Sunday, May 3, 2009

Two Century Rides Down The Toilet

"I've been praying for rain-I even did a little rain dance this morning" (Magnus Backstead paraphrase interview before 2000 Paris Roubaix)

"Riding in the Rain is a Waste of Time" (Grizzly Mark-Doubles Veteran, from Grizzly Peak Cyclists web site)

(May 2, 2009) SANTA ROSA WINE COUNTRY CENTURY WASHOUT, w/ Don, Brian, Recumbent Tom (who continued to do 100 miles), and Jim, Jeanie, Johnna, Tall Tom, Joe, Dr. Dave who zig zag backed after 50 miles in the rain. Next day didn't even bother waking up for STOCKTON DELTA CENTURY, with even worse weather predicted.

I really love the WINE COUNTRY CENTURY. The hilly portions, which are just rollers, are mostly at the beginning. Our club usually signs up for the 120 mile route that gets us to the ocean, and the whole middle of the course we can paceline together. The only bad thing is that the Santa Rosa start violates (barely) the "if start is over 1 1/2 hours away motel it"--so leaving for the ride from home is like waking up for a double.

Weather report looked worse and worse as the week went on. I last saw 70% chance of showers in the AM, w/ clearing. Other people had seen 40% chance of showers, rain moving in later in the day. In any event, when we met by my car flying the Flanders Flag, it was overcast but probably the warmest start I recall. I was debating whether to wear (I thought) my good rain jacket that would keep me overheated but I mistakenly thought dry, or take my lightweight water resistant one--Joe settled they argument by needing to borrow my lightweight one. When we started I thought there would be a good chance dropping off the jacket at the first rest stop.

We started at 7:30 and by 7:40 it started misting. Within another 30 minutes it alternated between mist and drizzle. The roads--always in lousy shape, quickly were slicked over. I was happy that out of necessity* (see below) I was on my GT "rain bike." Loved the serious rollers--piece of cake compared to Sierra Road etc. and stood most of the way unless had to sit behind a rider with a car coming up. Funny moment on another series of long rollers when 3 guys shoot pass on the flat section leading into them--one wearing a full Team Milram kit, and I wasn't chasing as trying to keep our group together and didn't want to chase on fast slick roads. Don always swears he's not competitive, but he'd take the lead on these climbs and we'd slowly peg back and pass the three guys. I'd start yelling at Don--"you can't do that, you can't pass Servais Knaven." Going into next long roller, passed again, we easily pass Servais and this time I yell out "oh, its not Servais."

At Occidental, where the cutoff for the 120 miles is--we regrouped to wait for everyone. No one was turning to the 120 mile course which is a real scenic stretch. In the drizzle I started yelling out "hey, you're going the wrong way--the 120 mile course is over there." I think I was just looking for some fun in a situation that was slowly becoming depressingly soggy.

Our group also did NOT go on the 120 mile course, and headed an unusual way to the first rest stop. Unusual as I've never been on the 100 mile route--just 65 or 120. No huge paceline down the Pacific Coast Highway, no mass sprint to the last section in Monte Rio. I had never seen the Monte Rio stop as crowded as it was today. This is the place where you usually give up clothes as it has warmed up--today no thought of that--in fact I was cursing my rain jacket that is supposed to be rainproof and breathable but somehow means I was soaked. I wish I had Tall Tom's cheap clear PVC rain jacket--at least that keeps you dry from the outside. Brian had planned well had had waterproof socks and booties and rain pants--wasn't 100 effective. Neither were Don's bags over the socks. But if they were 80% effective against a steady rain, my aero shoe covers and knee warmers, effective for some light sprinkles, today sucked. But I wouldn't have minded everything else getting damp if my upper body had stayed dry.

Hard to ride as a group. I had race fenders on, so did Don, Brian and Tall Tom but water was still squirting off their wheel. Worse was Joe, Jeannie and Johana's fenderless bikes just bathed the riders behind. Everyone was fighting to get behind Big Jim--not for the draft he provided as in Chico but for his full fendered back wheel. I just started riding 20' behind not to get squirted--my hat was protecting my glasses from the rain but not from the water coming off the road.

Middle of the course had some short but steep rollers I hammered over, inciting Joe and Tall Tom to shoot off--and we'd never see them again until the finish. We got to an intersection and seemingly everyone talked about heading back--so we did but somehow Don, Brian and Recumbent Tom were soon missing. We first thought they had a mechanical and slowed to wait but they never showed so then it became apparent they had pushed on. Wished I had my camera--Dave had put on a shower cap to go with his rain smock and he looked soooo academic. Otherwise a lousy ride back with lots of cars splashing water as they went by. Our group had no idea where we were and had to follow a recumbent for a little way. Nice person but seemingly went 2mph up some hills and we froze while climbing.

Usually I'd have done the century--the first two times I ever did the 120 I was rained on --but now doubles are what I shoot for and wanted to make sure in good shape for the Davis Double in two weeks. Just po'd that a great event fizzled. Littered the back seat of the car with wet clothes that would take 2 hours to take care of at home later--so when I checked the weather report for the next day and it was WORSE I wasn't even going to attempt Stockton on the fixed gear. Back at the end I was suddenly freezing--luckily Santa Rosa bike club had a heater in the tent. Good chicken/ pasta meal. Parkimg lot that is usually overflowing was now only 1/3 full. Nice to run into Rusty/ Sara, who had started on Rusty time (2 1/2 hours late), and also turned around. Joe was waiting for his girlfriend who looked like she was doing the whole 100 miles. We had a very fleeting thought about getting on our bikes and riding out but it was still drizzling (I had expected the sun to come out as soon as we pulled in) and clothes were already like sponges. So for a weekend where 220 hard miles were planned, which is usually the last prep entering the doubles season, 50 soggy miles and some trained time the next day would have to suffice. And by skipping Stockton Donna and I wouldn't be riding a century together--she usually has to solo these which are tough as I found out in 2004.

BIKE SHOP BLUES--Got really pissed at the bike shop I've been going to, for not listening, and the bike industry, for built in obsolescence .The skinny is that lots of play in my FSA cranks--only compact cranks on the market when I bought my Lightspeed but quality has quickly been far surpassed by Campy & Shimano. For example I had changed from a small ring x34 to x36 as I kept dropping my chain with the FSA--Ward, who has the deluxe FSA compact model is always dropping his. (Funny how we learn how to shift and no chain problems when riding our Shimano equipt bikes.)

So bug to eventually change the cranks is in my head, but when I bring my bike in, it is only for a new bottom bracket. Already very strange as bottom bracket bearings were replaced two years ago by Phil Wood--and pulling the cranks always a problem. Additionally, the guy I liked dealing with and built up my fixed gear has gone back to school. Bike shop calls and says for some reason my cranks are stuck with a new bottom bracket and need to put back all my old stuff--and I need new cranks to get everything to perfection. OK--lets go with Shimano Compact. This is when the shit hit the fan.

Bike shop said that Shimano no longer makes or supports 9 speed cranks. This got my dander up for the bike industry--after all my Time Impact pedals were only made for 2 years and seems that there is a laundry list of good things that quickly come and go. But then bike shop coupled this with hard sell about how I want to go to 10 speed "as better in the long run" and how the shifters have to be changed and..and...and...AND THE CAMPY BRAKES will have to go. What--what do the brakes I love have to do with the fn cranks? Seems that Shimano newest 10 speed shifters are now dedicated to their brakes. I'm not taking off my Campy Brakes!!! But, I was assured, this would "be better in the long run." I did get cranky hearing this over and over and finally blurted out the old economic maxim "in the long run we'll all be dead."

That's why I miss the guy who left the bike shop--I'd tell him what I wanted, he'd tell me what he recommended and why some of my choices were not the best, and eventually we'd figure out what to get. Now it was like getting a car and being told I need the "power package and a/c" for resale value, even if I don't use it.

In any event went to another bike shop a few club members have used for a long time. Had a good conversation with the owner who also does the work directly. (Old bike shop also had revolving mechanics so the person you spoke to sometimes was not the person working on yoru bike.) Getting 10 speed DA compact cranks and a King bottom bracket. I was told some of the pitfalls using this crank on a 9 speed system but mostly minor (34 x12-13 will probably have chain rub but x12-13 is useless on the flats with a 34 chainring)--so I can't wait to get the bike back and ride it IN THE SUN. Shimano doesn't make a x36 chainring, and if I sign up for the Terrible Two I better have x34, so a 50/34 chainring it is.

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