Self Supported Marin Century-92 miles-6200' climbing-Joe, Tom, Big Mike, Beth. A week before the Mt Tam Double I wanted to scout out part of the course so we had a fast paced ride from Hwy 101 via Nicasio over the Marshall Wall, stop at Pt Reyes Station and back. Beth hammered the flats, Bug Mike the rollers, and I kept going to the front so I'd get tired from this "training ride. Then Joe, Tom and I went out to Fairfax and to gold course on Mt Tam--where they dropped me on every climb. Good prequel to Mt Tam Double--when I lost Joe/ Tom for the 5th? and last time I chased back to a Santa Cruz racing group who were already po'd that Joe/ Tom had passed them on the climb. Good practice for the Mt Tam double. At the car Joe/ Tom gave me some downhill tips (stand to put more weight on the outside pedal) which I could sorely use. Two days later went back to my ancestral (2003) bike home and did the great Sutter Creek-Volcano-Hwy 88 out and back--throwing in Charleston (3rd hardest climb) in 95 degree heat for good measure. Saw one person all day--a 72 year old Sicilian in Volcano who rode over on his motorcycle.
Top Diablo Cyclist Rides
Unique to the club is that we usually don't have a ride leader, there are about 10 local rides in a rotation-a few out of town rides, all with known regroup points--and Jack does a great job arranging them in a ride schedule. Most rides are great-albeit returning on Danville Blvd in the afternoon (but traffic thins out the closer we get to Walnut Creek.) My favorites:
1) Peets Coffee Ride--Over the Bears-over Tilden-down into Berkeley. Return via Redwood Road and Moraga.
2) Sunol-Calavaras--A long one which usually has 3 starting points dependant on how long people want to ride to long but gentle Calavaras climb with beautiful reservoir off to the side. Added bonus is when we drop into Fremont and do Sierra Road.
3) Sunol-Palomaras-Do all our rides go though Sunol. Rollers out to Sunol, hairy ride in Niles Canyon traffic corridor, and then beautiful and almost deserted Palomaras climb.
4) Tunitas Creek-We haven;t done Pt Reyes or Sierra Gold Country ride enough for these to be best out of town ride so Tunitas Creek remains.
5) Capitola Ramble--We don't see much of Capitola but do see beautiful backroads and hills as we get out to the Coast and back--now better with the Rusty add on.
6) Mines Road--A spring classic--numerous starting points--the Diablo Cyclist bonus mile crazies start in Walnut Creek so we can get a double metric in--rejoin club when long but mostly gentle club to the Junction starts--and then option to STEEP side of Mt Hamilton. Not to be done when hot as out in the open and not much in the way of services.. (August 2007) MT TAM DOUBLE 200 miles, 14,500' climbing, solo, 5:00-6:42, 23rd place-247 starters including Steve Cozza, 60m rests stops
Course-AAA-Albeit the fog on the Coast the best route-enough climbing to keep the riders honest without it being pernicious Support-B+-Well Marked Course, Low Key Rest Stops but most of everything you need. Sometimes spotty
According to the California Triple Crown Website, this is the 6th toughest double (out of 18) based on altitude gain--but albeit the cold weather on the Coast it is the route I love the most. Enough climbing (one big climb, one steep climb and then roller after roller) to tire out the flatland mashers without the pernicious constant long climbs of the Devil Mountain Double or the 20% grades of the Terrible Two.
After two 36th place finishes the last two years, I was hoping to break into the top 25 this time, but it would be hard. Any speed I ever had on climbs is fading fast. More importantly, there would be no teammates to ride with-Steve and Jack suffering serious injury, Don and Mike taking it easy before Breast-Paris-Breast (sic). Joe doing this ride but I'd be lucky to be an hour behind him at the finish, and Kitty, the woman's Triple Crown Champ, rides at a slower pace but makes up time with an insane rest stop schedule. On this ride I'd have to make friends, and unlike our Marin self supported Century last weekend, will be trying to conserve as much energy as possible.Usual 5:00 start which means @ 30 minutes of riding in the dark. Joe way up in the front--which would almost be the last I see him. Two guys driving me crazy--b.s.'ing about their GPS system so everyone at home can follow their progress. Yuppie toy--yuppie toy. I start in the back as not crazy as riding the big downhill off of Big Rock with a huge pack, and the pelaton quickly split by catching a red light on Freitas Parkway. So I'm In the second group on the uphill to Big Rock and I ride about a half dozen off the front. Amazingly on the downhillI I stay with the second group leaders so when the road flattens out (from steep to shallow downhill) I can stay in their draft. I keep envisioning 2001 Domo Farm Fretes Paris Roubaix conserving energy and then I hope at the end of the ride I can catch a spark and have a 2002 P-R Museeuw moment.
Sun finally comes up and some big rollers to Fairfax. Three young guys keep passing on the flats without saying anything and one contests the rollers by attacking at the beginning--I'm getting po'd but just keep riding steady though standing a bit too much so as to beat them over the roller crest. Later these guys from Emeryville would help me, a lot, going down the Coast. Then Mt Tam starts--I'd try to stay with anyone who shot past while I was sitting (when I'm not that fast) and then stand and try to get on a wheel. My impetus is to try to stay with the fastest person on the climb and I think I did well, though BIG no push up the whole mountain with a climber from Fresno as in 2005, and now I don't think I could sustain a rapid climbing pace for long.
Pine Mountain Rest Stop (24miles, 6:33, 9 minutes) Take off big light and want to send it back to the start--after all even with foot problems last year I finished 1:15 before dark. But they are only sagging lights to later rest stops--and I am not planning to stop at Nicasio (final rest stop, just 14 miles from the finish.) Luckily one rest stop worker, Jenny, one of the best long distance riders in California, recognizes me, and says she'll take my lights back to the start.
A guy clad in a Discovery kit passed on the downhill to Alpine Dam, but thanks to a downhill tip by Joe/ Tom last week (get off the saddle to put more weight on outside foot) he wasn't speeding away from me as usual.After Alpine Dam downhill steep climb begins--and inversion layer had Mt. Tam warm. I pass one of those "slow" (I'll take this back by the end of the ride) brevet riders--it is Kitty who probably started before the mass start or blew off the first rest stop. On rollers on the top I look down and see heavy fog bank covering the ocean. After Pantoll Cutoff when I still have a way to get to summit I see Joe flying down--he's about 10th. (Also see about 20-30 cyclists coming down before I make the turn around.) Bad thing is that they are doing a paving job on top of Tam so lots of loose gravel, especially on the center lanes--not the greatest for twisty rollers.
Top of Tam (mile 38, ?? time, 1 min rest + 1 minute on downhill to put on vest=11 total rest minutes) I see large group of Fresno Bike Club rides at the top when I arrive, and though I glance at my watch I don't remember the time. I figure I can blow off the next rest stop if I get some water now--so I top off my bottle of Heed (Perpetuem/ Bosco mix hasn''t thawed yet) and have something to eat--so I grab a cookie. Climb back with Lori, the 2005 Triple Crown Champ, who tells me that her Fresno Club is taking it easy today as many people training for P-B-P, then I lose them on the gravelly downhill rollers. Left turn to Pantoll where I stop to put on my vest but still nice and warm on the downhill. Doing OK on the downhill-not may people passing but then 3 guys who earlier I contested climbs with shoot by--and I resolve to skip next rest stop, and hope to catch Fresno Cycling Club and ride with them. All of a sudden descend into 400' level where it suddenly.....
...gets real cold, FOGGY, real wet, and glasses/ handlebars dripping water. Only thing very visable are car headlights. OO
This sucks as trouble breathing when cool and damp and I tighten up on damp, twisty road around Muir Woods. Luckily I decided to wear a tee-shirt and wear bandage over my bad knee. I'm happy when road flattens out so I can push a little and get warm. Skip Santos Meadows Rest Stop (mile 50) though I stop 200' down the road to water a tree a eat a Nectar Bar. 2 minutes=13 total rest minutes. A few more rollers and I hear voices far back, I'm hoping it is the Fresno Cycling Club so I have someone to paceline down the Coast with. I hit the fog shrouded rollers on Highway 1 and one of the guys who attack earlier shoots by and one of his loud friends smiles and says "he loves to do that." They look back to say "bye-bye" but I stay on their wheel and start bs'ing with one guy wearing a Terrible Two jersey. They see that I'm not going away so loud guy starts talking to me, joking that they are training for an "around the world race"--as almost everyone here doesn't think 200 miles is enough, and seemingly are training for something longer. Meanwhile, the guy who attacked earlier is pulling a Big Mike and does 80% of the pulling down the Coast--luckily I can stay with them on the uphill rollers where he has to slack off a little to keep his group together, and then I can hang on for dear life on the flats and off the rollers on the downhill.Our fastest doubles ride, Joe (#11 on Climb to Kaiser, #34 on TT) -- got bit on this one by going out to fast. Photos from Action Sports International
Highway 1 is cool and overcast but at least soon not damp and foggy when road flattens out. One guy who dropped out after 141 miles last year struggles onto our paceline-latter he'd prove to be real fast. We eventually pass a rest stop for the 100 mile Marin Century--and the Emeryville trio inexplicitly pull into it. I'm left with the the guy who joined us as the rollers again pick up close to Olema. A guy in the Admiral Dewey Triple Crown jersey joins us and when the road flattens to Pt Reyes the first guy who had joined the paceline goes balls out--I stay behind him for awhile but the pace is to fast for 200 miles and I drop off. Admiral Dewey also drops off and says something like "doesn't he know the first 100 miles doesn't count." We see another guy down the road going at a good but sane pace so we hustle to join him--turns out to be Ken--a fixed gear rider who has done the TT 3x on a fixed gear and will be doing B-P-B. Wow. (no coasting and spinning like crazy on downhills, and overgeared for many uphills.) . We all stay together through Olema and no need to attack on the hill out of town as last year as we just have a small group. Fixed Gear Ken does most of the pulling but as I do all day if I sense the speed dropping I'll go to the front to give who I'm with a rest. Cheese Factory climb is much easier than last year as didn't go balls out leading into it--and now sunny and warm. Fast downhill where fixed gear is unfortunately lost-sudden left hand turn and Lincoln School-Mile 84-10:38-11 minutes, 24 total rest stop minutes. I think I've ridden pretty fast up to this point but in 2005 here 7 minutes earlier and in 2006 here 11 minutes earlier.
(above) I'm having fun and luckily would have fun all day--on doubles you can quickly lose it. (below) I came into this stretch (Cheese Factory Climb @ mile 80) with fixed gear rider, Ken, who has done Terrible Two 3x on a fixed gear. Even Don is not that crazy. Photos from Action Sports International
This rest stop is kinda crowded as this is also part of the Century course. Off goes the undershirt. Mix a Sustained Energy--though no Hammergel so use my Apple Cinnamon mix, and eat a mini Cliff Bar and 1/2 a banana.
The practice run last weekend to the Marshall Wall was perfect I hadn't recalled it being so long. Last week I took the lead and tried to hammer to the climb. This time the Emeryville trio come by--I thank them for the earlier pull up the Coast, and then sit again in the back. The same guy who pulled 80% up the Coast is still going balls out at the front. It's warmer so I feel better, so it is easier to hang on as we wind our way around a backroad with no traffic--we're going towards the ocean but sheltered from any headwind by the surrounding ocean. We get about 1 1/2 mile from the start of the Wall and pace begins to slack so I go to the front--when we hit the start of the Wall I thought I was pulling a paceline but the Emeryville Boys weren't behind me. Climb is much much easier than I recalled before last weekend --then fast rolling downhill, and suddenly I'm on the Coast again where temperature easily drops 15 degrees. I luckily had stopped to put on vest.
Now it is up the Coast to Tomalas where I hardly see anyone except one guy who wants to get pulled--and I drop him on the rollers. Usual stiff headwind on climb to the Coast off of Tomales. Not sure how we came together but somewhere along this stretch I first ride with Rando Man, Alta Alpina Guy, Terrible Two Girl and Palo Alto Girl--when we make the right turn off the Coast where we're pushed by nice tailwind either I am passed on the downhill or I pass some of these riders when the road straightened out, but in any event we had a paceline going for a few miles before lunch and I feel good as I lead the paceline in when the speed started to drop. Valley Ford #1-114 miles-12:35 (1 minute put on vest after Marshall Wall and 11 minutes at this stop--total of 36 minutes of rest stops.) Coming in 3 minutes ahead of 2005 and though 7 minutes BEHIND 2006--in 2006 this is where I started to suffer and needed longer rest stops.
I see Diablo Cyclist Craig who is doing the century, great to see a familiar face. They make the Doubles riders check in at table way in the back of the rest stop-which is annoying. More annoying are the swarms of yellow jackets near everything--incentive to get out quickly. Mixed up cold bottle of HEED (I had carried powder--they only had Gatorade on this ride), a cold bottle of Sustained Energy, had some good bread--stayed away from some supposedly delicious burittos, and downed a pack of sports beans which go down nicely when it is warm outside. All rest stops have Endurolights and this one also has Tums--the staples for long distance riders. When leaving tall Terrible Two girl and I traded pulls until the headwind climb where I fell apart last year.
A series of long long rollers into a headwind where it is getting cool again as we head to the ocean and my knee is starting to hurt--though under wraps. Then right turn onto Bay Hill ridge which is hardest section for me--the climb is moderate but the cold crosswind really sucks. Before fast downhill I stop again to put on vest--and both Palo Alto and Terrible Two women come by and speed away on downhill but I'm not far behind. Work hard to catch them on the Coast, no horses crossing Highway 1 this year, and then sudden turn onto Coleman Grade.
Most people hate the steep Coleman Grade but I actually enjoy it. We are finally getting away from the Coast for good--warm weather and mostly tailwind for the rest of the day!! Knee hurting and foot sore so don't want to open up to fast on the climb, and I'm also probably a bit lazy, so I don't stand and give it any energy until a sharp left turn where the grade increases about half way up. LEVI and other cyclists names from The Tour of California written on the asphalt--Palo Alto woman surprised that this was part of that race. Seems like I quickly crest the top--which opens up to another series of windswept rollers where I again slack until Palo Alto Woman comes by and I ride at her pace. She's running out of water so I offer her some of mine--but water stop at mile 130 is somewhere??--but never around the next bend. Go past the field Santa Rosa Wine Country uses for their first rest stop--just when we think there is no water stop this year (as cooler than last year) one appears. No need to collapse into it as last year--just plan to top off the bottles and go as it is a fast return to Valley Ford. Grab a mini Jo-Jo bar. Coleman Water Stop-Mile 130-2:12 (1 minute putting on vest on Bay Hill and 3 minutes at water stop-total 40 minutes at rest stops) Guy working rest stop looks up when we pull in and he says "you hammerheads--only 25 riders have come in before you." Hammerheads? I'm just sore and tight and energy starting to decline but the warmth and tailwind will cure this and I'm stoked at our placement on the course. How far can Joe be up the road??
One note before I forget, this is THE BEST marked organzied ride. Arrows for all the routes are promenently displayed) and this year the Marin Cyclists added signs about 1/4 mile down the road notifying something akin to "course change ahead." Kudos.
Back to the course. Now downhill rollers where sun is out strongly but sunlight is broken up by heavily lined trees so hard to see the road, so I take it easy as Terrible Two and Palo Alto women fly by. Then long downhill on Joy Road, where I once got lost on the Santa Rosa Wine Country Century. Thanks to Joe/ Tom, the downhill tips from last week help me not lose much ground on the downhill and I'm able to join the two women when the road has some uphill rollers and then flattened out. I don't recall if this is where we joined Rando Man, but I pulled again into Valley Ford #2-mile 143 -3:03--6 minutes-cumulative 46 minutes of rest stops. 5 minutes off the pace from 2005 and 13 minutes ahead of 2006. Now century riders are gone so rest stop kind of desolate--I grab some more good bread and down some sports beans, and finish the HEED I carried around-mixing two more bottles. Though I was only in the rest stop for 6 minutes everyone had left before me--I quickly rejoin Palo Alto Woman and Rando Man, and we quickly three man past Terrible Two girl.
I told Mike I had to apologize for making fun of all the seemingly very slow riders on a brevet--Rando Man had a huge reflective triangle on his back but took short but strong pulls especially when the road was level or when going down. Palo Alto Woman does a lot of work on the flats (21+) which was fun with the tailwind at the beginning, but my energy was dropping--not in the danger zone but enough to make 23-25 mph hard. I'd pull on uphill rollers. Nice tailwind except for a few half-dozen right turns to the South where we'd do a short stretch with a crosswind until another left hand turn back to the East where we'd again have a great tailwind. As last year--we saw no one in the run into Petaluma.
Foot now getting really sore and energy still low. Maybe it is the heat--only about high 80's but 20 degrees warmer than on the Coast. I figure I just need to hang with duo into Petaluma--and I'll take a long time at the rest stop--actually sit down for first time all day--andI 'll make up the time by bypassing the last rest stop at Nicasio. I rather take a few more minutes at the Petaluma rest stop so I can go balls out to the finish than limp home badly.
Hit a small hill-a subdivision-a few turns--and very fast into Petaluma Rest stop, mile 170, 4:46. Just 2 minutes off of 2005 pace! I'm usually quickly out of this rest stop (8 minutes 2005 & 2006), and do want to beat my 2005 time, but again figure I can spend some time here and bypass Nicasio. After hitting bathrooms (at other end of park) I park myself on a table and the shoes come off. Only notable food is hot dogs and noodle soup (yuck), another table has snacks but no power bars or anything real appealing. I grab some pretzels and watermelon (actually here they act like Planet Ultra and a worker has to give them to you,) put some carbonated water in one bottle, add gatorade to the other. Luckily I have another packet of sports beans. Terrible Two girl had left, Rando Guy/ Palo Alto Woman enjoying noodle soup so we'd leave around the same time. 14 minutes--but if I don't have to stop at Nicasio just an even hour of total rest stop time for 200 miles.
Few steep rollers out of Petaluma and I am cracking up as we get to the spot where Don/ I started chasing down a trio of riders last year. This time first we pass Terrible Two girl and she gets on the paceline that is going into a headwind as we head back SouthWest, then we catch up to Alta Alpina rider a little before a big three tiered climb before the Cheese Factory. I mention to Palo Alto woman that I am skipping Nicasio--she advises that we should quickly pull in to see if it is a check-point, good advice though no way to shortcut back from Petaluma.) I pull to the start of the climb, Alta Alpina guy stands and passes me to start the climb and I stand and stay on his wheel for the first tier--hey this is easy. I comment--"nice pace"--and he kicks it up a few notches on the second and third tier (each tier about 300'-600'), and I fall off badly. F-two years ago I could stay on almost anyone's wheel on a climb--not any more. Over the crest and I am sooo determined to catch the guy--I have him in in sights in the valley below where once the road flattens out we will make a sharp left and get beautiful tailwind. When I get to the bottom the three other riders join-Rando Man takes a pull to the turn--but once we head East I lead out as we are going to hammer back to Mr. Alta Alpina. I catch him half way to Nicasio and then sit on his wheel as I figure he'll kill me once the climbing starts out of Nicasio. One guy flies by but (thanks Don--this year I check) he doesn't have a number on so he is probably a local coming back from a short run.
We pass Nicasio rest stop/ check point, mile 186, and luckily someone taking numbers at the entrance as we pass--so no having to go inside and search for worker like at Valley Ford. Unfortunately while Alta Alpina guy also passes rest stop--three other riders pull in, so I'm left with someone faster than me on the climbs and not the cooperative riders I've done the last 60 miles with. It is almost all climbing from Nicasio to the finish--albeit a great tailwind and road isn't that steep until the Big Rock section--and from this direction (unlike the morning) that climb it isn't too long. What I'm worried more about is while I flew off of Big Rock downhill in the AM (what we'd be climbing now) in the direction we are going now it is long and twisty, and not a straight shot like in the AM.
Deja Vu to training ride of last week
We go thru Nicasio and make the left turn on Lucas Valley Road--which is how we started ride 13 hours ago. I quickly lose Alta Alpina's wheel and he stays 100' ahead of me when the climb thru the Redwoods begin--it is now or never so I put in a big effort to get back to his wheel, just as I chased down the Santa Cruz paceline last week. I rest on Alta Alpina's wheel until his speed slacks off around the place the bogus Gruppo Pumpkincycle photo was taken--so to make sure no one catches us from behind I go to the front and do some work. This means I lead into Big Rock where road suddenly gets steep--and on Big Rock climb we can see another rider 1/3rd of the way up but color of number (200 miler or straggler from century?) unclear. Alta Alpina shoots by me--and goes over the top (luckily road repair light mushing us into one lane is green for us) when I'm 3/4 up--and I pass the new rider, who is on the double, right before we crest.
But now I have to negotiate the long curvy downhill (which was a long curvy uphill in the dark 13 hours ago) and guy I just passed comes around about half way down--and when road straightens out Alta Alpina and new guy are two manning about 200-300' up the road. I'm getting slower on the climbs but better revving it up on the flats, and like last week I'm determined to join up with them. About half way to the Galindo turn I get close--I then go into a sprint and am ON THEIR WHEEL--YES--I REJOINED. . I recover in the back and close to the Galindo turn the pace starts to drop so I go to the front to rev it up--which may be a tactical mistake as the Galindo turn is about 10 blocks of gentle climbing--but I am stoked. We make the turn and I go hard--this time Alta Alpina guy is on my wheel as I yell out "CLEAR" as we pass every stop sign on the quiet short surburban streets--and the new guy is dropped. We actually get a green light at Lucas Parkway but Alta Alpina guy gets blocked by a car right after . I roll in at 6:42--4 minutes faster than 2005. Guy marking the time indicates that only about 20 riders have come in before me. I tell him that Alta Alpina guy was with me but he got stuck behind a turning car. I'm stoked that hard riding at the end not only preserved my position but let me move up two places--makes up for me becoming a lazy ass on Eastern Sierra. I check when Joe finished (noon?) but they don't have him down as finishing, whiich is strange?? Luckily no accidents reported. I am dehydrated like crazy and ride over to grab a Diet Coke--yippie--no more water/HEED/ Gatorade. Ride to car as Rando Man/ Palo Alto Woman come in--she yells out "good job." Thank ride organizer but joke that he should charge doubles riders less than century riders--as we are in/out of rest stops in 5 minutes--if we go in at all.
Luckily Craig hanging out from the Century ride so I join him for chicken and pizza fest in the quiet finsihing area--which unfortuantely they start packing up within an hour. I hang out to see if Joe or Kitty come in--don't see either so eventually split when just a few tables are left alone. Getting into car I see two of the Emeryville Boys getting out of a car--one had missed the LAST turn into the school and rode straight past San Rafael. His friend went to pick him up.
I'm real real happy about how ride went but all of a sudden the ride I like the best is over, and this marks a sudden end to the competative double season for me (Knoxville is untimed) and no real century rides coming. I also have a feeling that i'll never ride as hard as I did today again. Getting California Triple Crown Status--which was so important two years ago--is now just an afterthought. First timed double in last two years where really not "downtime/ energy loss/ dragging" and first time didn't tape my injured fingers since December 2005 accident. Yippie.
Results finally posted--they have me down as finishing at 6:43 (t) 23rd of 247 starters*(*21 early starters who are not doing ride for time43 did not finishes including many from the early starter group) The winner at 3:50 Steve Cozza, is a 22 year old Team Slipstream racer that finished 3rd in the 2006 U23National Championship Road Race. At 3:50 I was a one-third to Petaluma.