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. .

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