Sunday, June 1, 2008

Eastern Sierra Double (preride)-2008

One week to go--Unfortunately feeling like shit. Head cold from freezing at Pac Bell Park the day after melting at the Davis Double still with me. What's worse is my knee is hurting as it did in 2002 after my surgery or after crashing on it--but no trauma so puzzled? At least on yesterday's 70 mile club ride (under cold, overcast, breezy skys) knee was just tender and not sore after two days of rest. But I was hoping to do more miles and push harder going into this ride.

Conflicting feelings about last year's Eastern Sierra Double.
Very very unique that we had 6 Diablo Cyclists on the Double, an unheard of amount, especially for such a small club--and at mile 95 we all came together. For the rest of the day 4 of us rode to the weakest rider, which on one hand was great fun but it felt weird not going balls out on a timed double. This year most of our compatriots are gone--Steve broke his neck on the Terrible Two two weeks later and basically retired, like almost our whole 2005 Double rookie crop Mike has relocated, after scores of doubles in a few years (many on fixed gear) Don has decided to finally take it easier this year, and after one double last year Rusty has been reluctant to do a 2nd. I'll be joined by Jack and Joe--at least at the start--Jack has an insane rest stop pace (1 minute and out) and Joe has an insane climbing pace--so it will probably be 190 miles solo. As such I' studying the route with all the side loops very very closely. Will not be fun getting lost in no man's land. Also decided that I'll get to Bishop via Minden--an extra 20 miles but wouldn't have the 15mph traffic behind campers thru Yosemite or the Sonora Pass (20% grades)--and while in Nevada I can get gas--in Bishop LAST YEAR gas was $4.25, my guess is 5.33 this year.
Now if I can just breath in the morning and put some painless power to the pedals.

6 days to go-Oldest daughter officially moves out of the house. Kind of strange--she's been off in college and then job training so has been away for 5 years, but when the moving truck showed up today and she carted off her college furniture and some of our old pieces, it really hit home. Of course she left tons of her old clothes (and other treasurers that we need to go through), went through her clothes to box ASAP so youngest clothes hawk daughter could inherit a walk in closet. Hmm--how many soccer jerseys can one person own? Her sweatshirt from elementary school. Now her old room filled with boxes--flashback 22 years ago when we moved from SF and stored boxes we'd "eventually unpack" in the 3rd bedroom--not hitting those boxes until oldest daughter arrived. Where did 22 years go??

At least the long range forecast for Lee Vining (Ele. 7650 Mono Lake turnaround) is sunny, 69, with Friday and Sunday similar. A call for afternoon thunderstorms would really have this ride go down the toilet. At Bishop (where ride starts and ends, Ele 4200, the call is for a sunny 83-85 from Friday thru Sunday. So far so good.

5 days to go--A miracle. Emailed my Kaiser doctor (who is impossible to see) and he prescribed two medicines right away. Wow. Last time I tried contacting him over a cold I couldn't get by an advice nurse who said there is nothing they could do. And then I went to see Janelle, the goddess of massage therapists who worked out all the kinks in my lower back so I suddenly feel a flexible as a young pretzel. Physically things are looking up--will test my knee tomorrow.

4 days to go--42:17 up 6 1/2 miles (5-6%) North Side of Mt. Diablo to the Junction and just wheezing when I pushed hard, which I didn't do much of as always wary of the knee going from slightly tender to PAIN, but it didn't get any worse than tender while I babied it. Then looped down to the South (ez) side and spun up. So happy with how the cold and knee progressed--and will try to open up a little tomorrow night for the Diablo Cyclist slugfest--though wouldn't come close to the 35:55 I set in 90+ degrees a few weeks ago right before the Davis Double. (only hot night on the mountain this year.) I know rest makes you stronger but I have done too much tapering in the past week.

Eastern Sierra snuck up on me--I have a compact 50/36 and my good wheels have 12-27 cassettes, which are not needed for this ride. For the relaxed climbs and the fast wind aided downhills I had wanted to put an 11-23 on my bike, but now to late to get one..change the chain...etc. Oh well, if I can't catch up to a tandem I'll blame the bike and not my shitty form.

Now that I'm feeling like I'm not about to croak, it is time to watch motivation training video--2002 Paris Roubaix where Johan Museeuw solos the last 40 km while being chased by US Postal. Will be good motivation while hopefully riding hard down desolate Hwy 120.

3 days to go--38:10 to the junction, fair--though still have trouble breathing on heavy exertion, usually I can stay on cyclecross champ Mark's wheel for 1 1/2-2 miles, now I had to drop off after 1 mile. Preroad up to 1000' and then did the Diablo Cyclist ride and my knee was tender again--but after 40 miles.

I have to rethink blaming my choice of gears--a few years ago I was 142-146 and it looked like 136lbs (supposedly the ideal climbing weight for my height) was a possibility. Two years ago I was in the 145-149 lb range, last year was usually 150 but could drop down if need be. This year weight has crept up to 152-154, and it seems to be locked in this range. I'm not scared enough of rides like I was a few years ago where I am willing to starve myself.

Good news--for Sat. NWS predicts sunny, 65 for Lee Vining, CA, no rain or thunderstorms predicted until next Tuesday. Likewise, sunny and 86 in Bishop, CA. Bad news--cleaning the bike tonight and FSA crankarm on non drive side loose and bolt wouldn't tighten in. Damn, crappy FSA stuff strikes again. Tomorrow 320 mile drive East to Bishop--have no time to go to my regular mechanics who are 40 miles West. I know of a bike shop in Plymouth--I'll stop by and
hopefully he can quickly fix the problem.

2 days to go-Couldn't sleep worrying about how I'd get bike fixed--so stayed up to 1am to watch the last hour of Museeuw's epic solo ride to the Roubaix velodrome--still kinda get wound up when Phil Liggett says "...and the Lion of Flanders Roars Once More."

Jim,The Wheel Peddler, a mobile bike repair service came out to my house this AM. Pronounced that old FSA aluminum bolt stripped , luckily he had some of the replacement steel ones.

Weather holding up, Lee Vining sunny & 66 w/ west wind 5-10, Bishop sunny & 87 with NNW wind of 3-8. OK time to go--6 hour drive and possibly $6 gas.

Beautiful 320 mile drive to Bishop--passing through many seminal cycling sites. First drive through pancake flat Lodi (ele 52') where I used to be SO psyched that I barely did a century. Then up to Jackson (ele 1200')at the foot of the Gold Country, where we used to stay for the great (Amador-El Dorado) Sierra Century, where I cut my teeth on hill climbing on many memorable rides. Past Cook Station at 5,000', boy was I jazzed when we got there in 2003 on a Sierra Century practice ride. Then out over Carson Pass (ele 8,573'), the last pass of the Death Ride, still with snow on the surrounding peaks. I got a kick watching the temperature plummet as I drove up Hwy 88--81 degrees in Jackson, 75 degrees at 3,000', 65 degrees at 6,000' and 59 degrees at Carson Pass.

Then after stopping to buy relatively cheap gas in Nevada a straight shot down Hwy 395 by Mono Lake to a huge valley surrounded by snow capped mountain peaks that generally gets lower to Bishop. Remembering that you can't be at a liquid deficit at altitude, I have a cooler full of drinks that I down.

Surrounded by the snow caps one thinks you are are at sea level, but it is an optical illusion. This this is high desert--Bishop is at 4140' and Mono Lake is at 6392.' The surrounding mountains are higher than the peaks around the Death Ride or Haleakala. There will be places between Mono Lake and Bishop that will rise to 8,000-9,000', as high as the Death Ride passes. While I've written earlier that I've seen so many vineyards and the Pacific Coast that these are no longer "oh wow" views--the Mono Lake Valley is truly unbelievable.

Walk around Bishop's old shopping district which still has unique stores--though notice a huge sporting good/ bike shop about a mile out of town in a mall--but after driving 7 hours no interest in doing anything but walk around the old part of town.

1 day to go-Weather is sunny and beautiful. First I go over to the funky (and turns out great) Erick Schat's Bakery. Last year passed by it when met the gang for a horrible breakfast at Jack's. This year had the BEST whole wheat muffins ever. Before I go back to civilization I have to get some of their speciality bread. Erick Schat's Bakery of Bishop--tied with Pt Reyes Bovine Bakery for the BEST food--but this leaps ahead with their funky decor, comfortable seating, and they also bake bread.

After breakfast plan to do much of the beginning of the Eastern Sierra Double, winding up at mile @35 where "The Far Side House" on Old Sherwin Grade--I almost fell over last year when we went through a subdivision and one corner homes front lawn decorated by strange looking cartoon creatures. As I'm skipping the initial loop south of Bishop I should get there at mile 25. As a "day before" ride am taking it easy and will NOT get out of the small chainring.

It is sunny and I ride miles though a ghost valley--after leaving Bishop I may have seen 3 cars on the road--nothing near the giant community college building. Come across two cyclists--one on a hybrid carting garbage off the Indian Reservation nearby. Finally lots of kids at the Round Valley School which will be our first rest stop. At one point I see a street with lots of cars, what main street is that>>--stupidass, it's not a main street but Highway 395 which we'll parallel and loop back into for much of the 1st half of the Eastern Sierra Century. Damn--it is nice but not hot, and I've almost downed both of my water bottles. High altitude at work.

Right outside Bishop lots of grassland which will become tumbleweed further North at higher elevation and away from loads of tiny streams.
Climb the Sherwin Grade--a gentle grade that is only made difficult with the crazy winds that were blowing last year. Luckily it is predicted that winds will be a gentle 3-8 mph. I get to "The Far Side" House, pull out my camera and start taking photos. The owner, an older lady comes out and we talk for awhile--her husband made all the figures out of concrete or styrofoam. She gets me more water and I head back on Highway 395 which cuts the trip back into less than half. While Hwy 395 is a major road which we will transverse all day tomorrow, it has wide shoulders and very little traffic--maybe a car passes each minute.
Scenes from "the Far Side" House on Old Sherwin Grade.

Bishop is definitely the hot place in the valley. Eat lunch (speciality sandwiches) at Schat bakery and then figure the best use of my time would be to get in a nice long nap.

Meet Joe for dinner to go over the course with him-he is really pumped expecting to stay with the lead group for a long time. Can't contact Jack--we later find out that the Master of Doubles forgot his cycling shoes and got to the edge of town sporting goods store 5 minutes before they closed and scored a pair in his size with his cleats. Unbelievable.
(1) At check in Planet Ultra making the peanut and butter sandwiches--which doesn't help then next day when all you want is bread. (2) Doug trying out his new Planet Ultra material on Jack. But all told Planet Ultra didn't do a bad job on this one. (3) Joe waiting to register--only time he'd be behind many riders during this event.
At the check in I ask Planet Ultra for a second copy of the route sheet, as I like to put a pristine one away w/ photos. I'm told "one to a person"..if you lose it you can get another one at a rest stop." Luckily I'll be carrying two copies from prior years. Luckier still, Planet Ultra's support would be good at rest stops with Heed-Endurolights and Sustained Energy Available at all stops. At rest stop two one worker brought Tums with her as she remembered me asking for some last year.

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