Thursday, April 5, 2007


(April 2007) Mt Hamilton Challenge 125 miles, @8500' climbing w/ Ward, Jack, CA Mike, Mt Bike Racer Jason, June, Johanna

Route-C 33% suburban ugly, 67% rustic from Mt Hamilton through Mines Road & Calavaras

Support-D Virtually nonexistent but we know that going in

Energy-D Few riders--no support--empty post ride hall

As plan to do Devil Mountain Double every OTHER year, and this was an OTHER year, registered for this strange century as only game in town & good training ride. We had a good group of riders though not the "balls out" group we had two years ago with Tom, Stephen or Chris always pushing the pace. We were joined by Jason, a real nice guy and elite Mountain Bike racer, doing his 1st century; he would probably stay with us on the flats but push it on the long (but gentle) climbs of Mt Hamilton and Calavaras. Going into the ride Ward and Mike hurting, so I'd try to pick up the slack at the front of pacelines etc. This still didn't prevent Mike from proposing that we add on the Sierra Wall towards the end of the ride. Didn't anticipate a problem with this ride (haaa) and just happy that after a string of rainy weekends, the weathman promised us a sunny-90 degree day .

After cutting over from one highway to another on the WRONG Mission Blvd., get to high school in Santa Clara where I drop off my 3 bags of food/ sports drink that will be carted to the 3 rest stops--where organizers will provide water and lemonade. Then bikes have to pass a "stiff safety inspection" which means someone from the Pedalera Bike Club whacks the seat and bounces the bike on the tire. Shit--lucky they didn't do a helmet check. As two years ago w/ f'd around until 7:45 and then accidents/ flats meant we were always off the back, this year we decided to start at 7:00.The good news is that you could already feel the warmth so no arm/ knee warmers were needed--and vest could come off at 7:20. The bad news is that the first 14 miles is though some suburban planners wet dream--huge expressways built for tons o cars lined by parking lots, strip malls, and business parks--and streets full of glass. Just think, what Antioch is aspiring to become. We hit every fn red light that take a day to turn green. Comic relief is every time we go over tracks, Mike announces that these are "light rail vehicle" tracks--so at every stop I ask him things like "are you sure they are not trolley tracks." The passing trolley, streetcar, I mean light rail vehicles all have "GO SHARKS" as their destination display. Oh look--a beautiful natural waterfall--oh yeah right, just something in front of CISCO headquarters.

We paid for this? OK, not much. The budget century. Some of the lovely scenery at the beginning of the ride--while waiting at yet another traffic light. . Think that is an elevated cable car on the right side. (WardNews "Fair & Balanced" Photo)

Fading yellow "Jack in the Box" arrows put down at the turn of the decade--the 1800's--so hard to see many of them. Jack takes a wrong turn--which he usually only does when he rides with me. A few hanger-on'ers who are letting us pull concerned about our group being directionally challenged so they split--but we take detour to Alum Rock Park--mile 17 where rustic road-climbing suddenly begin. Bathroom in park locked so the guys do Sierra Club dedications. Poor June & Johanna.

June & I in front of some more beautiful stuff--a regular old growth forest. Ward-o-crazy, the nature photographer photo.
Now the fun begins with the @18 mile gentle climb of the West side of Mt. Hamilton. Jason a great climber and almost all "his elders" in the group all good climbers especially the climbing goddess June, who always sets a nice pace. Someone laughed at Jason for wearing all black on such a hot day, but Jack pointed out that the dark Blue Diablo Cyclist jersey not much better. The only one suffering is Mike, our best endurance rider but climbing isn't his strength--so he skipped the Alum Rock pit stop and kept going uphill.. Jason slacks off and we b.s while the group keeps together, not many riders on the road but we are passing many. We pass one climbing tandem which then picks up speed and repasses when the grade drops, so Jason and I chase until the next steep grade. Eventually we waited for the gruppo and we'd eventually all pass the tandem en masse. Big reprieve, downhill by Grant Park, which meant June and I were spit out the back until the climbing began again.. Still no sign of a sag wagon. Passed two guys wearing Devil Mountain Double jerseys--I had on my Diablo Cyclist Triple Crown jersey with the DMD & Terrible Two Devil logos which they noticed and we exchanged pleasantries.
CYCLING IDIOT AWARD--At one point Jason took off, and I'm riding with Jack and June--Johanna and Ward about 200' back. Road is very twisty with many blind switchbacks. All of a sudden we see a 20 something mountain bike rider riding in the middle of the LEFT lane--the one for ONCOMING traffic. (he is seemingly keeping pace with a friend who is riding a road bike in front of us.) If a car comes down he is going to get squished--if a cyclist comes down (as DMD riders will do later) there will be one huge accident. Jack starts saying loudly thing like "he should get on our side of the road." No response. Suddenly a little car driven by a little old lady comes around around a turn and hits their brakes hard--stopping 5' from the numnut. Numnut yells at the car "be careful..there are cyclists on the road." Lady driver look bewildered at this critical mass dropout. Jack yells at him "why don't you ride on the right side of the road." Numnut yells back at Jack "why don't you mind your own business." This is when I lost it, especially as Jack is one of the nicest guys, and I yell at doofus "because when your blood is all over the road it will be hard to go around ." We move on.... Ward said when he passed doofus he said a few choice things and numnut had moved over--to the center line??? (Wish Ward would have gotten a photo of doofus as I had of cyclist on wrong side of the road on last year's Death Ride. But this seemed far worse as road is steeper, with more blind curves, and a yellow line down the center of the road. Hey, maybe the numnut is from England??

CA Mike climbing Hamilton, beautiful San Jose Valley (beautiful from WAY up) to his right. I'm climbing wearing special Diablo Cyclist-Triple Crown-DMD/ TT jersey--key is that it is lighter so it shouldn't be as hot. Photos by Ward.
Uphill section begins and June setting a great pace--what could be better. Stupid me--a cyclist comes flying by so I have to leave "the good life," get on his wheel, and work hard to be pulled back to Jason where I tell him of his mountain bike compatriot. Then we jump on guys wheel, I think we are closer to the top than we are so I take a long hard pull that leaves me dead--we are @ 3 miles from the top so I fall off while Jason races off with the stranger. Later Jason told me that my pull had dropped the other guy until I died--but I didn't want to fade that quickly. Legs felt great-but aerobic conditioning betrayed me; passing scores of other riders getting to the top small consolation. (We probably saw more riders on this stretch than the rest of the route combined.).
I'm having fun on one of the downward rollers going UP to Mt. Hamilton. (Ward Photo)
Get to rest stop #1, mile 35, at 10:00 (2 1/2 hours riding)--last time I'd keep stats for the day (used to keep them all when I hammered solo.) Rest stop is at base of Mt Hamilton observatory which is good a THEY ran out of water so had to fill in bathroom. I packed lightly this year--a banana and two small athletic bars (Nectar and Lara bars about 1/2 the size of Cliff bars but go down much easier), and I leave over one. Another Perpetum shake for the road (in retrospect I should just mix and down them at rest stops to hydrate well on hot days and they taste like crap when warm.) and a double concentration of HEED for the other bottle. At one point someone said "look, free food"--about 5 minutes later someone came by and said "who took my food?"
June indicates she is going to take off before everyone is ready and I am momentarily puzzled why she is doing this. Jason not nearly ready when we all leave--he'll catch us. Suddenly I know why June took off early--the east side of Hamilton-steeper with loads of hairpins and a road that has loads of black patches whereas it is hard to tell if smooth or rutted. I hate this and Jack/ Ward/ Mike soon pass--we'll regroup at the bridge.

I arrive at the bridge at the base of Mt Hamilton a few minutes behind everyone but Johana who followed me down, and compliments the ways I safely rode the corners. I don't know her well and she was just being polite--on the next series of downhill rollers she'd shoot by me. But on the downhill I had passed a few cyclists, and like the way the bike feels with the Campy Record brakes (as opposed to the all or nothing Zero Gravity brakes that crapped out.). Surprisingly I hadn't been passed by Jason--who usually takes the downhills on Mt. Diablo at full throttle, standing with his arms extended like Leonardo DiCapro in Titanic. We wait for 3-5 minutes, figure he'll catch up to us--and/ or figure he is on the side of the road puking his guts out from the huge sandwich he ate at the last rest stop. Then the series of rollers where June/ I pass everyone on the uphill rollers and Jack/ Ward/ Johana pass on the downhill side--with Mike, who started off early, somewhere off the road. The road eventually flattens out and I feel great, nice and loose from the warmth, doesn't feel that hot, and I frequently go to the front to pull. Nicest part of they ride. While steaming towards the Junction Jason catches us--he had gone the wrong way down Mt. Hamilton for 1 1/2 miles--figuring it is like Mt. Diablo and you take the same road up and down. Figure we'd make the story into a legend--how he rode all the way down to Fry's in Fremont--bought a DVD--stood on line to pay, and then rode up Mt. Hamilton again. Closer to the Junction, where the fun would end with some very steep rollers/ hills--we caught up to Mike. Smart decision by the group to pull in for water. Surprisingly DMD rest stop NOT set up yet--2 years ago Mike had scored a Coke from them and he was in heaven.

Riding through the wide open/ flat/ little traffic/ nicely paved, San Antonio section of the road from Mt Hamilton--if only the whole century took place here. (Ward-o-photo)
After the Junction two significant @ 1/2 mile uphills rollers and more mini uphill rollers-and Mike falls back badly. I see how I changed--in the past I would always be pushing for the best time I could get, a habit formed from riding so many centuries solo and against the clock in 2004. But we have a great group, and try to help each other out if we are in trouble. So F the clock, I just rode at Mike's pace, and tried to be quiet up the hills (if I'm feeling good I'm usually yammering on rides.) Mike was cramping and surprisingly he had never taken Tums on a ride--which is one of the staples of doubles. When the road flattened out he is so game that he wanted to pull, which he also wanted to do after the next rest stop, and I kept insisting that he ride in the back to conserve energy.
Two surprises at the next rest stop--in a wide open field./ Rusty, another guy who likes to yammer (hammer and bs) on rides--came up from the other end and met us. And, somehow they lost my lunch. Wasn't concerned about the food as had a Lara bar left over from the 1st stop which I ate on the climb, and had an emergency Cliff bar with me. But concerned that no HEED/ PERPETUEM/ ELECTRLYTES or TUMS/ or RICE KRISPIE TREAT here--which was in my bag.
At this point road turns downhill, and we kept a nice paceline all the way down. Before arriving and while in the rest stop we had seen some DMD riders on the other side of the road, now we saw the achtervolgers en masse--and not looking very happy. This is about mile 120 of their ride--last years when I saw Diablo Cyclists here I was still very happy--but not for long. We'd continue to see DMD riders at the base of the 20 mile downhill. Everyone keeps together until @4 miles to go where the road becomes steep so June/ I blown off the back.
Not the greatest of rest stops-warm water from a truck in an open field. Rusty finds someone else to talk to. Ward-o-camera

We pass the DMD rest stop on the other side of the road--they are packing it up as their riders have come through. I go over and say "hi-I'm alumni, can I get some HEED." The Quackcyclists are so nice they basically tell us we can take what we want. I mention that I'm on the ez ride today, and next year will do the DMD again--I am corrected by one Quackcyclist--"your ride is hard also." He'd prove to be right. Now grind through the center of Pleasanton-prettier (in a small town way) than San Jose-Santa Clara--but now the streets chock full of cars.
Damn--they took out the mini-roundabout Chris and I hammered around two years ago while everyone laughed. Getting warm (87-88) but doesn't feel oppressive. The 3rd rest stop is tucked into a shady park, though at mile 90 as we came down fast from Mines Road doesn't feel that rest stop should be this close. Rest stop has shade, ice, and woman who patched up Chris two years ago (she remembers) Luckily my bag of food is at this stop--but I make three mistakes. I'm not that hungry (learning that this is a bad sign for me) so all I eat is a Jo-Jo nut bar with 19g carbs. On hot rides I should have a cold Bosco (Perpetuem & Chocolate Hammer Gel)
(76g carbs per bottle) for the carbs and to stay hydrated but I didn;'t send any to this rest stop. Drinking it cold at rest stop important as it taste like dookie then warm on the road. I figured I'd get my carbs from a heavy concentration of HEED and I added 2 scoops to each bottle--so my solutions incredibly strong 2+-3 scoops per bottle. In any event before leaving we hit the bathrooms (snuck into woman's) and a nearby bbq started a faint smell of nausea--which grew over time. Luckily soon out of crowded Pleasanto and heading towards Sunol which will lead into the gentle Calavaras climb--usually great fun. I'm feeling good and pulling--so is Johanna--Jason goes to the front often but he is soon down the road and then I fill in as 2nd rider so we'll bridge up to him or he comes back.
Hit the Calavaras grade (3-4%) and June setting a nice pace--riders comes by and June picks up the pace. Then I rev it up and FULL NAUSEA--kinda reminiscent of Central Coast. My body just dies--in a few minutes Jack passes me and then Jonhna. Luckily switch backs are shaded, as is 75% of route--as when I'm in the sun I feel like I am about to keel over. Incredibly thirsty but everyr sip of sallty HEED makes me sicker. But damn it--I'M NOT GETTING OFF THE BIKE.--I did that too many times last year. Just get me to Levin Park where I can get some water. I'd kill for a (diet) Root Beer. Ironically I was falling apart on Calavaras Road last year--in the opposite direction on the DMD--but that was at mile 170, not 100.

What seems like an eternity I get to Levin Park after thinking I probably went the wrong way. A half dozen cyclist crowded around bathroom using as much cold water as possible. I fill bottle and drink half of one on the spot No sign of Mike or Ward who I think are still behind me. I coast down to Fremont where June-Jack-Jason-Johanna are waiting on the sidewalk in the shade. My heart is racing, I'm sweating like crazy-standing is a problem. I indicate I'm going to lie down, June point about 50' away to a nice lawn--I can't make it. I declare "this spot is OK" and sprawl onto the sidewalk. Then Jack-June start trying to call Ward-Mike to see where they are and if they'll be here soon. No rush-no rush---I think "take your time" and may be the happiest person when it takes them 20 miutes+ to roll in. .
I'm beat and so is rides desolate end-Mike contemplating his easy ride next week in the background

Now back to full surburban ugly. When we start out I'm still in another dimension, I don't hear Ward talking to me about troubles Mike was having before they rejoined. few people joined our group--one guy was squirley so I'd go to the front but I have no drive at all Suddenly we are back at the ride start--5:36-another real slow Mt Hamilton Challenge. Jack says that while I was on sidewak lots of riders who we had passed earlier had repassed. Look around--NO other riders--no snacks--no soda-just the guy who bounced my bike in the AM handing out the cheepest (sic) patches imaginable. Worker askes if I'll be back next year-NO-if I am going to suffer I can do Devil Mountain Double but at least enjoy the energy of the workers-rest stops and post ride festivities. NO ENERGY AT CHECK OUT--and I have no energy. Barely get my bike onto the car--luckily Ward has a cool full of cold soda and water (great idea.) l'm disappointed that ride turned to shit so fast--as this was intended as a training ride. Now I'm ready to pull car into shade and go to sleep for awhile, instead Ward drives my car back to where he carpooled, and I'm asleep in car in 2 minutes.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007


VE (April 2007) CHICO WILDFLOWER, 95 miles
w/ Ward, Doug and Big Mike (eventually) @16.3 avg, alternatively bsing and riding hard. 95 miles.
Support A-Course A-With such high grades assume everything is almost perfect.
Support: Plus: Loads of unique local food at rest stops, with bike mechanics, and a cool Chico quirkiness (bandanna maps instead of paper ones) to the event. Support Criticism: Need more SAGs on course where ambient glass on two early teen party hills produce lots of flats, and while lots of specialty food no basics like PBJ.
Course Plus: Off the beaten path roads with little traffic, almost no subdivisions, and pavement good on he flats and downhills. Course criticism: Very congested until the metric riders split off at @miles 30. After mile 60 (after lunch) course gets very flat--wish there was one more attention getting climb and some rollers. Otherwise an ideal event! Forgot how great it was. Tied-2nd BEST CENTURY
Forgot how great and unique this ride is--especially as it looked like it wouldn't come off. After last weeks quagmire getting Litespeed ready when weekend weather report went from iffy to shitty. 30% change of rain on Saturday--when we wanted to do some leisurely riding around giant Bidwell Park in Chico, and 40% of rain on Sunday. So at lat minute got GT ready again--back rack with brevet bag can act as a rear fender and carry around rain jacket and extra clothes as I WASN'T GETTING COLD this time. Actually sunny Saturday morning but around 1:00, when we hit Sacramento to the long dragout through the middle of nowhere to Chico-it started sprinkling which quickly turned to moderate rain which never let up, and the temperature dropped 10 degrees to the low 50's. Surprisingly Donna/ my mood good, we argued which was a more happening town Live Oak or Gridley, as we drove through these speedtraps--Donna conceded that with one luxury" motel, Black Bear Diner, old cemetery, and a few auto/ tractor dealers--Gridley was the place to retire to Ironically our Chico State daughter was out of town, in the lacrosse playoffs (they beat UCLA!!). Plan was now to walk around Chico with rain gear--we met Ward/ Doug at motel across the street which had a drug addict yelling at us. Found good tubes on sale in packs of 6 and a few of us bought them
Chico Wildflower Quilt made from old tee shirts, and local handcrafterd soda pop at the end of the ride, among the many things that make Chico Wildflower unique.
with big joke being "are you planning to use 6 tubes tomorrow." At another shop started playing around with a new Litespeed Vortex--with nice ti seat stays but beefy ones like my carbon ones instead of the old thin "the elephant sat on them dented " stays, and while Ward insults the hyper $$$ kryserium Wheels with the ONE red spoke I play with the Dura Ace brakes to see if the barrel adjustment are as easy as my new Camp Records. Finally bike shop salesperson comes over to us to tell us that this is NOT a store bike but a customer's. Oops. Other big seller was light rain jacket on sale; Doug bought one--the next day Ward/I contemplated counting the number of riders with the same distinctive sale rain jacket.. After Tierra Bella Steve B.--one of our long distance HOF's game me advice on how to dress for the rain, but he takes an incredible amount of bulky clothes with him--most people rather not carry much. Donna had a mid weight rain jacket and she disliked the thought of carting it around/ wearing it--than riding in the rain itself.
Then drive down to fairgrounds for Chico pre check in. A few vendors (unfortunately "Paul" not there--if dry I would had ridden out to his company as half my fixed gear components are has unique items.) In true Chico style the check in packet is in a reusable tote--where worker says in full earnest "now you don't have to get new bags at the grocery." We also get the bandanna map (don't I have a draw full of these) instead of a paper one--though I had with me xeroxed copies--but as very few changes along the route a detailed map and route sheet not needed--even for me--"Mr. Lost."
Ward disappointed he can't get the Chico Velo "share the Love" tee-shirt with a cyclist giving a car the finger---bowing to pressure Chico Velo drew in another finger on cyclists hand so now he is giving car a backwards peace sign. But we are told that washing with spray in wash and the extra digit comes right off--but all they have left is XXL's. We then all head to a pizza palace (except for Big Mike-who is eating with family at fancy restaurant and sounds really despondent that we are going to get pissed on again tomorrow.) and have a really long meal. Ward discloses the statistics on the women's club clothing order. Ward/ Doug not going to ride if raining in the AM, Donna and I will but I'll cut back to the metric. Back at fleabag Ward/ Doug staying at there is an antiquated computer they use (30 minute sign on) to check the weather--shows rain expected till 10am and then turning to light rain for another few hours. As we (at least Ward/ I) hope to start the ride at 7:00 tomorrow, we're f'd. Back to motel, still raining, and depressing early bedtime with sleep punctuated by call from our youngest who had party broken up by police, and then hard to get back to sleep. But better sleep than a few years ago when we crashed at our oldest's, who had freight train running outside the building all night.
5:15 alarm--expect the worst-open door--NO RAIN--just a heavy mist in the air and ground wet. Sprinkles slightly during 10 minute drive to fairgrounds--where we find one of the few paved spots. Donna is ready and heads off by 6:45 into the mist, I'm ready at 7:00. See Ward who says he is almost ready but indicates Doug is taking his time. Big Mike shows up and says he'll start ride with his sister. Doug then walks by holding a huge frappacino and he is in no rush to get started--Ward and I are like minded re starting century rides on time (shit, if we had to wake up early and get ready...) and we push off into the gloom--but it is dry.. Ward looking for arrows on the road and misses the large cutout Hawaiian Clown marking one of the few turns on the course, and we have to circle back a half block.
Within 10 miles we are suddenly out of town and going up the first climb of the day--Humboldt Road. The grade is not particularly steep but the road surface is "not the best." We are dodging ruts and potholes and admiring the graffiti--which is not the "Basso" kind but more the "Lance Loves Cheryl" variety. This climb and Honey Run obviously a teen hangout which means broken beer bottles, and about a half dozen folks already off on the side of the road fixing flats. My legs don't feel "awake" yet, and I'm wetter than hell--not from the mist but from wearing two wool tee shirts-a jersey-a windbreaker and a vest. Thank buddha I'm not wearing the rain jacket also. Ward also "suffering" wearing a heavy rain jacket. A couple of people pass but no impetus to chase as we weave through most other riders and potholes and flat changers in the mist.
Ward & me (I) coming down from Paradise--soon I'll get stoked as the sky will suddenly turn bright blue. (Photocrazy photo.)
Didn't want to stop to take off clothes as loop soon ends and straight ski slope downhill on smooth Route 32 begins, and clothes come in handy--which we shed at bottom where we are joined by the metric riders to Honey Run. Two guys in racing kits hammer by and I get on their wheel as one guy has on a full fender. When I thank him for riding with a full fender he attacks and I get on his wheel until the first left turn up Honey Run Road. I then drop off--road is too wet to play in the rain, and they run the yellow changing to red light. One more turn where I meet up with another weirdo--uncontrolled intersection where we have to make a left turn and there is an oncoming car. I yell stopping--schoolteacher ma turns around and STATES "She are NOT stopping." I say a number of times so it may sink in--"Stopping meant what I WAS DOING."..
Make the turn--and Ward/ I hammer on Honey Run Road--narrow slightly downhill road usually stuffed with riders but not to many now. We are flying past the riders that are on the road--apparent that Donna has gotten faster as this is where I caught up to her two years ago. Get into a three man paceline when Ward yells FLAT and we pull over on a quite country road. Kind of surreal--when he starts changing flat not many riders coming down--then about 5 minutes into it , it suddenly sounds like swarm of bees are out of the hive and the road is stuff with passing cyclists.
Luckily though misty, and I had taken off a layer, it is not cold. We pass up on the Covered Bridge rest stop--it is only about 15 miles into the ride, and we start up Honey Run--a gentle climb albeit some attention getting hairpins, but a real twisty, narrow road in the middle of nowhere. More high school party graffiti. At the beginning there is a center line and a few times I have to go on the line to get past 6 cyclists riding slowly across or weaving--then center line ends, road narrows, and cyclists are solidly across the road. Now when I pass someone I start moving over to the right, as some people on the left are hardly moving--at some points it looks like the Koppenburg in the Tour of Flanders. Ward/ I decided we are going to stick together--meaning I'll take something off on the climbs and he'll take something off on the descents--but when an opening suddenly appears in the block of riders you have to go for it. At one point an opening appears--I jump through--but off to the side a girl drops her chain and after I go up the road there is a crash. Too many people to turn around and see what happened but when I get about 1/4 mile up I can turn and no sight of Ward--I pull over and he isn't coming up. Oh shit--he was in the crash?? I turn around and going AGAINST a mass of bike traffic--half with their heads down--I start going downhill at 3mph yelling "bike up, bike up." I finally get to Ward--luckily he wasn't taken out when girl tipped over but he had another flat. I recall a decade ago that sag motorcycles were going up and down Honey Run--today didn't see a sag until after the first rest stop.
Ward a great guy to ride with but I usually tell him his value is that he has a full GPS setup on bike to track esoteric ride stats and the best full frame pump. (He also does a lot of work at the front.) Well his GPS system had already gone to hell, and now his full frame pump wasn't working so he had to use my crappy mini. We soon get going, misting at top of Honey Run at Paradise, and about 10 blocks away the first rest stop. Ward tries to get a tube from mechanics who saved my ass on Chico (broken alloy nipple repair) a few years ago, but they are all out as many people need after so many flats. They remember me--partly as I sent a written thank you after they save my ride. Big Mike waiting for sister and we spot Doug. Really rich local pastries the food of the day--apricot coffee cake my favorite. While they had a nice selection of fruit including bananas, but no simple, "non rich" things (PBJ sandwiches, granola bars) that you'd find at other rides. Just coffee cake, date/ nut pound cake bread and giant muffins. Kind of a cluster fuck leaving the rest stop as this is one where everyone stops at, and hordes are coming in and leaving.
Not raining but road is very damp (it rained on Donna @ 30 minutes before) , and after a series of attention getting 600' rollers there is a long downhill. A traffic light sends us and a wave of riders out and Ward/ I hammer up the first few rollers to separate from the group, and then I successfully counterattack on the other rollers if anyone comes by hard. We then hit a straightaway where Ward yells a warning, a tandem flashes by but I'm ready so we get pulled to the beginning of the downhill--pulled past loads of cyclists.. Being a crappy downhiller I'm not going to ride the tandems ass on a wet road, but though I'm not that fast I'm amazed that I like this downhill--I remember years ago when it scared the crap out of me.
Pass Photocrazy where I get photo with Ward, where I tell him that last year I was blackballed from site by strange owner as I once got free photo of me and then photo of Donna--one free photo per rider, but owner didn't like that same person got both. In a few days Ward would see what I meant when he tried to get the free photo. That is why we now usually pack cameras on a ride, but under threat of rain we didn't. We slow for Doug, see the 60/ 100 miles routes split--take a sharp right turn and we can see the whole Chico Valley where we are heading--and it is sunny with BLUE sky all over.
This is my favorite part of the course--we seemingly lose over 50% of the riders while going out to Table Mountain, so suddenly the roads aren't jammed. We are also on some lightly traveled roads that are well paved, that even have some mini rollers. In fact Ward/ I just bsing and taking turns pulling at 20-21 when we look back and we made about a half-dozen friends sitting on our wheel. We get some other guys to take a (short) turn, but they soon drop back so Ward and I go hard when we hit the rollers. I'm not strong enough to drop anyone on a flat road, but the rollers allow Ward/ I to separate and get to the next rest stop in Oroville about 2-3 minutes ahead of the pelaton. We later thanked Doug for staying behind and defending our position (sure.)
Turns out there was no need to rush to Oroville--big rest stop with more pastries and real bathrooms in a nice park like setting, and not crowded like the earlier ones. Sun still out and climb coming up--one of two tee shirts comes off, so does neck buff and bags around feet. No sign of Donna, I tell Ward when I see here she'll beg for me to take her rain jacket. Another mechanic at stop-Ward gets replacement tubes and we are off--through the whole 3 blocks of Oroville subdivisions--and then we're on Table Mountain. Wide open climb but grades are mostly gentle. We all stick together until some yapper po's me-on flat sections he'd come flying by red faced but on sections where road starts going up he'd come back. Then he'd fly by again on a flat part. Then come back on the next uphill. So on next uphill I hit the section hard and had so much adrenaline I just kept going hard--zooming by lots of riders. Felt great. Water stop at the top where we regrouped where Doug/ Ward go ahead of me on the downhill but then almost take a wrong turn which is almost impossible at Chico; I go by on the twisty descent and notice that the rain had basically made my rear brake useless. Shit--but i'll have it repaired by the bike mechanic at the next rest/ lunch stop. Pull in and go straight to mechanic.
Donna waiting for me--after almost 30 years of marriage she needs me. Just as I predicted she wants me to carry her rain jacket. That's cool as I have the bag and later tell her that her jacket slowed me down. Donna then off--she gets out of rest stops fast--as Ward/ Doug/ I plan to take a long time. Premade hero sandwiches--but I usually don't put anything on them (anything I can taste later) besides meat and bread--guy finds one without much in way of tomatoes and lettuce but it had mayo and I'll taste it for the next 20 miles. Big Mike pulls in, but he'll try to wait for sister again--shit, he'd be great in upcoming valley. Almost no hills (except freeway overpass ones) left after mile 60, but usually a head wind in flats back to Durham (directly South of Chico) , and once you reach Durham you ride a circular route back to Chico with ever changing winds. A strong rider passes us and we jump on his wheel and dig in. Stranger does about half the pulling across valley--Ward/ I split the other 48%. Oh that's right--we're short 2%--at one point we turn around and have about a dozen riders on our wheel and no one is coming through to the front. Actually at one point someone does--and paceline slows down 2-3 mph so I go back to the front. Finally disgusted that no one else taking a turn so I rotate to the very end--bad move--light is about to change and while strong rider/ Ward speed up to catch the yellow some riders can't hold their wheel-general slowing-I have to sprint out to get around riders and get through intersection while it is still safely yellow, I rejoin a half dozen riders climbing the a freeway overpass, but then strong rider/ Ward/ I pull a three man breakaway to Durham. (Doug still defending our position in the pelaton or beat from all the business travel he's been on)
Meanwhile Big Mike has given up waiting for his sister and starts chasing back to us, but he can't form a paceline that can hold his crusing speed. Then my trio passes a bunch of riders and a few join us--then see Donna ahead so I go to the front so I can say hi to her. The rest stop has been moved out of a vacant lot now at a new Durham Schoo, much nicer. Doug rolls in a few minutes later. Never see Donna as she doesn't stop, we're ready in about 10 minutes but in rolls Big Mike so we hang for about 5 more minutes so we can all ride in together--which is usually one big hammerfest in changing winds along a perfectly flat road. Two years ago we did this section twice.
We start off and road is market strangely--hula clown directional sign points one way for the 30 and another for the 60. We guess right and off we go. We're not going balls out--20-22 mph tops, and look back and we again have a dozen friends. Only Diablo Cyclists, trio in racing kit, and tandem doing work, everyone sitting in. While pace line isn't going nuts about 1/3rd of riders eventually drop out. About 1/2 way back one of the racers gets a phone call so his group pulls off. We continue around the orchards--Big Mike saves my ass a few times when I'm pulling and we turn into a headwind and he soon comes to the front. About 2 miles to go and we see Donna. Ward/ Mike/ I quickly decide to slow and pull her in, and as we slow pelaton shoots by and starts to disappear. In less than a minute Donna says that she is fine, and that we shouldn't wait so we start a hard chase back to the pelaton. We close the gap behind Big Mike but the silos in the distance rapidly appoaching that indicate we'll soon be in Chico; Ward later said that he heard me yell "9 seconds" and quickly though "here we go." As I jumped, Mike jumped, Ward followed closely and we caught the pelaton right before the farms ended and town began.
Sky getting slightly overcast a a bit cool, and no one enthused to do the loop again--for me I was just happy to get a dry Century in and Donna only 5 minutes behind so I didn't want her to wait. Great tri tip meal with good salads. Sick of HEED I did take two handcrafted local sodas, though not diet. Nice event--loooong drive home where it started to rain in about an hour.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

aborted TERRA BELLA-2007

(April 2007) Tierra Bella (Gilroy) w/ Big Mike and Professor Dave-75 Miles (40 in the Rain-at time very Heavy) 16+ mph after bsing at sub 15mph to first rest stop. Support A, Course C

The Almaden Cycling club, who puts this on, should be brought in to give clinics as to how to run a century. This ranks as the #1 supported century along with what the Sacramento Wheelmen do on the Sierra Century.

1) Picturesque registration area at local college, registration lines are NON alphabetical so they move quickly.
2) Food at registration lines and extra porta potties at start (not at registration area but right by beginning of course.)
3) Multi porta potties at the first rest stop where things usually get "backed up."
4) Workers at many intersections helping guide traffic & well marked course.
5) Well stocked rest stops with friendly workers.
6) Plenty of attentive sag vehicles .
7) Great unlimited post ride meal where you can gain back the calories you burned.

Unfortunately the route is so-so. On the 100 mile course not enough climbing for my liking and too many street changes. If I recall from last year the 20 mile "bonus" has lots of climbing but it is a drag out through suburbia--but I digress. Didn't come close to the 20 mile bonus this year.

Weather report ominous. 90% change of rain, which included the words thundershowers. Only "saving grace" was that it seemed that the North Bay, where Don & CA Mike would slog out a 400k brevet, would get the heavier rain, and that it may taper off in the South Bay. Had a head cold, and it rained all the way down to Gilroy--really creating low energy. Luckily stopped raining when I drove into Gilroy. Even lower energy when we were missing 5 clubmates who were going to do this ride--Big Mike, Dave (on his recumbent) and I circled the parking lot for 45 minutes in disbelief that "we were it." Actually we somehow missed Uncle Steve, and dressed as the Gloster Fisherman, he'd do the 120 mile course.The start was cool, the sky was gray, but only the road was wet from the morning rain.

First section is only 13 miles through ag fields and then on very picturesque rollers. To keep the recumbent with us we agreed to ride easily, but that soon became lazy as little kids in their big wheels probably passes us--everyone did as we were bs'ing. Soon a large club passed (lament: where is our club??) so I picked up the pace to get on their wheel as we rode through pungent (sometimes onions, sometimes shit) ag fields. Big group missed a turn, Mike/I of course followed (club champs in getting lost-2005.)

Dave did what Mike/ I never do--pulled out the map, and we had to backtrack. Soon on rollers and again everyone passing us until some tri guy got my dander up and I shot by him to the rest stop. Nice rest stop stuffed with food items--Big Mike hadn't registered for ride (registration closed 2 months prior) so he stayed far away from the rest area. As I didn't grab anything except a banana I took some other stuff and brought it to Mike who was riding with a huge backpack filled with food. (Dave and I both had racks with bags on our bikes also--mine filled with rain gear.) Soon on climb where last year we were all going balls out racing another club--this time still lazy and getting passed over and over. Then long downhill where Mike stayed behind me so we'd finish together--and soon the recumbent shot downhill. Back in the farm area--long road heading North but lots of traffic so have to ride single file.

Hmm, I don't look happy, either I am:-wondering where the rest of our club is-waiting for the storm-thinking about hammering the next segment at 20mph after coasting the first one at 14 mph.Thanks to Alamaden Touring for photo.

After getting stuck behind a few slower rides (some NOT riding single file) I got anise and with Mike checking traffic we started passing group after group. Shit, we finally woke up. We finally caught up to a group that had shot by us earlier, they were setting a nice pace, and when I went to the front they joined us. Mike and I ran a great two man--he could sense when I was getting tired and he'd take a long pull--when the road when up or he was slacking (slacking for him is sub 22 mph) I'd go to the front to give him a rest. The other person would always slot into 2nd wheel. A Stanford coed rode 3rd wheel and she thought we were training for something as we had our rotation down to perfection. She also loved drafting behind Mike. She volunteered to go to the front and did a great job, as well as another woman. Two other guys in the paceline never did anything, and the only time Dave went to the front no one wanted to get behind the recumbent.

Our paceline passed scores of other riders-Mike and I wanted to get rid of the lazy guy passengers so we thought of really going hard on a two man breakaway--but the women had worked nicely so we decided to keep it together. Now so nice and humid I was down to jersey and tee shirt.

And then it started to drizzle--and then it started to rain. At mile 34, about 4 miles from next rest stop-I just stayed at the front and kept the effort up so we could get to the rest area and put on rain jacket. My brevet bag in the back kept rain off of me and my front fender worked reasonable well--but road was collecting lots of water. We got to nice rest stop in the park and everyone huddled under overhang--except for Big Mike who circled the parking lot.

After 15 minutes break in the rain--now drizzle, and we are soon back in the land of strip malls and shopping centers. Dave looks at the map and still takes a wrong turn. (Mike and I consistently get lost but we NEVER look at a map.) We are soon on a long stretch of industrial road that will get us to the big climb of the day. But every time it stops raining or tails off, there is a HEAVY reminder that the rain ain't going away. Not a spot of blue in any direction--nor many cyclists on the road anymore.

Now we are rolling out the butt ugly Monterey Highway and the black sky is getting blacker, it is still raining, and getting colder. (For the hour after 10:47 am over 4/10" of rain fell and it stayed in the low 50's) We get to turnoff for Metcalf Road climb but instead of heading East the few riders in front of us who we caught are heading West and Dave leads us behind them. (Dave is perfect to join me and Big Mike as the champs at getting lost.) We soon realize that we are going the wrong way, but with the rain coming down--F it., lets start getting back. My one proviso is that we now have about 50 miles and we better get 60 to make it a metric--after all CA Mike and Don doing 260 miles that day in a supposedly rainier North Bay. (But they're going to France as incentive.)

We pull over to give Professor Dave one more chance at map reading and hide under a garden apartment awning. Dave pulls out his map and it is water logged and can't be read (luckily mine in a plastic.) I don't want to go back Monterey--though one rider had told us it is the fastest way back. Santa Theresa is also a busy suburbia street. Here Dave redeems himself--suggesting we go further West to Llagas--where gentle hills await. (hee hee hee, but I'm not in the recumbent) It will also get us on part of the real course.

We go East and the gentle climbs are not so gentle, but Dave suffers the most--though he is almost happy that my feet are waterlogged and squish when I stand on my bike-as he can't stand on his. The rain will almost turn itself off for a few minutes, but NEVER any sun to help dry us off, and then rain come back with a vengeance. While riding I feel OK--but was shivering somewhat when we stopped to map read.

We were now in wooded back roads--real beautiful--and luckily rain slacked off a bit. At the Machado School we found a rest stop where a big room in the school was open but none of the heaters worked and it was freezing. Lots of kids here as this is the out and back rest stop that parents do with their young ones and the kids were shivering so the workers were chasing down blankets and getting the SAG cars to take them back.

We get going and despite one sleeveless wool tee shirt, one jersey, one vest, one thin windbreaker, and a rain jacket I am freezing and stiff --Mike and Dave pedal away. Rain gets heavy again and coming off a roller a mountain bike (baggy short) clad rider cuts past--I get pissed and jump on his wheel, and though I'm getting the full brunt of his rear wheel spray I stay right behind. Get almost up to Mike and Dave when "oh shit-wobbly bike-FLAT FN TIRE." I yell but Mike/ Dave don't hear as they pedal away, Mountain biker gives me a "FU grin", and I look for shelter in the downpour to change flat. See some trees growing out of the sidewalk so I go under them, but they are in a slog of mulch I quickly sink into. Start pulling off gloves that are like sponges, now tire covered by mulch shit. I start shivering when a sag appears-tells me he'll finish tire and I should get into his car. At this point I would have sagged in but sag is going out to school to pick up more kids. The 5 minutes in the heater are wonderful, guy gives me surgical gloves to wear on hands, and off I go for more fun in the rain.

Now solidly into suburbia--luckily some short climbs but can get warm on them by going up hard. I lose the directional arrows but some cyclists doing my route--some down the hill doing the more direct path--some pass so I follow and soon back at the college. I just throw everything that is sopping wet on front seat and climb in and change clothes inside car.

In college cafe great post ride dinner-enchiladas, ICE cream and pie. I just double up on the main course and skip desert while watching a slide show of the local clubs trip to France. (only 40 miles a day on mini folding bikes carting a trailer.) Mike/ Dave only about 20' away from me and spot me--they are talking with three women who remember passing the Diablo Cyclists at the beginning of the ride and then getting passed quickly after the 2nd rest stop. One also recalled going up Mt Diablo on a holdiay and hearing a great bike stereo in front of her. Of course get back to the car and sun is out. Now I'm really po'd until half way to San Jose sky opens up again and you can't see 20' in front of you. .