Sunday, April 26, 2009


(April 26, 2009) w/ Ward with closing Durham-Chico loop 2x to do a double metric and w/ Jim, Jeanie, Beth for the almost century (we missed the new add on out and back to get the ride to 100 miles). 122.61 miles, 5,200' climbing, 17.3 mph. (*175 course rating) To PUMPKINCYCLE Home>>>

"We don't have the same strongest team as last year so we'll have to try another tactic."--Johan, 2002 P-R.

Chico Wildflower is special, held in a remote collage town, a clusterfuck of cyclist all over the place with baked goods all over that make it a weekend Cycling Party. Plus years ago we would come up here and then try to get my daughter interested in Chico for college--she has now graduated. Time has flown by.

Years ago lots of Diablo Cyclists used to do this ride. The numbers have dwindled over the years. Same handful of folks doing this ride as last year minus Big Mike and Super Joe--respectively our best man on the flats and our best climber. Maybe that is why we weren't as aggressive as last year, but worked well with other groups. Some big pacelines shot by on Whellock-Coal Cyn Rd without a hint of us chasing, but later on the long Durham Highway we pulled a huge line and on the first river road loop we teamed with some Sierra Nevada Jersey folks again to catch everyone in our path.
Our start time is open to debate but we always leave from Chico Fairgrounds Main Gate aka Disneyworld, Chico. Thanks to Ward for coming up with the photo from the Disney archieves..

But after last week real real relaxing ride, no rush to get out of rest stops, no placement--no need to catch anyone. Kinda cool.

See past years for detailed route description. Basically there are NO ROLLERS on this course. There are three semi serious climbs (all climbing in first 2/3rds of course) puncuated by fast flat sections, the last straightaway and loop hindered by wind but 20+ miles without a controlled intersection. Traffic is light to almost non existant in most sections.

Highlights-differences this year from the past. (Ward by covered bridge on preride; Donna and Ward with the Chico Buttes in the background, how come I've never seen them before.)

-Day before easy preride was done up Honey Run instead of piddling around Bidwell Park. Ward, Donna and I were amazed by the bluffs on each side--something you don't see when locked on the bikes in front of you on crowed Honey Run. We came now Neal Road which is a beautifully paved, lightly traveled road that only has one small drawback that I remember from doing this a few years ago when visiting my daughter at Chico State. It intersects Highway 99 with no over/ under pass. As the guy in Paradises' "The Bike Shop" said—“when you get there you have to play frogger.”

-Only 3 vendors at the check in--the Wildflower check in used to have a dozen dealers of unique cycling items, but no longer, which is a shame.

-Visited the 3 bike shops in downtown Chico--one is in the process of moving to larger digs. The ones that usually has tubes or rain jackets on deep discount for this weekend had neither. Considering all the odd crap I use (last saddle bought from a bike shop in Sweden, cleats from Northern Ireland as couldn’t be found closer) , none of the bike shops had anything I needed.

-Town was very quiet--the usually 20 minute wait to order from the traditional pizza house was no waiting and was half empty. Later took a walk through the semi deserted campus--Ward had never seen it and brought back memories for Donna and I, while Ward set a good Samaritan record for helping 3 coeds.

-For once no hint of rain in the morning that usually turns into a furnace blast by the time we hit Table Mountain. Today stayed cool and slightly overcast throughout the day. Cross wind off of Table Mountain and cross wind on the final loop. "Remember Your Time" Meeting up with Donna, Beth behind me, on the narrow road that is Honey Run. Much of the rustic road is filled solid with cyclists riding all over the place. Most of the road not that steep but with some sudden steep hairpins that creates a clusterF of cyclists. This is a very strange section as one of the few spots not marked with graffiti. CrazyPhoto used to take photos from up here--now he's moved to the lowlands with fields of weeds in the background. Much nicer here. Nice action shot by Ward, how we were in a space without other cyclists I'll never know.

-Just as stupidass cars drive now drive slower in the left lane, many stupidass cyclists piddling about while being on the left side of the narrow lane. One idiot (who first was on the wrong side of the road as he was looming backwards) sat on the yellow line leading onto Honey Run, going -4 mph slower than everyone speeding down the middle and left side. I said "on your left" where numbnuts said "oh I'll think about it--oh I'm not moving" as I cut around him. I yelled back "think some more idiot." I was too nice.

Small Images from the Chico Enterprise Recorder, (far left) they found the only wildflower on the whole Course--there never are many except on the jersey on this misnamed ride. (left and top right) Riders converge on a truck and pass in the wrong lane and then tribar guy look like he is about to go under the wheel--OK, a telephoto lens is being used so the depth is flattened but actions and photos like these don't do a lot for bike riders reputations--who were slammed in the newspaper the next day for riding like this. (below) Ward & I on the far right side--my leg is out as my chain just flew off--Good Bye Full Shit Ahead Cranks!!! Woman on bottom left corner was real aggressive and tried to ride around the fast moving pelaton solo.

-Same great baked goods at every rest stop--and seemingly less real food. I was living on date nut cake and apricot bars. Beats Perpetuem diet of last week. --Rest stop at Oroville, which is only for 100 milers, used to be semi deserted--now more and more people are on the 100 mile route and it has become crowded also. Not enough porta potties to supplement the park bathrooms.

-At Oroville saw one worker fill up the bottles of supposed Spring Water
from the park faucet.

-The BIG change is that the Chico Century was never a real century--as it was just 96 miles so an out and back was added to the course. However IT WAS A SECRET.

At registration no one said that we should watch out for a detour/ add on to the very familiar course and the web site maps, clothe maps handed out had no hint of a course change. Well--there was a hint, on the cloth maps (but not on the paper/ web site ones) there was a rest stop icon thrown on the Sacramento River--about 5 miles from the colorful course on Ord Ferry Hwy right turns onto River Road--but the map didn't mark that the route goes to this rest stop Earlier in the day someone had told us that the course now goes to the Sacramento River and back; Jim who is a local said that make no sense and doesn't seem right. I had a paper map with me and there was no hint that the route did anything differently.

So when we got to the intersection, with Jim driving our group plus a dozen "new friends," the arrows pointed straight but a huge hand made sign pointed Chico to the right--the customary way, and everyone made the turn. When Ward and I did the bonus loop a worker was on the course waving everyone to make the right to turn to Chico.

Later we found out that Donna went straight and the road dead ends into a park and another rest stop before having to come back--nothing special.

-End meal kind of pedestrian. Last year they ran out of food and this year were stingily parceling out slices of tri tip.

In any event our group stayed together for most of the day, and had a nice fast run in to Chico mostly curtsey of Big Jim, and the guys from Sierra Nevada with assists from all of us. When Ward and I came around again slower folks were on the course; one local woman drafted behind us for 80% of the loop as we passed everyone in sight while yelling out encouragement. Nice ride-good times.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


(April 18, 2009) 206 miles, 18,600' climbing. 5am-9:49pm. 35 minutes ahead of 2006!! with strong finish 13.7 avg (@73 minutes of rest stops) w/ Jack, finished 59th of 155 finishers (62% of finishers, 68% of all starters, @182 starters) (512 rating-- rating increased somewhat as hard climb miles increased from 6 to 8) To PUMPKINCYCLE Home>>> The Devil Mountain doesn't look that bad, does it??

Climb 1-Mt. Diablo (South Side), 3200' evelvation gain, 10.5 miles
Climb 2-Morgan Territory (North Side), 1500', 7.4 miles
Climb 3-Patterson Pass Road, 800', 4 miles***
Climb 4-Mines Road, 2000', 25 miles
Climb 5-Mt. Hamilton (Livermore Side), 2100', 5 miles
Climb 6-Sierra Road, 1800', 3.2 miles
Climb 7-Palomaras, 1000', 4.5 miles
Climb 8-Norris Canyon, 530', 2.1 miles
***All data from Quackycyclist site except for this one

Alarm rings at 2:15 and suddenly DMD is here and I'm no longer nervous. Check computer last time for weather report--its 59 degrees at the top of Mt. Diablo at 2:17 am (albeit high winds.) Get down about a half hour early to the 5am mass start--on way down decide what I can leave in the car (like thermal vest), though Donna will meat me after I come off Diablo to take excess clothes. Strange seeing a parking lot of bikes in the middle of the night setting up lights, etc.

Don't see Jack at the mass start which is strange, but see Kitty who is always calm (after all she does 1200k rides.) Joke about how she yelled at me to get moving when I fell apart in 2006 and was about to quit. Final rider instructions by Quackcyclist organizer--which was strange as we could actually hear last minute instructions (where notorious gravel patches are, etc.) which you can almost never hear. Then suddenly we are off--an with 200 bikes starting together in the cool air adrenalin kicks in wanting to stay in the pack as we roll the 15 miles to the start of Mt. Diablo. Some guys are going balls out--wonder how they'll feel in 100 miles (The only folks who can hammer the course, the elite long distance racers will start as a small group in an hour.) Don't ant to overextend but the old racing adage is true, if your not passing people you are going backwards, is true. I try to look at someone setting a good clip to draft and then mover up if the mini group I;m with starts to lag. Also have to watch that some folks can't hold a line--one guy stopped suddenly. Made sure I took a wide turn past the Athenian School so wouldn't wind up in the ditch--then tried to miss the potholes strewen about the private road before Mt. Diablo South side.

Hit the South Gate at @5:37, (1 minute behind 2006)and on the first steep section the mass thankfully started breaking up. I didn't want to go get carried away and spotted three Godspeed Messenger Service guys setting a nice but not a killer pace--they'd usually ride to their slowest man but still managed to slowly catch and pass most cyclists on the mountain. In the dark my mini flashlight/ helmet light were just trained on their jersey's--if they had turned wrong (in case of rapture) and disappeared over the side of the road I would have also. Off in the distance sunlight is arriving, and so is a familiar voice--Jack comes up and joins me. I bs with him but Godspeed Messenger's are pulling away so I dig to get back to their wheel. We hit the Junction at @6:12. The South Side of Diablo with its many fast recovery areas is the easy way to go up, now we'd be on the difficult Summit Road. After the Junction it starts getting "warmer" but the wind also picked up--another good reason to stay in the Godspeed draft. After Devil's Elbow we saw a handful of riders already coming down.--we hit teh top at 6:47 (3 minutes behind 2006). It was windy as hell at the top, I ducked into a doorway to put on an extra layer of clothes before grabbing food and drink--concentration broken a few times by riders looking in and asking is this the bathroom???--which was away about 200' and down stairs. I decided not to go the the can here but to stop at the easy access one by Juniper.

Cross wind (30, gusts to 45) bad near spots at the, but otherwise not cold--shit, I got hot when some riders passed on the downhill without calling out. Actually, my climbing has fallen off but my descending much better than a few years ago--though on the long rides try to take it easy and rest up on the descents. Wind died down near the base but pocket of cool air. Off of Diablo Donna waiting at the corner to take back some excess clothes-off came the wind jacket--buff headband--glove liners-sock liner--and after some deliberation knee warmers, which was a good move. Should have given her my tee shirt also. While at this stop passed by Jack, but well worth not having to carry around loads of excess crap. It quickly got arm towards Clayton. I started off eating a bar to stay stoked up when passed by a large drop, after I finished I caught the leaders who had now split on the steep rollers and we all rode together out towardsMorgan Territory. A few of these guys were form out of town so they wanted to know what the course was like so we rode at a fats conversationalist pace. Though Clayton some guy started yelling at us from across the street and one of the riders asked "who's that guy." I replied "must be some drunk" as we pedaled away but voice sounded familiar. Later found out it was one of our old time club riders who used to do events like this.

Anyway further slip apart over the serious rollers out of Clayton and we had a four man for the runup to Morgan territory. Now nice and warm--and this road that used to be full of gravel and sinkholes now nicely paved (take note Napa and Santa Rosa!!) On one hairpin turn thee is a cow on the wrong side of the fence and just staring at us as we rode by. One guy from Lassen-Plumas stayed with me and we paced each other to the top--9:06; rest stop 2, mile 52. So far a piece of cake.

Saw Jack, the master of quick rest stops, up here and he left half way through my stay. Unlike the tree lined hairpin road we came up from the North, the South side is almost a ski ramp out in the open--sometimes windswept but today pretty calm. At one point a deer sprang across the road luckily 100' in front of us. Near the bottom the leader of the Grizzly Peak Cyclists, Grizzly Mark, shouted out greetings and passed--not that road was only slightly downhill I put in an effort to catch up to him. Funny, he said he always recognized me by my orange helmet, which is now getting ratty but NO ONE is making an ornage helmet this year.

We did a two man back to some of his Club members--and Jack was in this group. Mark yelling out instructions to his studens--"no braking going into the corners," as the paceline around a turn was being blown to hell. Riding with Mark and Jack--is like riding with the proverbial "heads of State." We started off in a paceline of about a dozen but as the road kicked up towards Altamont Pass we only had 4 left and passed a few riders in front of us. We were making a long U-turn and eventually would be going in the opposite direction in the annoying Patterson Pass climb--we were Ok with the fact that we had a mild head/ cross wind now--as this seemingly would mean a favorable wind on Patterson Pass instead of the gale force headwinds that are frequent.

By the time we made the turn onto the Patterson Pass Climb it was just Jack, Mark and I and indeed the threatening windmills (Steve B.-" if they're turning you're screwed") were still. I had to make sure to stay ahead of Jack as mini-water stop with ice thankfully near the summit which I knew I'd stop at to get a refill and Jack would pass--which is exactly what happened so we all rode down together.

Mark, Jack and I ride a good 3 man down and get to the 91 mile Mines Road rest stop 22 minutes FASTER than in 2006, which is great. In 2006 I bombed uphill on the 25 mile Mines Road climb, passed by no one. But in 2006 I had fallen apart after this climb, and now the two steepest climbs where my back has gone out, Mt. Hamilton and Sierra Road , were on the back of my mind--the second half of this ride is much tougher than the first half.

In 2006 I had flown out of this rest stop but club member Craig was working it, and I had brought him some Pumpkinbutter to go on the half-peanut butter sandwich (when it hot out its hard for me to eat most things, usually i just wind up eating a slice of bread.) Ish, a really nice guy who was the first person I knew to do this insane ride a decade ago (and had since done RAAM) , was also working the stop. Now nice and warm so got ride of the tee-shirt. Great--my type of weather. So after bsing and chowing down, I still left before Mark and Jack but figured I'd take it easy on this climb to the Junction and they'd catch up and we'd ride in together.

Steve B. "On every double there is one part where you are wondering why you are doing this ride....." Approximately mile 95 things went south quickly. I started getting real thirsty and drinking HEED like crazy but it didn't helped my thirst. Always a bad sign. My other bottle had Perpetuem, andif I took one more sip of warm Perpetuem I was going to puke (why didn't i bring thermal bottles, and ask for ice at the last stop???) Then I started getting passed by other riders and had no impetus to try to stay with them. Finally Jack and Mark caught me, Mark easily motoring by and Jack going off in the distance when I stopped at another emergency water stop which thankfully had ice. Off to the side some folks were doing what looked like a private controlled burn that made the air smell nauseous. My feet were suddenly sore--butt was sore, nothing real bad but everything was annoying. I couldn't put on sun screen fast enough. Luckily a guy named Vlad, who used to be on a bike message board I read, came by and we started bsing and that gave me a 2nd wind--so much so that I felt good on the steep rollers before the drop down into the Junction. I vowed that unlike 2006 I'd stay at the Junction for at least 15 minutes and cool off. But from pulling into the start of Mines Road rest stop 22 minutes ahead of 2006 I was now 16 minutes behind. Its 1:43, mile 115

Again came in with Jack about half way through his rest stop stay. Dreading Mt. Hamilton and Sierra Road I vowed to stay here for 15 minutes and cool down/ sleep in the shade. One of the big differences between a Century and a Double is rest stop management--on a Double unless you're dead seemingly no one is sitting but just wolfing down stuff and ready to go. What's worked for me is that before pulling into the rest stop I set a minimum time I'll be off me feet and taking it easy before I even think about leaving, so I don't get caught up in "the moment. I find a shady corner, and a father/ son wearing Brentwood Bike jersey's were nearby and we started talking. The son is a track athlete and this was his first double; he had been one of the fastest climbers up Mt. Diablo 7 hours ago. The dad had met his son at the beginning of Mines Road and rode up with him. Now his son was fried and it looked like he was about to call it a day. Dad and I spoke about the sorry state of biking in East County and filled me in about the stupid bike shop wars and local bike club paranoia--nothing has changed in 5 years. Quackcyclists had a nice spread going--I was happy with a can of soda and a slice of bread and some Alieve which I hoped would prevent back pain on the steep climbs coming up..

I feel good when I leave and after the fast downhill hit the baby rollers that turn into longer rollers in the San Antonio Valley, and this is where I lost it in 2006--but now I feel good. From our training ride know that at approximately 7 miles to go to the summit (road has miles to go painted on it) is a significant 1 mile climb which leads to a 1 mile drop down where you hit a bridge and suddenly start the 5 mile Mt. Hamilton ascent. Hitting the pre climb showed me that I wasn't feeling as good as I thought, not bad for 120 miles in the saddle, but I didn't think I'd see Jack for the rest of the day.

The climb up Hamilton's East side is only 5 miles but it is incredibly steep. See discussion I am having with a reader on the last blog about rating climbs, so while there is a dissenting point of view IMO this side is a killer. It is also not shaded and at 3:30 this was now the hottest part of the day. Road mark 5 ever so slowly led to road mark 4 and somewhere here my lower back pain went wild, starting when transitioning from sitting to standing but then couldn't get loose even in a 34 x 27. A minute stretch helped thing out, and I then was able to catch up to the rider who had passed me when I was doing a poor imitation of yoga. But now where was 3?, and my back was again tightening up. I didn't want to get off the bike again (getting off a bike on climbs is addicting) when along comes recumbent Zach. We have a mutual friend, Dave, who has done the Death Ride on a recumbent and some bastard just stole Dave's recumbent and he just bought a new one from Zach. In short this lead to the start of a nice conversation while riding at Zach's steady pace up Hamilton and I took some attention off my back. OK we crawl past mile 2 marker--by now I don't care about catching up to Jack, I'm just glad that I'll make it. I was hurting but I knew there was a water stop around mile 1, so I could stretch and I had almost drained my bottles. A little more bsing with Zach and there it was, a tent with a pickup and Tom/ Veronica working the stop (3 years ago she died out here while her husband was working the stop., and I was almost dead when I arrived. Apart from my back I felt 1000% better this year.)

I peek inside the tent and there is Jack--sitting motionless. He had a semi blowup but as he had done all day he "half wheeled me out of the rest stop, but I was going to finish hydrating and stretching before I left. After hydrating and stretching the last mile to the top was fine--actually the last 1/2 mile is a flat run in and the air cooled off. It's 3:58--58 minutes BEHIND 2006 pace. Damn--if I set the same pace as 2006 from here on in I'll finish after 11pm.

In 2006 I was dead going downhill on the semi rough, hairpin laden road. Now a strange thing happened, a bunch of factors combined to create a "Museeuw Moment."
1) All week long it was in the 30's and low 40's on the top of Mt. Hamilton at 3pm. Today it was a comfortable mid 60's. Though I like hot weather having it cool off restores one's energy.
2) I'm a much better downhiller than I was in 2006.
3) Some guy pissed me off.

Usually I get lots of ride motivation from being po'd at other riders, but today had been one big happyfest until now. I stopped at the top to put on a thin vest and then started down the 10-12 miles of narrow road with hairpins. One guy with a Colonago kit was in front of me--he was faster on the straight sections but hit the brakes hard on every curve, so I was yo-yo'ing from 100' to 10' behind him-but as I wasn't going to get clear ahead of him on a downhill I just stayed behind. No problem there. But after you get off the curvy downhill you hit a series of uphill rollers, each one getting a little longer. So on the first roller I shouted out and passed on the left and was doing a decent spin when Colonago Boy made like a bat from hell and made sure to get back in front of me before the top--which then forced him to be in the front on the next downhill section. We finally got off of that and on the uphill starting at Grant Park I flew by him and this time put in the effort to put distance between me and Colonago Boy. A few more rollers followed and then a fast section with a tailwind and I didn't want to see Colonago Boy again so I put down and hammered. I half expected to catch up to Jack--though he probably gained loads of tiem on the downhill. All of a sudden at the turn to the Crothers rest stop which is the LAST house up a steep hill. 4:55, now just 20 minutes off the 2006 pace.

When I pull in Jack is at the rest stop--and for once he hasn't been there much longer than me. More nice prepared food but I just ask our hosts for a slice of bread and joke with them that I hadn't done this ride in 3 years which was plenty of time for them to move down the hill. In 2006 I almost became a permanent fixture at the Mt. Hamilton water stop and this rest stop, now I was ready when Jack was ready to leave and I told him it would be cool if we rode in together, just as we had in the 2005 Terrible Two.

OK fun over as we go 5 miles toward Sierra Road, the Cat 1 climb on the Tour of California. It has kicked my butt on the 3 times up in in the last 3 weeks. It kicked my butt on the 2006 DMD when I had rode up it fast a week before on a training ride in mostly 36 x 24 and 36 x 21 and thought it much easier than I had anticipated (I can't believe I wrote this three years ago--what did they do to the fn road to make it harder??)

On shallower climbs like Mt. Diablo or Mt. Tam I can transition between sitting and standing all day--but when I hurt my back doing same on Sierra Road, Ward told me that once he is out of the saddle he tries not to do many transitions, and this is what I did. On the first very steep climb I sat all the way spinning the 34 x27. Then when I stood I stayed standing. All of a sudden my back started hurting and I wasn't even close to the 1st place I had stopped on every training run up--so I got off early and stretched for just one minute while Jack silently spun by. I thought I'd have to do the stretching thing a few times more, but my back then felt real good, and it was late enough @5:30-5:45 that it wasn't the heat of the day. Hmmm, lucky I'm not that fast. Stood more than usual, actually found some almost level stops that somehow eluded me on every training ride, and caught up and repassed Jack on the false flat near the top. I had miss started my watch at the beginning and didn't really start it until after the initial straight section, so my time was between 40-46 minutes, which was less than most of my training runs and a lot less painful. I was happy after 161 miles.

After the Summit vest wisely went back on and Jack and I headed to the "Pet the Goat" water stop where I almost quit in 2006. But now I felt great. Jack's serious lights were here--mine were in Sunol (in 2006 they had "lost" my serious lights and they were in Sunol)
--but I still had my mini flashlight and helmet light in my saddlebag to reattach. I still refused to "Pet The Goat." (tradition from 2006 when I just wanted to punch it.) Now that it was cooling off appetite was coming back and Jack found these great mini muffins. Told Jjack to give me two minutes to go down the road and whizz. Right before I pulled out one of the Godspeed Messengers from this morning pulled in with his buddies behind on the road. When I finally found a desolate section he came flying by yelling "see you on Calavaras." Got my dander up and caght him on teh next uphill roller and told him he was lucky he had found the mini muffins. But that's Jack--he rides at a steady pace but keeps his own rest stop scehdulke--when its time to go its time to go.

After that I think Jack took something off on the real fast downhill as I was able to stay with him and I took something off the uphill rollers. We still had a half hour of daylight when we started the beautiful but shady Calavaras section which was real fast with a declining grade and tailwind. I would not have wanted to do this section in the dark. After about 9 miles it becomes more of a straight run in to Sunol for about 5 miles. This part would have been OK in the dark but it was still twilight. I thought back to our double Sierra Road ride, at the end of that day I felt I was the strongest rider and did lots of pulling. Then we had our Mt. Hammy-Sierra ride where Jack was the strongest and he kept hammering me off his wheel and luckily Ward was there to bring me back. Today Jack and I were fairly even and were running a good two man, and I was sorry that Ward wasn't around to join in fuin at mile 175. No one passed us since "Pet the Goat" and in the distance we could always see recumbant Zach's disco rear lights staying a constant 1/4 mile ahead of us--so we must have been doing well as this section fast section perfect for a recumbent. Road has very littel traffic when a van passes us and starts yelling, its Ward coming back from the Tierra Bella!!, and just like all of his rides he's snapping photos. Action photo from DMD--yippie!!! Jack and I flying toward Sunol--mile 180 and we look happy. Photos taken by Ward from a speeding clown car, bad composite is all my fault.

Pull into Sunol right at sundown, 7:55, yelling out #96 & #97 to worker taking numbers. (Workers were amused that two consecutive numbers coming in together, I'd yell out that I was riding with my grandpa--but thank Ward for that idea during our training ride when he said we were acting like Jack's grandkids) Now 5 minutes faster than 2006 and not dead on my feet like 2006 where Don had to haul me in. Put on my serious light and reflective brevet vest from the drop bag--assisted by a nice guy who had DNF's and was now working the stop. Top off bottles and grab a small breakfast bar to keep the energy up. One mistake, I was warm pulling into the stop and we still had to climb Palomaras so I asked Ward to take the drop bag knee warmers back with him--later on I wish I would have put them on.

It was now dark. Some seriouys climbing remained Palomaras and Norris, but these would be the fun sections. Apart from this we now had:

1-Downhill on heavily traveled downhill Niles Canyon with a disappearing shoulder.

2-Fast downhill on Palomaras-a rural road with little traffic but no street lights.

3-Gradual uphill on heavily traveled Crow Canyon with a disappearing shoulder or shoulder strewen with garbage (yep, back in cilvilization.)

We started down Niles Canyon for 4 miles on a shoulder we knew would disappear near two bridges that would force us into the traffic lane. Zack in the recumbent about 200' ahead and cars consistantly zipping by. Zach has two HUGE lights on the back of his recumbent and a reflective sleeve that may also had a light attached. All of a sudden we see him going in the traffic lane, waving his arm wildly to slow cars behind him which then have to follow at his pace. Later he told me "my safety is more inmportant than their convenience." and of course he's right, but I also wonder of the po'd motorists who'd be pissed at other cyclists later, and maybe put someone else at risk, something Maynard Hershon writes about. Anyway a philosophical discussion that could go round in circles--and with a dedicated shoulder (or a wider lane) there would be no need to worry about this. So Jack and I followed down observing the waving lights and the stacking traffic--which ended when the shoulder finally established itself for good about half way down.

Seemed like we quickly reached the steep turn onto Palomaras. I'm not much for riding at night but Palomaras is a treat--real rustic, not many cars, and loads of wild animal and running water sounds--just like when you're lined up for the "Pirates of the Carribean." This is about a 5 mile climb with a very fast descent, especially at the beginning, that was very cold. On teh climb we did pass two cyclists who wondered if we had a spare tire--unfortunately no and the sag wagons which were plentiful all day were now very infrequent. This climb was long but pain free. On the downhill I followed Jack down the steep part and then at the bottom, where our club usually races, I lead out till the end. We lost Zach on the Palomaras Climb and I had expected him to coem back to us on the downhill and fast starightaway but we never saw him again.

Then made the turns around Castro Valley and we go onto Crow Canyon, and ugly 4 mile climb--gentle but with lots of traffic and a shitty shoulder. Jack led up and set a beautiful pace though our shoulder philospohy was different. He'd ride in the shoulder as much as possible and then suddenly come out when it ended or crap was in it. I wanted to be more predictable for the traffic behind so I did a semi-Zach and rode close to the white line but on the roadway side. All I can say is that I'm glad that I'm not nervous when cars are nearby.

Finally the turn into Norris Canyon, the last climb, It has two semi steep sections but they are short and NO TRAFFIC. Jack and I both rejuvinated and sprung out of the saddle on the rollers--over 200 miles and we were still energized. Or maybe we were just cold. Jack thought about stopping and putting on leg warmers, I said I'd wait for hom to do it but luckily he changed his mind at the start of teh Contra Costa County line downhill. Final descent wasn't bad, and I warmed up yelling at a car that got impatient when we slowed them in a 25mph zone (which was the downhill speed we were probably going) and they honked way too long. Finally in Bishop Ranch, and a ride that seemed stcuck in time from miel 90-134 was suddenly over. "#96 & #97!!!" Check in worker told me 9:49--35 minutes ahead of 2006 and more importantly I felt great.

Nice lasanga meal at the end. I had thirds -- I finally matched Jack eating an end o ride meal. (We both don't eat that much during the ride.) Sat with Grizzly Mark and a few of his clubmates, they had a good ride and came in about 45 minutes ahead of us. Good conversation, we all had given up on TV, which you need to do if you are going to find time to train. Also discussed oif countirs can kick a century out, as El Dorado had done to the Sierra Century.

About 45 minutes later the Godspeed Messengers form early morning arrived. Jack and I had been in a strange time zone as basically rode alone, albeit recumbant Zach in sight, for the last 45 miles. Stupidass hotel Quackcyclists were now using made us pay for parking but Quackcyclists comp'd us back with free tee-shirts. Jack doesn't like jersey's with devils on it but he quickly got his checkbook to purchase the jersey he earned. Quackcyclists are a first rate group running a great ride.

Results will be posted in a few weeks and think I have a good shot to come in the top 50%. Many top athletes do this ride, including some to finishers from major long endurance runs like Western States, American River, and Tahoe Rim Trail runs--so we shall see. Preliminary results in--At 16:49 of riding Jack and I finished 59th of 155 finishers (? DNF's), so almost within the top third (at the 62% level.) Congrats to Grizzly mark for finishing at 15:51. The three elite trail runners came in 6th, 9th and 43rd--PLEASE NO ELITE TRAIL RUNNERS NEED TO SIGN UP FOR CYCLING DOUBLES--WE NEED ELITE SOFTBALL PLYERS TO SIGN UP. The average time for the top 10 finishers was 13:04, the median time for the field was 17:23.

To finish the Steve B quote from a few paragraphs ago..."on every double there is a point when you are wondering why you are doing the ride, ... but at the end of the ride you can't wait for the next one." Bring on the next 200 miler, all day adventure, but pleas, my back wants to make it flatter.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


This may turn out to be best cycling photo of the year--taken by Ward

Prequel 2006-I'm in intensive care a few months before, daughter in for brain tumor a couple of months before. Did Solvang Double and two century ride. 60 Mile ride to scout out the course inc. Sierra Road once which I feel great on. Weight 149.

Prequel 2009-No doubles but 4 Century rides done in March, one in April--two self supported over hardest sections of DMD, inc Sierra Road three times which I feel like crap on. Weight 146.

So in comparison going into this DMD in much better shape--but the "back thing" (going out on Serra each time this year) has me worried enough to get my 36 small ring replaced by a 34, and worry about it for the ride. The only other worry is the weather; we'll be at the top of Diablo at @6:30am and the top of Mt Hamilton @3pm.

Wed-April 8-5pm-Rode to the top of Mt. Diablo with new gearing in heavily overcast weather--58 degrees at the base--39 degrees w/ 21-30 mph wind and 100% humidity at the top . (Mt. Diablo 38 degrees and 100% humidity (21-32mph wind, 28 degree w/ win chill) at 6am, Mt. Hamilton 39 degrees (1-2mph wind) at 3pm) A handy dandy climb comparison from Ward Industries, which shows the hard side of Mt. Diablo pales in comparison to the eastern side of Mt. Hamilton and Sierra Road.

April 11th & 12th--Tapering. No more self supported hilly double metrics, no more Sierra Road, but two very different 75 milers. On Saturday we had one of Stephan's Napa Tours--a very fast Diablo Cyclist ride on rollers around Napa. Chill in the morning which quickly ended because out of the gate someone was always attacking attacking. As this is the anniversary weekend of the greatest Easter team ever, was decked out in my Domo Farm Frites kit and had to try to counter-attack. The middle of the ride was punctuated by Ink Grade--the climb I had to walk my hybrid on my first century, and since I always try to time trial it. After leading the charge up Stephan and Dr. Dave countered and kicked by butt near the top, but was pleased with the time (23:10) which wasn't far off times from a few years ago when I was a much better climber. (2003 22:49; 2004 22:15 & 22:25) Also please my back didn't go out. At the end of the ride some of the early morning attackers were dying out so I launched one on a roller near the end to see what anyone had left. I didn't have enough but some of the ealry morning attackers had less, and Ward was launched to a sprint finish. Compared at 2006, my last DMD, my climbing has fallen off, but my downhill has improved greatly, and I've improved somewhat on the flats and endurance.

On Easter day went for a bike ride with Donna who was suffering from doing Mt. Hamilton the day before, so she had trouble staying on a moderate pace to the Bollinger Climb. But she was game for more riding and a few of us did a moderately slow ride down to Sunol. If I'm smart on the DMD I'll drop down a few notches for the first 100 miles.

(top) W/ Stephan on fast paced ride though Napa Valley and Ink Grade--my tribute to the greatest Easter Team ever (photo by Ward) (bottom) Donna & Ward at the Sunol Train Depot on a long but crusing pace ride. Many of our good club rides (Calavaras/ Palomaras, run through the tiny town of Sunol.

Actually it looks like I got one of the wishes I made yesterday when chilled in the Napa Morning. (High in Livermore 62, with Mt Diablo 37 at 6am and Mt. Hamilton 43 at 3pm). I just hoped for +15 more next Saturday with no rain. Well, the long term forecast for Livermore high of 77 degrees and sunny. GREAT--though if I knew it would have been that easy I would have been greedy and wished for +20 degrees.

Tuesday-4 days top go-Forecast is now for an 81 degree high for Saturday. Great but could have fooled me. It was a high of 58 in Livermore today, 37 at 6am on Mt Diablo, 34 at 3pm on Mt. Hamilton, with high winds. Hail & showers moved in by 6pm. Donna's car is in the shop so I took the opportunity during the last 3 commutes to drive the ugly (lots of traffic) Crow Canyon Road and desolate Norris Canyon Road--the two hilly closing sections of DMD. Much hillier and more places with a disappearing shoulder than I remember--put another reflective band in the drop bag.

Wednesday-3 days to go-Still a chill in the air for the Diablo Cyclist nighttime ride up the the Mt. Diablo Junction. As tapering rode in a bs'ing pace to the Junction, for the first time in weeks didn't go to the top nor go down the longer South side. Last night to test out my setup for DMD, 34x chainring, Open Pro w/ King Hub in front, American Classic on the back Carbon Fibre soled shoes (great comfortable soles shitty uppers.) I'm a little uneasy as threw out my back the three times went up Sierra Road in the last month, and hard to believe it will be 80 degrees in 3 days while it is just touching 60 degrees now. As I used to be the Diablo Cyclist Club getting lost...I wonder if Craig has set an over under for not for time...for how many wrong turns I take.

Thursday-2 days to go-Long long checklist of stuff to prepare, eg. charge/ change batteries in lights, pack Tums, pack reflective vest....Of course rear blinkie fog attached to my helmet not working and no spare batteries. OK, all done, time to watch 2002 Paris Roubaix for inspiration. Starting hitting the bagels for carbs today; Monday had been a 1900 calorie 42% carb day, today was a 2970 calorie 63% carb day.) Still calling for a high 0f 80 on Saturday--it topped out at 65 today. Been trying to be good and go to sleep by 11pm all week...we'll, I've made it in before midnight every day. Self imposed curfew and tapering good way to cut out the usual 1am series of leg curls, leg lifts and sit ups in the real 24 Hour Nautilus--my garage.

Friday-1 day to go-I still follow the Jo Jo formula that worked so well for the Sierra century in 2003-two days before the event OFF THE BIKE and the day before easy spin--so I took a easy 40 miler out to Los Vaquaros, keeping the bike in the small chainring. At 75 finally a hint of good weather, with predictions for a high of 80, Sunny and very light wind holding for tomorrow. It was actually slightly over 50 at the top of Mt. Diablo at 6am and 57 at the top of Mt. Hamilton at 3pm. More bagels for carb loading. Finally run through getting everything together, then a nap and suddenly it was time for an early pasta dinner and checkin about 40 minutes away which was 1:15 due to the commute traffic--which made me real edgy.

Unlike Century bike fests doubles are "here's you number, drop off your "late night bags" see you tomorrow at 5pm." Nice at checkin saw club doubles Queen (and past stage race winner) Kitty whose never nervous about these things , club member Craig who works lots of doubles and promises to make me a pumpkin butter sandwich, and legendary sag driver Lee who blasts music from his sag wagon BUT NEVER THE DOORS, so I lobby for THE DOORS. Otherwise it was a very very slow commute home where I changed batteries in my lights and was able to watch two innings of the Giants game before hitting the pillow at 9pm. THE WORST THING ABOUT DOUBLES, the times they start and the time you have to go to sleep the night before.

Nice to see Craig and Kitty at registration. Will see Lee pass by with music blasting about a dozen times tomorrow, goal is to stay out of his SAG van, as 10-205% of the riders will probably not finish.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


(April 4, 2009) Livermore up Mines Road to Mt. Hamilton to Sierra Road Loop. w/ Jack (who wanted to do more miles) and Ward (who wanted to take more photos of coeds.) 110 miles, 10,000' climbing, 13.9 avg, @9:05-6:35, 13.9 avg *345 rating* (like doing 3 1/2 flat century rides I don't know who is more disturbed. Me, as I already died out and barely finished the Devil Mountain Double a few years back, and signing up for it again. Or Jack, who suddenly put in an application for the first time. Or Ward, whose not signed up for any crazy ride, but still trains like he was going to.

I surely wouldn't do these rides if not for the need for training for DMD--now 2 weeks away. I had planned to skip the Club ride and solo up the back side (the short and steep side as opposed to the long and gradual front side) of Mt. Hamilton and then return the same way--a hard enough ride in its own right. But luckily Jack and Ward wanted to join me, and Jack wanted to make the ride harder. Instead of speedily returning from the top of Mt. Hamilton, we'd do down the longer front side, which would necessitate climbing Sierra Road for the 3rd time in 2 weeks.

Fell asleep watching a Doors DVD hooked into a new stereo system, so I woke up from the couch when Donna woke up for good to go on the Cinderella, a goofy women's only ride--but hey-discrimination is sometimes OK Great sleeping in a weird position, not knowing where you are, and then going back to get 2 hours of deep sleep. Early morning was sunny and almost windless and surprisingly fn cold. At 9:00 it was a shade less than 50 degrees, which was the HIGH predicted for the top of Mt. Hamilton. Made me rethink not taking knee warmers and glove liners, but didn't want to carry much all day. I took this to an extreme as accidentally left the PBJ sandwich, hammergel, and bag of Heed in the car--I think I paid for this at the end of the ride.

At 9:01 Jack, Ward and I pushed off, spinning just to get loose, when up ahead a few dozen cyclists were merging onto the street we were on. Shit--we were on the Cinderella. One cyclist shot by us. Oh oh-passed by someone on the Cinderella--at least she wasn't wearing a tiera, or with others riding 4 across the road. A block later a large group of women collected on the sidewalk cheering all the riders (including us) on. One more block and the Cinderella went straight and we made the wrong turn--a right turn that would get us onto Mines Road.

Mines Road is 30 miles away with a semi steep section at the beginning, but it is a mostly gradual uphill and the two hours to get there whizzed by as Ward and I bs'd about rock music and Jack (a music atheist) joined in when we'd talk about technology. As we were going uphill we stayed relatively warm. I also was practicing taking photos while riding with a new digital camera--great that it is so small and compact but too small to get a good grip on it and not fumble with the buttons, and keeping it in a case was useless.

The junction was crowded with the usual collection of motorcyclists (luckily not to many had been on the road where they almost lean over onto the cyclists) but was also jammed with folks from the Stockton Bike Club--they had some doubles folks who knew Jack. They were also going up Hammy but we left before them (when the restaurant started the fireplace and smoke covered the picnic area) and never saw them again. Boy--that Lara Bar was almost as good as the peanut butter and pumpkin butter sandwich in my car--right.

The San Antonio Valley, beyond the Junction to Mt. Hammy, is beautiful and desolate. It starts on a slight downhill, turns into short uphill rollers and then suddenly (Ward remembered, I forgot about) about 7 miles from Mt. Hammy it kicks into a serious climb to 6 miles to go. Then a fast downhill to a bridge and then a 5 mile climb up Hammy. As way of comparison Hammy is about as tall as Mt. Diablo, and the road up Diablo is more than twice as long (so is the road on the other side of Hammy) , so kick ass grades will follow. And from this side you can't see the summit until a mile away, so only the huge numbers painted on the road (for helicopter rescue) are your guide as to where you are.

I remember back to DMD 2006 where I flew through the first 120 miles to the Junction. My plan was to hammer to Mt. Hamilton, fly up, and then recover on the long descent. Well, my great plan went out the window as I was dead by the time I reached the Mt. Hamilton BASE, never mind the climb.

The climb was warm, my back stiffened up after a few hard grades, and Ward was hurting, so while Jack scurried up I pulled off to wait for Ward and take some photos. I then fondly remembered other times up this side--back in 2004 when I was trying to become a climber and soloing this with almost no water in the middle of Summer, or a few years later going up with Sacramento Doug on one of the early holiday's and getting caught in a hailstorm. OK--maybe fondly is the wrong word.

It was getting cool at the top (sunny, 47 degrees) but in the enclosed Courtyard it felt great. Luckily the vending machine had some power and breakfast bars.

Funny, it looks warmer than 48 degrees at the top of Hammy--in the background is the San Jose side, the way we are going down--some of thenarrow hairpin road is visable.
When we cycled back out to the front of the observatory, overlooking San Jose, you suddenly felt the chill and it was freezing on the downhill. On this side the "hairpin turn" salesman really had done a good job selling, many hairpins on a narrow road that looks good but has sections of falling rock and also hides the ruts/ holes in the road that isn't in terrible shape but could be improved. Lots of cyclists now coming up the easy side, along with the occasional car on this divided road but in reality is 1 1/2 lanes. My back wasn't loosening up on the downhill as patches of rough road and the cold were wearing me out. I'm hoping for just as sunny, just as windless, but 15 more degrees for the Devil Mountain Double.

Eventually we got to a bridge where the road levels off and then goes into a few serious up hill rollers. Thank god--can now warm up. I got a new lease on life and sped up--far enough away to fumble out the camera, get it into telephoto mode and get a good action shot of Jack and Ward with the observatory in the background.
I claim victory over Ward re our take a photo of Jack contest with this action photo with the Mt. Hamilton observatories in the background.

A few more miles of downhill rollers through the countryside which soon becomes opulent San Jose suburbia and the road suddenly is as smooth as a baby's butt. This section was great as we effortlessly sped trough while enjoying the overlook of San Jose.

We soon descended further and started following DMD course markings through 1950's suburbia. Wisely we stopped at a 7-11 for drink and food-unwisely I only filled up with ice--Gatoraid would have been a wiser choice to make up for the HEED my car was enjoying.

Sierra Road-same lousy results as last week. I don't have the 34t chainring on yet to replace the 36t and had to get off 3x to stretch for one minute each time, and total time up was a pedestrian 44:10. I actually don't HAVE to get off the bike--but my back starts to kill me and stretching alleviates the pain for about a mile-which is a nice tradeoff, as if my back is OK I enjoy the climb.

When feeling good I just put my head down, stood over the bars, and got into a hypnotic rocking rhythm where I'm just looking down past my front wheel. No big deal with motor vehicles--no cross streets on this road--though I did miss the shag mobile, as reported by Jack and Ward. I also missed Ward lying on the road to take my photo from the proper prospective. (L) The beginning of Sierra Road--is it too late to turn around (B) I'm cresting Sierra Road (all photos by me unless I'm in them, then photo by Ward)
Fun on the downhill rollers back which then goes into a very fast downhill to the Calavaras Wall. I enjoyed this as it was warm and I could ride in the drops. I was kinda hungry (not a good sign so opened and stuffed a Lara Bar in my mouth while riding--and then sped over an uphill section so Jack wouldn't pass me on the downhill. It was my last hurrah for the day. Reaching the top of Sierra Road, I look happy, don't I?

Good fast trip down Calavaras and towards Sunol--though last week I felt like I was the strongest and did lots of pulling, now I seemed to have lapses and would be well off the back and would have to scurry to catch back on. The cameras were now away, and Ward and I stopped acting like Jack's delinquent grandchildren, while Grandpa pulled most of the way back to Sunol. Unfortunately we didn't go into Sunol and enjoy the general store porch--we were still 20 miles away form the cars so we stopped at a small corner market. Again, I should have gotten a Gatoraid but thought we were closer and another delicious energy bar would do the trick. Jack was disappointed in the ride--he wanted to go further--if we had started at 8:00 we could have done Palomaras (darn.)

Going into Pleasanton Ward's GPS read a fathom or so under 10,000' feet of climbing and I said we HAD To get it over 10,000', so first Jack took us on the Happy Valley neighborhood loop (Jack and Ward were in Happy Valley, I was in This Sucks Valley), and then we detoured and went over the short but semi steep Bernal climb. Alright--as sign for downtown--but the downtown was Pleasanton and we were parked in Livermore. Another 10 miles into a crosswind which helped me fall off often but I had to hang on as I had no fn idea where we were going. Jack hammered on and Ward would fall off to set a target for me. I really needed a postal situation to revive my spirits but now we were all alone on the road.
I was so out of it at the end of the ride that I didn't even remember my time (Ward-O-Crazy)

6:30 pulled into Livermore Library parking lot. Good ride though another 15 degrees, m back holding up, and bringing my "food" would have made it a great ride. I already have stickers on the cooler to remind me to take out the hammergel etc., but every 10th ride I seem to forget it. Ward suggested I keep that stuff in my helmet, duh!, what a simply great idea. I called Donna to see how she did on the Cinderella, and then before I drove off I enjoyed my pumpkin butter and peanut butter sandwich.
Finally, after the ride getting to enjoy one of the fine Hammersmell Energy products left in the car, Wild Turkey (thanks Ward, I guess)