Friday, August 25, 2006

Mt. Tam Double-2006

(August 5, 2006) Mt. Tam Double, 200 miles, 15,000' climbing, w/ Don, 5:00-7:15, 15.4 mph, 35th of 233 starters

Wasn't going to sign up for this--not many Club riders doing it (none from our triple crown rookie crop) and back and foot hurting. But my aliments have been slowly clearing up, this was my best ride of last year (finished in top 16% of riders), and wanted to make sure (in case Knoxville falls through) I get to five doubles in a year--or as I quip in takeoff of California Triple Crown 1000 mile jersey I can get, "1161 miles of doubles in a year" (161 miles of Central Coast before I DNF'd.) I also plan to do Mt Shasta Summit Century next year so I'd miss this one (same weekend) So I registered for this at last minute and just got psyched a few days before.

Mt Tam Double runs in West Marin--where there are still lots and lots of cows, and aggressive drivers speeding on rural roads to the Coast from populated East Marin County. Not consistent climbing like the Devil Mountain Double or 20% grades like Terrible Two, but Mt. Tam Double is not easy with 15,000' climbing. . Longest climb of the day is at the beginning, Mt Tam at mile 20--a climb to 2466' but with a downhill to Alpine Dam after climbing for awhile that forces a reclimb. All in all (starting in Fairfax) a 13 1/2 mile climb with the worst long section 7.23%. Later on, at mile 125, is the steepest climb of the day, Coleman Valley Road, 3.8 miles but a 1.4 mile 10.7% section to start. The rest of the ride has plenty of "Italian rollers," the ones you think you can power over but lose steam/ momentum about 1/3rd from the top. Last year the climb of Tam was beautiful, I turned in my arm warmers, and then froze on the cold descent as heavy fog was just laying on the ocean side of Tam-the side we'd go down 12 miles past Muir Woods and then for our 13 mile morning ride down the Coast. This year weather forecast from OUR National Weather Service is worse- predicting bay area cooling trend (2 days before event) Bolinas & Tomalas -Mostly cloudy. Patches of drizzle and fog in the morning. High 60-64. Shit. The hot spot is far inland to Petaluma, and with a predicted high of only 78 seemed like bundling up with a tee shirt and keeping arm warmers all morning would be a good idea. After the early morning I'd need neither as weather turned out to be mid 70's-80's and sunny...National Weather Service blows it again and my pockets are stuffed with excess clothes and I wear knickers.

In run in from Petaluma to Nicasio we were flying--overtaking 4 people with Terrible Two jerseys on--3 that had been in a paceline 30 seconds up. I had brought us back halfway and now I'm hanging on Don's wheel-we are right behind them starting the reverse Cheese Factory climb.Photo by Photocrazy.

Mt Tam double is run in conjunction with a Century ride, and lots of Diablo Cyclist members were going to do that. The Century ride starts about 2-2 1/2 hours after us--but skips the Mt. Tam climb and goes directly to the middle of our course--so when we get to our mile 80 at about 10:30 the century riders will already have been there for 1 1/2-2 hours as it is their mile 20 of a fast course. So I don't expect to see any of them. Marin is a real expensive place, so choices to stay overnite are real $$$$ hotels or sleazy motels along the freeway, so once again I stay in the industrial part of town where the poor people are separated from the downtown with a moat like canal. First time all year not a group dinner before a double. Downtown San Rafael is interesting, and nice place to walk around after cheap pasta dinner--lots of interesting unique stores in a real old downtown setting.. Worst thing about double is EARLY start--so it is a 3:15 wake up as the official start is 5:00. Probably could have woken up 15-30 minutes later but like to eat breakfast no closer to the ride than 1 1/2 hours before. At the school start see clubmate Don--one of the doubles veterans and probably the best long distance rider in our club. To celebrate his 50th birthday he planned to ride 10 doubles in 2006--with this being his 9th. Three of the "easiest" ones he rode on a fixed gear--I rode two of those with him and helped mashall forces so that we could all stay together. Don said he wanted to have a fun ride and just like the "untimed" events where we stay together (unlike the timed events where everyone goes balls out on their own) we should try to ride this one together also--I'd need to take a little of the climbs and Don would stay in back of me on the downhills where he usually flies past hitting his squeaky toy that starts all of the Diablo Cyclist ride. Sounds good to me, we made the "stick around even with flat tires" pact.
Many doubles are like the anthesis of the Death Ride--about 2/3 in you may go miles before seeing any other cyclist. I already had in my mind the places we could work together and two man like crazy--though Don insisted he didn't care about placement. Funny thing about this ride and placement. Supposedly a timed event--and the other timed events are real strict about mass start time. But when I pulled into the school at 4:20 already a half dozen riders taking off. Later Don quipped that there was not nearly 225 riders in our mass start and in retrospect he was right--it was more like 150. (Turns out this is kept track of-36 riders of 233 started early, with early riders starting early just to finish course.) 4:55-quick warning about a few sections of lousy roads still screwed up from the winter rain. (Winter rains for bad roads getting to be like Bush blaming everything on 9-11) Felt a little uneasy as I don't like mass starts, don't like riding at night, and don't like riding in the cold. For first half hour we'd be riding in the dark, and after climbing past George Lucas Land (culminating in a .8 mile 8.4% grade section where I dropped my chain last year), there is a fast 5 mile downhill in pitch blackness through tall redwoods. Last year my 1000 candlepower Cateye sucked so this year I started with 15 watt Niterider which I'd turn in at 1st rest stop. My plan was to started at the back of the pelaton--just passing the slowest riders on the climb--and Don then stayed behind me on the downhills so he wouldn't scoot away. Well this year in a small group flying down Lucas Valley Road was lots of fun--then sun came out when we hit the serious rollers to Fairfax where we'd start passing lots of riders and climb up Mt Tam.

With me letting lead out on downhills Don was taking an awfully big chance--that I'd take a wrong turn as I do so many times where we live. But I knew this route well and enjoyed the zig zag through Fairfax before we'd start our climb. Good news was that my back/ feet were not hurting. As Don kept me in front on the downhills I kept him in front on the climbs so I wouldn't get ahead. I may have more power and prone to spurts but Don is a real consistent climber and we passed lots of people. Hit Fairfax at mile 20 and the climbing begins, but short rest at mile 25 Pine Mountain rest stop. 6:30- though started in back of the pelaton 3 minutes faster than last year, but didn't waste 12 minutes after dropping chain in the dark like last year. Nice and warm for 6:30 but I know better--I'm KEEPING my arm warmers this year, dreading what I expected to see on the other side of Mt Tam. II had my lights sent to the last rest stop at mile 187-in retrospect should have had them sent to the finish (as later on could have then bypassed last rest stop.) Now serious climb of Tam started, average grade jumped from 5%+ to 7%+. I'd stand and power around the hairpins and then regroup with Don who was always close behind. I love sudden steep hairpins and Mt Tam has lots of them. Lots of riders we passed who obviously couldn't climb who must have started early.

After dropping down to Lake Alpine more serious climbing but soon we were to the top of Tam--well, kinda the top--where we still had to traverse about 6 miles of long uphill rollers with a mean crosswind. But damn--looking down towards the ocean you could SEE THE WATER--the fog was offshore. Yippie. Don and I took turns blocking the wind and then we started up the steepest section--the long parking lot-to the checkpoint. All of a sudden one of two cyclists who had been nearby from another club flew past--I jumped and shot past him. Was my finest climbing moment on a day where my climbing would quickly go down the toilet. Checkpoint-mile 38- 7:45-2 minutes behind last year.

Went to put on lightweight vest on top of Mt Tam and had trouble with wind whipping about. But downhill was real nice with sun out. Started off going past where Don had flat last year. I got passed by a few riders as expected but passed a few myself--with Don watching over me. Then lots of hairpins around Muir Woods but nice that could actually see. Seems like we quickly got to Santos Meadows-mile 50- at 8:20-1 minute ahead of last years pace. Last year was depressing as enveloped in cold fog--this year so nice I pulled off my vest and rolled arm warmers down. Bad thing was that with heavy duty light battery blocks my front water bottle and had not been drinking as much as possible on early climb and not drinking on descent-so a little behind where I should be on hydration. To keep my calories stoked up I mixed a bottle of Sustained Energy Apple-Cinn hammergel malted, which I should have drunk on the spot. Though Don doesn't rush out of rest stops* like Jack we were both eager to go and I figured I could make this up on the bike. Mistake. (*To mile 85 we only spent 17 minutes at rest stops.) Beginning of Highway 1 is a series of serious rollers. This year nice that we could see--but what we saw a lot of was that road was chewed up from 9-11, oh no, the winter rains.

Told Don that my "plan" was to organize a paceline on this stretch, which eventually flattens out along the 20+ mile stretch of Highway 1. Then when we reach Pt Reyes Station and move inland the rollers and hills begin and we'd hammer. As Highway 1 flattened out road surface also improved, and we picked up 8-10 more riders. One guy yelled "Team Diablo, Team Diablo," with my modified jersey I had to correct him "Team Diablo Farm Frites." Don got in the spirit yelling "Team Domo Diablo Farm Frites" as I went past guy and he spotted my modified jersey--big laughs. Trouble is that Don loves to pull a paceline--and has a great spin from all of his fixed gear riding. As I do with Big Mike when I ride 2nd wheel I'd let Don know when lots of riders hooked on so he could come off and rest. Don would have none of that--he'd stay on the front and pull for a long time, then drop in to 3rd wheel so he'd get to pull again soon. Hell with that--I watched my Domo tapes where they make Hincapie do all of the work--I just dropped to the back and watched the whole thing. Luckily an English guy named Julius doing his first double would do his share of the pulling--almost everyone else was a passenger. We got to Pt Reyes Station and local knowledge helped. There is a sharp right turn out of town which presents a 2-3 block severe uphill grade and then a longer but more gentle uphill--and then a long gentle downhill-uphill-downhill to the Cheese Factory Climb. We hit the turn and I planned to jump but I think Don read my mind. Don went hard up the steepest initial section--not jump out of your saddle hard like I'd do but just doesn't slow the pace. Julius and a guy in yellow who had shown he was a good climber on earlier rollers stay with Don and I fly past the rest of the pelaton from the back. I think left to his own devise Don would have pulled to the next rest stop, but to give him a rest and to make sure the pelaton didn't get back on I went to the front and kept the pace up over the gentle uphill. Helped that a Mellow Marin numbnut in an SUV came by and hit their horn for a long time though we were well off to the right side of the shoulderless road--that po'd me and I probably stayed in the front longer than I should have. When we hit the Cheese Factory wall (1.1 miles, 5.4% grade) Jules and yellow climber went off the front--Don and I lagged but no one came back to us. Then downhill to Lincoln School-mile 85-10:27, 4 minutes ahead of last year.
As previously mentioned, this was the first rest stop for our Century friends--their mile 20, and they were probably here 1 1/2 hours ago, so we saw no one.. Here I took off tee shirt and stuffed it somehow in my spare tube bag. Then drank half a bottle of Sustained Energy as had drained both bottles on Cheese Factory wall. Barely first double digit rest stop of the day at 11 minutes.

For awhile the impetus had left Don/ I and we were just riding down the road bs'ing. Soon Jules and yellow climber hooked on and we started another fast paceline on the 5-10 mile run into the Marshall Wall back to the Coast (1.3 miles, 6%) Here is when I started to feel "not the best"--quickly drained a water bottle and had to dig in to hard to stay with paceline on a slight uphill where I usually do good. On the climbs transition from sitting to standing my foot started hurting a little so I'd hesitate and then have to get out of the saddle when group was suddenly 100' ahead over a roller. Had nothing when we hit the Marshall Wall and didn't even try to go hard on the climb--I enjoyed the fast downhill, though on a rough road, to Highway 1 as a chance to rest. Very strange as I usually live for the climbs and don't like the downhills. Back on Highway 1 we had 7 miles to Tomales and again I'd be going too hard to stay with group on hard rollers that I barely noticed last year. At mile 105 left turn to uphill back to Coast and I quickly lost it. Felt tired and thirsty--oh shit-shades of Central Coast. (Though this ride had Sustained Energy and Endurolites for some reason they had Gatorade instead of Heed, and the Gatorade cut with water wasn't doing it for me.)
Was concentrating too much on my foot--it hurt on transition and then hurt when I went to a harder gears--usually I can go 3 gears harder when I stand. Hard to stay with trio--I was able to get a short reprieve on the downhill. Told Don that at next at rest stop I'd take awhile to relax, take shoe off, and get hydrated. Luckily fast run into Valley Ford rest stop, mile 114 12:28, 10 minutes ahead of last year.
From here time would go downhill. When pulling in we saw Jack leaving--he was back from vacation so decided ONLY to do double metric. He had already done the dreaded Coleman (11%) Valley climb, so after stopping to say hello and he was off. Ate some real food- a small wrap which was good. Had some more SE. But made a mistake and downed a can of V8--figuring that salt and liquid would be good for me. MISTAKE. Next 10-15 miles I'd be tasting it and trying to barf it up. (In retrospect this is what I had on 2005 Davis Double when lost it at the end.) We stayed at this rest stop for 22 minutes (after first 85 miles with 17 minutes of rest stops, we'd spend next 57 minutes at rest stops during next 58 miles) but Don didn't mind as he likes to snack. We left with Jules/ yellow climbing guy but I knew I was in trouble--felt sick from V8-felt dehydrated-foot hurting right away, and we only had gone a few miles. On next climb yellow guy-Jules and Don easily pulled away, I no longer had any desire to try to keep up. I just wanted to take my shoe off, drink a gallon of iced tea, and take a nap under a tree. I pictured riding the rest of the way solo at 11mph (on the flats) With 80 miles to go and Coleman Valley climb ahead--I was in trouble. Luckily for me Don waited for me at first turnout up the road--I urged him to ride on but he said he'd stick it out with me. And stick it out he did even if I rode up at 1/2 mph on the Bay Hill climb (1.7 miles, 4.2%) at mile 118 while a handful of riders came past. I think Don hung out as he waited all year to ride with me when I was quiet and I didn't say a word, and I was real quiet until I screamed at another Marin SUV who came by with their horn blasting.. Downhill back to Highway 1 and only a few miles to Coleman Valley Climb, what the hell was I going to do?, --but here I caught break. A horse farm was running a ride and leading a dozen tenderfoots across Highway 1 with traffic stopped in both directions. Good time for me to unclip and massage my tenderfoot for the 4 minutes we were stopped.

Few minute reprieve really helped. We soon hit mile 124, the 10.7% 1.4 mile section that begins the steep 3 1/2 mile Coleman climb, and either the rest or knowing that a water stop was within 6 miles did wonders for me. Don and I passed a few people, one guy in a racing kit jumped past us--then we passed him while he rested and then he intervaled past us again. Stupid me--I chased, caught him but then faded badly--Don came by and said "don't chase anyone." Good advice--at least for now. ( I realized that when I stood my foot was sore but only when I stomped on the pedals and went into a much harder gear did it really hurt my foot and couldn't recover--so for the rest of the day when I stood but only moved into 1 harder gear.) Before I knew it climb was over and then just a bunch of annoying rollers that Don traversed easily and I lagged on. At mile 130 water stop I downed a Coke, which caused me to burp and effectively ended my V8 nausea, and took off my shoe for a few minutes which helped greatly. Now I looked forward to speeding downhill on Joy Road--the road I mistakenly took a few years back on the Santa Rosa Wine Country Century which got me 10 miles off course, and last year was terrified when going down the twisty road when passed by other riders. But this year downhill spelled R-E-L-I-E-F, and I enjoyed every second of it with Don letting me set the pace. Enjoyed it--even with the pavement chewed up. Another bonus, now we'd be usually traveling East--the direction of the tailwind Back to Valley Ford again for another rest stop at mile 143--at 3:16, 18 minutes behind last year.
We stayed for 17 minutes at the now nearly deserted rest stop--with most century riders long gone. Another Coke, mixed another SE malted, shoe off again. Don jokes that I should stick my foot in the iced water the cans of soda are bobbing in. Spent 17 minutes here but felt good to go when we started again. Things were looking up. Funny thing is that doubles are like the antidote for the crowded Death Ride, by mile 130-150 there may be long stretches where you don't see anyone. And Don and I didn't see anyone up ahead, or anyone come back to us, for most of the way on the back roads towards Petaluma. Saw lots and lots of cows. Eventually passed a tandem with Grizzly Peak doubles cyclist--Mark A. captaining coed tandem. Now I'd seen Mark on most of the doubles I did--if he was on a single bike he probably would have joined us for the rest of the ride. . Don and I were riding at a good pace but easily bs'ing, I recalled being out here during a metric Holstein Hundred when it was 100+ degrees-and I thought 60 miles would be the longest ride I'd ever do. (I still celebrate at the mile 60 mark for getting a metric in.) . Having a constant tailwind and rollers that we could now power over really helped. Passed a couple of other riders--including Jules and yellow clad climbing guy who had dropped his chain. Thought they might hook back on but never saw them again. Suddenly in the outskirts of Petaluma and riding though a few subdivisons--and into mile 170 at 5:11; 27 minutes off of last year.
Like last year our rest stop time would now diminish greatly. At the first 3 rest stops we averaged 9 minutes per rest stop. At the next two rest stops (and one water stop) we averaged 15 minutes per. But at the last two rest stops we got out in 7.5 minutes each--and could have skipped the last rest stop if I hadn't sent my lights there (Don later said he would have stopped for a Coke.). In Petaluma ran into Ish who had voluenteered to do massages--though about it but had to pass as have to finish timed event quickly. Outhouses were at far end of park-- I wanted to save time from my previous rest stop dawdling and it hurt more walking on foot than anything else--so told Don I'd piss on the side of the road and we were off.

Up ahead three Terrible Two clad riders had left a half-minute before us. Soon riding on a rustic road out of town--steep hills ahead. First Don/I again discuss which Terrible Two jersey is better. Then we turned on the gas and get over the hill in front of the TT trio. Don reminds me that if I want to piss better do it now as soon we'll soon be on the main road-I pull over and the TT trio comes by. Don and I start up--now there is a headwind, and counting when they/we'd pass a utility pole the trio in front of us was 30 seconds ahead. Don did a lot more pulling than me but I'd usually go to the front if anyone was ahead--and I did now. Hills are coming up and I want to get back to those riders before we hit the hills. I get the gap down to 15-20 seconds and then Don took over. We get to the base of the hill where the photocrazy guy is stationed and the Terrible Two Trio is 1 second ahead of us. We quickly go by. We then reach another Terrible Two jersey wearer--he tries to stay on our wheel but I go real hard--Don comes back and he just continues a hard pace and lone TT rider is off. We hit the downhill and I think 3 guys will paceline back to us. We pass and are joined by a guy with a tri set up that looks like our Steve B. I go hard to the Nicasio turn where the tailwind REALLY picks up (like always) and keep the pace high. Damn 28 mph at mile 185. Then Don takes a long turn at the front. Just when I start thinking about how to get the other guy to the front--he goes to the front and takes a hard turn. Nicasio-Mile 187 at 6:23- 25 minutes off of last year so not losing any more ground.

Riding in cow country. Trio of Terrible Two clad riders 30 seconds up on us when we left Petaluma. (I told Don that I was chasing one clad in the ugly old style jersey while he chased back to the ones in the orange jersey.) We caught them--and another TT clad rider-right at the beginniong of the Cheese Factory climb. Photo by Photcrazy-wish I could post a larger one but they refuse to send me the promised free one, One of rare doubles this year whewre I feell great at the end.

With 13 miles to go could have bypassed this rest stop, but I had sent my lights here instead of to the finish after rest stop 1. Wanted to protect placement, so went hard on gradual uphill with tailwind where 20mph can be maintained for long stretches. Flew past the beautiful redwoods we hadn't seen in the darkness 13 hours ago. Flew past the place where phony "Gruppo Pumpkincyle Joy of Cycling" photo had been taken. No one ahead or behind us. Road a little steeper closer to Big Rock, last real climb of the day, and Don/I going nicely. Then the twisty downhill I usually hate but didn't mind it at all today. I see some riders up ahead and take a hard pull but then are stragglers from the century route--then Don goes to the front and keeps the pace up until we are suddenly at the Los Galinas intersection. Is this a dream--the middle 20 miles were like a long, drawn out nightmare but the next 80 miles are over in a flash. Through subdivision where we have to cross Freitas Parkway--200' green light, start to sprint--I know what is going to happen--50' RED. Damn-3 minute wait while I keep checking if anyone catches us from behind. No one does--and we roll in at 7:15, 29 minutes off of last year's pace.
Nice end--ride meal from all the basic food groups BBQ-pizza-pasta-lasanga. Nice area in school courtyard with plenty of tables (and bathrooms) and TdF highlight projected on the side of the school. Jules completing his first double and yellow climber who looked so strong earlier roll in 30 minutes after us. Strange-lots of riders come in after us but at about 8:30 the custodial staff start putting stuff away--changing the festive atmosphere to one resembling a close out sale. It is getting cool and unlike TT they don't keep track of where riders are on the course-so we have no idea when Kitty will come in. At 8:45 now much colder and as dark as it was 15 hours ago it is time to leave most eventful ride. Great, strange ride--first 80 miles fun, next 20 hard work, next 20 I hated, and final 80 great. You never know. And now I can get California Triple Crown Jersey that says "1161 mile of doubles in a year." But it is not orange so I wouldn't.
(A few weeks later results posted Don/ I came in 35th of 233 riders, top 15% of all starters--and that is with me crapping out in the middle. I'm very surprise but really pleased. Same as last year).