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.

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