Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day, 2008-Sutter Creek to Volcano--The Greatest 12 Mile Climb

Head cold and knee hurting, weather crappy, and Club ride up here fell apart, but had to go back to my spiritual cycling roots once over the three day Memorial Day Weekend. The 12 miles, from Sutter Creek (ele 1198) to Volcano (ele 2053) one of the gentlest climbs, most beautiful rides there is, with interesting towns at the end points. I was first blown away when we turned into Sutter Creek on the 1999 Sierra Century Metric--a real Disneyland looking gold rush town. Then the road to Volcano always beautiful but always clogged with riders on the Sierra Century as well as the town of Volcano which housed a rest stop. I was again blown away when I went up to the Gold Country and did some Erma's Diner rides and unlike Century day Volcano had nary a sole in sight albeit Rosie, the chain smoking mayor who was a fixture on Main Street.

Out of Volcano there is the Rams Horn climb, which today, with a bad knee, would have seemed like a killer, just like it seemed a decade ago before becoming "not that hard," or, the truly killer Charleston Grade--the hardest climb I know of. Ironically, as I was leaving town to go back down Volcano Road a rider stopped me to ask--"is this THE CHARLESTON GRADE, I'm going to try to do it" All I could do today was wish him well, as now my knee fully locked up. I practically coasted back to Sutter Creek thinking about the Old Sierra Century and other events from the past few years. So drove 150 miles to cycle 26--but well worth it.

(Top) Sutter Creek-Main Street out of Central Casting, THE Sutter Creek--not that impressive here, The Aud with parking and secret bathrooms behind (Middle) On Sutter Creek-Volcano Road, the turnoff (good for the ride back) from Shake Ridge Road to Pine Gulch Road, California Buckeye and Oaks dot the road, a more picturesque portion of Sutter Creek runs alongside (Bottom) Volcano--Suddenly we are there--Volcano Hotel, Volcano Limestone(facade) amphitheatre

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Davis Double on a Fixed Gear*-2008

May 17, 2008, Davis Double on *87% fixed gear (46x17), 13% singlespeed (46x20.) 100 degrees! 200 miles, @8,000 climbing (did old route Big Canyon Climb instead of Cobb Mountain) with Don on fixed gear and Dave on recumbent. 15.6 avg, 5:02-10:00 (*46x17 is like a regular bike's 39 x14, 46x20 is like a 39x17.)
(The following is mostly a ride report email I sent out right after Davis. I do like a fixed gear but I will NEVER do another double on it again.)
Dave is a professor and Don and I are just the lumpen proletariat because as Dave said "I have to use this bike, YOU guys don't have to use the ones you picked."

As you probably know a fixed gear means you have two gears only on the bike, and only one gear while riding--to access the 2nd gear you have to flip the rear wheel. Due to chain constrains the 2nd gear can't be much different that the 1st, 3-4 teeth difference max. And there is NO COASTING, the pedals automatically turn with the wheel and you have to keep up with the pedals--though the ez side of my wheel is like most fixedgears with a singlespeed option which allows coasting (Don has two fixed sides) as a bail out if you crack. So apart from your legs always in motion you can't readily get off the saddle on the flats so your butt takes a pounding. On the flats the gearing is a little to light--on the hills it is to damn hard.

Apart from being good on the flats, you can easily fly up a 1-3% grade, which amazes people when you fly past them on an uphill. It is actually on fast flats or downhills where you suffer the most--your speed is limited to how fast you can churn the cranks and your primary gear selection, so unless you have a monster track setup (which would rule out any climbs) forget about hitting 30-35 to catch a tandem or paceline. A fixed gear is an anti-recumbent--whereas even though Dave did the whole Death Ride on one we'll fly past him on uphills and watch as he zooms away on downhills and the flats.

(1) Don, Donna, Dave (the 3 D's) outside Pasta ? night before the ride. (2) Dave says hell with his first double being on a recumbent--he wants a cushy bike.

Going into this I should have been worried, as longest fixed gear ride had been 124 miles covering the Winters to Middletown (and back) portion of the Davis Double, but I really wasn't. As Johan Museeuw says if asked if he is stressed he responds, "why should I be stressed...I prepared good..tomorrow I will do the maximum, that is all I can do." We'll I did get a little concerned when I pulled my SI joint in my back last week, and that it would be hard day when the forecast for the Davis & Clearlake area called for highs for 97-100 degrees. But I am more worried about Donna and Dave doing their first double which has suddenly morphed into a hard one, and learning to flip the wheel on the fixed quickly enough so Don doesn't go to sleep.

Day before the Davis Double Donna and I do a nice 30 mile ride on the ag land between Davis and Winters--Davis a nice college town that is always booming (upscale Chico, where seemingly all students ride bikes while text messaging) and Winters, a farm town being refurbished. I ride in singlespeed mode--when I first pass Donna she declares in puzzlement "you're coasting!?!," she's never seen me "flip the wheel" before.

Morning of the Davis Double Donna tries to leave at 4:30 but was (LOUD TAP-TAP-TAP-BANG-TAP on car window) back a little agitated as her tail light didn't work and wireless cyclocomputer didn't work when headlight was on--she knew taillight was on the fritz and I had warned here about wireless cyclocomputer problems--I gave her my extra taillight but she'll learn to minimize distractions by planning ahead for each Double, as there are lots of surprises that pop up by themselves. I went back to sleep and then I was 2 min late to start as at last minute realized that I didn't need helmet light, as morning light was suddenly breaking through. Unusually quiet at the start as usually there are tons of riders leaving at 5:30 first light, I think the forecast for 100 degrees had many more people leave at 5:00. It must be warm--for once Don has 2 water bottles and I'm not wearing a vest at a start. Don on his fixed and Dave on his 'bent. Workers on the road mark all the early morning turns--one guy dancing and spearing with his flag, very cool. We got a nice 20-21 mph pace skipping rest stop #1 (mile 23), though Dave and I had a contest to see how many times we could stop to piss on the road. Fixed is hard to crank up above 21 for 200 miles, so when fast groups passed that we'd usually hook on with we had to let them go, and too hard to close the gap if a good paceline or tandem was up ahead. So we passed many slow riders and couldn't stay with fast ones so we were on our own for much of the day. One rider hooked on with us for awhile and announced that he did Solvang and that "Planet Ultra Sucks," for lousy support, and then apologizes for saying "suck." Naw--that's OK. Last week English professor Dave certified that "clusterfuck" was suitable for use. Dave went to chase someone and Don/ I hooked in with some other guys--one talking about someone they know with 20 y/o kids who just had an unexpected baby. Ouch.

Monticello Dam/Cardiac Climb was great---we did stop at Rest Stop #2 (mile 45) which also has a long line for to few porta potties. Continuation of climb was fun, especially as we went through the 2-3 mile stretch of butterfly world. I thought it was funny as hell--one nut job in front of me was wildly swatting his arms around his face--he must have thought these were doberman butterflies. Secret to riding 200 miles is to try to keep calm and don't get distracted--especially not by butterflies. Up the climb a few riders in the know congratulate us for riding fixed gears--we just reply that we are crazy--but the encouragement is nice. Don keeping tabs on me on the downhill as I set a personal record of 30.5 on the fixed gear. Dave waiting at the turn to Napa and we paceline nicely to Pope Valley. On downhill parts we can't keep up with strong cyclists on regular bikes, but coming off a roller somebody would zoom past red faced and on the next uphill I'd put in an attack to pass them. Meanwhile a recumbent came by so Dave had someone to play with. We'd get onto another group and I'd yell that no one should let that little bike get away (getting even with Dave for telling us how coasting is fun.)

Don/I skip RS #3 (Mile 46) and everyone feeling good to Pope Valley #4 (Mile 76)--though now it is getting warm and ice and soda would definitely have been a plus here. Instead just tepid water and cytomax, and unlike past years NO Hammergel products on the whole ride. Here Donna pulled in and was off while we lounged around--at the rest stops we stopped at we took full advantage by not leaving quickly.

Here is where trouble began--and unlike past David Doubles the fast folks now way ahead of us and we had passed many of the slow ones--so not many people on the road. Right before Pope Valley Don had his chain fly off--not the greatest thing to have to keep worrying about. When I heard the noise it was the only time all day I tried coasting the fixed (though I did try hitting the imaginary shift levers 3x on the hills.) During the day we'd have to stop about a half-dozen times for a chain reset. Then the sudden heat buildup hit Don hard, and when we passed Donna she also looked wiped out. It is a rare time that I'm pulling Don around--partially retuning the "favor" for all the pulling he's done in the past. I stop calling out "scenic water crossing" over every piss puddle we cross (a tribute to the old Manteca crossroads), as I know when I'm blowing up everything bothers me.

I tell everyone that at Middletown, RS #5 (Mile 95), we should stop at general store first to get cold drink/ ice in us inside before we go to rest stop across the street and begin the hot climbs. This may have been the good idea of the day. Everyone quickly on board albeit Don who said he'd go to the rest stop--but when we got to the store Don walked in about 2 minutes later after seeing the dirty ice at Middletown. Donna came in only about 10 minutes after us. We probably hung out for 20-30 minutes downing iced drinks--and I filled up a third bottle for the climb out of Middletown. Then it was off to the real rest stop for some minimal food. Too hot to eat a lot and Donna wasn't going to eat anything but I got her to down some Fig Newtons.

Up to here I felt great. While fixed is real demanding on your legs, great muscle workout, for me it is easier than the aerobic/ cardiac strain on a regular bike when you do intervals. On a regular bike it feels you are doing a series of wind sprints--on a fixed it feels you are lifting bags of concrete. And now everyone doing their thing in 100 degrees.

The big climb of the ride used to be Big Canyon, which is long but gradual, but due to a deteriorating road the big climb is now Cobb, which is much steeper, and I couldn't do it on my fixed (Don did it last year on his fixed gear.) The week before I showed Donna Cobb and I couldn't really do it on anything less than a 39x23, though a 39x21 probably would have been doable during an event. My fixed bikes easiest gear is a 46x20. Donna went up Cobb but Dave-Don-I went up the old route--Big Canyon. The climb almost as long, but not nearly as steep, and is a beautiful wooded back road closed to through traffic. Which means they haven't repaired the road in years--and it features dozens of pot bunkers (think British golf), sometimes totally across the road. I almost wiped out in one. Other times had to swing over to the gravel side of the road. Though road is closed to through traffic there is some local traffic but Don rode like he was in England as what little shade there was was cast on the left side of the road, and that is where he stayed. About half way up the pot bunkers stopped but so did the shade. I enjoyed the great view--I don't think Don or Dave did.

1) Donna on Cobb Mountain 1 week earlier, 95 miles sooner, and 20 degrees colder than on the Davis Double. 2) Some of the ruts on Big Canyon, Ward suggested they were caused by falling body parts (use your imagination.)

I stayed in my 39x17 fixed mode for half the climb--but was very amenable when Don suggested we stop and turn wheels for easier gearing for the steeper upper part of the climb. I did and now was on singlespeed until I turned the wheel back after the steep Resurrection downhill. Don had tightened the nut so much with his toy wrench that he couldn't get his wheel off and around, so he was stuck on his "hard side" until we'd see a bike mechanic at a rest stop--oh that's right, no bike mechanics at any rest stop. Davis support has been better in the past.

The top of Big Canyon still has stenciled on the road "The Top of the DC." Cobb doesn't have that--a pickup truck would run over anyone who'd try to stencil it in.

We had missed RS #6 on Cobb so now real long lunch at Lower Lake (mile 114) (where I had the Yoga Doug special--turkey piled on roast beef piled on ham. Think Don/ Dave had the iced sock sandwich. Don would keep that around his neck all day--riding behind him down Resurrection and his dripping ice sock was like being next to an air conditioner. Dave featured his sock on head like a Mohawk. Long lunch spent with Sam Kinnason like teacher who was waiting to sag in..

After we turned from Lower Lake Walmart, stupidass (the author) got po'd at someone and went hard up the next climb and was quickly at the top. "Wow-Resurrection is easy" I thought..until Don ruined my dream by telling me it was still a few miles off. Actually hot Resurrection wasn't bad except when 1) Don/ I found ourselves on the shoulder which suddenly veered behind a construction concrete barrier (needed a direction sign), that soon became the dirt shoulder, that ended on dirt/gravel rollers still behind the concrete barriers--wow cyclocross, and 2) I ran out of water which I almost never do. Here I worried about Donna who drinks much more than me. Meanwhile we are passing cycling folks sleeping on the side of the road. Just when I was really po'd about crappy support this year a sag van was on the opposite side of the road with water and ice so we all stopped there, I downed a bottle instantly, Don worried Dave that the rest stop was 30 minutes away--as it turned out it was about a mile further up Resurrection, RS #7, mile 137.)

A week earlier 1) Donna knows she reached the top of Cobb when she passes The Church of the Concrete Madonna. 2) In front of the Lower Lake High School Lunch Stop, which would be the lunch and iced sock sock stop on the Davis Double.

Another long rest stop where I thought I drank enough but didn't. Worth the $75 entry fee to see Don's 140-150x (42x16 @ 28-30 mph) cadence for miles and miles plunging down Resurrection as I get wet following closely behind, by his leaky sock. At bottom we all regroup as I switch my wheel back to the fixed 46x17 side. Now I did like the 46x20 for the climb, loved the ability to coast the steep downhill (as my cadence is piss poor), and get out of the saddle on the flats for a butt rest, but the fixed gear side is so much more efficient, and was happy when I could switch it back. As you keep spinning on a fixed there isn't that lactic buildup after you coast for awhile, and you do get instant feedback.

Fast run through Cache Creek which was almost dry--guess there really is a drought. Dave sped ahead and Don/ I two manned, mostly a tight 19-21 mph range to the Guinda RS #8 (mile 160.) Without worrying about hooking onto someone's wheel, really noticed more of the surrounding area. Again I ran out of water. Jeeze.

Luckily I had sent my lights here as we'd finish this DD 2 1/2-3 1/2 hours later than usual. Dave anise to go--he just wanted to finish so we wished him well. Luckily had emergency endorolights in my drop bag, and Sports Beans. Knew I wouldn't be that hungry in the heat so my usual rest stop meal after lunch was a slice of bread (yes-"nothing on it", repeated to worker) and pack of Sports Beans. One rider throwing up in the corner, another being led inside for medical attention, and unlike a Planet Ultra ride (where they DON'T SAG), lines of people taking numbers for the next sag back to Davis. I saw that we were near the back of the ride as my drop bag was one of the few that remained, but Donna's was there also which had me worried that she'd already be on a sag as she doesn't do well in the heat and I thought she probably will have sagged in from the Top of Cobb or Lower Lake Lunch stop. We had planned to ride in with Donna if we saw her here. Asked one volunteer to check her number against list of DNF's, but he only a a partial list--good news was that she wasn't on it.

Don and I pressed on in twilight through the disgusting Cache Creek traffic section though I liked the town (Capay?) that bricked their should which provided Brookstone Chair vibro comfort for the keaster and feet. Finally off the main road and onto the farm road where it got cooler and now would have a tailwind back. Another long stop at the Farnham Ranch (RS#9, 181 if you did Cobb, 178 if you did Big Canyon.), where Don took the lead, no doubt thinking I'd take a wrong turn and go up Cardiac again. Now we were in frog/ cricket world. Stopped to help someone out who ran through all their tubes while Don gave them one--found out it is hard to ride a fixed at night and clip in when you don't know if the pedals are facing up. Passed on RS #10 (mile 193) and suddenly were in Davis. Without being able to see the water tower the end snuck up on me.

We pulled in @10:00. Saw Donna's bike on top of the car so my worst fears realized but was pleasantly surprised. She had hung in there until mile 181--and after the Cache Creek stream of traffic nightmare she wasn't to keen to ride in the dark alone. But after we ate and walked outside there were still people coming in--she saw she made the same mistake I had made at Central Coast when I was tired and felt that no one was behind me and two hours later people were still coming through. So she had a good ride setting a new mile record for her in lousy conditions, I heard Don swear never to do a double again on a fixed (quickly, have him sign something), Dave did great on his first double on the anti-fixed gear bike, and I finished appx 80% fixed/ 20% single speed, feeling good even if I couldn't sit. Had plate of ribs for dinner (think bbq sauce is a vegetable) joined by Doug and "On Your Left Lady" Joanie. Nice day under lousy conditions. Later found out that Clubmate Joe hammared through the course chasing Grizzly Peak Mark--finishing 3 hours before us--even with two "pull off the road as almost dead" moments. Gotta get him on a fixed gear.

Now it is on to Eastern Sierra and Mt Tam and will ride very aggressively. I think this was good training re being more consistent and keeping a good minimum speed going on the flats.

Of course next day--well dehydrated--was at Pac Bell Park in shorts and a tee shirt and froze in the breezy 55 degrees.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Gruppo Pumpkincycle

As a link the Gruppo Pumpkincycle web site (2003-2008) is at

If you like ride reports and don't mind grandma (sic) and usage and misspelling minefields you may enjoy the stories about touring in Italy It's been a long, strange journey from 2003 when I was scared about the greatest double metric Century which is no longer in existence, the Sierra Century of Amador and El Dorado County. Then the Death Ride, and Italy and some of the hard double rides like the Terrible Two, Devil Mountain Double... and my current favorite--the Mt. Tam Double, where last year I finished in the top 10% of riders.

Geocities is a pain in the butt to edit, hence moving over to posting ride report on blogs, which should be a lot cleaner.

Now a member of a great road riding club, the Diablo Cyclists, which is what I had hoped Gruppo Pumpkincycle would be--a club for folks who loved adventurous rides without tons of bureaucratic crap. Who would have guessed in 2003-04 that such a Club was one town over.

Stockton Delta Century On A Fixed Gear-2008

May 4, 2008 (day after Wine Country), Stockton Delta Century, 100 miles, 426' climbing (all out of rest stops back on the levees, 17.1 avg. With Don, both of us on fixed gears, and Donna at mile 66.)

While this is a "tier 2" century (more beginner riders, less of a crowd so less energy, no hills except for freeway overpasses) this is a great ride to do for doubles training. Don did 100 miles at the Santa Rosa Wine Country on the fixed gear yesterday, Donna and I both did 120 miles. I think it is sometimes easier to ride a double than to do back to backs--as overnight my legs tighten up like crazy. Also, this would be a good chance for Don and I to get some extended work together on the fixed gear before we do the Davis Double. After last year's windstorm I'm happy he is out so I can get some rest. Of course with Don, being a Diablo Cyclist fixed gear traditionalist, you have to wear the crazy socks on the fixed. Our club is serious about riding but don't take ourselves seriously--the other tradition, a squeaky toy, adorns the handlebars.

This ride starts well west of urban Stockton, and never comes close, meandering through tiny towns that dot the Sacramento Delta--a waterway that runs from Sacramento to Antioch that surrounds low lying islands that are below sea level and surrounded by earthen dikes and roadways above. There is a backroute highway that goes to Sacramento "the slow way" that crosses numerous draw bridges. The course changed a little this year with more riding in the "middle of nowhere" as we basically did a figure 8 through isolated towns that have missed the California development craze.

We spot one of the Delta Pedaler good guys, Neil, at the start--he recently finished his first double. Then as on all the century rides Donna took off early, riding solo, on her first back to back Century ride. Start is from a beautiful winery, and a rooster kept yapping and reminding us how early it was, again. Saw Joanie, "the on your left lady" (I'd tell her the story at the end of Davis) at registration. Don pulls in and we wait around 20 minutes to see if some clubmates who were "on the fence" pull in, but no one else does. We are talking about the Santa Rosa Wine Country ride when an old parking lot attendant sneers "did you ride yesterday in THOSE socks." I answer ever so politely "no sir, as yesterday i wasn't riding my fixed gear." Parking guys demeanor changes instantly "wow--a fixed gear, fixed gear-you can wear anything you want with that."

Ride actually starts riding through the vineyard-Don wonders if the whole ride is like this. Thinking back--when I first moved to California I was blown away every time I saw grapes growing, now "eh, nice." Soon we are on regular farm roads and my legs are having trouble turning--ouch. One rider we pass says "nice socks." I see a guy in a racing kit up ahead so I pull up to him while he is setting a nice 17 mph while bs'ing with a leggy woman. Unfortunately I ask Don if the pace is OK and he says "well it is a little bit slow." Remind me not to check again with someone who has done half a dozen doubles on a fixed. So then we have to ride hard by ourselves for awhile. Soon a three person paceline is up ahead that we are inching close to but having trouble catching--which is good as when you catch a paceline to quickly they are going to slowly. When we hook on a woman starts to pull at 21, which hurts. We are more than happy when her significant other finally goes to the front and the speed drops 2 mph. My punishment for making fun of Dave yesterday is that the rider is on a recumbent, and he is directly in front of me. Luckily after I pull and drop back he asks if I want to go in front of him "YES," so I can have a normal bike block the wind. It is the woman who hammered earlier and we start bs'ing about the old Sierra Century.

First rest stop is mile 27 at Molekumne High School--as small building with a nice shaded lawn in the middle of an old town with half a dozen streets. Real rest rooms inside. After waiting all year there are NO CUTIES at this rest stops--pre peeled seedless tangerines like they had last year. Then discover where all the climbing is--each town is below sea level and to get back to the top of the dyke--road it is a 100' by 12% climb. Damn, in the wrong gear.

Over a few draw bridges--giving me a chance to sing out "scenic water crossing." Then ride gets more rustic as we actually go and ride some of the lowland roads. Nice day, not a stiff headwind this year. Three guys join us--they are hard core fixed riders and admire our rides. I'm pulling and suddenly hear a crunch--Don's wheel had loosened and tried to fly off the bike with his chain mushed in the spokes.

(1) Don and I on our fixed gears with our special fixed gear socks and squeaky toys. (2) Donna joined us at mile 66.. Thanks to John Miles for great photos.

Don his usual unflappable self as he declares that some of the spokes may snap--he resets the chain-tightens the wheel and we're off again. At mile 38 is a huge brick building in Clarksburg--an old sugar mill that has been refurbished as a winery tasting room with an expansive lawn. On most of the century rides we've been on riders spill into all the nooks and crannies of even the nicest rest stops, but here the rest stop engulfs the riders hanging out. See Donna who is leaving as we pull in. Triple Crown Doug if working this stop--he pedaled down from Sacramento. Each rest stop has good mini muffins I stuff my face with.

Now it is back on ag roads counterclockwise on the smaller figure 8 loop. Heading west we can feel a slight crosswind but still nothing bad. The road is flat flat flat and the ag scenery usually never changes unless a unique home suddenly appears, or a field of Horsetail Rush. We occasionally catch and pass other riders--when I'm pulling I always say something as a courtesy. If Don is in the lead I'd hit my squeeze pumpkin numerous times, and then when Don would pass rider would see Don's squeak squeeze whale and think it was him. Most riders enjoy it--a few surly. Don and I are pretty steady, never getting passed and slowly passing a few riders. All of a sudden three guys come flying by and I'm really restrained--by a second later some solo guy comes flying by trying to get on their wheel. At that point I jump-zoom past the last guy and then get on the trios wheel, which I stay on for 1/2 mile until a "scenic water crossing" over a metal grated drawbridge. (If it rained this ride would be a disaster with all the metal grated drawbridges.) Don and I regroup and again we arrive at the Mokelumne High School (mile 63)

Donna there--shes making great time so we suggest she should ride with us. She solo'd the last 3 century rides and I know how shitty it sometimes feels from 2004. We start off dropping down one intensity level but Donna can''t hold our wheel--we crank it down one more and she does fine. Don is the easiest guy in the world to ride with--he'll ride any pace and keep the rest stop schedule as anyone needs.

We get back on the levees which is kinda cool, basically a large, smooth bike path among the trees and water wit nary a car. Soon we hit an open section and the crosswind becomes notable for the first time--and Donna falls off. Next comes one of those seminal moments in marriage that happens often.

Me- "There is a crosswind." Don't ride behind me. We'll ride in an eschelon. The wind is coming from the right so ride to my left, halfway back."


Me--(Bewildered-we would take the whole right lane but we haven't seen a car in 20-30 minutes)

Don-"Why don't your ride over there" (pointing to the spot I told Donna to slot into.)

Donna--"OK" (moves into the spot)...."THIS IS EASY"

Eventually we get back on the main road--which means a car very few minutes, but now we have a tailwind, cna get back in a regular paceline, and Donna pulls us for awhile.

Now comes one of the two treacherous climbs of the day. At mile 77 we get on a ferry (In my Delta Pedaler days I thought I missed a ride on a Mark Twain Mississippi Sidewheeler--a year later I found myself on a dinky platform that runs across the water on cable) getting off a steel deck is a 100' @15% hill back to the top of the dyke. As I can't clip in before hitting the hill I have to walk up. Soon after we cross another drawbridge (a dozen "scenic water crossings") get off the dyke to another town with an old brick school rest stop. The flat parking lot is gravel so barely clip in before hitting the 100' @15% hill with no momentum so almost almost almost fall over but torque as much as possible to make it. No doubt my diving onto a huge cushion on the lawn and laying out helped--done in tribute to Donna who last year, when much hotter, didn't want me to lay out on the lawn.

Now zig zag back to the finish--usually with a tail wind. Don is pulling at 20-21, she asks that we take it down to 17. We'll I'll split the dfifference, I go to the front and keep it at 19 and she does fine hanging onto our paceline.

Alright--another century on a fixed gear but not blown away as when I did it last year. Much easier this year with less wind and tag teaming with Don. Really nice pasta feed in the winery's grove. At one point the band says they are giving away prizes, Slipstream socks, for people answering quiz questions, and the next one has to do with racing. Some bozo starts yelling "Lance Armstrong, Lance Armstrong" so I start yelling "Johan Museeuw, Johan Museeuw." Question is "What is the Queen of the Classics?" The socks are mine.

Santa Rosa Wine Country Double Metric-2008

May 3, 2008 Santa Rosa Wine Country Century (126 miles, 4500' climbing, 17.2 average, w/ huge Diablo Cyclist Pelaton-Big Mike, Jack, Joe, Ward, Jim, Dave, Thomas, Stephan, Johnna, June, Jeanie, Beth, special guest appearance by Rusty) (1) Apart from our 13 doing 124 miles, we had groups doing the 100 mile course. We had the largest presence of any club. No Delta Pedalers spotted. (2) Joe and I talk how he'll attack on the climbs and I'll counter attack. (3) Across Wohlers Bridge out of the rest stop. (4) Donna gets on Ward-O-Candid-Camera when we catch up to her. (Photos taken by Ward.)
This is always a fun club event as there is a climb at the beginning and then mostly rollers through wonderful vineyards with unique architecture, in which we can keep the Club together. The 120 mile route winds up with a short taste of the coast. The support is first rate and even though the morning is cold, the Santa Rosa Cycling Club provides numerous places where you can "drop bag" excess clothes to the finish.
As the #1 Century title was vacated (by the Sierra Century moving) the 2 battle has always been between Chico and Santa Rosa. After having two good rides back to back I think Santa Rosa is now #1. A comparison:
a) Starting venue-Slight edge to Chico's beautiful fairgrounds.
b) Road traffic (autos)-Edge to Chico, parts of Santa Rosa get pinched with auto traffic.
c) Bike traffic (bikes)-Santa Rosa, Chico's Honey Run and Table Mountain climb clogged with bikes.
d) Road conditions-Chico, Santa Rosa is the worst.
e) Oh wow views-Santa Rosa, the Pacific Ocean.
f) Interesting route to view-Santa Rosa, full of rolling vineyards and funky architecture.
g) Interesting route to ride-Santa Rosa, Chico has three climbs, the two big ones are crowded, and the rest of the route is flat. Santa Rosa is a constant series of rollers.
h) Support & rest stops. Edge Santa Rosa--Both rides have unique local products--Chico baked goods, Santa Rosa roasted potatoes. Both rides have nicely situated rest stops (no dirt fields) though Chico's tend to get a little crowded. Both have bike mechanics to help out. Santa Rosa's lunch is great with make your own hero sandwiches and multi-fixins.

i) End of ride meal. Both nice venues but Chico has fallen off a little (lines and limited portions) while Santa Rosa has improved over the years in a tent/ garden atmosphere.
j) Intangibles-Draw-Chico bike weekend is great but when the ride is over it's a long drive to get back to home.
Scenes from Monte Rio rest stop. 1) Whose is that guy with the green 30 mile wristband loading up on seconds? I think we saw him on the 120 mile route. I get the 10 bonus points for spotting Rusty first. 2) One of the great thing about this ride are the drop bags at the first few rest stops to get rid of unwanted clothes. 3) Jack is ready to split while Beth sits on the grass with shoes off--oh no. (Photos courtsey of Ward Industries-tm)

Even though we had to wake up at an ungodly hour for this ride, as event is 1 1/2 hours away, and check in is usually slow, I was sky high for this ride. We'd have a huge turnout of Diablo Cyclists and I was a little po'd for my being a "lazy ass" at Chico last week. Donna hoped to start about 45 minutes before me, and solo the 124 mile course, and while we lamented that we should have stayed overnight in Santa Rosa, my rationale for the early wake up being good was that this was good doubles training. And not wanting to be near the tail end of the ride like last year, Ward, Jack and I were indicating we were going to leave at 7:00 SHARP, and if you were late you'd be chasing--which occurred in two of the past three years. If I had to put $$$ on who would arrive late and chase back to us, it would be on Big Mike, but when I arrive at the back parking lot at 6:15 with few cars in sight--Big Mike was already there. No-even he didn't want to chase back this week.

Check in was in a huge tent instead of inside a cramped lobby, and it seemed to go faster than usual--though of course with no one else on any other line--there was on rider in front of us complaining about something. And finally Santa Rosa Bike Club got a clue and put some extra porta potties at the beginning of the ride.

Oh yeah-after a hot week in Chico it was now real cold-like in 45 degrees. Donna started getting ready--banging her head against the low lying Lion of Flanders flag I hung from the car so my club mates would know where to park. I quickly became the most popular rider in the club as some of our Chico riders showed up without any vests or jackets, and I handed them some of the extras I had before they turned blue. This is a good ride to overdress as Santa Rosa has drop bags to collect excess clothes at a few rest stops. Even Stephan, who had tried negotiating for a few extra minutes earlier in the week (hell, if I have to wake up at 3:15 I may as wake up at 3:00) was ready on time and off we went close to 7:00.

I went hard from the start. 1) I was freezing. 2) I was freezing. 3) I was freezing..and if it has stayed this cold I gladly would have pulled all the way to Roubaix. Apart from freezing I was also wound up and pissed--the first few sections on looping small roller orchard roads that are narrow and not well paved. We had a nice single file paceline but some riders insist on riding three across and blocking the road. Yes--you can BS while riding behind someone. Another delightful move is that you pass a slower group and then get to a stop light and cue up in the order you arrive in--when some numbnut thinks he is in the Junior High cafeteria and starts sneaking to the front. Then of course there are the people that can't hold a line and weave on whim. There were also tons of Team in Training cult* members who are usually the prime culprits of the the three across and the stop light sneak up while weaving (what the F do their mentors teach them apart from chanting "go team"?) but eventually it is apparent that the North Bay Team in Training riders are a cut above many of the clueless ones we see in the East Bay. But one rider in particular (white shorts) drew my ire--doing the stop sign sneak up ever time we passed him, while wildly jumping out of the saddle and waving his arms on a roller while not holding his line. Ward would usually yell at someone like that, I just started bombing past him on every uphill. (*"Cult" as referred to by my friend Melissa whose husband had leukemia, and was associated with the group for awhile.)

It is great riding with a big group--especially the one we had. Joe and Stephan are great climbers, Big Mike, Big Jim are powerhouses on the flats, Jack and Ward have loads of endurance, Dave can keep up with anyone on the flats so we'll stick him and his funny bike (low wind resistance) on the back of a paceline of any unwanted folks hook on, mostly everyone (except for me) are wonderful descenders, and we have four really fast women who can motor. If we hit a series of uphill rollers I'd try to ride harder than anyone, but in any other condition I'd be more than happy to lead out or help my clubmates in any way.

We're all together until Occidental, which starts the big climb of the day--not that long but steep in places, but with lots of recovery areas. We break up a little with Big Mike climbing great, and Joe slowing down to my pace--no doubt caused by all the fishing weights I had put in the jacket I had given him at the start. But now I was down to a jersey--it was beautiful, and our trio stayed together on the climbs with the rest of our group close behind. Only animation was off a roller past Joy Road (which I mistakenly took in 2004, and is a key road on the Mt. Tam Double) some guy sped past without calling out which pissed me off, as I'm always trying to call out to cyclists we pass as a courtesy. He's a strong rider and now 100' up on a flat road that leads into a steep short climb. Normally getting us back to a rider up ahead on the flats would be Big Mike territory but my dander is up and I don't wait for Mike to react--I yell "lets go" and lead him and Joe out. I sprint out to the riders wheel where he pulls us to the base of the next climb where all three of us rocket past, and up to the Ocean Song (mile 26) rest stop overlooking the ocean. Yes!-a few minutes of bonus time before Jack rolls in and its "time to go."

1) The Big Belgium Squad "Domo Diablo Farm Frites" pacelines up the Pacific Coast coast-relaxing seeing this from the back. 2) Some of the rollers that I love and may be leading the charge over. Thanks for Ward for playing ticket collector and taking these great action shots.

Actually June and I are the worst descenders, by far, and we leave early to go down the steep, twisty Coleman Valley Plunge to the ocean. Both of us would much rather be climbing it. Across a few hidden cattle guards on the turns and we are at the ocean where we wait for our Club members for the traditional ocean photo. The Benecia Cyclists come down and they take about a half dozen photos of our group (and us of them)--meanwhile lots of groups have passed while we were posing, and we'd run down most of them in the 7 rolling miles along the Coast. But our group was kinda lazy--at one point I took a long pull and then managed to get off the front on a long roller, and was ready to go back to the group when June joined me, so we two "manned" until the River Road turnoff.

Yep, across a nondescript bridge on Highway 1, sudden right turn, and the mild crosswind on rollers suddenly becomes a nice tailwind on the flats. All of a sudden it was like the charge of the light brigade as everyone picked up speed--I enjoyed hanging in the back as the speed kept revving up. But the worst was yet to come, another right in Duncan Mill's for a 4 mile run into the Monte Rio rest stop (mile 44) is traditionally a sprint and Big Mike ramps up like crazy, Joe hanging on his wheel and me desperately staying in contact with them both--barely.

Monte Rio is a great rest stop. Lots of shade. Lots of thick grass. Lots of outhouses. Lots of bike parking. A drop off point for excess clothes--besides my dumping my knee warmers/ vest, Joe and Beth give me back clothes I loaned out to them so my drop bag looks like it is ready to go around the world. Food is great--some spiced mini-boiled potatoes. Some hot soft tostada shells-I'm afraid to put all the fixins on them but some cheese that quickly melts works well. The ubiquitous Rusty is there, a real fun guy who rides by his own clock, he sometimes rides with us from start to finish, but more often than not suddenly appears on a ride and then suddenly disappears. Today would be no different. Oh yeah--he attacks and attacks, so one plan is to attack him early so he is quickly worn out. See Donna leaving as we pull in, we'd leapfrog with her all day--she is becoming a Jack disciple re leaving rest stops quickly.

Now it is more steep rollers at the base of the hills near the vineyards. Here we can easily lose the group--and this is when the best rider can control the tempo. Joe is clearly our best rider, I suggest to him that we slow and regroup to let everyone catch up--he is more than amenable, we do and shortly Rusty zooms by chased by Big Mike and others in the pelaton. This happens again. So much for planning--though we all do stop at some point for 15 minutes waiting for Johanna, not realizing she shortcut the course after her finishing the Boston Marathon, and will appear at the next rest stop magically ahead of us.

We get going and at a certain point I realize I'm out of control, on a roller I catch and attack Big Mike, he counter attacks and I'm ready to launch again when someone is having a mechanical but is looking over their bike while firmly on the road and I scream to watch out. OK--they shouldn't be there but I'm over the top so I go to the back of the pelaton to calm down. After the hijinx stop Ward and Big Jim take big pulls and we are soon at the Wohler Bridge Rest Stop (mile 66.) This is out in the sun with little grass, not nearly as nice as the last one. Also not a great variety of things to eat, and absolutely no protein. I think I'm living on macadamia nut cookies. Jack takes off while we seemingly are never ready for everyone to leave at once, so we stay here for awhile while straddling our bikes while someone decides to grab another handful of food or make another trip to the porta-potties.

Now on fast, straight Westside Road/ West Dry Creek Road and we can have a great looking pelaton. I sit in the back--when I ride 3rd wheel I'm always trying to figure out how to get to the front, riding all the way in the back and looking at a big line of Diablo Cyclists up front is relaxing. We start off and suddenly Big Jim, Big Mike and Joe go hard and are suddenly down the road. Lots of horsepower there. Damn, I've been wound up all day--I'm staying put, as the rest of us continue to pass loads of cyclists but losing sight of the Big Jim group. All of a sudden a woman racer I had passed earlier on the early climb of the day shoots by and I joke with Beth and Jeannie that they have to nail her back. Then the guy racer I saw with her earlier on the climb shoots by even faster and I jump on his wheel. He is hammering, and I'm lucky that the road is going slightly uphill and he doesn't ask me to go to the front. I just stay on his wheel as we zoom past other riders seemingly standing still. We pass Rusty but he can't hook on and he is fast on the flats. We pass Donna and I yell "hi sweetie," luckily she waved otherwise lead out racer may have thought I was talking to him.

To borrow from Paul Sherwin, "And finally they are there" -- all of a sudden Big Jim, Big Mike and Joe are in sight. We quickly join them and Big Mike turns around, looks astonished (a la George Hincapie in 2001 P-R when Museeuw rejoins) and says "but we didn't slow down." We all merge and now it is true speed clusterfuck as we all paceline like mad--I look to be found. Shit. At one point I'm drafting behind Joe--which is of little help, and I ask Big Mike to fill in front of me which thankfully he does. One sharp uphill appears and it is my chance to pull--and then when the road flattens out I again hang on for dear life. Big Jim drops out. At a turn racer drops out--saying he is going to wait for his female companion. Though I'm tired Joe and Mike must also be--as I pull them towards lunch where we soon come upon Jack who left 10-15 minute before us at the last rest stop. Warm Springs Lunch (mile 88) up ahead, if we missed it we'd be doing a god-awful climb that is on the Terrible Two.

The lunch setup is always good--though tons of folks the area is big enough that you don;t feel "mushed." One of the highlights is a gourmet "make your own hero sandwich"--turkey or roast beef with about 20 different toppings. I just want turkey AND roast beef on a roll--nothing else. Yes that also means NO mustard. Yes NO mayo. While standing on line a volunteer comes around with a box of premade sandwiches saying that these are the same as what you can get at the window and they have NO more roast beef. I don't want to take one as they have toppings that I can probably taste for the next few dozen miles (like lettuce.) In any event when I get to the window they still have loads of roast beef--and my club mates who took a boxed sandwich scramble to return theirs for a fresh one.

Nice shaded lunch on a huge tarp, though Jack quickly continues--and I poll who is going to do the Dutcher Creek loop--a 13 mile loop out of lunch that last year old Ward, Joe and I did, so our group fell apart after a long lunch. Figure we need to leave 20-30 minutes earlier than anyone NOT doing the loop to have a chance to catch onto them. At first a lot of non-committals except from Ward, and when we get up to go lots of folks suddenly indicate "if we wait 5 minutes they'll be ready also." Only Jeannie/ Jim don't follow--they indicate they'll ride slow so we can catch them but they never ride slow on the flats and it will be the last we see of them until the end of the ride.

It is great we have almost everyone together--and we start by taking Dutcher Creek slow--both because our legs are "dead" after laying around for awhile and it features a series of long rollers. We take it easy until two guys come by hammering away--and then a bunch of us jump and race up the rollers. Our group speeds down to the highway--makes the sharp right turn, and then we are on more gentle rollers on a service road next to Hwy 101. Yes--not the most picturesque portion of the ride but not a lot of cars and still more grapes, trees and huge lumbar mill off to the side. Now a mild head/ cross wind and a few of us do a lot of pulling--a big share done by Big Mike. He's a little tired now so while leading the charge up a roller he's lost a little zing so I either try to pull up these or ride pace next to him. While riding pace some guy ion a moots jersey who had attached himself to our paceline tries to jump off the front, I'm not having that and counterattack--the guy is dropped and our group rejoins on the next flat section. I later find out Ward got into a shouting match with the guy and his two friends when they cut into the middle of the paceline. We later have a lot of folks hook onto our paceline in the back, whereas we finally found the perfect place for Dave and his recumbent--as the intermediatary between us and whoever else wants to join in the back.

We are joined by folks who didn't do the 13 mile loop, and then get into Geyserville where the road flattens out as we do a clockwise semi-circle. and our paceline is in fine working form. Pull into Alexander Valley School (mile 100) after a nice display of keeping the group together for the last 22 miles. Now is the final Chalk Hill climb, which is kinda rustic. Stephan, Joe and I ride together where Stephan tries to attack Joe on the uphill, I just watch knowing what the outcome will be and waiting to see if any other rides will shoot by--no one does. Then suddenly we regroup on a flat rollin and shortly are in surburbia--but we just have a few blocks to go before the end of this great ride.

I go and pick up my overstuffed drop bag of the clothes we shed earlier in the day, hard to believe we were freezing 7-8 hours ago. Other club members who parked near me come in--with Ward directly to the left.. Donna is only 10-15 minutes behind--and she loudly thanks three guys who helped pull her near the end and who are parked on the right of me. The three guys are the ones who Ward fought with earlier, I almost double over laughing.

Nice post mile meal with great veggie burgers and other stuff under the big tent. The 120 miles seemed to go so quickly.