Thursday, June 18, 2009

THE TERRIBLE TWO-2009

(May 20, 2009) THE TERRIBLE TWO, 200 miles, 16,400' climbing, 5:30-8:35, started w/ Jack. 118 of 221 starters (47%); 183 finishers (*501 ride rating*)

The Terrible Two--the real Death Ride. View of hill North of Trinity and South of the Geysers, but kind of climb we'd have to go over and back between Sonoma to Napa Valley. Then the hard climbs to and back from the Coast would start.

I did this ride in 2005 when I thought I'd fade out, and did well, finishing with Jack. Then did this ride in 2006 when I figured I'd do well and it was one of the epic 100 degree TT's when a third of the riders don't finish--I finished but I don't know how. The next two years daughter events precluded me from suffering again--until now.


The TT is traditionally the double with the 2nd most climbing (new Alta Alpina double has dropped the TT to 3rd.) Its climbs are not nearly as long as Devil Mountain Double's, but are much steeper.


After focusing so heavily on the DMD, then the TT suddenly popping up after the Eastern Sierra Hailstorm, I really hadn't done any special training, nor lost the proverbial "last 5 pounds" for the TT (in 2005 I had made a pilgramage to the Gold Country for my old mini TT.)

But luckily I've been going up Mt. Diablo every Tuesday and Wednesday--Ward and I have extended the Tuesday ride to a 40 miler, coming up the North side and going down and around the South side. Wednesday has been a hammerfest where more and more cyclist stay ahead of me--as we've been joined by a solid group of 20 year olds. Road cycling lost the 30 year olds to Mountain biking but Lanciepoo did inspire 20 year olds to get into road cycling. So while it used to be that 36-37m to the half way point was good enough to be 6 minutes behind cyclecross champ Mark but finish ahead of all of the other 40+ year olds, now a 36m still means 6 minutes behind Mark and 1-2 minutes behind the youngsters. But its good training riding real hard chasing as one youngster invariably falls apart for going out so fast, and then recovering and continuing up Diablo.


Otherwise feel real good, especially after finishing the Eastern Sierra. Though my climbing speed has declined my descending has improved. Will be interesting when we hit the Geysers downhill, and other twisty potholed Santa Rosa descents--all which used to instill fear. Hopefully the fear level will be less. (planned to put 25mm Verensteens on my bike just for this section but they've been out of stock for a month.) Since the Davis Double it has been unseasonable cool, which meant that it would probably be a scorcher on Saturday, but weather forecast calls for a warm Friday with a milder Saturday--though winds of 10-23 mph with gusts of 30 are also expected.


Unfortunately, another double with not a lot of teammates. Terrible Two is not especially recumbent friendly, Dave is going to do the Grand Tour to complete his triple crown--and swears he'll never do one again. Ward swears he'll never do a double--even after I relayed the blog of the coed triathlete that was so cold on Eastern Sierra that she climbed into a ditch and hugged a friend for 30 minutes. Joe and Don taking it easier this year, and Steve's double career was ended by injury on this ride 2 years ago. CA Mike is now HA Mike; Domo Tom and Doug also moved. So it will be me and Jack, who has put the pie plate on for this event. With a x34 chainring my gearing now at 34 gi instead of 36 gi-hopefully my back will stay intact. Plan to take a training ride the day before--do the end of the course backwards so wouldn't be so strange at (hopefully) dusk if riding solo.


Day before take the long way to Santa Rosa to get around the NASCAR traffic clusterfuck--so start off on a warm up ride late in the day. Santa Rosa is a suburban design hellhole--endless dead end streets, subdivions next to shanties next to farms, road shoulders suddenly disappearing on busy roads, and takes "the broken glass capitol of the world" title away from Antioch. After meandering about I finally get to Sebastopol, where the Terrible Two begins. Pass many vineyards and traffic has quieted down so much nicer--and I enjoy the giant metal animal folk art sculpture that dot the area. Only bad thing is that Sonoma County doesn't believe in fixing the pavement on their roads, so many potholes and crack to be avoided. I turn around when the road kicks up significantly and ride back to Sebastopol to look for a pasta house in order to avoid Santa Rosa endless strip malls. Note to self--next time I do the TT just drive out to Monte Rio and go for a bike ride before checking in at a Santa Rosa dive.



Santa Rosa Sebastopol area home to some funky metal sculpture--when I came to CA I used to go gaga over the sight of grapes growing, now no big deal--unless dog art among the vineyards. This was within 10 miles of the finish--if I didn't see it the day before we would have missed the dogs in the vineyard.

Terrible Two 2009


Weather report is iffy--a little too cool for me with high winds called for in the afternoon. I opted for a tee shirt and no knee warmers--Jack would opt for knee warmers but no tee shirt. No definite signal on how to dress, and you didn't want to drag excess clothes up extended 12-15% climbs. Early morning check in





Mass start at 5:30 but strangely you can't check in the day before, you show up, grab your number and get ready. No big deal but the check in-number on jersey procedure means getting to the start 15 minutes earlier. Also one guy's toilet stall. Otherwise everything the Santa Rosa Cycling Club does is spot on. This ride might feature the worst paved roads in the Bay Area but has the greatest support. Loads of drop bag options, food, Hammergel and Hammercaps and friendly volunteers, who later would be whooping it up when cheering riders pulling into rest stops.


Had two sportsbars in pocket and also grabbed a bagel to stuff in jersey pocket--as FIRST REST STOP AT MILE 55--NOT A TYPO--ALMOST A METRIC CENTURY WITHOUT A STOP!!, and you better consume enough carbs by the time you arrive, around 3 hours later.

After being told by "ride" director that "this is not a race"--"exercise caution".....the "race" starts with a 20-24 mph tightly packet pelaton that goes through Santa Rosa with a pace car supposedly tripping lights. Well sometimes it didn't and at 5:45 not much traffic and no cyclist, even Jack (who stops for yellows on Club riders) stopping for the red lights. A few sudden slowdowns, a few cyclists suddenly veering into the pelaton when their lane suddenly ends or a pothole appears, I was glad when abut mile 12 we get into Bennett Valley--and rollers start which starts breaking up the pack.


We soon hit Trinity Grade--a Diablo like climb that is about 1/3 as long but has a few steep sections thrown in. It was soon apparent that I was riding much differently than in 2006, when I last did the TT. In 2005-06, whether racing Tom up the Geysers or hanging on Ish's wheel when speeding over the rollers to the Geysers, I would always try to catch up with anyone in front of me--and even if I failed (which I did often) I'd still try again and again. Today, mindful that I needed to protect my back I just set a good but not killer pace. Stopped at the @25 mile water stop near the top to do a Sierra Club dedication, and put on my vest and arm warmers. Grizzly Mark came by when I first stopped and Jack when I started up again. Long twisty downhill where I kept Jack in (very far away) sight, was able to catch up to him in the flats, we got into a paceline of about a half dozen when at mile 32 we were set for a real cool tour of the Napa Valley.

Uncle Steve, Queen Kitty and I have disagreed over the years what ride is harder--Devil Mountain or the Terrible Two. Steve says DMD is harder as TT times are so much faster--which they are. But TT times are faster because in between the pernicious climbs are very fast straightaways that are paceline inducing--and the 16 miles down the Silverado Trail was one of these fast sections.


Before getting on Silverado I saw another paceline down the road--and it was the only time Jack or I took a long pull, for we soon helped catch the other group and we now had a dozen riders; no one ever passed us and we'd pick up about another half dozen on our way to Calistoga. Near the end two riders came out of the line to break away to the rest stop (wondered how they fared for the remaining 145 miles.) but for once I didn't chase--mindful how 1/3 of the riders died out in 2006. Calistoga Rest Stop-- Mile 55, +10 ahead of my 2006 time, 17.9mph avg (note 2005 start was 5 miles closer and 11 miles added to the back end so not compatible.)

Grizzly Mark hadn't left the rest stop yet, Jack still doing something, and I was quickly good to go (though forgot to squirt in some Hammergel in my refortified Perpetuem mix.) Only problem was long line for 2 outhouses that had trouble accommodating the large paceline groups arriving at the same time. I figured I'd pass a public park, so I took off through town looking down side streets. In retrospect maybe I should have hit a golf center clubhouse, as I was soon out of town and among vineyards out in the open. Mark flew by and said Jack behind being pulled by a tandem, then Jack quickly arrived with a few other cyclists. Next section was gradual roller which I'd usually excel at but bad knee was twinging and I did need another Sierra Club dedication. Our paceline flew around one corner where there were suddenly a few cutouts and trees lining the road and it was time to stop and whizz. I figure I'd catch up to Jack on the next climb but his tandem led paceline group would be faster than my 4 man, and I'd never see Jack or Mark again-- I'll have to learn how to whizz off the bike to get faster.

Continued on for 14 miles of easy rollers among vineyards with some classic homes and densely wooded undeveloped land and joined by three other cyclists--two from the Auburn area, where we formed a fast four man. I should say 1+3 man, as one cyclist did 50%+ of the pulling. We passed a good woman rider with a cool orange bike (she was jealous of my orange helmet) who joined us. Riding out of character. Knee was sore so when our pace slowed I DIDN'T go to the front to keep the pace up. NOT throwing caution to the wind, near the start of the Geyser climb I thought we were going to hard and I dropped out, which kind of disrupted the paceline and it all slowed. I was being being overly cautious--already hurting and dreading the climbs.

At mile 76, the Geyser Climb is almost as long as Diablo with many more steep sections--the only saving grace in the middle being a downhill recovery section that then makes you reclimb. Again far cry from my 2006 mentality when I took Tom up on his offer to "race you to the top." Saw stupid cycling move of the day was guy in front obviously weaving wide up the climb when girl wearing headphones goes to pass withOUT shouting out a warning, and they almost collide. I had stopped to take off arm warmers before the climb and was now cursing still wearing the tee shirt--though a chilling breeze would intermittently blow through it would quickly return to being too fn warm while trying to navigate up a steep section with my knee hurting and my back twinging (not hurting but I could feel the strain on it.) And what was the fn reward when reaching the top of the climb, a long long downhill along unstable terrain marked by cracks, potholes and grave.

Top of the climb, rest stop, mile 86, +1 ahead of 2006. So lost time between rest stop 1 & 2. I figured that on the climb I had a good chance of seeing Jack, but I didn't so I suspected I wouldn't seem him at all the rest of the day--especially as he'd handle the next 14 mile pothole/gravel rollercoast well and I'd be riding my brakes.

The good news is that they patched most of the pot holes and cracks, though it looked like some derelict did the job. When I told someone they fixed the Geysers Road they looked at me like I was nuts, as the patch jobs were "not the best.' There were also three 100-200' sections of gravel, with one scary fast downhill gravel section--where trying to ride a part without much gravel meant keeping your wheel straight while rumbling over a tractor tire imprint.

The patch job and more confidence on downhills than in 2006 did have me almost enjoy this section. Of course a few cyclists went past, but on downhill sections I never chase. Stopped once to dig out Naproxen, which was bad, as earliest I had to dig out to take any for my knee in years.

Came out of the Geysers with woman on orange bike. Saw one rider about 600' up the road and a couple of riders about 1/4 mile up. Told her that if we dig in we can catch all three and first time since Oakville Cross Road I put in a serious effort all day. We got up to first guy, wearing mountain bike shorts, but he was a strong rider and after we caught him he took a long pull. We then came up to the other two riders right when serious rollers started on Dutcher Creek Road, in the opposite direction of the Wine Country Century route. I went to the front and kept the pace up, pointing to the sky before I stood (as CA Mike said that one had to do on brevets.) Mountain bike guy yells "oh wow, look at that"--above is the strangest rainbow I had ever seen. Looked like a giant multicolored kite in the sky, mountain bike short guy said he wouldn't have looked up but he thought I was pointing to something.

On one message board, Chrisoco posted this photo of the rainbow kite with his ride report Rolled into lunch stop, mile 111, at 12:44, 16.3 mph; 6 minutes faster than 2006. (1st person on the road had pulled in at 11:18, 1:34:00 ahead) One volunteer grabbed my bike to park it for me and then took my bottles to fill them. Didn't see Jack, I can imagine he was the fastest person out of the lunch stop. I hung out for a reasonable 15 minutes before hitting the park restroom down the road (in lieu of outhouses.) Made to order sandwiches were being prepared--brave person before me had a Kitty special--big roll-mustard, mayo- ham, roast beef, cheese, onions, pickles, guacomole, I ordered the Doug special--2 slices of wheat with some deli meat. Another table had a hole array of Hammer products. Some riders looked like they we on the Wine Country Century and looked like they had settled in for the afternoon--others were quickly stoking up and leaving for the 15 mile Skaggs Climb. In 2006 this shadeless climb in the heat spelled death for 1/3 of the riders.

Today the climb was still oppressively steep but pleasant most of the way--high winds were forecast but it was relatively calm and sky was slightly overcast. Ride was really stretching out. I caught a few people, only one person kind of (see below) caught me--but most of all the good climbers were about a 1/2 hour ahead with Mark and Jack. One young guy wearing a Death Ride jersey easily caught up to me, asked me a little about the course, and then pulled away. NO I WASN'T GOING TO CHASE, remembering almost dying at a Skaggs water stop in 2006. Funny thing though, he got about 300' ahead and then suddenly stopped and drooped over bike . I yelled out if he was OK, he just said he was winded--I got a little ahead and he again went flying by again, and again stopped 300' ahead. He rejoined when I went past again, I saw he was running "young person gearing" x23 or x25, which would kill him on the later climbs if it didn't get him on Skaggs. I told him about the double summit peak so he might pace himself. But he was again soon off and again parked up the road. This time when I passed him I didn't see him again.

Skaggs starts off hard--steeper than Diablo, and then there is a left turn and it kicks up even more. My back was behaving itself on this climb and though my knee had a dull pain it hadn't gotten any worse. I was trying to remember where the end of the climb was, but really couldn't--only remembered the bridge at the bottom before the climb of the second summit. Stopped at the first water stop (water stop with drink mix) and refilled though didn't really need to. The climb had started with a few cars towing boats but now we were infrequently passed by a motorcycle, if it was a car/ van it was probably a sag vehicle. Fast descent down to the bridge--a few cyclists passed me but I repassed most on the climb out though not really chasing anyone so not paying attention to other cyclists like I usually do. Just riding my opwn pace. All of a sudden got to a second water stop, the one I camped out at for 20 minutes in 2006 before Kitty came in yelling at me. I asked the workers how far to the top--they said it was right around the corner.

Now 11 miles of slight downhill with a slight headwind out to the Coast, on a beautiful rustic road. Joined by a local woman also riding a Litespeed who liked my bikes paint job. Along the way we picked up passing or were joined by a few more cyclists--again, real strange I wasn't paying attention to placement. I was thinking more of the Annapolis 1.7 mile killer climb to the Coast and the 2.6 killer climb back in at Ft. Ross, both steep or steeper than Sierra Road where my back went out each time this year.


Nice wooded rest stop at Gualala, mile 139. Now 35 minutes ahead of 2006, average speed tumbled to 15.1 mph. Only stayed for 9 minutes as no avoiding pain--the Annapolis Wall.


The Annapolis wall goes up 900' in 1.7 miles (and then was followed by a serious but shallower 300' climb) For comparison the end of Mt. Diablo, the steepest section which includes the ramp, goes up 690' in the last 1.7 miles--so this is @30% harder.


Go over a funky old bridge and then onto THE WALL--though it really isn't I swore that the whole thing was as steep as the Diablo ramp. First few transitions to standing were OK, then back started hurting but WAS NOT going to get off the bike--figuring it was half the length of Sierra Road and 1/2 way up Sierra was when I usually had to get off and stretch. After any ballbuster section I'd yell out some James Brown "Payback"--a great song one can jumble up words just to get some yelling in.

"Hit Me--Good God-HIT ME--AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHH!!, Hey. I know you heard of Master Gee--but you head nuttin until you heard JB--HA HA. Good God. HIT ME -AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!"

Who needs an IPOD?

Another double peaked climb where passed by a few riders on the downhill who I caught up to and passed on the second peak. Here I put in an effort as I had to start down the Coast before them so I wouldn't get droppedon the final downhill and we could form a paceline. But when I got to the top and pulled off to slip on vest no one else came over the top so I solo’d down to the Coast.

The Coast was beautiful (and I often say big deal we’ve all seen the Pacific)—but it was really a special day. Cool but warmer than it had been earlier in the day at Trinity--full sun and big whitecaps along mostly desolate beach. Strong tailwind and moderate crosswind. Highway 1 starts out flat and tailwind was huge, but later on rollers start and a few times the road loops uphill towards the ocean where met with a block headwind. A lone rider about ½ mile up the road when I started but I didn't come any closer so and I soon gave up thoughts of catching him/ her. Looked back a few times and no paceline coming up. Surprised when still on the flat part whem suddenly passed by a guy towing the woman who admired my Lightspeed earlier.

I jumped on and it seems the impetus went out of the guy as soon as he passed me. But every time the woman went to take the lead the guy would speed up—not steady riding at all. When we hit the first roller that turned into the wind I almost rolled into both of them—on the next roller I took the lead and they couldn’t stay with me on the rollers that followed. A fast guy in a Columbia Kit who passed me on flats all day shot by—I thought about getting on his wheel but Ft. Ross was on the back of my mind. Even with no back problems in 2005 & 2006 my back went out on the Fuckin Ft. Ross climb.

Pulled into Ft. Ross rest stop, mile 163, at 5:23, 14.8 average, 45 minutes earlier than 2006 where I had done 15 minutes of nighttime riding with Grizzly Mark. Now, if I survived the Fuckin Ft. Ross Climb I was assured of finishing in daylight.

Got out of Ft. Ross rest stop in 6 minutes. That rest stop was being hit by the strong cool wind, but I knew enough to make sure my vest and arm warmers were off. Even though most of the Fuckin Ft. Ross 2.6 mile climb is in the shade—it gets fn hot when going up 1500’. Again in comparison to the steep END of Diablo, where the last 2.9 miles goes up 1090’, this is @50% harder. Yeah—I know Mt. Diablo is 11 miles, well, this is after 163 miles!!.

Actually the first ¼ miles isn’t steep—I forgot about that. Then just when I thought it wasn't that bad the section after section seemingly as steep as the Diablo ramp began, with very very tiny relief sections (that still go up.) Cool air all around and I’m sweating profusely. Back starts hurting almost immediately, but I wasn’t getting off the fn bike. My odometer dropped to 3.2 mph—I didn’t realize that you could go that slow, and frequently looked to see if I could possibly go any slower. Started doing wheelies while sitting so stood more and more, and for longer times than my customary 100 pedal reps as the transition was where my back pain was especially acute. Finally saw some light coming through the trees—the false flat before a few more ramp like sections, but I knew I was going to make it.

A the top pull of to put on vest-arm warmers for the last 35 miles which I wrongly recalled were mostly downhill, or deep in shade. I had conveniently forgotten how long the uphills were—the places in years past I caught back to Jack or Grizzly Mark when getting dropped on the twisty, rough road downhills. When ready to go a guy wearing the new Alta Alpina 8 Pass jersey came by—I was impressed as that was a freezing wet clusterfuck and not to many people did all passes so we started bsing and riding in together. At one point he exclaims “YOU'RE THE FAMOUS JAY!!”—huh—turns out Mick actually reads this blog (so now an audience of 3,000,000,000,001) and had sent me some feedback on the Eastern Sierra ride and the support that was “not the best.” (Though he sounded like Phil Liggett he used terms I never heard Phil use.)


Though I thought serious climbing done, the downhill off of Ft. Ross Road is twisty and steep with lousy pavement, puncuated by steep climbs that are longer than “rollers.” I did my usual job of losing contact with the group on the downhill and then riding back on the uphill. This is the area Uncle Steve broke his neck in 2007, flying over the “tree root pavement bumps.” Downhill was no fun but having to ride hard to get back to the group was energizing.

Finally, fully energized when while turning on the 4 miles of rollers of Austin Creek Road—rollers being my favorite. I was talking to Mick when two guys shot past. Usually I would be on their wheel immediately but still complacent when Mick jokingly yelled out “hey, this isn’t a race.” That got me out of my 180 mile lethergy and I said something like “lets catch them” which we did and then I continued to ride hard to drop these guys. A few miles of real hard riding when pulled into the last rest stop, mile 184 at Monte Rio, at 7:24--43 minutes ahead of 2006. 14.3 average.

One of the great bike riding treats is pulling into the Monte Rio rest stop. If the earlier stops were great this is great to the zillionth power. Someone yells riders coming in and all the rest stop workers cheer. Again someone grabs my bike—another person grabs my bottles to fill them up. My drop bag with lights is here and another voluenteer sets them up on the bike.

Only 16 miles to the finish, plenty of daylight but the 5 miles of the Bohemiam Highway is densly tree lined. All approaching cars have their lights on and my bike and helmet blinkers are on. We hit a few more uphill sections after I told Mick the run into the end was mostly downhill, he jokingly complained about my lousy memory but hey, he just did 8 Death Ride passes. The High Road kit rider who I passed all day on hills and who repassed me on flats shot by, I sprinted out to get on his wheel but at this point 1 minute wasn’t going to make much of a difference so slowed to regroup. We soon hit the section I had ridden yesterday, marked by the three dogs guarding the grapes. We had a three man and unlike earlier in the day, whenever our group started lagging I went to the front so we could preserve placement. Got stuck at the red light guarding 116—first light we saw since Santa Rosa in early morning. Another little uphill and we were back in at 8:35—to a group of cheering workers.

Have mixed feeling about my ride. My original goal was to get in before dark and did that with a half hour to spare. But I was riding as if it was 2006 with the course being 100 degrees and conserving too much—the course was much faster today. (Only 20% DNF’d today, 35% did in 2006.) Though I rode the course 40 minutes faster I was 16 places behind my 2006 placement. Skaggs, Annapolis Wall and Ft. Ross were still killers—but muscle killer that you can recover from, not the heat sapping killer that suddenly ends your ride if you overtax yourself.

Great pasta buffet at the end. Grizzly Mark has finished 45 minutes earlier but hung out so I joined him. Long weary drive home where I'd get 3 hours sleep before rolling into the car for more sleep before going down the Coast to meet my daughter for father's day. Good times.

Keeping in mind that I came in about midfield--the same local guy who "always" wins the TT came in almost 4 hours ahead of me. As impressive, one guy (45 y/o) on a fixed gear set a fixed gear course record--finished 42nd and came in 1 1/2 hours ahead of me. Wonder what kind of gearing the guy had to make it up 14-18% climbs and maintain speed on the flat sections.

2 comments:

mjj said...

Good post as usual, Jay. I'm the "Mark" from Alta Alpina, but actually my name is Mick. Put it down to the "Australian" accent. You inspired me to start my own blog at http://mickbiking.blogspot.com/.

Sorry I missed you at the dinner - it was fun riding in together.

See you at Mt. Tam.

Jay said...

Hey Mick--now wasn't the event "fun" that we are off the 14%-20% climbs. In any event certainly a memorable ride, good comming in with you, and you yelling at those passing riders (who we then caught up to and passed) "this is not a race" was perfect. Best and safe riding. -Jay (I'll go back and edit your name correctly--your fault for having a complicated name of 4 letters, most of the riders in our club have 3 letter names--I think it is a rule.)