Sunday, December 7, 2008

2008 Cycling Review



Grand Prize Winner as Combined Quote of the Year and Marriage Relationships

"This is easy"-Donna (wife) after Don points to the left side of our fixed gears and tells her to ride there so she'll be sheltered from the crosswind on a winding levee road, and Donna immediately follows Don's suggestion. Of course I had told her the same thing miles ago when she started to fall off from the crosswind while we are riding on a deserted levee road. When I suggested riding on the side Donna responded "NO!, I don't want to get hit by a car." Huh??-levee road is fairly wide and we haven't seen a car in a half an hour.

Donna (left) and Don/I (right)
on the Stockton Delta Century a day after the Santa Rosa Wine Country Century--Miles Photography

Winner "How did you catch up to us--we were really trying." -Said by Big Mike on Westside Road, after he, Big Jim and Joe (3 powerhouses) went off the Diablo Cyclist pelaton while I was bs'ing off the back. Soon they were down the road, steaming off to lunch when a racer came by. I got on his wheel and he pulled me back to the big guys, just when I took a turn at the front on a slight uphill section, when Mike turned around and was shocked to see me. We'll at least two big guys, we regrouped and as luck would have it I was behind "little Joe" and was getting killed--so I yelled for Mike to pleaseee fill in front of me.

Runner Up "No not THIS fire station-the NEXT fire station."-Said by Stephan as he whizzed by Joe and I waiting at a firehouse on the top of a hill on Stephan's great "Tour of Napa Valley w/ Expected Route Changes" metric. Earlier Stephan had told us we'd regroup at the firehouse--then Joe and I dropped him on the climb.

Runner Up "He's alright--he's just sleeping"-Kitty. After I got off the bike for the 3rd time in an hour on the Eastern Sierra, and just laid down on my vest in the desert on the side of the road, a woman rider passed and said "are you OK." She was accompanied by Kitty, who knows of my enjoyment to snooze.

1st Place Tie-Two with Jack and Beth. The first is at Santa Rosa Wine Country where Jack is in his "ready to quickly go out of his rest stop mode" - sternly over Beth who has her shoes off on the grass. The other is of Jack and Beth engaging a local cyclist to join our club, also in Santa Rosa later in the year. Not sure if Jack ready to leave. 2nd Place-Rusty looks incredibly guilty getting food at the Wine Country Century. Ward-o-crazy photos.


Our club was hit with two unexpected natural deaths this year. The first was Steve B. who seemingly knew every cyclist in Contra Costa. He was always in good humor and real encouraging about the crazy long distance rides. He had retired last year--we all wanted to find out how someone so young could retire and were shocked when we found out he was 60. The other death was Dan D., who was not nearly as well known and occasionally showed up for club rides but worked at the reservoir near my house. On many twilight nights I'd cycle there after work, Dan would come over and bs with me--if hot and needing water Dan would pull a bottle from his truck, and we'd laugh how the water district's water was undrinkable. I only cycled to the reservoir once after his death and it was real spooky and an empty place.


1) MT. TAM DOUBLE--even with high cross winds slowing the course, great ride with Don and Jack. With good weather dropping down from Mt. Tam to Muir Woods/ Stinson Beach, instead of the usual fog blast, we should have known what was waiting for us up the Coast near Tomalas. I'm super motivated for this ride and drop 8 lbs, but it almost doesn't come off as I injured by quad two weeks before. Another high finish as Don and I passed a half dozen riders in the last 20 miles--the 2nd time we've finished together in the top 30. My favorite organized course now in existence--one big climb (Mt. Tam) --one steep climb (Coleman Rd) and mostly roller after roller.

2) SIERRA CENTURY (PLYMOUTH)--self supported club ride on the hardest portion of the now defunct Sierra Century. Brings back bittersweet memories where I cut my teeth on tough rides. We had a great group, great weather, and did Slug Gulch and Joe and I went up Charleston Road--which was NEVER on the Sierra Century as harder than Slug Gulch.

3) SANTA ROSA WINE COUNTRY DOUBLE METRIC CENTURY--This ride has a big Club turnout and with few big climbs (but lots of rollers) we manage to stay together for the 120 miles. Scenery is great, roads are "not the best," support is very good. Bonus is Ward taking photo after photo of the ride

4) HALEAKALA (MAUI, 10,023' Climbing)--As Mike has now worked there for almost a year, hard to recall when he was in Hawaii "temporarily," so I hastily got a travel bike together and flew over so we could go up Haleakala. Of course Mike had to go on a business trip (to India!) at the beginning of the week. But it all came together and we rode across the island and up the volcano and through 2 cloud layers. Great time--even though I froze my butt (in Hawaii!) coming down the first 2,000'

5) DAVIS DOUBLE on a FIXED GEAR--Yep--this was the height of insanity as I joined fixed gear king Don, who had done this before on a fixed. Completing our group was Professor Dave--the recumbent king, meaning we'd leave him behind on climbs and he come shooting by us on downhills. Butterfly world in the AM was great, the unseasonable 100+ degree temperature was not. By Middletown, halfway but before the big climbs, we were already beat and we met up with Donna, attempting her first double. Best executive decision of the year my have been to avoid the rest stop and crash in the convenience store to cool down. Don riding uphill on the wrong side of the road to stay in the shade, or the water squirting out of the ice sock that he/ Dave wore gave the ride a surreal aspect. We finished real late but we finished--Donna battled and battled and got to 181 miles--her longest ride by far.


Had a relatively easy year, just partaking in three doubles. As noted previously DAVIS DOUBLE on a fixed gear with oppressive weather was just strange, and MT TAM went off great. MT. TAM was a redemption ride for me, self imposed revenge for f'ing up the EASTERN SIERRA DOUBLE. Coming off a cold I rode a little too hard at 7,000', and was in a group that would eventually finish within the top 30. On the last climb of the day I pushed too hard for no reason and blew up, and wound up .... (see photo, yep, that radio on top of the cab is BLASTING shitty music and It doesn't matter, I'm fading out) . I eventually finished a "little" behind Joe who came in 2nd.


At the Tierra Bella Keith Richards is surrounded by Bill Ayers--where's Mick and Charlie?.


1st Place-The 1000's of vicious butterflies swarming over the road for a mile on Cardiac Climb during the early (warm but not 110 degrees yet) of the Davis Double, "vicious" as the rider in front of me flailing his arms around go get them away from his face. I think only the nice ones came near me, Don and Professor Dave as we enjoyed riding through them--Donna also enjoyed them.

2nd Place-Park by Blue Lakes road for an easy spin before the Death Ride when a lady in a camper starts screaming "a bear is coming." Sure enough about 300' away a huge bear is lazily moving through the meadow and will soon intersect the road we planned to cycle on. At that point a cyclist is coming down the road--sees the bear, and starts going uphill. Cyclist's mannerisms look familiar--"it's Jack!," who finally comes down after the bear disappears in the woods.

99th Place-Almost big accident when a flying chicken came out from the side, hit the cyclist's handlebars next to me, hit my leg then bounced off of my wheel. Don't know how I stayed upright. Cyclists from behind said I needed to look at my rear wheel, which I didn't want to do--picturing chicken guts in the spokes. When I finally turned around there were just some feathers in the dropouts.


We get the NON pre mixed peanut butter which contains NO hydrogenated oils like its pre-mixed cousin--trouble is when you open it the 1/2" layer of oil is on the top and the solid peanut chunk is on the bottom, and you can't readily mix it well as the jar is topped out. And if you don't mix it well you eventually wind up with brick mortar on the bottom of the jar.

Ward provided a simple solution--STORE THE PEANUT BUTTER UPSIDE DOWN IN THE PANTRY. This works great--when it is finally opened to be come a refrigerator resident much of the top layer of oil has seeped down and mixed with the solids.


Off the bike--Me--2 weeks before the Mt Tam Double walking down the outside stairs at work, looking out at the Grand Lake Theatre, and then oooooop! missing a step and falling down 3-4 of them, pulling my quad--thought I had torn it. One week was full rest and then next week was a training ride with ice and heat wraps the next two hours.

On the bike--Ward--fixing his bike brakes then going for a test ride in sandals when his foot slips off the pedals and lands on the UNPADDED top tube. That's all one needs to know.


Big Mike up in Chico. We were completing the first of two high speed loops of the final segment of the Century and our group was pulling a long paceline--when all of a sudden two racing teams roared by. A few of us, Big Mike, Big Jim, Joe, Ward and I jumped onto their wheel and got into the middle when all of a sudden one team attacked, the other team chased, and a clusterfuck ensured. The groups splintered and I wound up clinging onto the back when two riders suddenly got into a breakaway. I was out of position and spent when Big Mike--just 2-3 bike lengths ahead of me, opened up and quickly closed the gap to the two riders with Joe in tow. Big Mike got Joe to the two lead riders, where Joe stayed until back into town--and Big Mike waited for me to come along whereas he drafted in behind me, well deserved for the effort he just put in.


Except on the end of the Mt. Tam Double, unfortunately feel my age more and more. Where a few years ago breaking 60 minutes on Mt. Diablo seemed imminent, now I have a very good ride if I hit 70 minutes.

One Wednesday night Drew (age 31) and I did our usual "up hard" to the ranger station--where he dusted me in the sprint. The following Saturday I played every trick in the book when I was in a 4 man to Sunol where I launched a good attack to get away on the final hill to be caught by Tennessee James (aka Boonen) (age 26.) Damn it--in one week I was caught by two guys whose combined age is just a little more than mine. Putting in a hard effort kinda seemed useless.

A few weeks later saw Patti Smith (age 60), the goddess, in concert. When she walks on stage she looks old. As she gets into her music the years melt away and she gets younger and younger--more active on stage with more energy than most artists half her age. WHAT AN INSPIRATION. FUCK OLD AGE--may need a little more time to recover but its go full tilt!


1st place- Eric Schat's Bakery-Bishop-Outside looks like it came right out of Disneyland, with a nice sidewalk patio where you can sit back and look at Hwy 395/ Main Street traffic roll through town with the snow capped mountains in the background. Inside plenty of room in the divided bakery, one side making sandwiches and stocking loafs of Sheepherder's Bread and other unique creations. The other side is for the sweet tooth-was living on the Honey Wheat Muffins.

2nd place-Bovine Bakery-Pt. Reyes Station-in size the antithesis of Schat's, the line always spills out of the tiny customer side of the counter and into the street. Takes a long time to get to the front where, if you're lucky, a Whole Wheat Vegan Scone is still available. Coffee is always great--even with sign that proclaims that they just serve coffee--no lattes or espressos. Once you get your foot find a place to sit among other cyclists and tourists on the high curb overlooking Main Street-where someone is probably bbqing a roast outside the supermarket across the street.

Mt. Diablo Redux

31 x to Ranger Station this year (2,159' altitude, 1,852' climbing, 6.5 miles)

25 x to the Top (3,849' altitude, 3,542' climbing, 11.2 miles)

3 x to the top with the bike (+10 lbs) stereo

I'm a cold wimp and try not to go up to the top unless it is over 82 degrees at the bottom. 92 or over even better, I usually slow down less than others in very hot weather and it is priceless to be coming down Diablo in just a sleeveless jersey.

Early season usually consists of riding to the Ranger Station from the North Gate, going down to the South Gate and coming back (only counted 1 x above.) Other idiosyncrasy: the grade on Mt. Diablo is a very tame 4-6% until the final ramp of 16-19%, which becomes the focus of a nervous riders climb. So Big Mike, Ward and I will have to do it twice--once you set out to do it multiple times you stop worrying about it.

Unfortunately I've continued to get slower from 2004 when I was so scared of rides I'd always go balls out in training. Best in 2008 was 35:5 to ranger station and 72:52 to the top.


I mentioned earlier how the Eastern Sierra Double and Mt Tam Double ride and finish were diametrically opposite--but the results were very very surprising.

On the Eastern Sierra well past the half way point I was feeling great and the strongest climber among a trio--the two other riders would finish 27th and 30th. If you would have bet me I would have given you odds that I wasn't going to falter. Yet a few miles later I stupidly blew up, and I tumbled to a 91st place finish. (Congrats to Joe for finishing 2nd! and Jack finishing 39th, Jack didn't realize he had passed me)

A few months later I rode the Mt. Tam Double with Jack and Don, which was a lot of fun riding with two teammates, but we always rode to the slowest rider--which would vary as the day went on. For example on the early Cheese Factory Climb Don was lagging and we had to wait for him off the downhill--later on the Coleman Climb he zoomed up while Jack and I lagged. Apart from waiting for the slowest rider until the end of the race, the course was also very slow with high crosswinds in the Northern part of the course (read Professor Dave's account of the century which took place on the 2nd half of our course.) We were seemingly going so slow that in our run into Petaluma Jack brought up the prospect of finishing in the dark, which was NEVER a consideration in past Mt. Tam Doubles.

In any event Don and I got our competitive spirits going in the last 20 miles and passed a half dozen riders and zoomed in at 7:35. Happy I felt good at the end of this double but Fn 7:35-that was my slowest finishing time on the Mt. Tam Double. In comparison to the past I figured we'd be lucky to finish in the top 33% or in the first 70-80 folks.

2005-6:46 (36th)

2006-7:15 (35th)

2007-6:43 (23rd)

Results weren't posed for a few weeks and I kept expecting the worst. So when results were posed a few weeks I was real surprised at a 28th place finish. Real surprised.

In the Zone

Last word between the incredible contrast in finishes between the Eastern Sierra Double and Mt. Tam Double--even though in both races I had no idea what I was doing at the end.

In the Eastern Sierra all I wanted to do was sleep--so after catching a nap in a truck bed with bad music blasting I quickly transferred to a chair where I did more of the same, and then a half hour later I sprawled out in teh desert for more shuteye. I don't think I pedaled much in the last 30 miles where a strong tailwind let me coast in. I don't remember much of the last part of the ride.

In the last part of the Mt Tam Double we'd see a rider up ahead and I'd usually lead the charge out to them, with Don pulling until the next rider was spotted where I'd charge out again. We got to Big Rock, the last steep but short climb of the day and caught two more riders--though one near the top where I'd have trouble keeping ahead on the long twisting climb that follows (we had a crash on this part the club training ride I was supposed to be leading but missed with injury the weekened before last.) I stayed ahead of the rider long enough on the downhill until the lower third, and when the road flattened out I was in that rare Museeuw mode, (waited and waited and heard in my head Jim Morrison yell "we want the world and we want it NOW") and led the charge back to and past him. At this point I am sky high and don't remember much-soon we were with two other riders until the end where Don and I shot up the residential uphill. So later I asked Don--"when did those two last riders catch up to us?" Don breaks the news to me that --"they didn't catch up to us, they were ahead of us and we caught them on the flat run in to San Rafael." Damn if I can remember that.


1) Haleakala-Unexpected and epic climb with HAWAAIAN MIKE across the Island of Maui and up 10,027'--except for freezing when starting the downhill what a fun ride.

2) Amador/ El Dorado Sierra Century-100 miles, almost 10,000'. Self supported along the old course. Told Stephan what a good training ride, he looked at me like I was nuts as he yelled back "Training Ride!?"

3) The Death Ride-Just saw it as a training ride, nice way to get in shape for the Mt. Tam Double.

Postscript--sometimes things go the other way--after thinking that the Auburn (141 mile) Century was a fun ride last year, this year I had low energy, it was too cool out, it was harder than it should have been, and I packed it in after 105 miles.


2008 Miles........................8153 (4611 by July 1)

2008 Trainer Minutes....1646 (890 by July 1)

2008 Drinks......................5 Beers (1 by July 1, best beer Marin Brewing company San Quentin Breakout Stout)


Hell with boring still lifes of bowls of fruit. Here Joe, Jack and I crack up as a local painter captures Ward in Volcano, in front of the faux Acropolis.

Two New Fun Unexpected Double Metrics

Winters-Middletown and Back via Pope Valley

I wanted to see if I could do a section of the Davis Double on a fixed gear. Professor Dave and Donna were going to be doing Davis as their first double, and wanted to see the course. Ward never wants to do a double but trains like is going to do one. The nicest part of the Davis Double are the rollers on the lightly traveled Pope Valley on the edge of Napa Valley and onto Middletown--which is only one big climb away from Clear Lake.

So on one cool Sunday morning we set out from Winters--climbed Cardiac and then hit the picturesque stretch down Pope Valley. Past Davis Double rest stops #2, #3 to the turnaround #4--where I gave Dave and Donna advise about which ones to skip. The rollers out to Middletown are slightly up, and on the slow course I'd stay ahead of Donna and Dave on his recumbent, while Ward rode back and forth making sure everyone was close and taking photos of the event. On the way back the course gets fast and I was left behind often on the fixed, where Ward would then circle back for me.

We enjoyed the convenience store stop at the Middletown turnaround--though not as much as we'd enjoy crashing at it 2 months and 60+ more degrees later.

Honolulu to Pineapple Hill via Paki Lookout and Highways that start with "K"

A couple of weeks before my trip to Honolulu CA Mike told me I could stay at his place, but he had to go to India. Two days before my trip to Honolulu, the Tradwinds Club I had hoped to ride with posted their weekend ride--and it was NOT starting in Honolulu but at Windward Community College in Kaneohe, about 12 miles and one big climb away, at 7am the day after I arrived.Got to Honolulu late night, got some cereal to eat, and then spent 2 hours putting together S&S Bike, while trying to figure out how I'd get to Kaneohe.

Set out at 5:30 in a near deserted and dark Honolulu--though lots of tall women in short pants when I cycled down hooker’s alley. Then found the Pali Highway, one of the few roads out of Honolulu. When I got to the top the sun had still not come up, and wasn’t thrilled to go screaming down a road with just a small safety light--so waited for the sun to rise. How cool is this--sunrise in March and the weather is nice.

Then it was a fast downhill through a highway tunnel with no shoulder (which precluded coming back this short way later) and got to the bike ride right before 9-, where part of the group turned around early to go swimming. A handful of us continued up the Kamehameha Highway near the ocean--where the shoulder disappeared often and almost got beaned by a bikini clad surfborder unloading her car. When we returned 124 miles, and luckily was able to get a lift back to Honolulu.

Finally, Killing the English Language--or the English Professor

One favorite club ride is the Tunitas Creek Loop. This year Professor Dave (a guest contributor and kick ass recumbent rider) needed a lift to the ride, which I was happy to do though I gave him the proper warning. (as June says, "no one car pools with me as I never use the air conditioning") The good news was that it wasn't over 100 degrees (118 back in East County)like a few years back--it was actually a tiny bit chilly at 75 on the Coast. Of course this meant 85-90 on the Tunitas Creek climb back to Woodside.

Celia's, the traditional gathering spot for Niarguarian food after the ride is NOT air conditioned, and it was a pleasant 85 degrees over the San Mateo Bridge back to East County. Away from the water the thermometer hit 101, I told Professor Dave who was melting in the seat I'd turn on the AC if it went over 105, luckily it peaked at a pleasant 103.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Summer's Almost Gone...It is....

Been kinda quiet for the last few months--its is "the end" of the season in a few regards. After the great self supported Sierra Century, most of our Club avoided the $$$$ mediocre rides offered at the end of the year--so we've been quietly winding down. And my youngest daughter moves to Southern California to go to school in a few weeks. I'm pulling old photos and scanning them for a digital frame, I'm amazed how much stuff I had forgotten and how time has gone by so quickly.

While we've given up real long rides the Club has done some good (mostly out of town) metrics. We did a Lexington Reservoir to Santa Cruz and back ride in October--after endlessly climbing a crappy road back towards Lexington Reservoir the road suddenly closes-barricaded and with "no trespassing--including bicycles, danger, danger, danger" signs. The prospect of going 15 miles downhill on cracked pavement and then going back and starting another climb along the road we took into Santa Cruz was a sucky prospect--luckily a mountain biker suddenly popped out from behind the "no trespassing" signs and said the road was only graveled/ sanded for 500' or so. So luckily after walking our bikes across the chewed up portion we could continue on and didn't add to our 75 mile course.

We went to Windsor--a nice downtown town in the middle of suburban hell and did part of the Santa Rosa Wine Country Century. Many of the regular roads are almost as bad as the one closed near Santa Cruz--but the lousy roads seemingly never bother the locals.

My favorite was one where we go up to Marin and hit Nicasio-Pt Reyes Station and Mt Tam, all bringing back great memories of the Mt. Tam Double--albeit putting on 8 pounds had me climbing like shit. We start from Kentfield instead of San Rafael so parts of the route were "a little different than normal for this metric. Nice warm day and enjoyed the handcrafter stout at the end of the ride--4th beer of the year.

Other weekends we hung close to town and did metric+ going to Calavaras, Palamaras or Altamont. So far real lucky, only one weekend day of riding rained out.

Even coming down Mt. Diablo on Thanksgiving morning (before the traditional meal of lasagna and potato pancakes) wasn't terribly cold--Ward, Professor Dave and I stayed together for the climb up--I had the bike stereo and "When the Music's Over" coming on by Juniper was perfect--and so was the "Robocop Theme" for the ramp.

Luckily Ward wasn't on the Santa Cruz ride--no doubt he would have gotten scores of incriminating photos of us climbing over the "road closed" barriers--with our buffs covering our faces. He did get the Windsor multicolor Snoopy joining us in front of the Adams Family vineyard. Earlier on the ride one of the locals wants to join our group, but we told him he'd have to give up cigarettes. A few weeks later Ward got a nice shot of me climbing above Stinson Beach. Lastly a photo from the archives--with my baby daughter on the Sacramento Bike trail years ago. She gave up cycling because a helmet messes up her hair.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mortgage Crisis-Direct government loans to homeowners

While $$$$ is being poured to the banks that made/ pushed such crappy home loans, homeowners haven't been helped and have been foreclosed en masse.

Of course homeowners who DIDN'T buy more than they can afford, and DIDN'T used their house as an ATM to buy Cadillac Escalades and 80" plasma flat screen TV's, object to a government bailout of homeowners who did such things--though this means homeowners who didn't game the system but have been caught in the economic squeeze are left in blowing in the wind.

As our goal is to avoid foreclosures (while it is nice that I don't have a next door neighbor with their yapping dog--their brown lawn does hurt the rest of the block) why doesn't the government subsidize loans for anyone claiming hardship. For a $175,000 loan at 6% the mortgage is $1050. If the government can buy the loan from the bank and subsidize/ discount the loan to 3%, the mortgage is now $740 a month--a saving of $310 a month.

But there would be a catch to this government largess--as the program is intended to keep one in their house, not allow one to trade up and up and up every other year until they reach 5,000 square feet.. The government would become an equity lien holder in all subsidized homes--and get 20%, 30%, 50%? (based on years until mortgage is paid off) once title changes. The goal being that real estate prices would eventually rise and the feds would recoup their investment, and struggling homeowners would now have an out.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

NO Corporate Welfare for the US Auto Industry

No one wants the US Auto Industry to go under--especially to protect their work force. Even though one remembers when Chrysler got a bailout in the 1970's, ostensibly to protect their workers, and they dumped workers from their Poletown Plant when they automated. But no welfare for the US Auto Industry either--the industry that kept bringing us bigger and bigger cars in the hopes to turn a bigger profit per unit, and little crappy cars (Gremlin, Pinto, Vega) that were just throwaways.

How about a plan that will help the auto industry, consumers, auto workers and the planet. Government rebates to the auto makers and consumers for every fuel efficient car sold in America.

For every car made in America ( Toyota's from Tennessee count--re branded Mitsubishi's like the old Dodge Colt don't) that gets good gas mileage--the American consumer and auto company get cash from Uncle Sam. For example:

Car gets over 30 MPH--Government gives auto maker $2000 and consumer a $4000 rebate
Car gets over 40 MPH-Auto maker gets $4000 and consumer $6000 rebate
Car gets over 50 MPH-Auto Maker gets $6000 and consumer $8000 rebate

50,000 car rebate would cost around 500 million. Much less than the bailout asked for, and auto industry could cut their rebates back, to make more $$$ on each unit. Think the Hummer and the Escalade--the official car of Antioch subprime mortgage holders who took out a 2nd, would virtually disappear.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Last week our group noticed that more and more cyclists have suddenly appeared wearing ASTANA kits. As a public service, so your ASTANA jersey doesn't go the way of your DISCOVERY jersey or your US POSTAL jersey--here is a jersey that features France's major newspaper, LeMonde, paying tribute to Lance Armstrong. Order your's today--found at fine Trek dealers.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

$700 Billion Bailout--Socialism For the Rich

Usually I'm just used to politicians being disingenuous when it comes to morals or military service, so if things weren't so bad it would be funny to see those stalwarts of anti-welfare capitalism pleading for $700 billion of corporate welfare to prop up the economy. Jeez, we've zoomed quickly by "trickle down economics" and are expected to give gifts to the folks who created crappy loans in the hopes of making tons of dough, and always wanted less government regulation which was keeping them back--with no help to the folks that lost their homes or jobs have been swallowed up in merger mania. Meanwhile McCain can "seriously" hammer Obama for his proposed spending programs while he supports the Iraqi caper which runs 8-10 billion a month--that's around $100 billion a year.

Luckily Congress did not blindly follow another scare tactic from the same guy who brought us "weapons of mass destruction"--though I'm sure a welfare package will eventually pass with support from the mainstream Democrats and Big Business Republicans who outnumber the Conservatives and Liberals. They formed a nice alliance not to buy a Wall Street Welfare bailout hook, line and sinker.

Of course if you oppose the bailout you are accused of blocking economic progress. But, what else could we do with $800 billion to get the economy going...

How about a PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAMS!!!!, which no one is talking about as an alternative. It would put money in the economy, put people back to work, fix our crumbling infrastructure and improve our energy independence. My daughter is reading about the New Deal and is amazed to see that the government built stadiums all over the place--mostly to put folks back to work. Well-why isn't this an option today?

How about a water project to bring excess Northwest water down to the Southwest? How about building some solar, wind and nuclear power plants, and then subsidizing rates for consumers? Instead of crying about our dependence on foreign oil and offering driving slower as a solution, how about extending every rail transit line in the largest 20 metropolitan areas by 2-3 stops? How about new light rail lines for the next 30 metropolitan areas and we develop a standard light rail vehicle to be manufactured in the Unites States? How about that bullet train, as an alternative to air flight, between San Diego and Sacramento and other major urban areas?

Picture of Buffalo War Memorial Stadium--Built by the WPA to put folks to work--yep, the feds used to do that. click here for photo/ Stadium information

As one example, in my area we can't get the mass transit system-BART-to run a train line out here--Though taxed for it for 30 years "TO EXPENSIVE!, MONEY IS NOT THERE!", we've been told, over and over. The cost--about 1% of one year of the Iraqi War--which we always have money for.

The most expensive but most convenient addition--a 10 mile extension would cost $1,173,000 (per EBart EIR, 2008.) Supposedly this would lead to 6,600 new riders--most who now drive 80 miles back and forth to San Francisco. So by extending this one line, about 21,000 gallons of gas could be saved daily (w/ 25 mph.)

Estimating from this one project, going into 20 Metropolitan areas and extending 3 lines each would cost-70 Billion--yep, loads of money but 1/10 the proposed bailout that was supposed to be anointed at the drop of a hat. Direct spending on construction and factories, create jobs, reduce energy dependence, reduce highway congestion. And that is just one part of a large public works project.

Another way to go is for the feds to refinance foreclosed loans at a subsidized rate that slowly grow over the years as equity comes back, for owner occupant homes that weren't used as ATM's, for 2nd loans taken to buy Cadillac Escalades. And on eventual sales the feds would share on the capital appreciation. (Oh--you say--the government should not get into the business of loaning money--too late--they just loaned the auto industry 25 billion at under market rates!!)

And if we really want to help millionaires along with the downtrodden--feel free to spend a few dollars of a public works plan to build a retro-WPA stadium for the A's--in Las Vegas.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

*Photos*-Amador-El Dorado (Original!) Sierra Century-2008

Photos from the Amador-El Dorado Self Supported Sierra Century-2008. Photos from Ward Industries Jay-June-Jack starting up steep rollers on nicely shaded Perry Creek Road--it is time to relax as Slug Gulch is around the corner.

June on Slug Gulch after it levels out-that is why she is smiling.

Stephen on Slug Gulch--he's on good behavior-he hasn't tried to change the route.

Jay is happy to be back in his adopted cycling homeland-and hasn't gotten anyone lost yet.

Ward on the top of Slug Gulch and he'll be coming back here for his Jesus Birthday tree.

The Diablo Cyclist pelaton going through the El Dorado National Forest.

Joe and Jack going downhill towards Sutter Creek on the Shake Ridge Rollers.
Ward in Volcano, wondering when Bob Dylan will show up to this Greek Theatre.

On Mayor Rosie's bench in Volcano, Jack claiming headache when Joe asks if he'll be doing Charleston Grade.

Rusty, happy to be on Ram's Horn Grade instead of Charleston.

Joe and Jay coming back from Charleston Grade--both disappointed that they are finished with Hell.

Deer crossing the start of the wonderful Fiddletown (E-Ticket) Expressway--smart deer know it is the start of the hunting season so they are hanging out away from the forest.

Congratulating Rusty after he takes out the Big Mike Classic Race to Fiddletown.

Self supported finish of one of the hardest Century courses. What a great fn day!

Amador-El Dorado (Original!) Sierra Century-2008

Self Supported Sierra Century (Sept 27, 2008) Plymouth-Slug Gulch-El Dorado National Forest-Cooks Station-Sutter Creek-Volcano-Rams Horn/ Charleston Grade-Fiddletown-98 miles, 8,800' climbing, 14.8 avg. (8:45-@5:10) (Ride rating 231, with Charleston option 261) w/Jack, Joe*, Rusty, Ward (*other crazy who went up Charleston); Stephan, June and Montana Erik who did the 65 mile option. Beth, with injury, started with us.

Once upon a time the Sacramento Wheelmen put on the best Century ride--hands down. Part of the reason it was the best was that it started at the small and picturesque Amador County fairgrounds where the Sac Wheelmen put on great pre ride and post ride spreads--and every rest stop was stocked with enthused volunteers who in some cases would run up to approaching cyclists with fruit platters. The other reason was that the ride went on beautiful rustic backroads that were scenic and nicely paced with little traffic, almost no stop signs, and no traffic lights. Only one little problem, the ride was tough as it featured a steady stream of rollers and a few significant climbs--with its feature climb being the 3 mile Slug Gulch monster at mile 75 which immediately starts off at @16%. The 120 mile ride consisted of 10,000' climbing.

This is where I cut my teeth learning to climb, and by far was my favorite ride of the year. Up to 2002 I had only struggled through the Metric (65 mile) version, so with typical insane logic it seemed like a good idea to skip the 100 mile option in 2003 and go right to the 120 miler. With lots of practice prep rides in the area this became the first Gruppo Pumpkincycle Signature ride.

Alas the ride is no more as El Dorado County, now concerned with anything interfering with their wineries, refused to give out a ride permit in 2006. The Sacto Wheelmen promptly rerouted half of the route which proved to be a disaster as the simultaneous riding up and down Rams Horn Grade caused blocked traffic and pissed off locals. Slug Gulch was removed and a poor substitute, Hale (Hell) Road that isn't fully paved and has a creek at the bottom, pissed off cyclists. Tragically a cyclists hit a tractor and died elsewhere on course. The next year the Wheelemen moved the Sierra century totally out of the county and alas the Amador-Ed Dorado Sierra Century-RIP.

I had done a variation of the self supported metric-backwards ride numerous times, actually planned out by Jo-Jo in 2003 when I wanted to do the Slug Gulch climb before the actual Sierra Century. She came up with doing the ride backwards, so we'd hit Slug Gulch at mile 25 in the cool morning instead of later at mile 75. We then added on the beautiful portion of the 120 mile course that goes through the El Dorado National Forest--continued up past 5,000' to Cooks Station to eat (which wasn't part of the official ride, but the Sacto Wheelmen wouldn't disclose where the bonus miles went) and then continued on the mostly downhill rollers for a 65 mile loop. Since then I had done the ride numerous times, most notably in 2004 when I blew up on Slug Gulch a year after dad died and Mountain Bike Jerry went back with me a week later to try it again. In 2005 I introduced Donna to Slug Gulch before the Sierra Century. Then in early Summer 2007 the Diablo Cyclists went up and we did the "backwards" metric 65 mile loop and most people who weren't used to riding in beautiful country surround by tall pine trees on great roads with little traffic were disappointed when the metric was finished. So this year I hoped to pull off doing a full century.

Well, it was pulled off. Only thing that would have made this ride better is if we did it earlier in the year as it is a great training ride, we'd have another hour of sunlight, and more people would have done it as for many folks the cycling season is winding down. Otherwise a perfect day.

*******************ROUTE SHEET***********************
60% of the climbing is on the first 38% of the miles to Cooks Station

0-#-SHERWOOD & LOCUST, PLYMOUTH by school-fairgrounds
0.3-R-Main Street
0.6-X-Hwy 49
S-Shenandoah Road
2.3-R-Shenandoah SCHOOL Road
6.2-X-Shenandoah Road
S-Steiner Road
8.2-L-Shenandoah Road
12.4-S-Mt. Aukum Rd
17.4-<1>-Store @ Mt. Aukum and Fairplay corner,

(alternative Pioneer Park 1/8m up Fairplay)
17.4-L-Fairplay Rd
17.6-L-Perry Creek Road (S-Perry Creek Road if coming out of Pioneer Park)
21.0-L-SLUG GULCH ROAD (gear down)
26.4-R-Omo Ranch Road
26.5-<2>-Regroup at Indian Diggins School on left side of road
26.5-R-Omo Ranch Road (through El Dorado National Forest)
36.0-L-Hwy 88 (uphill)
36.7-<3>-Lunch at Cooks Station, 1/8m after 5000' sign
36.7-L-Hwy 88 (downhill)
40.2-R-Shake Ridge Road (right after Dew Drop Loop)
40.2-<4>-Quick regroup so we don't lose anyone missing turn off of fast downhill
40.2-S-Shake Ridge Road
46.2-METRIC RIDERS-R-Fiddletown Road-(go to 80.3 below)
46.2-CENTURY RIDERS-S-Shake Ridge Road-Century Riders
49.2-R-Shake Rige Road (after Ponderosa Rd) @ Dafodil Hill
59.2-S-Shake Ridge/ Gopher Flats Road (note shortcut option on Pine Gulch Rd)
61.7-L-Old Hwy 49-Sutter Creek
61.9-<5>-Secret bathrooms behind City Aud. Parking lot
61.9-L-Sutter Creek Volcano Road
74.3-R-Consolation which becomes Rams Horn Grade or

S-Charleston Road & R-Shake Ridge Road at the top
77.3-<7>Regroup @ Daffodil Hill where Rams Horn becomes Shake Ridge
80.3-L-Fiddletown Expressway
90.7-<8>-Park in Fiddletown

90.7-R-Fiddletown Road
96.6-S-Main Street. Plymouth
97.1-L-Sherwood Rd

Ironically, when we started the ride right outside the Amador County Fairgrounds, a cycling couple drove up and unloaded their car at the same time. No they weren't joining us--but they made a pilgrimage to this spot to do the old Sierra Century metric in the traditional direction. The Real Sierra century lives on!!

Ride started out warm, nice difference from last week, and we hit the gentle rollers through the Shenandoah Valley where they have shoe horned in more and more wineries. More wineries on the quick side loop of Steiner, not part of the old Sierra Century but a nice detour learned from the local Erma's Diner Bike Club. Then more rollers that start to get serious, though not approaching the seriousness of the Auburn area where they are so long and steep it is impossible to power over anything. Ward and I agreed that only thing missing from our modified Sierra Century was the nice trip through the Bridgeport School Road Arenberg Forest that used to get us here. Most of us riding at a quick but social pace except for Montana Erik and Joe; glad someone showed up for Joe to play with as they zipped on ahead. Rusty and Stephen, who never met an attack they didn't like, were even on good behavior.

Though only 17 miles had passed definitely needed to load up on drink at store in Pioneer as now we'd be climbing for 20 miles and no assurance that the school halfway up would have running water. Additionally, toxic porta potty was locked so we took a side trip to Pioneer Park which worked out nicely with wonderful real restrooms, a good feature of this ride. Then a straight shot down a side street that quickly turned into a narrow, tree covered (but nicely paved) road that continued with rollers-some attention getting. Stephen commented that he once thought this was the infamous Slug Gulch and I chuckled as in 2004 when I was out of it so did I. Here I was trying to keep my backside on the saddle as I wanted to preserve my legs for the Slug.

Then a quick uphill roller, a longer downhill roller, and SUDDENLY WE ARE THERE. A sudden left turn suddenly appears that Ward and I instantly recognized--oh shitty--GEAR DOWN. The initial part of Slug Gulch is actually the steepest part of the 3-4 mile climb.

As I'm not a pure climber, unlike a steep but steady climb, I like Slug Gulch and even the harder Charleston. Though each has grades approaching 20% both also have flat relief spots that one can recollect themselves. Slug Gulch has 4 tiers of approximately 1/4 mile each, with each tier broken up by a short relief sections, and about half way up Slug turns into a gentle uphill. Luckily the steepest first section was in the shade and though the rest was wide open we were avoiding the hot afternoon sun. Three times I started sprinting uphill--when the quiet of Slug was interrupted by dogs suddenly barking like mad--luckily behind fences. One of the few houses on Slug was blasting the Beatles "Abby Road," nice change from the house blasting country-western music in the middle of nowhere around Auburn last week.

Joe, Montana and Rusty had hammered the Perry Creek run in, and I was sure we'd catch Rusty on Slug, but he managed to stay away. We regrouped at the Indian Diggins Elementary School, which has a beautiful shaded lawn. Apart from us it was dead quiet. We reminisced about when this was a Sierra Century rest stop full of wading kiddie pools to soak feet in, or when Jack wouldn't let Big Mike finish his huge lunch. Today luckily water was available.

We continued on Omo Ranch Road that runs through the El Dorado National Forest-- a mostly gentle uphill. In the past off road motorcycles sometimes broke the quiet, but today this area surrounded by huge Pine Trees was almost silent (apart from us,) with at most a half dozen vehicles seen in 12 miles. One truck pulled over and asked us if we had seen any deer. Later we found out it was the start of the hunting season but didn't hear any gunshots like I repeatedly heard in Auburn last weekend. On a ride with many beautiful portions this may be the most beautiful part of the ride.

Ward-o-crazy took tons of photos on this ride. Most can be seen on the next post. On this post you can see the elevation profile, our motley crew at the rustic Indian Diggins school (with modern playyard) and the Diablo Cyclist pelaton going up Omo Ranch Road through the El Dorado National Forest.

Rusty, who didn't read the route sheet, was ready to turn right for his favorite portion, the screaming downhill on Hwy 88, and didn't believe me when I told him to turn left--as there is really not much around the uphill to the East until you get to Kirkwood Ski Resort-30 miles away. But here we went about a 1/4" mile past the 5,000' sign to Cook Station, a little store, cafe with nothing really great but a beautiful backyard deck-patio to eat at. We had taken hours to get here and were only at mile 37--but had been climbing all day. Now 60% of the climbing was done.

After our first really long break we took off on the screaming downhill on Highway 88. There is not much traffic on Highway 88 and it has a wide shoulder in most places but the downhill is still treacherous as it is easy to miss the cutoff after 4 miles--and if missed you keep going fast downhill towards Pioneer and beyond--so we all regrouped at Shake Ridge Road cutoff and yelled to our compatriots not to miss the "exit."

We quickly started down Shake Ridge, where being one of the worst descenders I quickly lost the group, and then appreciated the 2-3 "Italian" (aka "Auburn," aka "Serious") rollers that let me come back to the group. This part of Shake Ridge is at 3,000'--possible winter snow level--but now this rustic street lined with basic houses on multi acre lots (possible retirement area?) was perfect to speed down. Once the rollers shrunk in size Rusty sped off. Montana Erik who had been hammering with Joe all day slowed down as he had to get back and he joined Stephen and June on the "E-ticket" Fiddletown cutoff for a 65 mile ride.

The rest of us continued on where Shake Ridge makes an abrupt right turn and becomes totally rustic again with no houses. If anyone accidentally continued straight they'd be going down Rams Horn Grade. Shake Ridge is the one of two roads down to Sutter Creek and the better one to take. The alternatiove we'd be coming back on, Sutter Creek Volcano Road, has a tall shoulder and the downhill lane seems to collect many falling rocks. Overall Shake Ridge was downhill but many portions were interrupted by uphill sections. We passed the top of Charleston Grade which Joe was considering doing, and Hale Road--the alternative rout to Fiddletown/ Plymouth if one liked unpaved undulating roads that had a running stream in the bottom. Unbelievable that the last Sierra Century had been routed on this disaster.

In any event we picked up speed towards Sutter Creek--again Rusty disappearing ahead. Sutter Creek the quintessential gold rush town--looks like a movie set, and I was blown away the first time I ever rode through it years ago. We didn't play tourist as we were going to regroup for awhile in Volcano, so now we just hit the secret public bathrooms, while being serenaded to "Barney type" music from a neighboring park. We noted that if the presidential election was held in Auburn County, based on house signs, McCain would win 25x over Obama. As we couldn't play "the find Rusty" game today, we decided bonus points for spotting another Obama sign. With that we quickly started up Sutter Creek-Volcano Road.

The road up to Volcano is a gentle climb of 1000' for 12 miles, which kicks up near the end. It is also beautiful--a few houses but more undeveloped nature with a stream running alongside. Usually I come through here in the early morning and it is real shady, but now we were on it during the heat of the day and Rusty was not happy. I rode with him as Jack-Joe and Ward went on ahead.

Volcano is a little, sleepy 2 block town with a faux Greek theatre, and a general store with a porch--so we all sat around like we do in Sunol. The heat had gotten to everyone and we all looked beat as we downed cold drink while Ward kept snapping potentially embarrassing photos of 3 zoned out cyclists. To get out of town we had two choices--Ram Horns Grade which was the hard climb on the old Sierra Century Metric, or Charleston Road, the hardest climb I know of. It is like Slug Gulch but with +3% added on to every steep section. Joe, our club's best climber, didn't look enthused at doing Charleston and said he'd do it if I did it. What the hell--I said I'd join him and we'd regroup with Ward, Jack, Rusty at Daffodil Hill. Think I downed another bottle of something on the spot as I knew I'd be sweating it out.

Jack, Ward and Rusty went right to Rams Horn Grade and Joe and I went straight where the road immediately kicked up--but we were on the portion the Big Mike once proclaimed "was not that bad." Yep, "not that bad" for about 1/4 mile then suddenly--"HOLY CRAP," the road then goes up like a wall. If the scary top of Diablo is 18% for .1 mile, the first section of Charleston is minimally 20% for .25 mile. Luckily this first part was in the shade.

Joe took one side of the lane and I took the other side but the grade is so severe we involuntarily started weaving back and forth and almost hit each other so we change to front and back formation. Wisely I didn't stand early after my back went out "over torquing" last week on Iowa Hill (1.7 13.5%), but at a certain point I had no choice but to stand. My back went out but though sections of this were steeper I like Charleston better than Iowa Hill which has a relentless grade with no recovery points; here it would get flat so my back could recover. But on this section we saw the top--no--I forgot about the false flat so I yelled out to Joe that we'd have a recovery point--eventually.

The road finally flattened out and I got to stretch. After about a flat 1/8" mile the climb kicked up again--this time about 18% for .25 mile. This portion was a "piece of cake" compared to the first part. Around a curve which featured a few homes and then a nice 1/4" mile downhill. Couldn't rejoice yet as another 18% for a shorter .12 miles. Then we got to the final uphill rollers--the 5% now seemed very very flat. Joe and I congratulated each other as we cycled back to Daffodil Hill where Ward and Jack had been waiting for 5-10 minutes and later said Rams Horn was a piece of cake. (Rusty had taken off ahead)

Now some annoying uphill rollers which used to be a real pain during the Sierra Century--and I now tried to push the pace--now that the specter of Charleston wasn't looming any longer there was no reason to hold back. We soon arrived at Disneyland--I mean Fiddletown, regrouped and started the "E-ticket" ride. (minors-ask your parents about this.) This was always the Big Mike portion of the ride--made for someone who can speed downhill and power over small rollers.

The Fiddletown Expressway is 10 rustic miles--it starts off as a steep, curvy downhill where I quickly got sawed off, but soon had roller after roller which are easy to fly over and I got back to the group. There was some chicanery-attacks but Ward-Joe and I rode mostly cooperatively until we saw Rusty ahead on the road. I thought as he was dead on Volcano Road we'd blow by him but he had recovered and quickly jumped on our paceline. I expected Rusty to eventually attack as this becomes the perfect road for him as the rollers are increasingly descending in nature and they eventually stop and the road just goes downhill, and Rusty is a fearless downhiller. I tried to get rid of Rusty on the rollers but to his credit he hung on tight, and then at the end took off and won the ride into Fiddletown.

Fiddletown has a few "ghost town buildings" and a big park with bathrooms/ tennis courts which used to be the central Sierra Century rest stop. Our time here was cut short when a pit bull appeared and we decided to s..l..o..w..l..y roll out--luckily the pit bull was bored with us. Now only 7 miles of slightly downhill miles to Plymouth which is punctuated by a serious roller--one you need to climb over instead of powering over. I knew Ludo--I mean Rusty, would again attack when the road straightened out so I went hard over the climb and time trialed to Plymouth, unfortunately having to slow when our road yields into another and after not seeing many cars all day two cars were traveling at the intersection. Joe and Ward joined me in the "Rusty keep away" as we sped into Plymouth.

Great-great ride. A few of us headed off to find something to eat in Plymouth, which was tough as most places already locked up. Finally found a pizzeria and had a good tri-tip salad. Good food at the end of this version of the Sierra Century. I already can't wait to do it again next year.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Here is a formula to compare ride courses with. With weather being equal, what is easier, a full century (100 miles) with 2,000' climbing or a metric century (64 miles) with 6,000' climbing?

On the face of it this formula is (ballpark) accurate, as it rates the Terrible Two and the Devil Mountain Double as the two hardest rides, which they are (weather dependant on which one is harder in a given year, the TT has more flat road that DMD but it climbs are steeper.) They also provide a great example of how outlook varies and what factors are important in a ride from the feedback I got from Steve and Kitty, the King and Queen of long distance cycling. Steve has done 36 doubles and became infamous when completed the TT with a broken neck, Kitty has won the 200 mile stage race series a couple of times and finished P-B-P. Anyway, they don't exactly agree re what is the harder ride, which shows there is no conclusive answer:

"I still say that the TT is harder than the DMD, having done both 3 or 4 times each...since TT's really steep monsters come late in the ride and you are under time pressure to hurry it up and finish before a cut off time." -Kitty

"Having done both the DMD and TT multiple times under various weather conditions, I have always felt that the DMD was tougher of the two rides. Why? Well, because it has always taken me longer to do the DMD and I hurt more when I'm done. ...The TT has many more miles of paceline opportunities than the DMD so 1) riders are 'resting' more while in a paceline, and 2) the average speed while in the paceline is faster than if the rider was going solo. This then has the potential for offsetting what seems to be the other 'difficulty factors' that can 'skew' the ratings.-Steve

In any event, weather (extreme heat or cold, and wind) can turn a fair ride into a beast--and obviously the ratings below can't account for weather. But the ratings do account for the following:

Miles-1 pt per mile. Obviously a 100 mile ride over the same terrain should be twice as hard as a 50 mile ride.

Climbing-1% of climbing feet. No doubt climbing makes a ride harder. One web site has a formula that shows that a rider putting out 225 watts on level ground would go approximately 24 mph, on a 4% climb speed would be reduced by half. Additionally, as Kitty alluded to, you suffer more on climbs late on a ride. Slug Gulch on the Old Sierra Century was such a bear as you hit it late in the ride--ditto Ft Ross Road on the Terrible Two.

Originally I wanted to used .008 per climbing feet, with .012 used for feet after mile 75 and .016 used after mile 150. But this would be dependant on information beyond my reach. And .01 is easy to use. 5,000' x .01 = 50 points added to the rides miles to the ride.

Severe Climbs-15x miles. Go up the 12 miles of fairly steady 4-6% of Mt. Diablo and early on everyone is talking about "THE RAMP, the last .1 mile of 18%. Many people who are having fun on Diablo spinning away are terrified of the ending portion. On some rides the 18% isn't .1 mile but 2-3 miles of the whole ride.

An arbitrary cutoff for killer climbs is 10%-Big Creek on Climb to Kaiser averages 10% for 4 miles and it is brutal. At 4% our 225 watt cyclist who was doing 12 mph on the 11% grade is now doing 5 mph.

I think there should be a 50% bonus for portions of climbs over 10%, and without GPS measuring I can just recall miles from hell. Using a x15 (for miles) multiplier comes close to giving us this bonus.

Non Descending (Non Coasting) Miles above 6000' -1 x miles As anyone doing the Death Ride knows, being over 6000' for most of the ride--breathing is labored, easy to lose ones breath upon too much exertion, and constantly drinking more. In 2007 I saw Don get "altitude sickness" on Eastern Sierra, which seemed pretty easy at the time, the next year I blew up upon too much exertion and couldn't recover.

So a 25% bonus per miles is in order for these rides. Unfortunately these are the one's I'll have to go back and attempt to approximate miles at high altitude where we are fairly level or climbing, so the list below isn't complete.

Please note I know this is inexact and I'd be the last person to argue that a 280 ride is necessarily harder than a 250 ride based on the numbers alone. I'd just say that they are in the same ballpark. And either one is probably more than twice as hard as a totally flat century. And of course cobblestones add 20x per kilometer, 50x when wet. Pictured Iowa Hill--1.75 miles at 13.5% average--for every "flat section" of 6% there is a section of 21%

Ten hardest one day rides that I've done, with assorted rides for comparison
(Recalculated 9/25/08-changing "hard climbs" from 25x to 15x to limit the hard climb bonus to @ triple regular climbing)

1-Devil Mountain Double-512 (206 miles, 18,600' climbing, 8 miles of hard climbs)
2-Terrible Two-501 (201 miles, 16,480' climbing, 9 miles of hard climbs)
3-Climb to Kaiser-385 (155 miles, 13,500' climbing, 5 miles of hard climbs) (#subject to revision, estimate 20 non-coasting miles over 6000')
4-Central Coast Double-362 (209 miles, 13,800' climbing, 1 mile of hard climbs)
5-Mt. Tam Double-359 (199 miles, 14,500' climbing, 1 mile of hard climbs)
6-Knoxville Double-342 (201 miles, 12,600' climbing, 1 mile of hard climbs)
7-Eastern Sierra Double-340 (190 miles, 10,000' climbing, 2 miles of hard climbs) (#subject to revision, estimate 20 non-coasting miles over 6000')
8-Auburn 140 Miler-330 (140 miles, 15,000' climbing, 2 miles of hard climbs) (#subject to revision, estimate 10 non-coasting miles over 6000')

9-Death Ride-329 (129 miles, 15,000', 1 mile of hard climbs) (#subject to revision, estimate 35 non-coasting miles over 6000')
10-Davis Double (w/ Cobb Mountain) -315 (200' miles, 10,000' climbing, 1 mile of hard climbs)
---Davis Double (w/ Big Canyon)-284
---Old Sierra Century Double Metric (in Amador-El Dorado)-269
---Solvang Spring Double-269
---North Fork Grizzly Century-260-- (#subject to revision, estimate 15 non coasting miles over 6000')
---Humboldt Tour of the Unknown Coast-212

---Mt. Hamilton Double Metric Challenge-208
---Tierra Bella Double Metric (w/ Henry Coe)-206
---Tour of Napa Valley Century-180
---Haleakala from Sea Level-178
---Santa Rosa Wine Country Double Metric-169
---Chico Wildflower Century-148
---Foxy Fall Century-125
---Stockton Delta Century-105
---Mt Diablo (N Gate)-61
Diablo Cyclist Rides
---Plymouth Backwards Sierra Century-231 (w/ Charleston 261)
---Walnut Creek-- Calavaras inc Sierra Road, out and back, Century-217
---Walnut Creek --Mines Road Junction, out and back, Double Metric-184
---Los Gatos--Aptos, loop, Metric--113 (w/ Rusty Bonus Loop 138)
---Woodside--Tunitas Creek loop with Pigeon Point bonus, Metric--126
---Walnut Creek--Sunol-Calavaras, out and back, Metric+--100
---Walnut Creek-Sunol-Palomaras, loop, Metric--95
---Walnut Creek--Bears--Tilden Park--Peets Berkeley--back Redwood Road--85
---Diablo Cyclist loop-Morgan Territory North-Livermore, loop--85

Note: seemingly @ 265 is a nice tipping point re a ride being so hard that casual cyclists will be discouraged. On 9/4/08 (with rumors about this much earlier based on post ride comments) the Sacramento Wheelmen indicated they were ending the Sierra Century Calavaras (ride rating 265) Route after 2 years, based on the toughness of the course which saw a huge reduction of riders.

"... in a formal letter Aug. 25 to Calaveras County officials that (Sacramento Wheelmen) felt welcomed in the county but that the steep hills here and high gas prices are forcing the move to more moderate terrain closer to Sacramento.... In June 2007, 1,800 people signed up for the ride....This year, however, only about 600 riders signed up. "