Sunday, December 7, 2008

2008 Cycling Review



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

Mt. Diablo Redux

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

2005-6:46 (36th)

2006-7:15 (35th)

2007-6:43 (23rd)

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

In the Zone

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

Two New Fun Unexpected Double Metrics

Winters-Middletown and Back via Pope Valley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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