Saturday, September 29, 2007


(September 29, 2007) Knoxville Double, 16th double started (one went down the toilet) w/ Don, 200 miles, 12,600' climbing, 5:30-8:21, 16mph

Can't figure this ride out. 2,000' less climbing than Mt Tam Double, though ride takes me much longer and always finish in the dark while I finish Mt Tam with plenty of daylight to spare. Well, as two months after Mt. Tam sunset is about 1 1/4 hours earlier. We also leave 1/2 hour later. Or, maybe it is because it isn't timed so no urgency, or that I am always injured (2005-dog bit, 2006-hit by car) a week before the ride. In any case what promised to be a big Diablo Cyclist party petered out, and only Don was going to ride it. (but 4-5 club members going to work the event, and Kitty would be on the ride-probably starting earlier and skipping rest stops.) As Don is our fastest long distance rider, and for once I was healthy going into this, I figured we could get in just before nightfall.

Ride is put on by the Quackcyclists, and while they don't do the (great "over the top" exuberance of the Santa Rosa Cycling Club for the Terrible Two, they do a great job in every other area of support catering to what long distance cyclists need.. I always quip that this ride is their apology for torturing us on the Devil Mountain Double with 50% more climbing.

Ride inexplicably was pushed back a week which worked out great. First it allowed me to do the Auburn Double Metric +16 miles two weeks ago. And last week, when this ride was supposed to have happened, we had a beautiful December day--cold and rain, whereas September in the Bay Area is supposed to be the nicest month of all.

Other things don't quite work out as planned. Was jazzed when I saw motel on the outskirts of Vacaville--for once I wasn't staying at a hobo dive. But with trailer trash arguing in the background I sat around for an hour while I had three different rooms in rapid succession--for the first room the lock didn't open, for the second it didn't shut. Then off to the "famous Vacaville Outlets" (home of white shoes on the cheap) where the only store I like, the Pearl Isumi shop, was gone. Then off to the park for checkin where one volunteer complained about my handwriting but otherwise lots of Quackcyclist Swag (reflect ankle band, water bottle. energy bar, gel flask--all things Planet Ultra would charge for, where I picked up some Quack shorts.) I'm always amazed how low key double check in's as opposed to the festive atmosphere at a Chico or Sierra Century (with 10x as many riders and some vendors.) Now running late because of the motel fiasco, I get to downtown Vacaville just when Ray's Bike Shop (saved my ride in 2006) is closing, and he Italian restaurant from 2 years back is gone. Back towards the outlets which is surrounded by strip mall after strip mall, but pleasantly surprised as they took the Nut Tree development (used to be the one oasis to eat on the way between San Francisco and Sacramento) and created a chain store mall, but with loads of sidewalks and laid out in a street grid so conducive to walking around. Same stores where I live (Brentwood-Antioch) where the most obvious feature is the giant parking lot between stores that makes walking between stores nearly impossible.

Weather promised to be in sunny in the mid 70's but we'd be through numerous mico climates. Great that the Quacks run drop bags back from rest stop #1 where we could ditch lights and some clothes and #2, where more clothes could go before the 20 mile gentle climb along Knoxville Road to Lower Lake. I mistakenly have described it a "fun climb."--this year it sucked. More on this later.

Not a mass start, and most riders start out by 5:00. Don/ I started at 5:30. In the past I've not been the greatest fan of mass starts but a nice way to get the excitement/ heart rate up. Now Don/ I starting off in complete darkness around Pena Adobe Park Lake, with no other cyclists in sight. Glad I brought heavy duty lights--though part of the beginning is through suburbia streetlights, most of the pre dawn route is along the highway service road or rural roads leading to Napa Valley with no lights at all. Unlike Davis Double that has workers waving the turns in the darkness--here you better spot the ground route markings. Luckily Don knows where we were going and he was hammering and passed about a half dozen riders --though we were passed by a racing couple. Don was doing all the work and I was holding on in the cold (50's) damp air that kills my breathing. First time knee warmers over knee wrap--tee shirt and vest and windbreaker, since February. Surprise-road that was rough last year has been repaved. We must be going fast--still dark where I double flatted after sunrise last year.

We're headed west--going over Mt George, which in past years I remember for the terrible, curvy descent. But what I've lost in climbing ability (gone from very good to good) Ive gained in downhill (OK, now poor but used to be utterly terrible) ability. I took Mt. George easily as breathing still f'd, but it was actually warm on top of the climb and at the downhill which I had fun on. We still hadn't seen many rides until we went past idiot cyclists #1--riding side by side and bsing on the downhill. I said "on your left" but they didn't move from their side by side position--Don went over the yellow line to pass but I wasn't having none of that--so I had to get a little louder with a stronger sense of urgency in my best "da Bronx."

The Napa Valley floor was foggy and colder--reported to be in the high 40's. Must have gone through the organic section of Napa, area smelled like wet cow shit. Pulled into rest stop #1--mile 36--17.9 mph, workers dressed for Siberia. Any thoughts of sending clothes back when on the top of Mt George would now wait. Don and I have similar rest stop body clocks--especially on an untimed double--we'd both be ready to leave in about 12-15 minutes.

Next segment was lots of fun. We continued North in the Napa Valley we here we saw hot air balloons as sky finally clear and sun was out. . Here I started sharing some work with Don, especially when someone would become a passenger on our two man and I would kick it into gear on a roller. At some point passed by the famous Lee Mitchell sag, and I wasn't going to let him off the hook--I started yelling "play some Doors." (Great guy and real helpful but the music he usually pipes out of his sag van usually could be improved upon.) He gets on the loudspeaker and lets us know that his music equipment is broken. No matter, I've been grabbing some live tunes off of You-Tube and then editing them for my MP3, the fast pace of this portion of the ride was perfect for the constant quick beat of a live version of Berlin's techno -"Sex" that I recently edited--and now kept racing though my head.

One Grizzly Peak Cyclist would be a passenger then attack on rollers, so when the rollers kicked up a notch Don/ I dropped him. (Rumored that Grizzly Peak doubles leader Marc starting at 6:00 so he wasn't around to watch over his disciples.) Then a long but shallow climb from Napa Valley East--now sunny and actually warm, and here is where Don and I passed loads of the early morning starters while just riding at an even pace and having fun.

We soon hit the top of Howell Mountain and White Cottage Road--part of the impetus to pass as many cyclists as possible was to go downhill on the curvy run in as small a group as possible. Tense and wound up last year (after hitting a car on a downhill the week before,) I enjoyed the downhill, and all to soon we were zig zagging East towards Lake Berryessa along a flat road that would have rollers increasing in duration along the way.
Don & I on start of beautiful Knoxville Road climb that turned from sunny & fun too windy, cold and painful Thanks to Ravi-also a doubles riders-who was taking photos just for a Second Harvest Food Donation.
This where we ran into Idiot Cyclist-Yellow Jersey-#2. On the flats we caught up to him and almost as soon as we were behind there was a left turn Idiot Yellow #2 missed, started cursing that he missed it and/. or we were following behind him so he couldn't make a sudden left, and he hammered off. Don/ I got back to him and then went passed--Idiot Yellow #3 regrouped with 3 or 4 other riders and they came back to us. Cool, a large paceline into Rest Stop #2. Except Idiot Yellow #2 wouldn't call out any crap/ cracks in the road, went from 1st to 2nd wheel, and jumped around. We went up one roller, I gave Don the signal and we both went hard up the next one--dropping the paceline for good for the next few miles until rest stop #2-mile 70-17.4 average. Now really nice and warm--the knee warmers and tee shirt to the drop bag. Now for the FUN Knoxville road climb. Hah.

First half of the climb up Knoxville Road--the first 10 miles--went real well. What's not to like, starts with a real scenic water crossing, a steady 3% grade, hardly any traffic. Only negative is the road surface isn't the greatest, but the rough road is usually just concentrated around the shallow culverts that run across the road each 1/2 mile.

But some things soon became apparent.

1-There was a slight headwind at the start which would disappear if we were momentarily sheltered but got increasingly strong as we climbed,

2-Though sunny out, and we're climbing a a nice clip, the headwind is from the North and it was getting cooler and cooler,

3-Hmmmm, my ankle feels weird---kind of like after I twisted it 2 weeks ago at the start of the time trial at Auburn. But it hadn't bugged me in two weeks, but now it was starting to hurt.

About half way up the Knoxville Climb gets steeper (maybe 5% instead of 3%), it was getting colder, and my left ankle did not want to turn the pedal so I was doing most of the work off my right leg. I was getting cold and usually I could up the pace to warm up but nothing doing today. After having passed scores of riders, now Don easily rode away from me, and others started to pass. I pulled off to put on vest--Don waiting for me at water stop after the tunnel. We caught up to Kitty, a B-P-B (sic) finisher who can put in more miles than almost anyone, while skipping most rest stops but not terribly fast on climbs and she started an hour before us. However, Don started riding away again and I couldn't go much faster than Kitty--who did start to detail all the food she was going to eat at lunch.. Luckily a few downhills started so I could get some relief while coasting ,and while wondering how I was going to do the oppressive (10% and long) Cobb Mountain climb after lunch while I could barely do Knoxville. Figured that they must have athletic tape so I'll get massage therapist to wrap my ankle and take some Advil.

Right before we get to lunch two clubmates come by in a Sag and yell some wise ass stuff but I'm in no mood to joke around. I know the person taking numbers at lunch--glad to see a friendly face--and her significant other also working the lunch stop and will put together some food for me. But all I want to do is have massage therapist look at ankle--which he does--says there is scar tissue building that he has to break up--and it is in one of three places the 3rd place might hurt. "AAAAAAAAH"--it did. Massage therapist said he loosened up the ankle but now it felt worse--I could barely walk as I stumbled over for some food. Oh yeah--ankle taping--he could do that but no one had a roll of athletic tape--but EVERYONE had a roll of duct tape. Spotted another sag driver/Quack organizer I had known for years--tape--oh yeah "duct tape." I didn't want to put duct tape on my skin--but I wanted to finish the ride--so I wrapped my ankle OUTSIDE my sock and took some Advil, and then ate a hearty lunch of a tostada shell before I stumbled back on the bike. As last year Don didn't seem in much of a hurry and was letting me set the rest stop pace.

On the bike I felt better but BIG PROBLEM at stop sign and then traffic light out of Lower Lake. I always clip in/ out with left (now bad) ankle--and at stop sign I couldn't and barely made it out before crashing down. So at stop light I made a conscious effort to clip out right--which involves leaning the bike a different way so you don't go crashing down to the ground (last time I clipped out right was appx 9 years ago when I first got clipless pedals--I clipped out right but leaned left--and quickly fell.) This right clip out was more successful than 9 years ago--but it also meant that I had to start, where you put down some torque, with my left foot once we got going--which didn't work out well. Luckily for the rest of the ride, as very few traffic controls, only had to clip out a half dozen times in 90 miles.

Right away we start on a gentle climb as a lead in to 10% Cobb Mountain. Right away we hear a womans's voice laughing as she passes "it's those Diablooooos"--it is Fresno Lori--great climber and Triple Crown Race winner from last year. I pick up the pace to ride at her pace but Don talks some sense into me and I drop off--which is just as well as I died on Cobb Mountain. It's a long climb and the first part is the steepest so I just put it in an easy gear and tried to spin but no matter how easy I couldn't turn the pedals with any force and Don again disappeared in the stratosphere. I finally got pissed at myself and jumped out of the saddle. A nice person who wasn't the fastest climber pulled alongside me and offered encouragement as I was struggling, she said something like "wow, you are climbing in a double" and then pulled ahead.

At that point I wondered what the hell was I doing--sitting and spinning wasn't protecting my ankle, I wasn't going anywhere, so I might as well try standing. A revelation--standing didn't hurt my ankle nearly as much--and though knee and quads protested that I would stand too much for the rest of the day--my ankle won out--and it turned into a recipe for success. Don took a little speed off on the climbs, and I'd stand right away as soon as a climb started to stay with him--take very short sitting breaks--and then pop up again .

(above) Don & I(below) Hey--the tape matches my shoes. Great to see Craig and John working Detert Reservoir rest stop--though I refused John's home made PBJ sandwich and told Craig that the Quacks made me wear the duct tape as I forgot to bring a reflective band. From here going to roll though uncrowded section of Napa Valley--beautiful part of the ride. Thanks to Craig for photos.

The severity of the Cobb grade lessens as you get near the top--Don waiting for me on a level portion, and we hit the last hard section together and stay together. Man--this was like the year in review--at the top was the turnaround of the 300k brevet we did in March and also the turnaround for the fire rerouted Davis Double--where we came in from this side. However no turn around on the ride today--we'd have to go down the other side of Cobb first.
I'm beat but now the long downhill off of Cobb--or at least the 1st section which isn't as steep as the 2nd (luckily for me.)
I start down, Don rides shotgun so he will go down at my speed, which in the past woefully slow but now at a decent pace as I started getting off the saddle more to weigh my outside foot--much better control on the turns. In fact we go by a few cyclists--I never pass anyone on a downhill. All of a sudden get to a sunny patch, the road forks to the left but there is a side road going off to the right--no change o course markings, and IT LOOKS (to Mt Magoo) like there is a 3rd option with the road continues straight so that is where I go. However it isn't the road, it is a gravel field similar to the color of the road which dumps out onto a grassy field with bushes dead ahead. (Don and two guys we passed said it was hard to track the road at that point and see where it went.) With an audience aghast behind me I manage to stay upright while rolling fast on the field, braking before hitting the bushes, and clipping out fast. Now I had an adreline rush for the second part of teh downhill which is very steep (appx 10%) but I don't think I ever hit the brake. Out of Middletown we hook on to a half dozen group--some folks review my downhill exploits--and we paceline into the Detert Reservior stop (note to self--it is the miliage FOLLOWING the stops that you should take re where the rest stops are--Detert is at mile 134--NOT at 129 where the last turn previous is and you expected rest stop to be.)
Road thru Middletown and into Detert has very light traffic--surrounds are nice--weather is warm. Great to see club members John and Craig working this stop. It is now 3:15--was hoping to hit this stop at 3:00 if wanted to finish while light out. No matter, as was not going to speed thru stops as I had done at Mt Tam in order to rest my foot. As still hot and 70 miles to go not very hungry--so just grabbed two slices of plain bread while John made PBJ sandwiches. Craig wanted to know why I had duct tape around my ankle--told him I had forgotten my reflective band and heh Quackcyclists made me wrap my ankle in duct tape--he looked like I almost sold this. Took more Endurologhts-Tums-Advil--Heed mix, maybe should have made another Perpetuem shake but 3 "Bosco's" (Perpetuem w/ Chocolate Hammergel) early on was enough. A feature of this ride is NO water out of a garden hose--all the water is bottled--and first dumped in a jug filled with ice so it is nice and cold!! (shucks, no lukewarm water coming out of one of those Rube Goldberg tripletaps hooked up to the garden hose that sparys in all directions when coming out." Another big roll of duct tape laying out so I put another layer around my ankle/ bottom of foot.
The good news was that all the big climbs--save Cardiac near mile 180, were all done. Now a beautiful ride thru Pope Valley that was mostly flat puncuated by long rollers, and then a part I remember well--a fast ride through a canyon. Stupid me--I never realized the canyon was the great Lake Hennessey stretch that one climbs on the Napa Wine Country Century.
The rollers were strange--if you caught the wind right you could go uphill at 20mph. First series went well but I was still trying to conserve and sit--which would have me promptly lose Don's wheel on the uphill. Plus I was getting really tired--whereas I just started thinking about how long could stay at next rest stop as i'd want to lay out for awhile. Pass Aetna Springs turnoff--now deserted--usually a clusterfuck of cyclists going into Tour of Napa Valley Lunch. Past Hubcap Ranch with the sun gleeming off all the Ed Wood spaceships on the fence. When I pass Ink Grade I usually joke (and I'm half serious) that we should do it, but today I promptly said "no Ink Grade for me." But then a great thing happened--white jersey idiot cyclist came by and got my dander up. Don may be our fastest long distance cyclist but I am the most competative when I'm pissed., and getting pissed was needed to get me out of the doldrums.
I'm pooping out as we continue down Pope Valley--we get up to two other cyclists which is great as we can form a paceline and take it easy. All of a sudden I hear something coming up the road fast--I turn to my right to look backwards over my shoulder--I always do that (grabbing the bars in the middle with one hand and the back of the seat with the other so the bike doesn't swerve) as my neck is much looser when I turn to the right. At that point tandem with another cyclist speeds to the left--and a white jersey idiot cyclist flys off the tandems wheel as we are hitting a short uphill roller yells out to me "I SAID ON YOUR LEFT."
Fuck taking it easy. White jersey idiot now up the road. I put in an effort to get on tandems wheel and they start pulling me when road levels out but I look backwards and Don missed the move so I pull off and wait for him--heck Don waited for me 10000x today. Together we speed by the tandem and catch up to white jersey idiot. We hit a longer roller and I come around--white jersey idiot gets back to me and tries to come around so I stand, and stand and stand and keep standing until I pull away and hit the top before he does. Don again behind the action so after we crest I slow for Don and white jersey idiot goes off again.
Now on a straightaway which will be puncuated by fast, curvy downhills. Don/I get back to white jersey idiot again who I note keeps glancing back at us every few seconds. I'm not going to contest a downhill so I''m in no hurry to pass--and it looks like our sitting behind him is bugging him so what the hey. Downhill starts and white jersey idiot keeps look back, as Don/ I sit 20' in back of him. Truth be told--the guy was slower than me on the downhill and we could have passed him anytime--but better to stay right in back and be annoying.
So between getting my dander up and rolling downhill along beautiful Lake Hennesy stretch, it seemed like we pulled into Rest Stop #5--Mile 160, in no time at all--in reality it was 5:05--almost two hours after we had rolled into Rest Stop #4--26 miles ago. I had hoped to arrive here at 4:30 so we could "beat the sunset" but now there was no chance so we lingered a bit. (Found out later that injured doubles master Jack was working this rest stop but had gone off for ice--if he was here he wouldn't have let Don/ I linger.) Only misstep of organizers is that this is where you have to send you lights--as opposed to the final rest stop at mile 187--sop even though no need we had to put them on. Still nice and warm--and still not hungry--so just another slice of bread, 1/2 can of regualr soda (where is the diet soda?) and more pills and duct tape.. And though Don is probably our fastest long distance rider--Kitty (women's triple crown stage race winner two of the last three years) rolled in and proved she is our clubs BEST long distance rider--as she was the only one who dared EAT A HOT DOG WITH ALL THE FIXINS. (Jack said that @170 were eaten by the riders)
Don/ I rolled before we got sick (Don still had memories of a woman puking up a hot dog last year)--while Kitty was munching away on her hot dog and putting on her saftey vest--a though still warm she commented the next segment is like a highway with all the traffic.
Not Kitty's hot dog--actually photo of one served on the Knoxville staff ride the week before photo from Veronica/ Tandemhearts website. Kitty put more crap on her's.

And so it is. Next stretch takes us through rural state roads 128 and 121 around Lake Berryessa. Not many cars and then suddenly a Jeep or SUV with attached boat would come speeding by--with adjacent high rockbeds casting deep shadows over the roadway. A few sections where you could push the pace but many more sections of long (1/4-1/2 mile climbs.) By now I knew I was going to stand on the majority of the climbs--which worked much better than sitting.
Look at watch and it is 6:05 then 6:20 and the final segment in the dark is becoming more and more of a reality. More importantly--san tee shirt it is starting to get cold in the shaded spots (shoudl ahve sent another one with my lights) but don't want to put on vest as the last "serious" climb of the day--Cardiac--looms ahead. No bikes out on the road--and not much traffic. When we start up Cardiac it is time to try to stand once again--and it goes well. Helped that a few cyclists ahead to try to "pick off"--another Grizzly Peak Cyclist ahead (we saw a lot of them today but missed their doubles leader Mark) Past "Mike's Lesbian Point" (see 300k brevet ride story), but no one out today. At first Don said we'd pull into turnout at the top to put on our vests--but he changed his mind in order to beat the dark to the next rest stop--so we began a long and now VERY VERY COOOOOOLD fast run into Rest stop #6 at mile 188 in just our short sleeve jersies as the sun was going down. We pull in right at 7:00--it is still light--but that will end quickly.
Luckily Sacto Doug II & Joanie working this rest stop--as now it is cold and I am ready to eat--at least a cup of "salt noodle soup." Flop into chair to rest my ankle. As per tradition Joanie insists that she make me a PBJ sandwich which I am glad I she made for me. Doug comes up with some salt soup for Don and I. All of a sudden lots of yelling "wrong way"--three riders out of the rest stop had gone back to the road we came off of and were going to go towards Winters/ Davis in the dark.
Last 13 miles is a slightly uphill straight shot back to Vacaville, but along a perfectly BLACK county road with no streetlights. I pull into the road and start going easy--then see Don's lights turn onto the street--so I keep going slowly untill he catches up--but it isn't Don (he's having light trouble) --so I go over to the side of the road and will stop and wait except I can't clip out and almost fall again. Somehow get the bike moving before it tips over, shaken I ride back when Don appears. Don is flying and I get on his wheel and just like the morning he pulls 100% of the time when it is dark. We pass a Fremont Freewheel rider--it is Todd who I ended Auburn with and he jumps on--though he is kind of nervous after I got lost in Auburn, but I told him not to worry as unlike me Don has a sense of direction. Another funny double--at mile 105 (Knoxville climb) didn't think I'd finish the ride--but then in seemingly a blink of an eye we are at the finish, circa 8:20.

Though we only had a small group--end of ride pasta meal was great--Don/I joined by Craig/ John from the rest stop, Todd, and in a little while Kitty. Quackcyclists give out nicely etched pint glasses. Go over and hunt for photos of Don/ I on Ravi's computer (doubles rider form Davis who took photos in excahnge for donation to food bank.) Ravi is a fixed gear track rider and he enthisatically urges me to try out the track--but at this moment I hate my bike. Besides hurting--I'm kind of disappointed--after Mt Tam and Auburn were such smooth rides and this turned out to be more difficult than I anticipated.. Additionally, this signaled the end of the 2007 doubles (and baseball) season.

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