Tuesday, September 30, 2008
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
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.
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.
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.
60% of the climbing is on the first 38% of the miles to Cooks Station
2.3-R-Shenandoah SCHOOL Road
12.4-S-Mt. Aukum Rd
17.4-<1>-Store @ Mt. Aukum and Fairplay corner,
(alternative Pioneer Park 1/8m up Fairplay)
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
90.7-<8>-Park in Fiddletown
96.6-S-Main Street. Plymouth
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
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. "
Ride route is very unique, rustic, and very hilly--and was blown away by it when I did the 140 mile course last year. This year my ride was very disappointing and I was very unmotivated. It was the first time I got off the bike on a climb all year, and cut the ride short by 24 miles when I turned around at China Wall.
Ironic that drove through Vacaville to get to Auburn, where the Knoxville Double was unfortunately occurring on the same weekend and some of my long distance clubmates would be riding. Strange doing a century solo. Instead of taking a get loose ride the day before I was real unmotivated to get on the bike (sign of things to come?) and instead kicked around old downtown Auburn, the even older old town section of Auburn, and then drove over the Forestville Bridge (tallest in North America) and out to Forestville--seemingly the home of McCain stickers, and American flags surrounding many houses--albeit the pickup truck with the confederate flag raised in the back. The next day I'd see a "No shooting/ hunting area" sign nearby--with a bullet hole through it.
(1) Huge miner statue next to Hwy 80 guarding Auburn and the old Courthouse (2) Restaurant terrace overlooking downtown Auburn
Auburn has two good bike shops and a trifecta of good shops next to each other downtown with one of the bike shops, a running store and a casual shoe store. Can check in at the bike shops--and the owner of the downtown one likes to inquire with a grin on his face if you're gonna do the 1.75 mile 13.5% time trial--a grin as he bags the winning time each year under 15 minutes. The place I was going to eat dinner was closed due to a "failing to pay rent" judgement so I ate down the block outside--service and food so so but the patio looking over the entry to downtown was nice.
In short--don't know if Auburn Century is a better ride than Knoxville Double, but Auburn is much much more unique than the outlets that have gone amok ambiance of Vacaville.
The ride route is the Gold Country, but not the Gold Country I know so well south of Highway 80--Sutter Creek, Jackson, Plymouth. This is the Gold Country north of Highway 80--Auburn-Colfax-Dutch Flat-Iowa Hill-Forestville-which is seemingly more rural, desolate, and with much bigger rollers. Once out of Auburn it this route may be as desolate as the Tour of the Unknown Coast in Humboldt County, though Highway 80 is just a stones throw away for the first 1/3 of the ride..
Unfortunately, knowing how much climbing would be on this ride, I played weight weenie and didn't bring a camera. I missed loads of good shots--thought only Ward probably would have been quick enough to get the photo of the deer standing next to the train crossing signal. A little while later I'd have had no problem taking a photo of the endless f-r-e-i-g-t-h t-r-a-i---n that had a few of us stuck at a RR crossing for 10-15 minutes outside Dutch Flat.
I got to the start a little before 6:00 and later read that it is suggested to start at 6:15 or earlier for the 140 mile course. But it was cold--not only in the mid 50's--but it was the first day in months that the morning air was damp which made it seem much cooler--so I didn 't want to start until first light which became 6:35. The ride instantly starts on the short but steep climbs that typify the streets of Auburn-- with huge flour arrows at strategic intersections. But even with giant arrows I missed a few turns last year (and some flour arrows were placed AFTER intersections or missing last year) so I paced behind two strong riders, but the cold dampness had my exercise induced asthma reappearing. So even though I stayed with them for 21 miles--my breathing really sucked and was too rapid from the start.
Heading North, and generally uphill, we skipped the "Doug Memorial Bathroom" rest stop at mile 9 and first stop was Colfax at mile 21. Up to now lots of rollers--nothing is level on this ride--but nothing significant, and though rustic there were peeks of civilization. Small town of Colfax is a nice backdrop to this rest stop with its 2 blocks of unique shops. Yes!--bananas at the rest stop this year--along with Heed. Started to get warm so put tee shirt and extra bag of Heed in drop bag.
For riders on the 110 mile ride--they DIDN'T continue north (click to see map) but now cut directly east to the Iowa Hill time trial. But I continued North to Dutch Flat., 14 miles away. Here we first rode on a few side routes which were reminiscent of Tunitas Creek--hilly but seemingly off the beaten path. A few times sorry I gave up the tee shirt but much warmer than in the morning. I still didn't have much zip and didn't see many riders going in my direction. Eventually the climb became more gradual when we wound up on the service road next to Highway 80- but unlike any service road I've ever seen elsewhere--many times you wouldn't see Highway 80 but just hear the traffic from this tree lined undulating road. Here I saw a dozen riders coming back in the other direction--so I was about 1/2-3/4 hour behind many on the 140 mile course. We eventually crossed Highway 80 and railroad tracks and wound up on the Old Lincoln Highway--which is actually the flattest part of the ride but desolate. Big drop down into Dutch Flat on a road advertising "loose gravel" (way to ruin a downhill) with a small rest stop by an old hotel. Not much of a food choice here--I had a cream cheese wrap which was a mistake.
Pissed I didn't take my camera for some great scenery--though I'm enjoying it much more AFTER the ride. Beautiful small photos taken from Adrian Schneider Photography--go to their site to see larger sizes. These are of the early side roads, I think Rollins Lake Road, towards Dutch Flat.
After reclimbing to get out of town, going South, and saw a deer that looked like statuary near the train crossing, as I approached the next RR crossing I heard a train rumble and sure enough an endless freight train was blocking our way, and a few riders were already stopped at the warning gate. Funny--I got off the bike to whizz and then most of those already waiting then did the same thing, I then started stretching and many followed. But was still holed up for 10-15 minutes, and no one came up from behind so we were probably the tail end of the 140 milers--and now even further back. (A little while down the road we'd start seeing riders coming in from the opposite direction but they were on the 70 mile out and back route that bypasses Iowa Hill.)
Heading South, fast back to Colfax as no side loops now--just mostly downhill. Nice and sunny so at the same rest stop as earlier found my drop bag and ditched my arm warmers also. Started looping around and saw a sign that showed IOWA HILL in big letters with a left arrow so I turned onto what was a residential block. An old lady in her yard started yelling "oh sir, sir-----maam" (jeeze--I don't even have my hair in a ponytail.) Seems many people had turned on her block, but the small print on the sign indicated that turn 800' away.
Get to proper turn heading East and very very fast--curvy downhill--which guy near me apologizes for taking it so slowly as he had two crashes in races this year--but I'm happy to be going downhill at a sane speed. I remember to shift into the small chainring so I don't do what I did last year and mash my ankle on an fn hard gear when the time trial started. But now we get to the Iowa Hill time trial start at 11:15 and it closed 15 minutes previous to our arrival, and no starter was at the beginning. No matter, I started my stopwatch for the 1.75 mile, 13.5% climb but I paid it to little respect. I got out of the saddle too early and with only 1/3 of the climb done my back was killing me every time I transitioned into standing. Even though I ride a compact I used a 36 as my small chainring--and any thought of leaving it on instead of a 34 for Devil Mountain and the Terrible Two next year went out the window as I could barely push the 36x27. I got off the bike twice to stretch my back. I think with other riders and being officially timed I would have been motivated to stay on the bike but who knows--I limped past the finish line and eventually got to the rest stop with the same cheering podium girls from last year. After a brief rest I continued on and the rest of the climbing wasn't nearly as hard and my back quickly came back so I could stand, but here is where I started thinking about cutting the ride short. Great scenic photos from Adrian Schneider Photography of Iowa Hill Climb and desolate Iowa Hill Road......and of course the podium girls.
The next 15 miles on the road to Iowa Hill was like riding in quicksand. Last year Doug and I would bs on an uphill, then he'd take off on a short downhill, and I'd be motivated catch back up on the next uphill. This year, riding solo there was no motivation to go hard on the uphill, and for the first 14 of 15 miles I never saw another rider. Heck, I may not have seen another person albeit 2-3 passing cars. The 15 miles typically featured a short (1/8) twisty downhill that would end suddenly with a 1/4-1/2 mile climb of 6-8%, with a few unpaved private roads off the unstriped one I was riding on.
At one point I could hear a house tucked in the back woods blasting country music. And in the heavy shade it was damp and cool--wish I had the tee shirt I had left in the drop bag.
Finally dropped down to the Sugar Pine Reservoir and up another long hill to the Sugar Pine Boat Ramp lunch at mile 68. I was weary as hell, and for the first time sat in the shade while a cub scout troop filed bottles and shotguns were heard in the distance. ("awfully big sound for a 12 gauge"--one of the rest stop workers volunteered.) I had my deli sandwich special without any condiments and figured out if I'd be more pissed NOT doing the 140 miles or if I should cut the ride short. It was apparent that most folks on the true 110 mile ride that didn't go to Dutch Flat had already gone through, and so had the folks doing the 140 miles that were faster or had the good sense to leave earlier. It was still cool out and the prospect of riding in the last afternoon downhill into the chill wasn't endearing. I remembered last year how rest stops were in the process of closing when I passed by and there was no food at the end of ride meal--so i figured I'd go up Foresthill Road until the next rest stop and then turn around.
It was just a few more miles to the Foresthill Road junction, where we were finally out of the narrow, tree lined secondary road and onto a main road with little traffic. Going North the road continued to climb but it was now a steady 3-5%, not the sudden killer hills that had been too long to call fun rollers. Now passed a few people but waves of folks on the 110 mile ride were now going in the opposite direction.
China Wall rest stop at mile 78, and overlooked a nice valley clearing. Missed another great photo op--not of the valley but of the giant poster of Palo Bettini that was up at the rustic staging area. It was now 2:20 and I had averaged a whopping 12 mph. If I continued the 15 miles (uphill) North to Robinson Flat I'd see a lot more nice valley scenes. If I rode hard I'd probably get there in 1 1/4 hours, rest for 1/4 hour, and get back down in 3/4 hour--so I'd be back here at 4:40, well after the rest stop closed. Hell, time to head back.
More great scenic photos from Adrian Schneider Photography. These photos AFTER Sugar Pine stop where you start seeing civilization
Now heading South nice downhill on a main road with almost no traffic. Very soon in Foresthill; featuring homes with fences holding multiple American flags and road signs with bullet holes. Rest stop next to a VFW lodge holding a wedding surrounded by huge wood carvings. Yep toto--we're not in San Francisco, this place comes right out of "The Deer Hunter." It was chilly at the shady rest stop--good move turning around. One guy in the rest stop argued that Iowa Hill was a misnomer,a s there is probably more climbing on Iowa Hill than in All of Iowa.
After Foresthill traffic to Auburn picks up on the main road, and last year missed a turnoff and stayed on the main road. This year they had workers out to direct folks to the side road, with one worker hastily putting down an arrow and yelling out that there was no arrow yet at the next turn.
(1) Wood carvings at Foresthill Memorial Park (2) Typical nicely paved back road that isn't flat leaving Foresthill (3 & 4) The Foresthill Bridge that is next to Auburn-not Foresthill (5) The Duke wearing an Auburn Century jersey--though I doubt he'd be cycling, he be up here shooting away.
About this time I was joined by a Benecia Bike Club member who I had seen earlier in the day when I asked about a mutual acquaintance. He had done the traditional 110 mile course, skipping the run to Dutch Flat early on but had gone up to Robinson Flat. Now we were on some back roads that ended the steady downhill--oh, there was alot more downhill but another 2-3 "rollers," one for 1/4 mile of about 10%.
After 6 back road miles back on Foresthill Road for the run into Auburn. After riding 90 miles with hardly seeing a sole it was nice to bs with someone and didn't even chase when someone came flying by. It was mostly a gradual downhill until the Foresthill Bridge--the tallest in the United States but otherwise nondescript, where the road went up slightly. But then another kick in the %#%@, another 1/4 mile at 7%.
In summary really really unique ride through some beautiful back country, but wouldn't do it again unless a handful of club mates wanted to do it, which may be doubtful as we'd have to leave by 6:15. And damn did it beat me up--next day slept until 9am which I never do.