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.