Thursday, March 1, 2007


Three long distance training rides planned for March. Two days before Foothill I was thinking how nonplussed I was about it (just 100 miles), when in 2004 I was scared shitless when faced by the string of century rides I had to solo. Each week the ride promised to get better. The first one, the Foothill Century, is a long (loong) way, in Merced--heart of the agriculture belt. They also have the McLane Pacific crit race that day--ironically my last race ever was the McLane Pacific Road Race in 2004. The area features long windswept roads occasionally punctuated by a steep roller. Foothill was not high on my list of century rides to do but as the weather broke by midweek seemed like a good training ride.

(March 2007) Foothill Century w/ Don (on fixed,, of course), Jack, Doug and Ward--94 miles, 18.1 average (18.6 mid ride), 2880' climbing

Start to 1st Rest stop-20.6 miles, 271' climbing, 18.8 mph avg

1st to 2nd Rest Stop-14.6 miles, 400' climbing, 19.9 mph avg

2nd to 3rd Rest Stop-23.2 miles, 1306' climbing, 16.9 mph avg

3rd to 4th Rest Stop-18.9 miles, 608' climbing, 18.6 mph avg

4th Rest Stop to Finish-16.8 miles, 294' climbing, 17.1 mph avg

From one of Ward's GPS toys.

The morning was cool, 47, but sunny--by mid day it was warm. Jack knew what he was doing, it was freezing in the morning and he was still putting on sun tan lotion. I scoffed and I wound up with a red nose.

(Segment 1) For first 5 miles we took it easy and watched Jack take a wrong turn (trying to take away my getting lost club championship), then a bit of subdivison hell, where everyone managed to get lost. But soon in farmland, on flat but pot hole strewn roads with standing water, and distinctive farm animal smells. Nice tailwind and we organized, with everyone trading pulls-- we were flying, passing scores of riders all day who left much earlier while we dawdled until 7:50, and later at rest stops. Dumpy rest stop in the middle of nowhere with only one outhouse and a long line.

Why the f am I smiling--it is 47 degrees, when we are leaving town. I can't remember my time, it's too fn early and my brain is frozen. Ward O Crazy Photo

(Segment 2) Continuation of farmland but changed from flat to smaller rollers. Still had the tailwind--still kept together. Familiar rest stop at Turlock Lake, same as Riverbank. I enjoyed ham (and banana/poppy seed muffins) to the horror of carbo loving Doug. At least he agreed that Virginia Ham with the glaze may not be so bad--as the glaze is like Hammergel.

(Segment 3) Rollers now were getting a little bigger. After Doug worried if Don could keep up with us on his fixed gear on the climbs, Don and I jumped out on some rollers, a Valley Spokesman racer jumped on and we were off and stayed away. We had to slack off a little on the downhills but got to the Riverbank familiar Don Pedro Market about 3 minutes before the rest of the group.

Jack and I chasing back on beautiful Merced Falls Road. Ward-o-crazy photo.

(Segment 4) While Riverbank continues East we were now going to circle back Southwest and I feared a tailwind the whole way back. That was unfounded. Now nice and sunny. We stayed at lunch for a pretty long time--more ham, poppy muffins, bananas and macadamia cookies--unfortunately I didn't take extra HEED and Jack had forgotten his bag of Perpetuem, so we had to drink (yuck) Gatorade. . Funny moment--at lunch stop on porta-potty line when some Luna Bar clad woman (group on the ride) looked at my bike and pointed it out to friends--"look at that orange bike with orange tires." I loudly exclaimed "who would ride such a thing." We saw out "sister city" (Benecia) bike club, who left the lunch stop @10 minutes before us--they said they rode hard the rest of the day so we wouldn't pass them. Don and Doug left lunch like a rocket while Ward-Jack and I were too stiff and left easily. We were now on the best segment of the ride, a nice 12 mile back road section--on Merced Falls Road with steep short uphills and long downhills. With the wind being a nonfactor. Jack-Ward-I got our dander up and started riding hard to get back to Don-Doug, one of the "Luna Bar" women was well ahead of her friends, and joined our paceline. After we caught Don-Doug we all eased it up a bit--so never caught the Benecia cyclists.

Pro crit race in real nice looking downtown Merced--which we got to watch while eating the post meal-ribs from Big Bubba's Bad to the Bone Belgium BBQ & Beer and Brats and other "B" words. (OK red words added by me) Later I found out that Henk Vogels was in the front of the pack and if I was a little quicker I could have gotten his photo.

(Segment 5) Looked like we were in Knights Ferry but way way south in LaGrange, right next to Snelling where I had raced years before. Unfortunately late in the ride we took a 10 mile shortcut detour--so we'll never know if we would have caught back to Benecia Cyclists or not. I was a little peeved--we probably missed the BEST part of the course. All the remaining impetus went out after I was leading fast moving paceline and came across two women riding in front of us. I called "out on your left." The women in the back jumped up startled and said "you scared me." Then the women in the front turn LEFT, right into my path. Jack yelled (unlike Jack), and I help out my hand and gently stiff armed her away. Think Ward was miffed he didn't get to hug the women--or maybe it was because his knee had gone to hell. After we left the Cinderella trainees we were soon back into subdivisons and into town where the crit races were still going strong. After doing Foothill no need to do Riverbank--and while Riverbank supposedly has a "wine and cheese" festival on the other side of a sterile town--this ride actually starts in a beautiful town next to a bike race,, where you can eat the end o ride bbq meal in the middle of a crit course with a small bike fest underway. This is one to do again if weather isn't crappy. Only negative-only saw one sag car.

Inner thigh hurting a little-acute at times. No way could have gone another 100 miles today. But first Century over 18mph since the Foxy 10/15/05.

FLU TIME--NO DAVIS 200Km BREVET--Don't wish for things, you might get it. Last year I was kinda shoddy about my daily exercise training and letting my weight creep up, and every ride too f'n hard. Since turning 50 last fall I have hit the stretching/ situp/ curl circuit each morning and night, and over the winter I shed the 8-10 lbs I couldn't last year so down to 143 lbs. The lowest I have been since I raced at the beginning of 2004, when fear (and later depression) was a great motivator. Then news from spring training that many of the Giants have the flu bug and losing weight. Gee I briefly thought, that would be a way to lose..... Nah, stupid idea. So after last week's Foothill Century looking forward to another 100+ mile ride. My great bosses let me work at home on Tuesday, which means instead of a commute I start at 6:30 and will eventually taking a 3 hour lunch to go train. So what happens on Tuesday mornings--FLUSH-FLUSH-FLUSH-FLUSH-FLUSH... Few days later have to bail out of the brevet. Damn. But now down to 141-lowest weight since I was probably 12.

(March 2007) Diablo Cyclist Self Supported Double Metric, Heather Farms, Walnut Creek to Mines Road Junction w/ Don, Steve B. & Big Mike, Joined Enroute By Jack, Joe & June Doing their Own Climbing Century over Hamilton & Sierra Road, and Rest of Diablo Cyclists and Donna w/ Delta Pedalers Both Doing Metric Out and Back on Mines Road-121 Miles-17.2 Avg

Second annual early spring ride up Mines Road to the Junction--a 60 mile out and back that involves 3000 feet of climbing--mostly on the "out" portion. Once again we have the option of starting from our home base in Walnut Creek instead of Livermore--which is 30 miles away. Once again, my old club, The Delta Pedalers doing their ONE big ride of the year on the same day so another chance to surprise my wife when I see her en route. Of course I'll be surprised to see which con artist-Jo Jo or Whiny Mike, I'll see on the ride.

During the week some of our long distance members decide that they rather NOT have to start a 7:00 in Walnut Creek-sunrise, and rather start with the rest of the group and add climbing to the ride--meaning up Mt. Hamilton the hard way. As not planning any climbing rides until Climb to Kaiser (not that thrilled with Devil Mountain Double to do it each year, daughter graduates on Terrible Two Day, and burnt out on the good but overrated Death Rides so doing Climb to Kaiser instead), rather just put in the flat-rolling miles. Of course the flat-rollers between Walnut Creek and Livermore wouldn't be easy with Doubles potential Hall of Fame members Don and Steve B., and the powerhouse Big Mike. I later joked that we had the spring classics gang while our Stage riders on the climbing ride.

Dawn at Heather Farms

Unseasonable warm all week and beautiful dawn at Heather Farms. Kept a brisk pace down Danville Blvd, past Blackhawk, and then suddenly out of suburbia and on farm roads with light traffic but the few pickups that passed belching smoke. Sometimes we'd bs for a few minutes but Steve never puts up with that for long, and if we slacked he'd pick up the pace. At one point I'm pulling at 24 and he gets impatient and whizzes by at 26 so I have to get on his wheel and chase him to the traditional sprint point. Don comes along and tries to calm us down-- "remember, we still have to go awhile..," at this point we are probably 40 miles and 3000' feet short of the Mines Road Junction.

Roll into Livermore downtown past the traditional St Patty's day "green" fountain. It is 9:00. Get to library a few minutes later--Donna hasn't left yet so I call out and surprise her "you said you were leaving early today to go up Mt. Diablo." Our group isn't close to ready either, but I don't know this as I hastily shed clothes for someone who drove over to put in their car. No tee shirt-knee or arm warmers needed now. Donna rides over to say hi before her group leaves--but doesn't look like Delta Pedalers leaving together--seemingly every 5 minutes another 2-3 leave. Donna surprise that the Diablo Cyclists have a much larger turnout, as this is the the Delta Pedalers seminal ride of the year --but this should be no surprise at all. Just our usual turnout of a few dozen folks.

Jack, of all people (countries should set their train schedule by him), is very late and we finally roll out at 9:20. First 5 miles flat and we just stay in a huge bsing pelaton where I find out about Cal Mike's Brevet adventure last week. Recall last year I was bugging Don to show me exactly where the DMD rest stop was going to be. Then mile 6-11, not only does the climb start but it is the steepest section of Mines Road until the end. Here I wanted to pick up the pace, and also wanted to see Donna en route as she started 15 minutes ahead of us, and she was going to be riding alone. Joe came with me and off we went--sometimes my pausing to slow to say hello to someone I knew. Soon came upon Donna and rode with her briefly but then it was back to business. Now @mile 12 where the climb becomes gentle and Joe quickly spinning off while I was chasing--losing ground on the downhills, gaining some on the steep uphills, and remaining about 200' back and unable to close at all other times. Joe then waited for me--and if we rode together we'd kind of ensure that we'd stay away from everyone else, and no use really racing Joe on this course as two steep twisty downhills at the end which he'd take very very well and I take piss poorly. We started taking turns pulling but not really going hard as seemingly no one in front or in back of us--when suddenly we spot, closing fast a trio--as they get closer we see guy in yellow jersey I don't know, and of course Steve B. and Big Mike going balls out. Also joined by Professor Dave and a guy in a red jersey we had passed. Joe and I accept the inevitable--no escaping Steve and Mike when road is gently uphill, but why did our "teammates" help a stranger get back to us (turns out Steve knew the guy.) Soon in a fast paceline with "yellow jersey" guy often jumping out like a semi--attack and I'd jump on his wheel so he couldn't go off the front. I'd rotate back quickly--figuring as we got closer to the ending steep hills I'd try to leap out of the group after the guy took a pull, and while getting cooked with everyone chasing me I'd set something up for Joe.

Another plan down the toilet. Guy in red came forward after unknown nemesis in yellow rotated out--meanwhile Professor Dave, Steve and Mike dropped out--Mike yelling something about the insane pace. Then when I went to the front I stayed at the front to long trying to figure who was with us and where. So next time yellow jersey guy surged I wasn't ready-Joe went with him--and little did we know that he wasn't going to the Junction but stopping 5 miles closer--down the road at the County Line--before the steep climbs and twisting descents started. Now I wasn't going to do anything on the descents but I was pissed that I had been inattentive--Joe now off and no chance to catch up with him--guy in red with me--who did all the work before the climbs I wasn't going to help him back to Joe.) I figured when the road got steep I'd then jump.

Plan worked nicely up the first hill--but on the descent guy in red caught up with me. Then we got into the second steep hill--same thing happened. He got on my wheel on the 1-2 mile straight run into the junction, pulled past with 1/4 mile to go but then the last short but really steep uphill. I was already fuming re my jumbling tactics before so I had one of those out of body (good) experience where I stood over the bars and was able to go balls out the length of the uphill. I, of course thought the guy was right behind me--later he told me that I had flown by him. Turns out that he is a real nice guy who was on this ride as Jo-Jo's ex's neighbor--and later he would ride back with us and help me out when I was falling apart.

I spend a long time focusing on the race up to the Junction as this was the high point of the day. The reward of getting to the Junction 2nd is that there is not a long-long line for food (last year Big Mike and I rode past the Junction for some bonus miles, by the time we came back it too me 20 minutes to get water and Big Mikes Peanut Butter sandwich was ready 40 minutes later.) Got some water and found a bench under an Oak. Not real hungry--finished bottle of Perpetuem and could only eat a small Rice Krispie (2 vegetables-rice and marshmellows)

Now some Diablo Cyclists coming in and then a few Delta Pedalers. Donna looked real happy when she came in--ride not hard for her and CA Mike rode with her for awhile where they got to talk about my accidents.. Soon the 3 J's-Joe-June and Jack set out to do Mt. Hamilton which turned out to be beautiful. But little did Joe know that when one gets Jack to do bonus miles, you really do bonus miles--instead of returning the easy way down Mines, Jack had them return by climbing Sierra Road. Which in retrospect sounded good--returning on the mostly Mines downhill is nice if you aren't hammering, and Steve-Don and Mike were, and we were joined by Rusty, Stephen, Dave and the guy in red. I probably have the worse downhill skills of this group and definitely not among the fastest.

To get out of the junction you have to do the two steep climbs and the the downhill starts--last year I went off by myself and hooked up with with club members going a nice but easy pace on the downhill; this year I went back down the hill while we waited to regroup, and then usually rode last wheel trying to follow while the paceline was going balls out. Kind of disappointed that it was so hard--I expected to get dropped on the last 6 mile steep downhill (remember Mines in the other direction is the steepest climb of the day), but surprised about how hard it was for me until then. And I had downed both water bottles, not a good sign (shitl maybe like Central Coast I hadn't eaten enought??)

Things got worse--we stopped at a gas station on the edge of Livermore--I sat in teh sun and didn't want to leave. Jeannie pull in, driving back, and I was tempted to get a lift. We started back on the country roads--windless in the morning--now a crosswind and I'm a shitty crosswind rider. Harder and harder to keep up with the paceline and I dropped off--soon Big Mike drops off-I tell him don't wait for me, I have a map and know how to get back. But he isn't waiting for me-he is cooked to. Shit--earlier today doing 20mph on an uphill, now barely hitting 14mph. I can't figure out what is wrong--legs OK, breathing good--just no energy. Soon pick up the pace--though keep tasting the Pumpkin Cliff Bar (usually just have them for coffee--two sweet for during a ride.) We go past fire station outside Blackhalk and I'm so committed to try to keep up a reasonable speed that I don't notice ourt Diablo Cyclist gruppo waiting for Big Mike and I. From Blackhawk it is mostly downhill which Stephen and Steve are driving--with (for once) NO red lights for a needed rest. Glad to get to Danville, which is an easy roll through town, and then a more moderate speed on Danville Boulevard, Suddenly the ride is over. (When he stops laughing the next week Rusty asks me rhetorically what do I expect riding so hard when I just got over the flu)

But my heart doesn't realize the ride is over--heart is still racing, I'm cramping, thirsty and nauseous. Get a health shake and move car into shade. Lay back, plan is to rest for 15 minutes-1:15 later I wake up and wonder how a great ride fell apart so quickly. Lesson to be learned like on last years DMD and Central Coast--got to respect the rides and do a much better job pacing myself during the first half of rides. Maybe getting over the flu did me in--checked my carb count and was taking in over 50 per hour except for the last. Disappointing ending to a promising ride. Next day rode easily on my fixed gear as part of the achtervolgers (Donna's first Diablo Cyclist ride.)

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