Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Real SIERRA CENTURY (Plymouth-Slug Gulch-Sutter Creek-Volcano-Fiddletown)-2009

(May 23, 2009) The Real SIERRA CENTURY. 104.5 miles, 9,300' climbing, 9:20-@6:20, 15.4 avg. Great group with me (though I b.s.'d Sierra Century memories all day), Ward, Jack, Doug, Johnna, Vic*, Tall Tom*, Jason*, Christine*, Joe/Jen*, Rusty/ Sarah (*first timers to the Gold Country, which brought back memories when I was new to riding in the area and was amazed.) ** Course Rating 266** To PUMPKINCYCLE Home>>> Ward Industries elevation profile.

Ride History
The Sierra Century out of Plymouth was the greatest century ever and 1 of the 3 hardest in Northern California. (Jack swears the Sequoia Century was harder, and I thought Tour of Unknown Coast was compatible.) Greatest as the Sacramento Wheelmen busted their butt at the start/ finish in the mock western town Amador Fairgrounds and every rest stop. Greatest as you rode through some real classic Gold Country Western towns as Ione, Sutter Creek & Volcano. Greatest as you rode through desolate country on good roads with little traffic, including the El Dorado National Forest. Greatest as the 12 miles downhill rollers of the Fiddletown Speedway is an "E Ticket" ride, and we'd do it twice.

But you had to like climbing. Most of the ride features roller after roller. Rams Horn Grade was one attention getting climb, but everyone talked about "THE CLIMB" on the backside of the ride "SLUG GULCH," only 5 miles but the first half had section after section almost as steep as the Diablo ramp. Slug Gulch was so feared that the Sacramento Wheelmen, being such nice guys, provided a Slug Gulch bypass. They also provided a WONDERFUL bonus, if one reached the top of Slug Gulch by a certain time, you could do an additional 20 miles, including continuing to climb 12 miles through the beautiful El Dorado National Forest. The 120 miler came in with 10,000' climbing but though tough it was fun.

The Sierra Century died in 2006. That year rumor has it El Dorado Country wouldn't give out a ride permit at the behest of wineries growing in the area. The Sacramento Wheelmen came up with a bastardized version which excluded Slug Gulch and all the cool "high area" of the ride. Instead Hale Road was thrown in, one of the worst back roads in the area--gravel paved and pothole strewn with a hidden stream bed at the bottom. They also had riders going up and down Rams Horn at the same time, which pissed local motorists to high hell. And a person tragically died trying to pass a farm truck. By the next year the whole ride was moved to a totally different area (also known for crappy roads) and has since moved again. RIP.

My History on the Ride
I did the 60 mile course in 1999-2000, and couldn't imagine doing any climb harder than Ram's Horn, I didn't want anything to do with Slug Gulch that everyone was fearful of. In 2002, after knee surgery I could only do the 60 miler and was envious of people I knew doing the 100 miler--the best climber I knew came back half dead. By 2003 I wanted to do every climbing ride I had avoided in the past, but heck with the 100, I threw myself in for the 120, which then meant lots of Oakland hill training rides--but I still needed to see Slug Gulch. My riding partner knew the area and she devised a course that would get us to Slug Gulch at mile 25 instead of 75. The backwards metric loop was born, and became the basis for many other training rides over Slug Gulch, including my wife's intro to Slug Gulch before she did it on the Sierra Century. That year I did Slug Gulch 3 weekends in a row. I did a few more rides up in the Gold Country with Erma's Diner Club, and learned of a few back roads not on the Sierra Century.

So did the 120 miler in 2003, 2004, 2005--2004 might have been my worst ride ever coming back from my dad's funeral and 2005 my best after hooking up with the Diablo Cyclists, and we were attacking all day. On the 2006 bastardized version I had tire problems and just did 100.

In 2007 I ran the "backwards" Sierra METRIC Century as a club ride, which skips the flatter first part of teh old Century thru Ione and adds the bonus part of the 120 mile route. At the end of the day most folks were disappointed that the ride was over. So in 2008 I made it a full century, adding a run down to Sutter Creek and back; the 12 mile gentle climb from Sutter Creek to Volcano is a real treat. But last year when we were almost done in Fiddletown (mile 91) I took the old flatter metric route in, this year I stayed true to the Old Sierra Century 120 and took us over the Ostrum Climb--Big Mike's favorite (after he destroyed everyone on the downhill roller run in to Fiddletown he'd die on this last climb--justice.)

This Year's Recap
What a great group, we had the right mix of old timers and folks new to the Gold Country so we could enjoy their amazement. We also were able to keep the group together as Joe & Rusty riding with girlfriends Jen & Sarah, so our best climber and most aggressive rider couldn't go far ahead. (If Sarah gets pissed she could kick Rusty's butt.) Our youngest riders, Jason & Tall Tom would shoot off but they couldn't get far ahead as they didn't know the route. This used to be advertised as great training ride for the Death Ride--so was perfect for Christine who will be doing her first DR--Johnna will be doing the DR again this year buy she needs no training--as Phil Liggett would say "she was the man of the match" as she did this ride with a corncob 11x23. Sacto Doug, my fellow Triple Crown Rookie--class of 2005, came down for this ride. Luckily Jack and Ward were along so if I rode in the back with someone lagging, they knew the course and could lead on. Vic rounded out our group, steadily riding temp all day.

After a clusterfuck wait at the Plymouth vintage (Mark Twain musta used them) bathroom which opened late start off on the rollers through the growing Shenandoah Wine Valley, luckily riding through before the wineries open and would return after they closed. Within 5 miles took off vest for good--miss riding with Big Mike and I need him to laugh at me at the beginning for all the clothes I want to take. 1 of 5 pick-em-up trucks would be surly, luckily just passed every few minutes.

(below) --Lion of Flanders shows where the meeting place is.--Rusty finally congratulated on his Fiddletown Sprint victory of last year by a podium girl --Waiting for the Plymouth bathrooms to open --Pelaton on Shenandoah/ Mt Aukum, the "major road" of the day, surrounded by vineyards and no traffic...

Who is this stranger? Rumor has it that this cyclist went up to Sacramento and no one ever saw him again until now.

Rest stop 1 (mile 17)-corner store in Fairplay, overrun by motorcycles so we just went up the road to Pioneer Park, which may be a good alternative in the future. Here we laid out the next section--Slug Gulch, where Jen gave Joe the "what did you get me into" look, but she was a gamer.
Right away some serious rollers on desolate Perry Creek Road which eventually calm down, then after 4 miles a quick left turn--GEAR DOWN--SLUG GULCH! Slug Gulch out in the open, luckily doing it at 11:00 instead of 2:00, and it seemed as if more home along the way had yapping dogs. But it is a climb I enjoy (except in 2004) as after each long steep tier is a recovery spot, and it gets gentle half way up. After doing Sierra Road this is a piece of cake. When I got to the top I rode back for the trailer but i didn't have to ride far. Everyone did great.

Rest stop 2 (mile 26) at Omo Ranch school which is secluded with a huge tree shaded picnic area, lawn, and then it was on for 12 gentle climbing miles trough the El Dorado National Forest. Today was extremely quiet, no hunters or dirt bikes around. Then the little kick up Highway 88, past the 5,000' sign and Cooks Station, rest stop 3 (mile 37) with a wonderful enclosed patio. I had disparaged it, saying it was one * star better than the Mines Road diner but after most people ordered sandwiches I was told that there was no comparison, it was minimally two ** stars better, and maybe 3 ***. Lunch show was Vic getting stung by an insect and watching his lip puff up.

Also had first of two strange run in with police, a cop told someone in our group that its real busy and we should be riding up here. I never quite got the full story but the little piece I got was odd. (The uphill part of Highway 88 we rode up had light traffic with people getting out of town but it has a good shoulder--when we'd go downhill on Highway 88 for 4 miles it would have almost no traffic--just like the rest of the ride.)

It was now 1:30 and we had done a whole 37 miles and everyone was wondering where the downhill was---we had been on uphill rollers or climbs since the morning. So, fast downhill on Highway 88, then downhill rollers on Shake Ridge Road
All of a sudden we were at mile 50, where Rusty/ Sarah turned off on the Fiddletown Speedway to do the metric route. The rest of us continued on the Shake Ridge downhill rollers to Sutter Creek, (rest stop 4, mile 62)
(below)--Rusty and Sarah make the turn into Fairplay (Shouldn't the UN be located in Fairplay?) --Regroup at Pioneer Park when newbees hear about Slug Gulch. -Pelaton coming through on Perry Creek Road.
Great pictures taken by Joe of the Pelaton riding in the El Dorado National Forest and a shot of it capturing the quietness ahead of Jen. --Making the turn onto Highway 88 from the El Dorado National Forest.

-Lunch at Cooks Station (hey Joe, nice photo but Rusty looks better in photos when Sarah is also in it instead of me) --Jason steamed that he didn't get a really BIG sandwich --Tom & Johnna ready for first downhill of the day

Everyone still looked good getting to Sutter Creek, in fact Jen rode hard right in Joe's wheel, but the next uphill would start putting the hurt on people. We'd now do the greatest climb I know, a gentle shaded 1000' over 12 miles to Volcano, with a stream off to the right. Almost always a tailwind, it feels like you are being drawn up by a magnet. With no way to get lost I started riding aggressively and stayed with the youngsters, Tall Tom and Jason. After Jason pulled for awhile and with the last 2 miles of Fabio Hill that kicks up I tried an attack--Jason countered and I got my butt whipped by this mountain bike champ who everyone hated every time he'd say "I'm trying to get back into shape."

In Volcano (rest stop 5-mile 74) Jen hurting and Joe planning for them to ride back to Sutter Creek where he'd ride to get the car. Doug, our club 2006 Terrible Two champ but who now works too much, also hurting. Tried to get Jason to go up Charleston, which is MUCH harder than Slug Gulch, but he declines and my back is feeling good so I decline, so NO Charleston riders this year. Ward said he would have slipped the GPS device in my pocket so we could get a reading.

So it up Rams Horn with Johanna pushing the 11x23, Christina doing well, Jason and Tom zipping ahead. Rams Horn not that bad but then a few miles of uphill rollers until the Fiddletown Expressway cutoff. We get there and Doug not with us, Ward and I ride back for him while everyone starts down individually--so no Fiddletown Sprint this year. We get Doug who is low on energy (too many vegetables!!!) and we start down, after the first steep downhill section where I fall off the downhill rollers start and Ward pushed the pace--disappointed that absent Big Mike he had a chance for the Fiddletown sprint if the group would have stayed together.

(above) --Pelaton entering Sutter Creek --Secret bathroom water break.
below) --Jason leads the charge into Volcano --The Pelaton follows. --Hanging out on the Volcano sidewalk.

Fiddletown (mile 91, rest stop 6) Johanna says that when she was coming down a car behind her and a cop pulled up and said she was impeding traffic and has to pull over when that happens--which is incredibly incorrect. Sorry we weren't all around to talk with the cop--though it might have led to a heated argument so better that Ward not locked up in the Fiddletown jail.
** **
Leaving Fiddletown some in the group were talking about taking the flatter, shorter way back so I quickly jumped to the front and circled onto Ostrom Road, not a bad climb but now it is mile 91 and the grade creeps steadily up. Once on the road no complaints--in fact everyone looked happy as Ward yelled "take some photos as the light is perfect."
Before starting the downhill rollers to Plymouth have to ride on the "main road" and we get close to our left turn and I don't yell "left turn" I yell "slow--cow on the road." On the opposite side is a cow walking down the main road with a car slowly following. (Damn-missed the photo) Where is the cop now to tell the cattleman he is "impeding traffic?."

(below) --More vineyards near the end of the ride--everyone still looks happy--but no one is happier than me.

Anyway ride ends and I'm estatic. This is the weekend of my dad's death, and to do this ride that brings back so many memories with such great folks is wonderful beyond belief.

Fiddletown Expressway
(2004) Big Mike 2x; (2005) Big Mike (2x); (2006) Big Mike; (2007) Big Mike; (2008) Rusty (2009) NONE but Jason takes Volcano sprint
Charleston Climb
(2006) Jay, Big Mike; (2007) NONE; (2008) Jay, Joe; (2009) NONE

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A COLD DAVIS DOUBLE* (their 40th, my 6th)-2009

(May 16, 2009) A COLD* DAVIS DOUBLE (*Only a high of 98--cool compared to 106 from last year) Started with Don, Brian and Dave--rode 1/3 of the course with Dave. 203 miles, 8,400' climbing. 5:00-7:23, 17.1 average. First 76 miles to Pope Valley 18.1 mph, last 66 miles off Resurrection to finish 19.3 mph. *299 course rating* To PUMPKINCYCLE Home>>>

Davis is like Chico, upscale one or two notches. Big university town but as near Sacramento not isolated like Chico. Lots of bike stores. Lots of cyclists. Surrounding area through farmland pancake flat; the Davis Double takes you out of the Davis area, rides along the outer edge of the Napa Valley (via Pope Valley.) The Pope Valley ride is beautiful and with plenty of significant rollers which I like. The ride goes as far North as Clearlake, where two long climbs are thrown in during the heat of the day. Then it back to Davis along higher traffic areas which go from baby rollers to flat where fast moving pelatons can go crazy.

The day before I took a beautiful warm up (small chainring) ride from bustling Davis to sleepy Winters, which covers flat ag land. The few cars that pass give 10' of room. It's a fun 30 mile out and back ride.

1) W on 5th Street which becomes Russell Blvd--on the northern edge of campus. Lots of traffic in Davis--there is a small bike path. Once outside Davis traffic lessens but road has some without a shoulder--a beautiful bike path runs the whole @7 miles along Russell. Unfortunately it cuts across the road in two places--but there is only 1 /4 mile between the two cuts so I'd stay on the road for this segment instead of having to cross Russell Blvd.

2) S on Road 95/ Stevenson Bridge Road when bike path ends for @1 mile. Pass funky graffiti covered bridge.

3) W on Putah Creek Road which has hardly any traffic. @ 6 miles to Winters.

Assorted photos of 30 miler roundtrip from Davis to Winters. (1) Coed by bike path by UC Davis. (2 & 3) Biek path on Russell Blvd. (4) Stevenson Creek Bridge (5) Yellow Bike on Putah Creek Road (6) Putah Creek Road with Little Traffic to Winters (7 & 8) Bridge entering Winters and Downtown Winters (9) Fantasy Time--The Ag Land between Davis & Winters could become Northern California's Paris Roubaix with cobbled sections.

At the start of the week the forecast was for mid 90's, but it had been in the high 80's the week before so we weren't getting hit at once with warm weather without acclimation. By mid week the predicted high was down to the low 90's, but the final forecast had the temperature at 99 with a gentle 3-9 mph breeze. Hey, after last year at 106 and two weekends ago when it rained this was OK, though by Wednesday's tapering ride up Diablo (where I set my best time in a year--some tapering) Jack was talking about leaving at 4:30 to "beat the heat" on the climbs instead of the usual start time of first light, 5:30. I didn't see the benefit of riding in the dark for a hour, as unlike a Century we'd still be riding through the 2-4pm "heat of the day" window. Later Don & Brian talked about leaving at 5:00 with some first time doubles friends on a tandem; Dave and I figured that would be reasonable though I could see the group splitting apart dependant on how the tandem went. And though Dave and I are very compatible when riding regular bikes--on recumbent I'd get far ahead of him on the climbs and then he'd zip past me on the valley's. In any event, at least we could all keep together (sans early riser Jack) on the fast run in to the first rest stop that is perfect for pacelining.

Interesting note--Davis Double is run more like a Century with rest stops @20 miles apart--making it an ideal first Double. Even so rest stop 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 used to be ridiculously close together--at miles 23, 45, 64 & 76 (4 rest stops in 53 miles), and we could easily miss 1 & 3. Soooo, they finally got rid of rest stop 3, and spaced number 2 further down the road, at mile 56. So with the first three rest stops now at mile 23, 56 & 76, and with it promising to be hot, we wouldn't be skipping any rest stops today, and always loading up on drink. The first few rest stops were usually very crowded as the flat terrain didn't break up much of the group--the hopes were that with fewer beginning rest stops there would be more facilities at the remaining ones and more water stops down the road. However, the BEGINNING REST STOPS ACTUALLY WERE WORSE.... More on this later.

While on rest stops--food is unDoubles-like. Most doubles have a stock of Hammer products, drink mixes, Hammergel, liquid food, along with foodstuff. Davis Double is century-like whereas the rest stops have Gatorade, fresh fruit, fig newtons, pbj sandwiches, soda but nothing to help "beat the heat" if your stomach shuts down. Knowing the lack of drink mix I carried 6 scoops of HEED with me and sent 3 scoops in my drop bag, and wary that my stomach might shut down in the heat I took along a half dozen sports beans along with a baggie of tums and endurolights and a Hammer grenade. So even though it was warm and didn't have to pack extra clothes, my pockets were stuffed re the deficient rest stops. The Davis folks are great about having ice, and I should have brought some Perpetuem with me (which only taste good when cold) but I fell down here.

A little cool at the start and, me being a wimp, took a light vest. For the first hour needed at times, as though my car read 67 at the start, there were pockets of the ag land where the temperature suddenly dropped. This part of the course looked like photo 6 above and we were going to go over the distant hills to the Napa Valley. Don was practicing for the Mt Tam Double and pulling the paceline for miles, a few times a faster paceline would come by, but we were going at a good climp by all the folks we were passing. At one point a bunch of folks jumped in our paceline and cut Brian off--I'm more aggressive so I stayed on Brian's wheel and wouldn't let anyone cut in. Then a fast paceline shot by and I started yelling "come on--let's catch them, go get them" and the intruders in front of Brian shot off to chase.

Soon Don, Dave and I got in to a good rotating three man, and we upped the pace so no one passed and we passed many slower pacelines. Problem is that Dave and I had to do a Davis Double---so we looked for a side road to turn off on, so we did with Don staying by the corner to tell his tandem friends to keep going. Now it was obvious that Dave and I went off course as you could see 1/2 mile down the road with everyone going straight. But some numbnut followed us, and when he realized he made the wrong turn he started cursing. I was laughing to hard, and Dave, nice guy that he is, apologized.

Don, Dave and I caught up to the tandem, on a section where tandems usually are flying by, and we sped on ahead to the first rest stop. Don indicated he'd drop back and ride the tandems pace for the rest of the day, which meant rollers and hills from mile 23-137. So Dave and I pushed on ahead to the Cardiac Climb--we found a good tandem to draft behind. And so did everyone else. On the uphill rollers with a block headwind to Cardiac the tandem slowed, and Dave decided to liven things up by trying to get off the front. He slowly died back but half the bikes crowding behind the tandem were gone. And now that Dave shook things up I had to go up Cardiac hard--as I like the climb--steepish and relatively short so I can stand the whole way. Unfortunately, no mass of butterflies like last year.

On the climb I see Lori of the Fresno Cycling Club--a person I rode the end of the Mt. Tam Double with a few years ago, and she and her friends subsequently won the doubles stage race--kinda cool how they rode it all together. Fresno Cycling has a big group on the road. Also spotted another "head of state," Grizzly Mark, who I had finished DMD with. Today he was on a tandem Nice to see people on the road that I know as I expected a long day of riding solo.

Get to the new rest stop 2 , mile 56, Moscowite Corner and it looked like they were giving away Colonagos. Two LONG LONG lines for the two outhouses--and Two long lines for the only TWO water jugs. I grabbed a banana and fig newton and camped on the water line that didn't move for 5 minutes--figuring out if it would be sane to ride with a half bottle for 20 miles. But then I spotted the gas station across the street that just opened when we did a Winters-Middletown ride last year, so I said 'fuck it' and rode across the road to buy some water. Best $1.50 I spent, as real bathroom included. When I go back to my bike Dave is there--he said 'fuck it' quicker than I had. Later we found out the water at the rest stop was "not the best." So Dave and I rode together on the gentle rollers at the start of Pope Valley with many people caught at the rest stop behind us.

The gentle rollers on the edge of the Napa Valley is my favorite section of the ride, tree lined on on one side and grapes off to the other. Only some patching of the shitty road would improve things--where does Napa spend their winery money?? I picked up some speed on the last section of rollers when some guys tried to hammer past. The Pope Valley rest stop was not that crowed when we pulled in, no bathroom lines, iced bottled water in the coolers. It was also starting to get warm--I made a brave decision and took off my knee wrap, riding naked felt weird at first but as the temperature never cooled my knee was fine. The line would grow long and the ice and bottled water would disappear when we were ready to leave--something that would repeat at Middletown and Cobb Mountain.

Dave and I continue on past the familiar turnoff Ink Grade and Hubcap Ranch, features of the Tour of Napa Valley later in the year. From here the rollers get longer. I see Grizzly Mark on a tandem up ahead so we bs for a few minutes. I feel sorry for Mark and Nancy on the climbs on a tandem, but the stoker can pull out a camera and take some real sweet photos.
Thanks to Grizzly Peak Mark and Nancy for taking this photo, I'm having fun as its warm and I'm on the rollers that I love. I wouldn't be this happy at the end of the ride when dehydrated and hanging on for dear life to fast moving pacelines . Also fun shifting with the precise Shimano Cranks/ Chainrings instead of the sloppy FSA ones. I'm also RIDING NAKED--first time in years bad knee isn't wrapped up.

Some guys shoot by leading into a steep roller so I say bye to Mark and pass the riders who had shot by. One reason I go hard on the uphills is that though getting better I expect to be passed on the ensuing downhill but by the time the rollers flattened out I was all alone into Middletown.

I was now thirsty and should have just sat and downed a bottle of sports drink. But the Davis selection of sports drink was pedestrian at best and after mixing two bottles using the HEED I was carrying I didn't want to waste drinking a bottle, so it was a cold soda for me. I had 4 on the day which is 3 more than I ever had on a ride, and it didn't help with hydration and my stomach was mildly upset.

Dave rolls in when I'm set to leave-the "monster climb" of the day--Cobb Mountain is up ahead. I don't push the pace to it along the tree lined gentle section--ironically when it starts getting steep the trees/ shade will disappear. I ride with the guy who has #1--I joke that it's an honor riding with Museeuw. We bs a little on the easier section. Cobb is tough but nothing compared to doing Hammy from the backside 3x this year, and Sierra Road 4x (twice in one day.) My back starts aching but not close to needing to get off the bike. I see the spot where I pulled off last year to take photos of Donna on the practice ride, and I am impressed that she slugged through Cobb and 181 miles last year when it was 10 degrees hotter. I talked to many riders today that told me they gave up last year.

The rest stop on Cobb is beautiful, and the first one not crowded--at least when I first pulled in. The Cobb Climb still has about a mile to go, but then it is all downhill to Lower Lake lunch stop, and if it wasn't so hot and this rest stop so nice could easily skip it. Downed another soda and nibbled on some plain bread while fondly remembering that this was the turnaround spot when Don, Mike and I did the 300k brevet and I got a nap in while we waited for Mike. Ok crowd now arriving so time to go, back to climbing, then past Mike's favorite church with the concrete Virgin Mary, and speedy downhill to Lower Lake. Only saw one other cyclist on this whole segment until the lunch stop.

Looked forward to lunch as been eating/ drinking carbs all day with almost no protein. Here I could make the Sacto Doug special--a slice of bread topped with mounds of roast beef, turkey and ham. NO MAYO, NO MUSTARD, NO LETTUCE, NO PASTA SALAD--NO NUTTING I MIGHT TASTE FOR THE NEXT 30 MILES. Talked with a few more riders--another one who dnf's last year--Donna doesn't realize how well she did. Lots of ice at this stop (as well as most of the rest stops), they were filling tube socks ice bags--I was one of the few people who didn't go for one, though I enjoyed the ice in my sports drink. Another soda too many. And stupid me, I should have taken a bottled water in my back pocket--but I always forget its a long drag out to the hot Resurrection Climb, and I just ate salty deli meat.

In this section a few fast two-three man's shot by but I quickly realized that i was downing too much water and didn't want to overextend. After the previous rest stops had come quickly it seemed like a long drag out to Resurrection--not a good sign. When I hit the climb, which is usually crowded, I only saw one other rider. Half way up I drained my last water but last year they had an emergency water stop with a couple of miles to go. Oh yeah!-there it is--oh no, it's just a van parked on the side of the road. Oh yeah!-there goes a stopped cyclist waiving--oh, he broke his chain. IT WAS 99 DEGREES AND NO WATER STOP ON THE ROAD. The only saving grace was that they had just finished a new lane for traffic but it was not yet opened--so riding on it was like being on a semi-private bike path--which was good as here is where traffic picked up.

When I pulled in to Resurrection it was 2:55 (Jack, who started 1/2 hr earlier and skipped every other rest stop made it here at @1:10) the Fresno Club had just arrived a few moments before, and I was hoping to ride back with them as the rest of the course great for group riding. But first I went for a drink in the shade--stupidly got another soda instead of downing a Gatoraid. I was slathering on more sun tan and downing my last endurolights when Fresno Cycling left--I pulled out 2-3 minutes later but had no chance in hell of catching them--

--except for the traffic stop at the bottom of Resurrection where construction had cars both ways using one lane. The road worker told us "I'm letting the cars go first." as our numbers swelled. Fresno Lori was exceedingly polite to the construction worker while I was ready to start a Critical mass after 10-15 minutes. When we got the OK to go it was a mass start. (Which started by riding 200' across packed gravel.)

Only Lori and here two co winners of the triple crown race wearing similar Jerseys, Fresno members were going incognito so I stayed near the back as to not break up their paceline. Trouble was that other folks jumped in and massed about--so not sure who was Fresno Cycling. Near the back a few people jumped in and just would then dive in to the right side. After this happened a few times I went hard on a hill hopping to speed the pelaton up and drop a few riders. I was tired when i returned to teh back but this seemingly worked. Spoke to the Latin woman from Wetern Wheelmen who had given me a great quopte a few years ago when we wer both suffering on Climb to kaiser and I wondered how it compared to the Death Ride. "Oh the Death Ride, you mean the FUN ride."

Fast slightly downhill road where I took 1-2 short pulls but otherwise safely stayed in the pelaton. I also drained my two bottles for the second time--it was hot in the valley. Two riders jumped out and one point and put the hammer down but I was smart and stayed in with the Fresno Cycling Group. Mile 163 and my favorite rest stop, at Guinda. Nice and shady. My drop back with extra drugs waiting along with more sports beans which was good as I could hardly eat anything else. Saw rest stop worker who was here in 2004 when I was ready to quit and he talked me out of it. And anudder cold soda.

I stayed a long time but not as long as the Fresno Club. I pulled out to solo the 15 miles of disgusting traffic filled section around Cache Creek Casino. Two nice racers passed me who I had riden with earlier --(wish I could remember their team, they had a deck of cards in the back and they were something like "Team 61")--one was still doing very well while the other had cramped up. We got into a fast 3 man with one guy doing 80% of the pulling. I was dying--it felt like my heart was going to jump out of my body so for once I made a good choice, when we were about to pass a half dozen riders in a slightly slower paceline I jumped off and onto the back of the we were passing. The slower speed helped--also that one guy insisted on staying on the front--I was perfectly happing being the ticket collector as my body calmed down. When we finally turned off onto the farm roads a gap had formed, I cycled up to the leader and pulled him to the Farnham Ranch rest stop, mile 181. We weren't far behind the racers who had wondered what happened to me. The Farnham rest stop was Quackcyclist/ Santa Rosa-like, with voluenteers grabbing bottles and filling them with ice and drink. I figured this was the last rest stop of the day, as NEVER stop at the firehouse only 6 miles short of the finish.

I hadn't planned to set out with the racers, but when I left about 300' down the road a paceline was "cuing up"--with the racers in front, so I sprinted up before it got going full bore. And full bore it went in the sunny warm evening along the flat ag land. There were about a dozen people and we kept picking up a few more. The racers were doing most of the work, someone yelled "30 seconds max" so that got me to the front for my turn. The paceline looked more like a mob than a line, with riders 3-5 across the road--at one point someone yelled car back and no one on the outside moved. I like riding on the outside but in this group that would have put me on the wrong side of the roadm I stayed tucked in on the right. One big guy we picked up kept half wheeling me and diving in on the right when the mob slowed, and going around a corner was a cluster-f that I'd drop back on as folks were braking and some were diving around the corner. Almost everyone in the mobline had white salt streaks readily apparent on their black shorts or dark jerseys. I also couldn't drink enough and felt dead every time the pace picked up. At this point I decided I'd stop at the Fire Station to rehydrade and get off this mess. I thought I'd stop here alone as NO ONE ever stops here unless that are half dead--so when we passed EVERYONE pulled in!

At the fire station the diving big guy said to me "don't you love pacelines, you guys coming along saved me." He was shocked when I told him no; I should have mentioned his diving in on the right side and half wheeling but I was really beat--spilling out different drinks that all seemed disgusting before I remembered I carry fizz-tabs and put one in a water bottle. I couldn't eat anything--luckily we were just 6 miles away. I'm ready to go and almost everyone else is still sprawled out or washing their hair (lots of riders taking showers under the drink hoses today) --the racers are on their bikes and a co-ed who also looked half dead--that it, so we pull away in a small group that actually look like we know how to ride in a group.

The strong racer again does most of the pulling, though we all chipped in to give him a short rest. I was dead but soon we were at the edge of Davis proper and the speed of the last 66 miles finally came down. Wasn't sore like after Devil Mountain, just had no energy left. We congratulated each other and co-ed asked me "what does "MCCII OF DOUBLES IN A YEAR on my jersey mean"--I explained to her that it was Roman Numerals for the 1202 miles of doubles I did in one year (2006), and was a play on the Official 5 Event Triple Crown Jersey which loudly proclaims "1000 Miles of Double Centuries In A Year." Hopefully I'll duplicate that this year cause next year I'm taking it easy.

Many riders run over to check in, but as times don't count I alway change my clothes first and store my bike--one great reason to do doubles is the GREAT feeling when you finally get the fn bike shorts and shoes off, and slip on the Birkenstocks. Vet Center Cafaterial 1/5 full, and a veggie lazanga (Donna would have loved it, huge pieces of brocolli) and chicken being served. But I'm dehydrated and after having a recovery shake at the car I now add 3-4 glasses of water and the two fruit/ ice pops are perfect--well the coconut one is perfect--the lemon one unfortuantely looks like the coconut one. I go out on the front lawn as twilight sets in, where some people are hanging out and cheering incomming riders. I'm surprised as I always come in with a few folks so I expect a steady stream of arriving riders--instead 10 minutes pass with no one--then one solo rider--another 5 minutes and another solo rider comes in. A recumbent with a huge yellow bag rolls in--I figure he might have spotted Dave with his similiar yellow steamer trunk so I go up and ask him if he spotted a similiar recumbent.... But these guys are like a cult, he asks me who I am looking for, mention Dave, and without hesitation says, "oh Dave, he's about 20 minutes behind." (see interview with Dave below.) Dave does come in about 20 minutes later--he had done a nice thing while struggling up Cobb Mountain, he called Donna and told her he was real impressed that she made it over Cobb last year when it was +10 hotter. We then went back in where Dave had dinner and I had two more fruit ices bars.

On the drive home stopped off to get a bathtub sized Jamba Juice--that may have lasted one exit on the highway with James Brown's Payback blasting over and over. James' screams were a welcolm jolt.

Another opinion on Davis--an interview with Dr. Dave who did the Death Ride on a recumbent a few years back, and now has 2 of the 3 legs for the triple crown.

Q: How was the weather compared to last year?

Dr D: Hell of the North Central Valley. Temperatures were hot, but a good 10 degrees cooler than last year, I’d guess. Last year, it didn’t feel like it ever went below 100. This year, it didn’t feel like it ever quite reached 100, but it was probably close.

Q: Did the Big Belgium team, Domo Diablo Cyclist Farm Frites, show up with strength in numbers?

Dr D: We had a decent Diablo Cyclists contingent on this ride – even if we didn’t see much of each other. Jack wanted to beat the heat, and started somewhere around 4:30. Jay, Don, Brian, myself, and Don’s tandem friends from Colorado started about 5:10. It became clear pretty quickly that the tandem was going to hold Don and Brian to a bit of a slower pace, and Jay and I took off before hitting Winters. Then, it was my turn to slow the pace, and Jay took off ahead of me through Pope Valley. We saw each other at the Pope Valley rest stop and again at Middletown, but after that, the inclines started to get the better of me, and Jay was long gone. Saw Kitty briefly heading up Resurrection. I said, “Is that Kitty?” She replied, “It’s dead Kitty.”

Q. How’d your new recumbent work out?

Dr. D. The new “bent” is working out fine. Climbs as well as the old bike, and Bacchetta has done something to improve braking – maybe different compound on the pads, or different rim surface, but I’m descending with a lot of confidence on this bike. Hit 50 on the short drop right before Resurrection. Usually, I’m terrified if I hit that kind of speed, but most of my high-speed descents were comfortable and controlled.

Q. How was the Davis Bike Club support? After all you've been to hell on a Planet Ultra ride.

Dr. D: The course marking, and SAG, and the course “marshals” – including Mr. Martinelli!! – were up to the super standards we’ve come to expect from Davis Bike Club. If you see somebody by the side of the rode with a flat, chances are there is a SAG vehicle pulling up to help them by the time you pass. But, Rest Stop support was, well, inconsistent compared to most Davis Bike Club events. Were they trying to do a Planet Ultra impersonation? First off, the porta-potty scene at the first few rest stops was disastrous. Correct me if I’m wrong, Jay, but I believe the technical term is “cluster-f—k?” Lines of 15 or more people waiting for 2 or 3 “seats.” No thank you. I got back on my bike, carefully measured my .25 miles from the rest stops (to avoid the threat of a DQ), and used the trees and bushes. I saw Jay avoiding the crowd and slipping into a restroom at a gas station across from stop #2. Next, there were no bananas. Come on, people! A bike ride without bananas is like breakfast without Anita Bryant … or something like that. Worse yet, the energy drink “du jour” was Gatorade!! What happened to Cytomax or at least something that isn’t straight sugar?? Before I got to rest stop #2, I could tell my stomach was not going to have a good day. And while the subsequent rest stops did have bananas, they never quite had what my stomach wanted. The Gatorade – which I tried alternating with my own stash of HEED and Perpetuem – was watered down to the point of uselessness. Can you say electrolyte depletion?? I was well on my way there by mile 75, and I was going through my electrolyte capsules at an alarming pace. By the time I hit lunch, I was really hoping for some heavily salted boiled potatoes, but had to settle for corn chips. They DID have the tube socks full of ice again, and I took full advantage of those. But, I realized (after many uncomfortable hours, doh!) that my problem was not rising core temp, but bad fuel, and the ice wasn’t helping that. I started spending more and more time in rest stops beginning with the top of Cobb Mountain (more about the CM climb later). But things ended well because eventually there was the “miracle food:” Cup-o-Noodle soup. It is hard to believe that one could gobble down soup in nearly 100 degree weather, but the rest stop at mile 180 has had cup-o-noodle the two times I’ve done this ride, and both times its been like somebody gave me an EPO injection. A few chewy noodles, a quarter pound of salt, and who knows what toxic chemicals. Amazing. Who woulda thunk?

Director Sportiff Jack: One of the advantages of leaving early is that there were no lines at any of the porta-potties! Nor had they run out of any food. I was able to get a piece of banana at every rest stop where I wanted one.Like Dave, I was unhappy with the energy drinks at the rest stops. I think that they alternated Gatorade and Cytomax at the rest stops. I skipped every other rest stop in the morning, so I only seemed to get Gatorade. I would have liked Perpetuem. They had ice at all the later rest stops. Ice and insulated water bottles made the ride a lot more bearable.

Q. Maybe its the lack of Ward yelling at riders, but doubles riders seemed better trained and mannered than century riders, though Davis brings out the beginners who cut into pacelines and half wheel. And after all I once saw a guy weaaring a "triple crown winner jersey " climbing up the wrong side of Ebbetts Pass on the Death Ride. How was your experience?

Dr. D: Unlike the dozens of people who seemed to go out of their way to piss me off on the Solvang ride, it’s not hard to pick out a single “winner” this time. There was a guy in a white shell with something in Italian printed on it – can’t remember what -- (yes, he was wearing a shell in the heat – probably for the SPF factor, but I like to think it was because he wanted us all to know he had ridden in Italy. He was that kind of guy). I “encountered” him probably three or four times during the day, and each time it was because he almost caused an accident. First, climbing Cobb Mountain, he’s pacing a young woman up the hill, cars are flying by, and as I yell “truck back!!,” he proceeds to pull out into the lane to pass somebody in front of us, taking the woman with him, and the truck misses HER (not him) by about half an inch. Thanks, buddy.

Q. Most support workers do a great job--wonder what they think?

Mr C. Support Worker: We had one idiot to deal with too. Was a first time DC rider who was trying to do the ride on sewups and only had the pair on his bike and one spare. When asked why he would do such a thing, the response was that he got a great deal on a nice set of wheels that were tubulars. He had been picked up early on the course and had been riding SAG's most of the day, so was not happy. When we picked him up, he was walking east on CA 16 between the Guinda stop and the fire house. He was walking with traffic instead of against it. Since there is no shoulder on the road at that point passing riders would have to go well out into traffic to go by him. Fortunately he had not yet gotten to the casino. He also was one of those off-loaded at Guinda (see above). Was not happy when he was returned to that stop and off-loaded again. Was tempted to ask him why he would be so stupid as to try such a ride with only one spare, but restrained myself.

Q. Oh yeah--I saw that bike with the huge rims on the back of different vans almost all day, I was wondering if a voluenteer had taken his bike with him in the hopess of doing some riding. Dr. D I rode in a mob paceline a few times that was all over the road. Anything else?

Dr. D: The other “incidents” I recall were 1) when a group of about 20 of us was held up at the bottom of the Resurrection descend by road workers, and he pulls in behind me, rolls right past me and several other stopped riders, and takes “his spot” at the front of the group. 2) When we start up again, the group begins to get a bit “testosterony” on the next series of rollers, and we’re having a little fun with it. Nobody taking it too seriously, but definitely picking up the pace. Well, this guy decides it’s a freaking criterium and starts cutting people off, passing on the right, swerving into the oncoming lane of traffic to pass. I finally got sick of him and started attacking each time we’d crest a hill. There was one guy in a Triple Crown jersey who was basically doing all the work for the group, and he and I eventually rode Mr. Jack-ass off our wheels, and paced each other for the next several miles. Very gratifying.

Q. Any special hints for riding a double?

Dr. D: Don, who reminded me last Wednesday that there is a point in every double where you are just plain sick, and that you need to wait it out, or ride it out. Don also subtly planted in my head last Wednesday that such a point might come climbing Cobb Mountain. He was absolutely right. Whether it was the heat, or the steady steep gradient, or the fact that it comes 100 miles into the ride, or that I haven’t done much steep hill work this year --- whatever it was, that climb fried me as badly as anything I’ve ever done. As bad as riding up Ebbetts on the bent. When I got to the top, I was completely depleted and had to rebuild from zero with 100 miles to go. My fuel intake just wasn’t working and it was seriously hot. “DWO” as we used to say in high school: Death Warmed Over.

Q: I heard you rode with the Willie Mays of recumbents?

Dr. D.: You all don’t know Jim Kern, but he’s one of the top few recumbent riders in the country. He holds the recumbent record on Terrible Two. (Just DOING the Terrible Two on a recumbent is beyond my imagining!) He’s a RAAM guy. A sponsored rider for Bacchetta. And on and on. Anyway, I ran into him at Middletown, and started up Cobb with him and another guy on a recumbent. (I felt sort of like I had been asked to go on a ride with Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner!) I couldn’t keep Jim’s wheel, but for the better part of the ride, I could see him maybe 100 yards ahead of me, gradually pulling away. He was a great carrot. When I got to the top, he was friendly and congratulatory, and talked me down off the emotional cliff I was about to fall off of. I left the rest stop before him, but saw him again in Guinda (mile 160?), and I was (no surprise here) complaining some more about my fueling problems. He again talked me down, told me to just keep sipping fluids and my appetite would come back. And, I got to ride with him again (this time able to keep his wheel at a nice fast pace, doing our best “boxboy” imitation and blowing past riders on the flats) till the next rest stop where my life was saved by the cup-o-noodle.

Q. You recumbent guys must have a special cult, when I waited around at the finish Jim came in and I wondered if he had seen a similar bike and I started describing your bike. Jim said, whose your friend and he gave me a pretty accurate ETA on your finish.

Dr. D: Special thanks, #3, To “the loud guy in orange” (I think you know him, right, Joe?) who rode with me at the start of the ride as long as his patience would allow him, and who waited around for me at the end of the ride. And this after I ditched him and Don on their fixed gears last year out of sheer beginner’s anxiety about finishing. Mea maxima culpa! (That’s Latin for “I’m horseshit, and I don’t deserve such nice friends.”)

Q. Besides finishing, what is the greatest, most Inspirational Moment of a double:

Dr. D: I have to say that the only reason a sane person would do a double would be to experience sunrise, out on a country road, after you’ve been on your bike for about an hour. Gets me every time.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


(May 9, 2009) Diablo Cyclist Ride to the Junction, Extra Credit w/ Ward, Chris, Retro Guy, Brothers Joe & Vic, Super Joe, Stephan and June to the top of Mt. Hamilton To PUMPKINCYCLE Home>>>

First, the new Dura Ace 7900 10 speed compact cranks work GREAT with my 9 speed drivetrain. A few times I shifted under load from the big ring to the small ring and it shifted flawlessly--with the FSA crankset the chain would have jumped right off the cranks.

Now the bad news...well first an editorial. Luddite Grant of Rivendell may have a point when he bemoans lighter and lighter bike equipment that compromises on reliability. Of course this point gets lost in Grant bemoaning ad nauseam STI shifters and Lycra bike clothes and bike shoes and.... But with my FSA bottom bracket failing for the second time in 4 years and now my American Classic hub crapping out (Hugi hub cracked 2 years ago--but company nicely replaced the shell) , and with the Zero Gravity Brakes needing constant adjustment (company also replace one that fell apart) maybe it is time to add 50 grams and more quality to most bike parts.

Anyway having a great ride. Rode 4/5ths up Mines Road to the Junction (30 miles of mostly going up--semi steep in parts) in a paceline with our club's best sprinter, James (young Boonen), Super Joe, our best climber and Brother Joe, our most aggressive rider who will constantly attack. The pace was constantly high, especially when Sprinter James tried to get ride of Climber Joe. Fuck. After a long stay at the junction (thanks to our arrival 10 minutes before the pelaton--and I wedged into my DMD spot in the shade) we had a much more friendly group head up Mt. Hamilton the hard way; about a dozen miles of rollers with increasing severity and then 1 mile and 5 mile climb that is dotted with steep hairpins and other sections with NO tree cover.

I enjoyed the first warm day of the year, and started a sing along (will apologies to Isaac Hayes. )

Who is the man who can climb
up Mt. Hamilton in the BIG chainring
Can you dig it.

Who is the man who will sneer at flipping the
wheel of a fixed gear on Sierra Road
Right on.

Ward decided to do spring cleaning--in a section with falling rocks he got them off the road. Near the top brother Vic was hurting and we gave him some (legal) drugs and then rode in together.

Up top Stephan/ June wanted to go down the other side of Hamilton and do a loop NOT involving Sierra Road but would still entail a long climb. I was partial to having an easy ride--going back the way we came--and maybe do some bonus miles toward Patterson--the only other road out of the Junction. Gradually everyone apart from Stephan/ June decided they wanted to do the out and back--but the decision was a long time in the making so some people gradually started back down. Ward, Chris and Retro Guy and I were last train to pull out.

Group shot from on top of Mt. Hamilton--oh that's right, only me (someone needs a haircut) as our usually cohesive bonus mile group quickly went down the toilet. (Photo by Wardocrazy)

Going back down Hamilton Livermore side is no fun--the steep climb up is now a twisty descent down with lots of gravel on the road. I didn't feel like I had good control of the bike, which was strange as I had a great ride down Diablo a few days ago. A few people from the Stockton Bike Club on the Road and they hook in with us , Ward and I doing moist of the pulling. We take a long time at the Junction--it's beautiful sitting in the Oak Grove and its kinda quiet--without the dozen motorcyclists that were here earlier in the day. Retro guy wonders why we don't all wear mirrors on our glasses like he does. I'm still thinking of Patterson but I'll have to solo and it is getting late--heck, we started a hilly Century at 9:00. So luckily I decide to ride out with the group and not do double bonus miles.

Out of the Junction is an annoying section, a long semi steep climb, but after a few minutes of loosening up it wasn't bad. Then a fast downhill where I had to ride hard to recatch the group, and when i went to the front I felt great and pulled for awhile until--MY BIKE STARTED SOUNDING LIKE A BROKEN WASHING MACHINE.

First I thought the new cranks or bottom bracket had exploded. When I couldn't "turn the radio up louder" to get rid of the noise we stopped. The noise was coming from the rear hub, and it looked like the cassette was about to fall off. But it was in tight with the lock ring. Retightened the wheel and started up again. As long as i wasn't pushing the pace it was OK but on the first roller when I gave it a little juice RRRRRRRGGGG. For the next few miles I coasted on the downhills and really soft pedaled on the uphill, but on one I wanted to get going and RRRRRRRRRRRRGGGG PPPPft---the chain spun but the wheel did not. Mile 84 and my ride was over--the remaining sections were mostly downhill and then flat. I pulled over under an Oak Tree, spread out my vest, and went to sleep for an hour while Ward went to get his truck.

While not happy that $200-500 will fly out the window dependant if the hub can be fixed or needs to be replaced--I was kinda lucky with the timing. The American Classic is my "event wheel" as its my lightest wheel for the climbs and the deep dish helps on the flats. Three weeks ago I did Devil Mountain Double on it. Two weeks ago I did Chico Wildflower on it. If it had 100 miles left on its life it would have crapped out on last weeks Santa Rosa Wine County Century but as raining I took my GT bike with a different wheelset. And I was going to use it next on the Davis Double next week, but used it today as it is the only wheel I have with an x27 cassette and wanted that for Mt. Hamilton. So if had to fail--today was the day for it, and near the end of our self supported century.

My new mantra--only
parts are going on my bikes! from now on (OK, PAUL for the fixed gear)

Whose the man who thinks components from
secondary vendors are shit
Oh shut your mouth.
No, we're talking about SHAFT!
Then sing it brother.