly turning the big gear.

Off to the side I can see some wonderful vineyards and some picturesque Victorian's-with bed and breakfast garden. Real honor to be riding in back of Ish--who trained for RAAM while working full time. Funny moment after Ish tells me about the white shorts he is wearing, which he says keeps you cooler on hot days and is a tribute to someone he raced against in RAAM who always wore white shorts. Eventually Ish gets out of the saddle, and the black saddle dye has streaked the back of the white shorts. I mention this to Ish as one of the drawbacks, he laughs and says "what are you doing looking a my butt." I think he's used this line numerous times before. We make the right turn and start the double summited Geyser climb. Typical cloudless California (almost) summer day, and it is now very warm. Ish says that i'll probably climb this faster than him, I respond that even if I do he'll shortly pass me on the gnarly downhill full of pot holes, uneven chunks and gravel, which I'm going to take really slow. Ish says he takes downhills slow also--but something tells me his definition of slow is much faster than mine.

Geysers-9 mile climb, 2700 feet, then 16 miles of lousy roads in the middle of nowhere-courtesy of Santa Rosa Bike Club-each horizontal line 200 feet

At the beginning of the climb I put in alot of effort hoping to see some Diablo Cyclist teammates--not anerobic or even high aeroboic but a serious sitting tempo (I don't want to get out of the saddle much as I'm trying to save my back for later on.) I pass loads of cyclists and quickly come up on Jack and Doug (don't recall passing Don and passed Kitty when Ish and I first took off.) Lots of looping curves and Napa Valley below looks great--wish I had a picture to share with you. I start putting some distance on Jack and Doug as they'll both zoom past me on the downhill and guaranteed that Jack will be at the rest stop for a much shorter time than me--no matter how little time I take. Running low on water and having caught Jack and Doug I take a lot off--especially after short downhill which then leads to next summit. Either I catch up to, or am joined by Grizzly Peak's Mark, who I finished last year's Knoxville with and then pushed the pace on Mt Diablo at the start of Devil Mountain with, and also rode hard with over the big climb on Central Coast. We are now riding a more leisurly pace--probably Mark mindful that he didn't finish Devil Mountain Double, and I'm mindful that I didn't finish Central Coast by pushing too hard early. We both talk about how our bodies shut down on the doubles we disappointingly DNF'd on. Now it is hot and down to 1-2 hits of water--fellow cyclist comes up and wants to know if Mark or I can spare any water as he's out. This is only place that great great support of Santa Rosa Cycling Club could have improved--a water stop was needed. Soon after I slack and bs with Grizzly Mark, Ish comes along and passes us steadily--same pace always, not the fits and starts that I am prone to do. We soon pass outhouses about a 1/4 mile before rest stop--big sign that no outhouses at rest stop. I keep plugging away, I can whizz off to the side of the rest stop (as popularly done in Italy.) I get to mile 84, top of Geysers rest stop at 11:08, +24 off last years pace.

Figure I got there 1-2 minutes after Ish but he is already gone. Mix a cold SE and down it before refilling with another SE and HEED. I'm only at rest stop for 9 minutes and I take off for least favorite portion of the course.

Geysers Road is in the middle of nowhere--a geothermal valley, with no traffic. The top starts steeply down but is well paved. Soon I hear "on your left" and Jack passes. Then 15 miles of a lesser downhill but over ruts, bumps, potholes, gravel... Actually it was better than I expected--some of the potholes had been filled in....some. And all the dangers on the road were marked well with white paint., so many descriptive 'OIL PATCH' 'GRAVEL' 'UNEVEN' 'BUMP' pronouncements were on the road. The bad thing is that there are many more gravel patches than last year--and instead of being filled with pea gravel many of the 50' gravel sections were filled with larger chunks. While I think the 25mm tires slowed me down today--over this section I was very glad to have them on--especially when I almost lost control of the bike on the last gravel patch when I hit some big chunks.. Of course on this section I passed no one, and a few riders passed me, including Doug at the beginning (who liked this part-no doubt from his mountain biking skills) --but for the longest time didn't see anyone. Real desolate. Keep humming Patti Smith's "Dancing Barefoot," great song to calm me down on descents.

16 miles of lousy downhill seemingly goes on forever--I am so happy when I finally come out on a real road. Join up with a young guy from the Southland who comes up to do the Terrible Two each year, and a guy whose name starts with "Y' and has a number over 300---wow, they have over 300 crazy people on this ride. We are now going towards Warm Springs Dam lunch stop, near where the Wine Country Century lunch stop is--we are riding the opposite way. Amazingly I know where we are. As I remember that we have lots of short climbs after lunch on Wine Country we now have mostly short downhills--the young guy does lots of pulling, the "Y" guy doesn't do any, and I do a few short pulls to help young guy out--though when I go to the front I remind both guys to be real attentive to road makings as I am the Diablo Cyclist champion--in getting lost. We come in fast to Warm Springs lunch stop at mile 110-12:50, +28 minutes after my pace from last year.

It is now very hot--over 90 degrees, and the big climb of the day, Skaggs Springs is ahead of us. Additionally, last year I got very sleepy tired after the 15 mile Geyser climb. So my game plan is to pull into the lunch stop, sit in the shade and down a bottle of cold SE, take some Vitamin B, and just lay in the shade with my eyes closed for 10 minutes. This is when the Santa Rosa Cycling club really gets great. At earlier rest stops they were cheering each rider as they came in, which would continue. But now with the waves of incomming riders thinning, for the rest of the day a worker would grab your bike, hang it on a bike rack for you, take your bottles and fill them, etc. See Doug and my old doubles roomate Domo Tom. Tom had driven out to this spot and planned to ride the second half of the course. Just basically said hi to him as I wanted to rest. After getting rid of bike I go over to place where workers are making sandwiches and get a wheat roll with ham and turkey--nothing else that I can repeatedly taste later. I sit on side of workers and then down a cold SE. I hear Jack nearby, his bike is being looked at by a mechanic. Doug comes by and indicates Tom and him are leaving, but I ain't going anywhere. I lay back and close my eyes for 10 minutes--interrupted by 2 workers who come over to see if I'm OK, "yes, I smile with my eyes shut and shoes off--just resting."

Am finally ready to leave after 20 minutes. Jack is already gone. See Kitty who rolled in well after me, but she is ready to leave quickly. Don, who had been club's strongest double ride, comes in after me--I thought he was well in front of the course. Don looks white as a ghost--the heat has hit him hard. He indicates that he forgot his lights and asks that if I see him on the Coast I should wait for him as I did on DMD--but at that point I doubt that Don will finish. Go up the road and turn off so I can water a bush. Pass Kitty who tells me where she stuffs food so she can eat as she is riding. Ask her her secret when you see her--it looks like she looses lots of "Pamla Anderson" weight as she eats. . Then it is immediatly on the 1st portion of the Skaggs Climb--wide open in the sun. This climb is brutal.

Skaggs Springs-15 miles 3800'starting at mile 110. After climbing 7500' miles in first 110 miles, 5000' climbing first 30 miles after lunch.

Leaving lunch worker said 8 miles to water stop--it seemed like 800 miles. Someone reported later that their cyclocomputer said 106 degrees, another said 114 degrees-I doubt it was over 100 but it was very very close and there is absolutly no shade. Bottom of my foot started hurting slightly going into lunch, and I am still trying to protect my back for the Ft. Ross climb so I am again passing most riders but if someone comes through I'm not chasing like last year. More traffic than I rember from last year, nice shoulder but warm weather brought out lots of motorcycles and boats as right next to Lake Sonoma--can peak to the right and spot the blue water straight down Water looks inviting, but would be a shear drop to get there. Finally get to van off on the side of the road and refill with lukewam water--in 8 miles I had downed most of my drink. A few false downhills always followed by at steep, sun baked, uphill. I soon hear a faint voice "Jay-Jay"--it is Jack, in a cutout deep into the shade well off the road. He indicates he is spent, and though he has water and endrolytes he is ready to call it a day and was going to ride back down to the water sag. Jack is a doubles veteran, and he'd be among the 36% of the starters who didn't finish. Seemed like he had what I had at Central Coast--heat exhaustion. Soon I'd hear my name again, Kevin 508 who lead the ocean paceline at Central Coast was in the shade--he was also done for the day. Leaving lunch I didn't think that Don was going to finish. Figuring that Domo Tom ("race you to the top"-on Geysers from 2005 TT) was hammering Doug to death, I did expect to see Doug on the side of the road also.

Some doubt that I'd finish--I promised myself a vest if I did. It is baking. Next water stop more established-a half dozen riders look spent, all with wet towels over their head. Worker comes out and a la James Brown (sort of) puts a wet towel on my back--feels great. Have an ice pop and some pretzels for salt. More cold drink. Last year probably spent 2 minutes at one water stop on Skaggs--now spending around 18-20 minutes at all three. Actually, last year had to stop on downhills and put on my vest, and wished that "hope next year is warmer so I don't have to put on vest." Another example of how you shouldn't wish for things--you may actually get what you wish for. After wet towel on my back soaked my jersey the descent off the first summit felt great, like an air conditioner was on me. Bridge at the base of the paved descent which ends to fast, I pull off to water more bushes, before starting up shear wall in front of me. Motorcyclist doing same thing on other side of the road, I offer to trade my bike for his motorcycle--he says nicely "I couldn't do what you are doing." Nice to hear as I keep beating myself up a little that I'm not pushing the pace like last year.

The heat is now getting to me on the 2nd summit. Think the problem for most riders is that it has been relatively cool/ rainy in Bay Area with only a couple of days in the 90's, so no time to get acclimated. Usually I'm a good hot weather rider but now I'm drained.

Funny thing happens that would happen a few times from here on out. I pass bunch of riders but I am spent. I see some shade so I pull over and rest for a minute--group of riders I pass come up and go by me. While I am kicking myself for stopping, they stop en masse about 50' up the road in next pitch of shade.. For most of climb all by myself. At one point ride with a graduate student from Berkeley--first I wish I was much much younger and doing this. But then I think back, when I was a graduate student I could barely ride up one mildly hilly San Francisco block. Finally get to top of 2nd summit and another water stop. This one well off the left side of the road under some nice shade trees. I'm a little tired and remember last year when I was getting sleepy riding to Camp Gulala, so when I spot a lounge chair I again want to lay out for 10 minutes and close my eyes. Finally, carrying HEED in a Peets bag pays off, as rest stop only has water, so I mix my own cold sports drink to down it while it is still real cold. Eyes closed, relaxing, when high pitched female voice pierces the calm "Jay, get off your butt and get moving"--it is Kitty, the perpetual motion machine. Lots of laughter, but I hang out for another few minutes till rested up. I actually wanted to stay there the rest of the day. On nice gradual downhill to Camp Gulala pass Kitty and see Grizzly Mark again, and we ride together to Camp Gulala rest stop. Actually about 1/4 mile from the real nice spot it was last year--mile 139, 3:58, +57 off last years pace. Now getting cooler/ in some shade, I mix a cold Sustained Energgy drink, unfortunatley they don't have chocolate Hammergel to complete my shake so I put in some berry flavor--when I ride that would become my plain water bottle, now with a tinge of berry flavor for the rest of the day. Grab some nuts and fig bars and ready to go in 12 minutes--of course Kitty has already come in and left. Surpirsed that haven't seen Doug yet.

Road starts off with some weird slight uphills, a swirling tailwind is grabbing the bike and I'm coasting at 20mph uphill--better than the Volcano (Sierra Century) effect. But then the torture begins. Last year, on the special +11 mile edition, the bonus miles were here as we did a series of gradually graded hills circling out to the Coast. Riders that I were with complained that they liked the old course that went directly to the Coast, which was shorter but steeper. What were they thinking? We hit "the Wall"--climbing 900' in less than 2 miles. Average grade of 10% with many sections much steeper. Two things happen here--my knee that was operated on in 2001 and has been fine since 2003 starts giving me trouble. And my lower back starts hurting when I transition to stand. Then my bike starts making a weird clang every time I hit a bump, which doesn't help my psyche--I am now trying to figure out how I can protect my knee, loosen my back, and where the f'n clang is coming from....and how to ride over the next 14-16% section. Grizzly Mark comes by, usually we are compatable climbers but he easly passes me. I'm passing everyone else and again decide to get off the bike to stretch--when I do 4-5 other guys pass and then they get off down the road. Clanging coming from loose headset cap on top of fork. Only one guy is back on his bike--he's been zig zagging the whole climb, which I try but it really doesn't help. A few time near the top we come across an open space with the cool air from the coast rushing it--the temperature probably dropped from 95 to 65 degrees in the space of a mile. After some more false summits a real downhill to Highway 1--and though sunny and clear with the temperature change it feels like it is very cold

Stop to put on my vest. Look up the road no one there--look back, no one coming down, so I'll be riding along the ocean myself. Which is good as I soon get pain from my knee-which I usually cover when cooler than 70, but don't have knee warmers with me. . Almost as bad as the damn pain like in 2002, when I'd have to stop a ride after mile 40-at least it isn't in spasm, yet. Sudden cool weather and pushing to hard a gear on the climbs has conspired against me. Two guys, one being the "Y" guy from earlier come by--they are not going that fast but I can't get on their wheel. Ocean is beautiful to the right, and more cars than I remember passing on the left, nice shoulder when Highway 1 is flat but have to ride on Highway 1 when road goes uphill or downhill roller appears. SHIT-knee twinge--wait for section I can pull off to take a Naparson, but it is so long I don't have any with me, so I take Advil instead. I'm thinking that at Ft Ross Rest stop I'll take arm warmer I've been carrying and tie it around my knee.

Soon riding a few miles solo on Coast and doing a lot of thinking. TT is much harder than last year, and I am rapidly falling apart. All of the timed doubles were hard this year. Last year I was super competative and psyched to do the timed doubles--this year I enjoyed the untimed events more. I have fun on any ride when I can finishing strong and I haven't on the timed doubles all year. Last year with good results on the TT and very good results on Mt. Tam I thought I was developing into a very good doubles rider--now I am fair at best. Last year I wouldn't have rested so much and would have been aiming for best finishing time, now I am just concerned about just finishing. Year hasn't turned out as I planned. Again. They never do.

Luckily I soon catch up to Kitty so I can end the conversation with myself, and we ride the remaining half of the 15 Coast miles together. I talk to her a little about her (and Jack's) "insane" rest stop pace--whereas they are so unique in their ability to go "in and out" that my trying to match their schedule is like trying to ride with someone who can hammer 40mph on the flats. At Central Coast, where lunch stop is timed, I mistakenly only put 13 minutes in, I should have taken twice as long. Maybe I cut my lunch short when I saw Jack pull in and then suddenly leave--and I felt that I was dawdling. But then when final results were posted most top half finisher riders took close to 20 minutes at the lunch stop while Kitty took 16 and Jack 7! Of course Kitty is now ridiing for time as she is contending for Triple Crown woman's race title.

Pull into Ft Ross, mile 163, at 6:08, +62 behind last years pace. Here lots of folks send their lights, but if I needeed my lights here I'd sag in as most of the way to the next rest stop is rustic with some fast downhills along some terrible roads. Again great workers cheer when I come in, and grab my water bottles. One worker comes up and asks "fresh Peets," I playfully pull out the Peets bag I 've been carrying all day (w/ Heed) and say "no, I only drink decaf." I see guy Doug knows who rode with us at the finish in Davis, he has called it a day. I should have asked him if he saw Doug come through but didn't, as now I'm just thinking about Ft. Ross climb. I down some SE and banana, but only at rest stop for 6 minutes. Yes Kitty has already left--though before leaving she yelled at eveyone, with half the people sitting around half dead "it is getting dark, better get moving." In real life she should be a golf course marshall--now many of teh zombies wanted to kill her.

And better get moving is right-obscene climb at mile 163. Steep Ft Ross Road starts immediately. I didn't tie arm warmer around my knee as gently spinning down the coast kinda helped, and I knew it would be warm going back inland, but knee is quickly tender on first 15+% section, and my back quickly spasms whereas I can't make transition to standing. Oh shit

Major climb #5 of the day at mile 162, Ft Ross. While the wall went up 900' in 1.7 miles, Ft Ross goes up 1500' in 2.6 miles. Average grade 11%

Ride past Kitty, and past the place I got off the bike last year when I had back spasms, but getting more and more difficult. I get off the bike to stretch, Kitty comes by and says "start walking"---both to help stretch my back and so that I am always moving forward. So I start walking at 2.2 mph--first time walked up a climb since Ink Grade 7-10 years ago. Grizzly Mark comes through. Loosen up and get on the bike, feel OK for awhile--but first time I stand entering a 14-16% hairpin my back tightens again. Get off the bike-stretch-walk, I see from odomoter that have only gone a little over a mile, so if I keep walking it would take me an hour to finish this climb. When I get loose I get back on the bike and stay seated--only having a 36x27 easy gear is killing me. Brutal climb is along a narrow road but without much traffic--try the zig zag trick whenever possible but not much room to continually do it. If not slowly dying the tree lined road would be great. Tiny bit of relief always followed by a 15%+ section. Soon get back to Kitty and I ride her pace so I don't overextend. I'm po'd that I can't used my USUALLY easy climbing gear--wheras I can stand for 5 minutes at a time. Now I can't stand at all. Another hairpin that I trudge around and up ahead is another "WALL," 15-18% to the top--which I recognize as Big Mike and I did a solo ride along the ridgeline last year. (On the TT last year everything enveloped in fog and couldn't see the top.) I'm po'd that I'm dying out--but for once when in disrepair I remember my motivational "training tapes." (Usually just remember them when I am feeling good.) I hit the base of the wall-stand and start to power up while yelling "there he goes again-HE NEVER GIVES UP, EVER!" (Phil Liggett call of Museeuw when he hits the steepest climb and started to drop and then surges back to lead group on the 2002 Tour of Flanders.) I think Kitty yelled for me to calm down and/or take it easy but I was too excited as I was going to power to the top of the last damn section of this climb, and did...

Get to the top and right turn onto the ridgeline. Series of uphill rollers, but shallow enough that I can ride in the drops, stretching my back out, and the warm weather feels great. The spinning is helping my knee. Soon on a mostly descending road with some significant uphills, I have to laugh as last year this is where I'd pass Jack on the uphills and he'd repass me as soon as the road turned downhill--seemed like it happend just last week. Glad I laughed as this is another section of twisting roadway that doesn't have the greatest pavement, and with long shadows harder to see potholes and cracks. Come upon Grizzly Mark who is having trouble on the uphill sections--I'd get ahead of him on these while he'd come by on the downhill section. By this point I couldn't wait to get to paved "surburban" streets--I remebered the great straight run in we had last year to the mile 184-Monte Rio stop, where I waited to collapse but wound up leading a paceline. We finally got out onto the Cazadero Highway--no one up ahead or behind us, Grizzly Mark and I taking turns pulling. Unfortunatley, instead of a 7 mile stretch on this--a straight shot to the rest stop, they now detour us after 3 miles and have us do more rollers on a side road. Grizzly Mark suffering now and I try to do as much pulling as possible. Get back onto main road and we pull into mile 184, Monte Rio, at 8:07. Still running +62 minutes behind last year, but first segment in awhile where I didn't lose more time to 2005.--but it is 8:07 is when I had hoped to finish the damn ride.

Pull into rest stop with wild cheers by staff. One guy grabs my bike, and my bottles and I go to set up my lights. Look around-no Doug. I hadn't seen him on the road so either he is stuck in an outhouse or he is ridiing great. Grizzly Mark indicates that he is pushing on as I'll probably catch him on the uphill portion of Bohemian Highway.

In 6 minutes I am ready to go, and before I leave I get my revenge on Kitty, who pulled in about 5 minutes after me. She is sitting on chair off to the side and I yell out "Come on Kitty-time to go." I know she'll be off soon, and now I start hammering back to catch up to Grizzly Mark. It is only 8:15 or so--45 minutes before sunset, but with dense trees it looks like sun has already set. Feel good that new huge taillight is on bike (along with old tiny one, and reflector band around leg--put on after sag driver Lee's lecture every time we passed a rider with a puny taillight on Central Coast.) Soon see Mark ahead on one of the numerous uphill sections on the Bohemian Highway. Look back and no one down the road, and no one up the road--and now that I am feeling good want to protect "placement.," which will be shitty enough. Mark had carried his light--a small one but cleverly mounted on his fork so it lit up the road nicely. I didn't think that I'd be riding after dark on this so didn't bring the helmet light but 6-15w on handlebar is good enough. I mention to Mark that I just want to protect our placement now, and he has gotten his second wind and starts doing more pulling. Meanwhile, it is suddenly getting cool inland, more knee twinges, so I take some speed off. Pounding the pedals was fun while it lasted. It is darker than it should be. Today I'm doing a good job picking out turns (heck-I ride solo enough), and Mark knows the course well.

Soon after I complement him on his innovative light mount I hear a crash-- his light falls off bike. Mark stops 1-2 minutes to fix, as no one up or down the road I may as well stay with him. We start at it again and are circling the outskits of Occidental. Some traffic and real nightfall has set in. We can see well up the farm road and no bike lights in the distance. Soon buildings become more frequent, we are getting close to town, again crash-Mark's light again flies off fork, and we stop for 1-2 minutes to correct. Go up the road a little ways and suddenly Analy High School, follow the blinking lights around the parking lot--to more applause and checking in. Final time 15:48, +71 minutes off last year's pace. Disappointed but from heavier equiptment and lack of form I expected to be off by +30, and brutal weather accounted for the rest.

Over 100 riders DNF'd, only 55% finished by 10:00, the cutoff to get the "free tee shirt" that you can't buy. Ironically, though finishing 102nd, as more starters than last year finished ahead of 64% of everyone, which is what I did last year when I had quicker time and finished 89th. And I did what I Iove doing, being able to finish the ride strongly. See Doug at the finish--he had NOT collapsed and came in -14 minutes ahead of me, becoming the fastest Diablo Cyclist on the ride. I never would have predicted this guessed after he had suffered at the end of Davis Double. I had expected Don, Jack and Kitty to all finish way ahead of me. Made me think back to a Paul Sherwin nugget after 2001 Paris Roublex "at the start of the day no one would have put Servis Knaven's name down as the winner of Paris Roublex, but that is who it is going to be." Don't know if Domo Tom helped Doug though he did talk Doug into being light on Ft. Ross and only fill one bottle of water--Doug quickly ran out and asked Tom for some of his-"I'm out too" deadpanned Tom, so then they had to stop at a fire station for a refill.

Kitty soon arrives--she lost the stage race series to Lori of Fresno, a great climber who has been riding in hot weather, and who finished @1 1/2 hours before us. Usual great outdoors spread at the end of the ride--talk to Lori and Doug briefly, but Doug didn't take warm clothes and it is getting cold fast so he leaves while I have 3 helpings of main courses-lasanga, polenta and chicken. Hey, it's after a mostly liquid diet all day.

I think about what is a harder ride Devil Mountain Double--with longer but less steep climbs or the Terrible Two. Biased sample, but everyone (@ half--dozen) I asked today who had on a DMD jersey or I had know did both rides said TT. DMD is 2 months earlier so less time to train and less flat roads to paceline on. But almost all TT climbs are as steep or steeper as the steepest one on DMD. My conclusion, with a moderate weather TT, DMD is tougher. But when it is really hot, TT is tougher. I was falling apart on DMD but made it up Sierra, no problem. Today I was off the bike a lot, and so were many other people, on the late climbs. And as far as the course goes (again, maybe I'm biased as overly familiar with most of DMD course) the TT is much more memorable.

Go over to control central and they have Don still on the course and estimate he'll finish in 20-30 minutes, so I sit around at the end and watch riders come in and see workers get continually psyched for their arrival. One poor guy has come in but has to stay in bike clothes as his friend with the car keys is still on the course. Heck the best thing about finishing a 200 mile ride is getting out of the bike shorts and shoes. Kitty comes by to check on how she did on stage races--disappointed that she fell to 3rd. Heck, 3rd place woman, wow. In a few weeks she is doing a 8,000,000 meter brevet. While I sit at the control center one weary worker sits alongside and wants feedback on ride-tell her support is first rate, and where difficult sections of course were. . Some excitable crazy, could have been guy screaming "5 minutes to rider meeting" that morning, runs up to us and wants to know if I'm "that special guy" he's been hearing about. Riders coming in start to thin out--Don comes in with borrowed lights--after the 10- free tee shirt cutoff but before 11- cutoff for ride credit, so he's happy as he is celebrating this year that he turned 50 by doing 10 doubles (3 on a fixed gear.) When he comes in I yell "go Diablo Cyclists;" I think he is glad to see a familiar face. He is surprised that other Diablo Cyclist doubles veteran Jack DNF'd, a reminder that this ride really broke our group apart so no one knew what anyone else was doing.

I had the luxery of changing my clothes when I went to eat--but Don is beat and just wants to scarf down food in the same clothes he's been in for the last 17 hours. Unbelievably, he is thinking of doing the club ride tomorrow while I plan to be off the bike well into the week. Just as unbelievably, now that I finished this ride I am thinking of eventually doing it again--but with gearing that is at least 10% easier--a low of 32 gear inches .

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