Sunday, July 26, 2009


(July 25, 2009) Mt Tam Free Century Version 3.0—Twice Down Fairfax-Bolinas Road. A Ward Industries—Pumpkincycle Joint Venture. 92 miles, 15.2 avg, 8400+ climbing, 9-@5:00 w/ Ward, Christine, Arksarben Ron. Don, Dr. Dave climbed Fairfax Bolinas, did Fairfax Bolinas Downhill 1x, climbed Tam and then departed;, Beth climbed Fairfax-Bolinas, did the downhill 1x and left us with knee issues.Elevation courtesy of Ward Industries International with offices in Newark, NJ; Vatican City; Calcutta.
A public service announcement brought to you by Ward Industries. (Ward-o-photo)

Don’t wish for things, you might get it. Mt Tam Free Century Version 2.0 was perfect, except for the clusterfuck of cars stacked up for @ ½ mile on the Panoramic downhill trying to get to Stinson Beach.. There are 3 ways to get off Tam towards the Pacific Ocean—one is to Muir Woods, about 5 miles South of Stinson Beach, which is the way we go on the Mt. Tam Double, a main road that is very twisty and busy. The other is the Stinson Beach descent—also a main road. The third is a secondary road by the entrance to the @6 miles of ridgeline—it’s a continuation of the road we come up on and it drops down to Bolinas (hence Fairfax Bolinas road) about 5 miles north of Stinson Beach.

So after Mt. Tam 2.0, because of the cars stacked up at Stinson I suggested we try an alternative on the downhill—dropping down Fairfax-Bolinas road. I remembered climbing it with Big Mike years ago, and it was narrow, well shaded, curvy with no center line, and NOT the smoothest pavement—not bad but not smooth. Ward and Stephan recalled the same road traits and the “dream” of going down Fairfax-Bolinas Road went away…

Until the Marin Cyclists posted this change on their web site re the Mt Tam Double.

Route Changes due to State Budget IssuesWe have recently learned that Mt Tam State Park will not provide use permits for any organized event in the near future, due to state budget cutbacks. Because of this, we have decided to re-route the Mt Tam Double Century, and have the Mt Tam Century riders proceed on either the Marin Century course or the Double Metric (120 Mile) course….A portion of the Mt Tam Double Century will be re-routed and that section will have slightly less climbing and slightly more distance. A modified course map will be available soon.

Double Century modification basic description: Same course from Start to Ridgecrest Rd (up from Alpine Dam)Instead of turning Left onto Ridgecrest and going to East Peak, continue Right for aTechnical Descent on Bo-Fax Rd to HWY 1 (1000 Vert. Ft with tight switchbacks)Rest Stop at HW 1 and Bo-FaxSouth on Hwy 1 to Stinson BeachLeft turn and ascend Panoramic Hwy (1700 Vert. Ft at 6-7% on new pavement) to Pantoll StationThis point rejoins the regular route..

There had been “threats” that California was going to close the state parks when a budget didn’t pass—but this soon became apparent that this was an empty threat (eg. Feds had donated lots of park land to the state so they legally couldn’t.) Not providing permits seemed disingenuous—as the cycling event doesn’t use much park resources (@12 miles of roadway) and if Marin Cyclists paid $10 a rider the park would get $2500. But this seemed to be the park service saying “this is what is going to happen if we don’t get more money.” While climbing may be less—I do love the ridgeline as it is a series of long rollers while now we’d have more regular sustained climbing.

So, in any event I wanted to see the Bolinas-Fairfax “technical descent” so I came up with a scheme to go down it twice. Ward jumped aboard right away and worked on a route map and email notification.. Dave, stoked by his first Triple Crown was interested as he’ll be starting the Mt. Tam Double (along with Don) next week—Dave starting on a road bike for the climbs, which he shoots up on a regular bike. But as his comfort range is limited on a regular bike we keep scheming about how he can duck his recumbent (that he did the Triple Crown rides with) at the 133 mile water stop. Christine, stoked off her 5 pass Death Ride was also in.

Ride started off at Hwy 101 under grey skies and cool weather—but by the time we hit the laddered climb to Big Rock the sun was out and it was warm. I had on my Domo Farm jersey in honor of Mt. Vetoux (the stage being run today) and Richard Viranque taking it out in 2002. Loads of cyclists on the road that our group flew by. Then long run in toward Nicasio with the sudden left turn and more serious “Italian Rollers” towards Fairfax. Funny, mostly tree lined and we’re in the shade but my hands feel warm—“YOU (ME) IDIOT”—I WAS WEARING MY HALF FINGERED WOOL GARBAGEMAN GLOVES—I had driven over with them on and never changed them. So, except for a brief period I rode the rest of the ride gloveless.

Dave, needing to cut the route down, so he met us in Fairfax, where after a 7-11 break (and bathroom at the police station) we started up Fairfax-Bolinas Road. I had dropped 4 lbs in the last week (love those 1750 calorie days) as am really motivated for the Mt. Tam Double, so I felt great on the climb. Unfortunately my “light & fast rear wheel”—American Classic, that fell apart a few months ago on Mines Road, was still in the shop endlessly awaiting parts (so it had missed the Terrible Two and the Death Ride.) It may finally be ready next week. But I now was using the American Classic front wheel—which I hadn’t used in a few years, as it is stiff and harsh and catches lots of crosswind. But damn, it’s a fast wheel..

After climbing past A MOSAIC TURTLE (Beth had done a big build up for this and disappointing when we passed it), and the golf course, there were intermittent downhills that Ron and Christine got far ahead on. On the next uphill section a good climber came by so I got on his wheel and we soon reeled Ron and Christine back. After lots of climbing there is a long downhill section to Lake Alpine, and the climbing guy got in front of me but I kept it to about 200’, which was good for me as I’ll have to limit my losses on downhill sections next week. Stopped to take some photos as out pelaton came by, Ward waited for me and we started the steeper reclimb to the top of Mt. Tam.

(above) (1)The pelaton & (2)Ward/ Beth drop down and cross Alpine Dam before the climb up Mt. Tam resumes with a bigger kick.

The Mt. Tam climb suits me real well. Most of it isn’t really steep but the grade does seriously kick up on the numerous hairpins, which I can power through. We got back to our group and I joined Dave and Christine who are both climbing great and had pulled away. Soon a sub 100 lb woman racer from Wells Fargo came by setting a real serious but not killer pace. I managed to stay with her and thanked her for the good pace. First she surprised me by saying that here legs were dead after intense training all week. And then she told me she doesn’t do climbing races but crits—the bike roller derby for 6’++ folks.

The summit at the Ridgecrest park entrance—the one that will be closed to us next week, was in the shade—I was really warm and here came idiot move #2 for the day. Even after a long regroup I didn’t think there was a need to put on a vest, or roll up arm warmers, or wool gloves. Neither did anyone else in our group who had ridden hard to catch up to us.

I'm hot after staying with the Wells Fargo racer on the climb up Fairfax-Bolinas Road so Mr. Stupid wouldn't be putting on any more clothes, or rolling up armwarmers, for the downhill.

We started down Bolinas-Fairfax Road and the road was narrow, with lots of curves. And—OH SHIT—lots of water on the road dropped from the fog hitting the thick tree cover. Some ruts on the right side and pavement semi-rough—lots of road noise going straight through stiff wheel and gloveless hands. And soon it was cool—cool—FN COLD—why didn’t I put on vest, gloves and arm warmers on the top. No shoulder to pull over on and really didn’t want to stop on this endless downhill. Luckily road didn’t stay wet but minor ruts and cracks or bumps suddenly appeared. Did I mention I was FN COLD. Look at mile markers (road started at about 10.5 eventually ended at 14.5) shivering. Hey—a section of new-good pavement—OH F, a sudden hairpin curve. More curves, more ruts—finally on Highway 1.
Beth going downhill on Fairfax-Bolinas Road (Ward-o-photo)

We regroup, put on all the clothes we should have had on 15 minutes ago, and nice paceline back to Stinson Beach and rest stop at the general store. There were loads of riders going North as we headed South. Right after Stinson Beach the climb back up to Tam begins (the road we came down and that was blocked on Mt. Tam Century II)—this time on a well paved road. At one point I put in a dig to get ahead of our group to get a great photo with the Pacific Coast in the background—Ward and I did it last year when it was sunny but the fog is still laying low. Eventually we climb out of the fog and it is warm when we climb to the top of Tam—beautiful view of San Francisco surrounded by fog to the West and blue skies to the east.

(above) Don leaving the fogged in Stinson Beach while climbing Tam. (below) The gang happy that they are finally above the fogline (way below) view of SF and the East Bay (clue--SF is in the fog)

Now we go back along the Mt. Tam ridgeline with a series of great rollers—fast in the direction we were going in today. When we get to the end of Ridgecrest Don and Dave went right, back to Fairfax—and even though they are cutting miles off the ride they are going to have lots of climbing. The rest of us turn left to go down Fairfax- Bolinas road again—the sun is out but I’m not getting fooled again. I put on vest, arm warmers and gloves. Glad I did and now that road is familiar much nicer time going down it. At the bottom is a large group of Team in Training—toking away. Two hours previous the fog was rolling in here, now the only haze was coming from the smoke being passed around this group, Doesn't Team in Training teach cyclists anything??? If your group is going to smoke a joint (tiny red arrow) you HAVE TO BE ON MOUNTAIN BIKES. At the end of Fairfax-Bolinas Road.

Ward, Ron, Chirstine and I now go North on Highway 1 with a half dozen attention getting rollers—and I’m having fun slamming over them. After Olema we take the Ward loop to get off Highway 1, and frighten Christina and Ron by telling them we are going to the lighthouse—which would add @40 hard miles. But we cut into the town of Pt Reyes Station, with lots of cars parked for a hippie faire on the outskirts of town.

You never know what you'll see on the road in Marin County--police action on the run in to Pt. Reyes Station. (Ward-o-photo)

Great Bovine Bakery had been picked over, but real enjoyable bsing in vacant lot nearby. We take lots of time here (we were hurrying Ron all day so he’s ready when Jack comes back from the Tour de France) and we have the usual nice tailwind as we fly to Nicasio—I’m trying to work hard to be prepped for next week’s finish. Then it’s the fast uphill to the Big Rock Climb—steep but short in this direction, and time to navigate the 16 hairpins coming off it. One car drifts over the center line—when I look at it I hit a pothole and almost wipe out but do a nice save. The downhill finally levels off and it is 21+ mph back to the cars, not bad for after 90+ miles with 8400’ climbing, and two stupid clothing mistakes.

Next week I hope I feel just as good—and that I remember my cycling gloves.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tour de Bore

Just got access to Verus (previously OLN—the Only Lance Network.) Up to now had only ever watched 2 stages of the Tour De France, and it may be the most boring sporting event ever. (at least the non hilly stages) In Paris Roubaix (you know, the one Lance never did though now he feigns regretting it***) and other 1 day bike races everyone is going balls out from the start, and even the 2nd, 3rd, 4th place is contested. In Tour De France some riders are going to win the whole event—by mostly marking their rivals during most stages . So only some riders go for the stage win--though, winning most stages doesn’t help with overall time---you can win 5 sprint stages and gain no time on most cyclists. Conversely, you can finish 60th in a sprint stage and get the same time as the leader.

To make things more interesting on non climbing stages-the winner should get a 5 minute time bonus, the runner up a 3 minute bonus, the 3rd place finisher a 1 minute bonus. Then we’d see hard riding and racing on every stage.

The Tour De France is a GREAT cycling spectacle—it is basically a 7 stage race (the time trials and mountain finishes) that throws a dozen sprint and exhibition finishes in between the REAL stages to keep the crowd and riders occupied, and cycling in the news.

Yeah-I know the riders go out almost every day for three weeks--the Sunday to Sunday Stages 9-15 will have them go 1370 km, which is hard even if one is sitting in on stages that usually don't exceed 200km. But one day races don't occur in a vacuum, Sunday's classic Ronde van Vlaandren (Tour of Flanders) of 260 km is followed by Wednesday's semi classic Gent-Wevelgem of 203 km. Then a reconnaissance of the last 100 km of cobbles usually occurs before the Sunday's Paris Roubaix of 260km. So that's 820 km of mostly flat out racing.

Verus—the low budget ad naseum repetitive commercial network doesn't make it any easier to watch. One has to wake up in the early AM to hear the great sounding Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin and the nighttime coverage is full of Bob "Yuck-Yuck" Roll, and someone pimping the Nike Chalk-bot, Road ID.... They all know where their bread is butted—American TV and American DVD sales. So American riders are featured, which is great. But every few minutes it time to kiss Lance's butt--"oh Lance, oh Lance, oh Lance, Lance, Lance, Lance, Lance." He’s the first pro athlete who NEVER does anything wrong. Whether he revs up Astana so his friend George Hincapie (who Lance NEVER helped in Paris Roubaix) can’t build up a big lead, to demanding he is the co leader of Astana and then getting his butt kicked by Contador, it's "oh Lance, oh Lance….." Now that Lance was brought back to reality and he has to help Contador instead of creating team dissension, I'm sure the new story will be that this was Lance’s plan all along.

I wish Steve Cozza wins—then I can say I was beaten by a TdF winner in the Mt. Tam Double. But in the meantime we’re stuck with Lance being disingenuous and Versus reporting on every tweet made by Sir Lance.

Maybe Versus should feature George Carlin and Bernard Hinaut on Lance Armstrong—

George Carlin “Fuck Lance Armstrong…”

Bernard Hinuet-“-“I couldn’t care less about Armstrong. If he’s at the Tour or not, it changes nothing. We have nothing in common. ...“He would have impressed me if at the height of his career, he raced the Giro (d’Italia), the classics. He is the champion of the Tour, nothing more.”

Alberto Contador-"My relationship with Lance Armstrong is zero," Contador said late Monday (7/27/09) in his hometown of Pinto outside Madrid. "He's a great rider and he did a great Tour. Another thing is on a personal level, where I have never admired him and never will."

Update-remember when baseball's great Alex Rodriguez announced during the World Series that he was opting out of his contract--and he was routinely criticised by the Sports Media for not waiting until the World Series was over--and thus trying to overshadow the World Series. Well Lance announces during the Tour de France that he is forming a new team next year, and the cycling media of course goes ga ga over anything that Shackstrong does. It takes a regular sports journalist (Ray Ratto-SF Chronicle) to put Lance's announcement in perspective.

"With two days left in the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong announced he will enter the 2010 race for Radio Shack rather than Astana. Radio Shack being an American company, can safely give zero percent of a damn about Alberto Contador and build a team around Armstrong, which is the only way he would have wanted it. That he did it before this race was over tells you how desperate he was to let everyone who cares know that he would have done things differently in '09 race -- namely, been the star."


Update-Tour race leader Alberto Contador did not want to comment when asked about whether he will race with Armstrong’s new team. “I am concentrated 100 percent on the Tour right now. There are three days left to win,” Contador said. “After we get to Paris, we will have time to consider the future.”

Tour de France Winners and Losers
1-Free Credit Report.Com commercial--3-4 different funny commercials with slackers singing about their lousy credit in a variety of settings--always funny.

2-Radio Shack--They'll be able to show Lance on the podium for the next year.

3-Contador, A. Schleck--the two greatest climbers, and Cancellera and Cavendish-the two greatest bulldogs who made the flatlands interesting.

1-Cialis--Yep--I want to run out and get some male enhancement product (that can cause 15 dysfunctional side effects) so I can sit in a forest in a bathtub.

2-Promax-Hold on, before I sit in the bathtub I got to go take a whizz--so I need to take this (15 more potential side effects)--or maybe I'll just learn to piss off the bike

3-Cadillac--Which has something to do with dresses and the back of its station wagon supposedly looks like a nice ass.

4-Uncle Norman's Pet Spunge-Act now and you get DOUBLE THE AMOUNT of the same crap our other commercial has you washing your car with.

5-Team Quickstep--Was the greatest spring classics team at the Tour?

Lance Armstrong
Give Lance his due, he held tough on Mt. Vetoux--it was a great stage with Contador and A. Schleck and Lance all putting on a great show. Special tip of the cap to Andy (getting the Servais Knaven award for great teammate) who kept trying to set up his brother, and looked like he was more concerned, looking backwards, where his brother was than anything else.

Armstrong also cemented his role as the WORST teammate--as Contador opened up and laid out some of the acrimony that Lance created--which Kiss Lance's Butt Versus ignores but other sports journalists pick up on. (below from major newspapers)
(per Lance) Armstrong, on his Twitter feed, took aim at Garmin-Slipstream, which competes with Columbia for dibs as the top American squad at the Tour this year. "No one wanted George in yellow more than me...Until 10km (6.2 miles) to go he was solidly in yellow until GARMIN put on the gas and made sure it didn't happen...(Hincapie) "deserves to be in yellow tonight. He deserves more than that."

(George's reaction) After the stage, Hincapie was understandably bitter, especially since (Lance's team) Astana did a lot of work to contain the breakaway, which he felt wasn’t in their best interest. A disheartened Hincapie suggested that the chase was mean-spirited. “I don’t know why Astana was riding. It was highly insuiting for me,” Hincapie told Frankie Andreu after the race. “They were just basically doing the work for Ag2R. I couldn’t have done anything else. It’s over for me. The chance of a lifetime for me, and it didn’t happen.”

(per Lance 12/4/2008) Lance Armstrong said he wouldn't battle Astana teammate Alberto Contador to be leader at the Tour de France next year. Armstrong, who's returning to cycling after a three-year retirement, said Thursday at the team's training camp that Contador, the 2007 Tour champion, is the world's top rider at the moment and deserves to be the leader. The decision will be up to Astana team director Johan Bruyneel.
"I'm going to be very fair about it and respect Johan's orders and respect the team," the 37-year-old Armstrong said. "If that means supporting Alberto or Levi [Leipheimer] or whoever it is, I'll respect them."

(per Bruyneel) Lest there be any further confusion or speculation, Astana team director Johan Bruyneel said unequivocally at a press conference here this afternoon that Alberto Contador will start the Tour de France Saturday as his team's designated leader not Lance Armstrong. "We made it very clear the leader is Alberto," Bruyneel said. "He's wearing the No. 1 of our team.

(s0, per Alberto Contador) When (Lance) sees Contador in the yellow jersey on the Champs-Elysees, Armstrong—after not-so-subtle verbal jabs against the Spaniard during the three-week race—could very well be green...In the heat of the race, Contador had sought to play down the differences in their Kazakh Astana team, dodging or downplaying questions about "tension" that Armstrong evoked. ..With victory nearly certain, the Spaniard opened up a bit. "My conscience is very clear because in the end I have run two races, one on the bike and one at the team hotel," he said on Spanish broadcaster TVE after Saturday's ride.

**got to realize how two faced Lance is when on a documentry on Paris Roubaix Lance pops up--"what the f is he doing in the documentry as he always dodged doing the race--even when he might have helped "his good friend" George Hincapie." The clip is of Lance is his expressing regret he never did Paris Roubaix. "What, who the hell stopped him???"

Sunday, July 12, 2009


(July 11, 2009) The Death Ride, 129 miles, 15,000-16,000’ depending what you read. Rode parts with Johnna. 5:03-2:35 to top of Carson while taking @50 photos, 13.4 mph avg. (**329 rating**)

To view all photos of the Death Ride course (and sometimes bonus pass Blue Lakes Road which we did as a preride) click HERE
5th time doing official* Death Ride and doing all 5 passes.** Arriving at Carson (5th pass)photos-2004 stoked that did it for the first time (then on to Blue Lakes Road), 2005-hammered the course against the clock, 2006-back and foot problems had me barely surviving, 2008-enjoyed this trip after skipping 2007 (did Climb to Kaiser instead) Photos from Wildwest Images (*2003 did 4 pass self supported Death Ride, **2004 did 6 passes as bonus pass-Blue Lakes Road, offered)

Went up a few days early with Donna, who hopes to do 5 passes, though she really just started base mile training a month ago and needed another month of serious climbing mile training. My game plan is if she goes up Carson, the 5th pass, I’ll go up with her for my 6th pass.

Drive up is great—same route as we did earlier in the week to Sutter Creek, then beyond. Highway 88 leaves the hot valley at 1,000’—pine trees suddenly surround the road at 3,000’ with the temperature dropping 3 degrees per 1,000’, Snow sticks on the side of the road at 4,000’ and the air smells so differently, great views off to the side at 6,000’. At 7,000’ we start seeing glimpses of mountains dotted with snow—and we keep climbing to 8,000’. The Death Rides low point is @5,500' and every pass is above 8,000'--so while the climbs aren't hard the oxygen debt while looking at snow caps is very different.

In any event nice studio at Kirkwood, which always beats a motel room. Last year we got a unit with a mini fridge that didn’t work great, so pre made bottles didn’t do well. This year we just bring powder to mix up in the mountains, so unit has TWO stainless steel mini friges that are almost as cold as an icebox. Great steak meal at the rustic Kirkwood Inn with a real low ceiling—the rest of the time we will cook in the unit.

Day before we take an ez 24 mile ride on Blue Lakes Road—the sometime 6th pass of the Death Ride. Blue Lakes Road is beautiful and much different than the regular Death Ride passes. The road dead ends to a little campground, lake, with no intersecting roads, so going inbound there is an occasional camping pickup truck passing every 10 minutes, and outbound there is almost no traffic. The first 10 miles is a very gradual climb, albeit slight headwind, and the last 2 miles kicks up a little but nothing severe. The beginning of the ride is just past endless meadows and forest, with views of the mountains on the second half. And as almost all downhill with tailwind the return trip takes half as long as the first half. Today there was a chilly breeze all morning, which got me thinking about knee warmers for the next day This ride is mostly unknown, we saw a dozen cyclists on it, we saw many more circling Kirkwood or riding the regular Death Ride passes with loads of traffic.

below (1 & 2)- Donna on sometimes bonus pass, Blue Lakes Road--yep that's snow on the hills to the side. (3)- I'm on the last climb inbound. (4)-The monument--this year in patriotic dress, right before the campground turnaround.
During the day talked about this being the last Death Ride. The Alta Alpina club that was divorced from the Alpine Chamber of Commerce a couple of years back from co- sponsoring the Death Ride, now offer a month earlier an 8 pass double or do as many passes as you want. From all accounts the initial run was nicely supported, unfortunately the weather was unseasonable terrible. As registering for the Death Ride has become a clusterfuck (spending 30-40 minutes on the computer trying to get through), and starting has 3,000 cyclists of varying ability screaming downhill and blocking the road—an alternative doing the same passes would be nice. Hell, by doing the Alta Alpina 8 I wouldn’t have to do Eastern Sierra, Terrible 2, or the Death Ride.

Can’t do anything about registration, but Donna starting in the dark w/ lights at 5:00, and I figured I might as well also to beat the 5:30 land rush—and to make up for taking loads of photos. Figured I might as well do something different on this ride and document the course.

After Blue Lakes Road we went to registration where my past comparison of the Death Ride to a Rolling Stones concert at a stadium (as opposed to Climb to Kaiser being like a Patti Smith concert at a small venue) holding strong. Half the Death Ride is the actual ride, the other half is getting Death Ride coffee cups, Death Ride tee shirts, Death Ride jerseys and other swag. Stuff from past years being sold on the 'cheep' but you need to be an XS or a XXXL. Registration was very smooth but the clothing line didn’t move—Donna almost doubles over when we almost get to the front, a half hour later, and guy in front of us tries on 3-4 different Death Ride hats to see which one looks better. We were there midday and they were already out of Death Ride arm warmers, Johnna later reported that they were out of Death Ride woman’s small sleeveless jerseys. (Volunteer did try to console Johnna of 11x23 gearing and finishing the Death Ride a half dozen times that IF she was able to do all the passes they’d have a Death Ride woman’s small sleeveless FINISHERS jersey.)

Over to crowded Markleeville for a good deli lunch—thought it took 30 minutes for the sandwiches to get made. Donna made a good call and we walked a half block and ate on the deserted Alpine Courthouse sloped lawn—tomorrow it would be jam packed with folks cheering as Death Riders went past.

Great doubles training is waking up at an ungodly hour for a bike ride—Kirkwood is 35 minutes away from the start of the Death Ride, and we woke up at 2:55am. Packed and in the cars at 4:05am—cars loaded with bikes had already been leaving 10-15 minutes earlier. (On Thursday Kirkwood had almost been deserted, maybe a dozen cars spotted but on Friday loads of arriving cars loaded with bikes and cycling gear.) Breezy but 63 degrees. Driving down Carson Pass which is incredibly dark—hmmm, maybe Alta Alpina 8 not a great idea for next year as this is when they start their ride. Eventual turn to Turtle Rock Park, 6 years ago most people parked in the Park and I could score a good spot on the road (road parking tactically better) but last year park was closed and now most people park on the road shoulder. Even though very early a volunteer waved us to a spot on the shoulder ¼ mile away—we’d later see more spots closed to Turtle Rock Park but, oh well.

Heard Big Mike laughing at me for being overdressed so luckily took off the knee warmers; today would be much warmer than yesterday. On Blue Lakes Road yesterday I was happy I had a tee shirt under jersey on at noon, today I’d take off the tee shirt before 9am. Put on helmet light and blinker so I could start at 5:00, before first light at 5:30. EZ roll out the ¼ mile to Turtle Rock Park where huge stadium lights were on with a crowd gathering for the 5:30 start.

To Monitor
Death Ride starts with a fast 3 mile downhill to Markleeville and the 5 miles of rollers to the start of Monitor. What an Fn joy it was this year, it wasn’t THAT cold and at 5:00 only 10% of the cyclists on the road as at 5:30, so no screaming on your left when someone slowly riding 4 across doesn’t move the first two times you call out, or folks weaving in and out. Also no huge slowdown when we get to the checkpoint at the base of Monitor—not only are cars stopped but anyone not wearing at Death Ride number (until noon.) Sun not up but light enough to see beautiful valley with stream running alongside.

Up Monitor 1
Monitor is Mt Diabloesque, real steady grade, nothing severe, about 9 miles to the top. I had planned to take it easy, but my competitive nature had me passing anyone ahead of me. On Monitor 1 only one cyclists passed me and stayed away, and I rode up consistently with two guys—but recognizing that the hammerheads would be starting at 5:30. One was on an old carbon Trek Y-Foil, which I wanted when I bought my GT @1997. Guy commented that it is his most comfortable bike, and he just pulls it out for century rides. Again, with only 10% of the cyclists on the road it was great not having to dodge traffic and ride on the left side when road was fully blocked. Today no one coming down yet except for one cyclist who looked real slow—he must have started at 3am.

I also found out that taking photos ruins my cadence—digging camera out of jersey pocket stuffed with Hammer products/ tums/ sunscreen, vest, and two bags of HEED (only deadly Cytomax offered), and Cliffshots. Then getting wrist strap around my wrist, the turning it on, then trying to compose photo while riding in a semblance of a straight line. The guys I were riding with were steady, and after I pulled out the camera I’d have to dig to catch back up to them.

Below-(1)- Reaching false flat on top of Monitor, note wide road/ expanse compared to Ebbetts and we are NOT climbing that hill to the left. (2)-Looking back on Monitor 1.

Seemed quick to false summit and then valley where it seems that climb is up another 500’ but drop down through sticker area, and rest stop. I went past rest stop but stopped at Monitor tombstone for a Sierra Club dedication and to take some photos, ready to leave when some nice old time pulled up and volunteered to take my photo. A little after the rest stop the real top of Monitor.

Vest on, camera in protective case, and started down the long gradually undulating other side of Monitor. Again, with only 10% of the riders out, and typically slower than the ones starting later, only a few people tearing it us and cutting in and out. Many nice “empty pockets” to feel comfortable—I actually passed a bunch of people on the downhill, though more passed me. Many people did call out “on your left” which is greatly appreciated. 19 enjoyable minutes to the bottom—big change from 2004 when I was scared shitless. Half way down GREAT view of Topaz Lake and the valley floor below. Joke is at the bottom you get your second pass sticker as there is really only one way back. (unless you take a long circular ride on Highway 395.)

Up Monitor 2
I had skipped first rest stop (I’d skip all top of Mountain stops) and had now been riding for 2 hours on half a bottle of Perpetuem, Heed and a Cliffshot (great as makes you drink) so took some time at the base to fuel up with a banana and fig newtons, and top off the strong bottle mixes. Also a few photos so left 13 minutes later, which is the longest I’d had stopped here since 2004. At base of Monitor and rest stop--now have to climb back up Monitor 2.

Start riding up and hear someone call my name, it’s Super Johnna, who had started at 5:30 and blew off the first two stops. She was riding her usual flatland gearing 11x23, no surprise here this is what she rode on my backwards Sierra Century with steeper climbs. She was riding with a guy in a Stanford Jersey—no wonder all the Diablo Cyclists patriarchs, all bleeding blue and gold, don’t do this ride any more. We started bsing when another person yelled out my name, it was Donna’s friend Tina, so the camera got more use. Actually here the photo shots were more difficult—side to side I can frame a photo pretty well, but now riders were screaming down Monitor so wanted to stay far away from the center line, and half of the time aiming the camera backwards I just got a nice shot—of the ground. Starting up Monitor 2 while cyclists are screaming down other side of the road. This isn't bad--soon the other side will be jammed with cyclist, many on the yellow line. I try to stay far to the right on the climb back up.

Johnna, Stanford Guy and me are setting a nice pace, often having to loop pockets of slower riders. Once in awhile someone would fly by—usually in a pink jersey (yes, for some strange reason the three cyclists who flew by on climbs today were wearing pink jerseys.) Some other riders would slowly go by but I’m not chasing—it’s 8 miles to the top and steeper than Monitor 1, and I have a 50%/50% chance of doing Carson twice today—Donna dependant. But then a guy on a Cervelo shoots by—ON THE RIGHT-without saying a work. He gets about 25’ ahead of us but that’s it. I want to take a picture of Topaz Lake, and an ideal spot is coming up, so I put a dig in to shoot by the guy, then pull the camera out for some photos—by the time I’m done Johnna is back and we continue up the climb.

Below (1 & 3)-How is Johnna smiling while climbing Monitor 2 with a 11-23 cassette. (2)-The beautiful view of Topaz Lake. (4)-We're approaching the running water boys half way up Monitor 2 (the composition & perspective of this photo taught at the Ward Industries Co-ed Cyclist Photo School)

A little more than half way up pass the running team that will grab a bottle and fill it up while you’re still on the bike. I haven’t been drinking enough and no need for a refill. We soon hit the county line were the climbing changes to small rollers. I love this part, and went out hard as wanted to take another photo before the downhill and expected to be passed by Johnna on the downhill—but she must have stopped at the top as I wouldn’t see her again until the end of the ride.

The downhill on this side of Monitor a little straighter, but a sheer cliff on the right so chance of falling rocks on the road. Again, passed by many—and was happy to get the “on your left shoutout”, as I yelled out to the few I passed. Cool descent until the end when some numbnut tandem flies by ON THE RIGHT without saying anything. Damn am I pissed and I plan to get back to them on the slight uphill leading to Ebbetts and give them an earful and photo them for this site. But at the bottom it looked like co-ed stoker had to put on makeup as they pulled off to the side and she got off the bike—when I went by I yelled out “ON YOUR RIGHT.”

To Ebbetts
From coming off Monitor to the top of Ebbetts is 14 miles, but the climbing doesn’t begin for 5 miles and the serious climbing a couple of miles after (by Silver Creek Campgrounds.) And here the climbing is serious, with many double digit hairpins, and a few short sections of the road that kick up. Not the OH WOW views as on Monitor, but though this is ostensibly Highway 4 the center line soon disappears, the road narrows and it is like riding on a bike path (road closed to cars though there wouldn’t be many) through a pine forest. And lots of people sitting on the side of the road cheering--nice weather made it the biggest turnout I remember. Cheering campers on Ebbetts 1 near Silver Creek-the road is about to kick up.

But first was pulling into the lunch stop, now just setting up for when we return, to take off undershirt and arm warmers. No place to put them in stuffed pockets, so tee shirt tied to the right side of the handlebars, arm warmers to the left. Also downed a Cliffshot to get some carbs and promote drinking,. Funny, no impetus when back on the road and passed by many cyclists, A few miles up the road was the regular rest stop where I took another 5 minutes to down a Cliff Bar and banana.

Ebbetts 1
Its about 7 miles of many double digit grade sections—especially the hairpin turns. I’m yelling out “HIT ME” whenever one come up (I was also yelling it out when we got pass stickers plastered to our jersey number) to stand. The 7 miles is a long grind, and kept passing and then being passed by someone wearing a Sierra to the Sea jersey—the ride that clubmates Stephen and June love to do. Start talking to Eric who rode with Stephen and June on the multiday tour, he’s from the Truckee area and a real strong climber. We rode up bsing together passing loads of cyclists (Eric took a little off so I could stay with him.) Before I knew it we passed the “massage therapist” setup on the side of the road—only 1 mile to go where the road kicks up. I couldn’t stay with Eric but passed other riders with no one else coming up. While Monitor has a wide expanse at the top Ebbetts to is tiny, and it was jammed with cyclists stopping and hanging out at the rest stop. Being a whimp I put on my vest and quickly started the downhill.

Below (1)-Rode up Ebbetts 1 bs'ing Eric, a strong climber from Truckee. (2)-Steep narrow grade to the top of Ebbetts .

The downhill is twisty and while most of the roads on the Death Ride are nicely paved, this one is not the best. Now, it would be the best road in Napa or Sonoma County, but here it does have some ruts and rough spots. Some people do fly by but I’m so far in front of the ride not that many cyclists come down. Only 11 minutes later and pull into Hermit Valley. “HIT ME”—get sticker #4, though have only done 3 passes.

Hermit Valley is my favorite rest stop, usually my first serious one where I actually sit down. It’s 62 miles into the ride. Up ahead is the short but ultra steep Pacific Grade, a some times Death Ride bonus pass (which we did in 2003 on our self supported Pumpkincycle 4 pass Death Ride.) To the side is an open meadow, forest and then towering cliffs. Really peaceful. Time to refresh my drink mix with a bag of Heed. PBJ sandwiches being made off to the side, I go over with a special request. I just want a slice of bread—workers joke that they real thought they’d have to make something special. Now real warm. Also grab a soda, aware that I haven’t been drinking enough. If they had a lounge chair here I might call it a day, but after 15 minutes I leave, which is par for all my other years except for 2005 when I was riding for time. Hermit Valley-real quiet and peaceful--first real rest stop of the day. If there was a lounge chair I probably would have stayed.

Ebbetts 2
Probably the most pedestrian pass. Only 6 miles, steeper than the Monitors but not as steep as Ebbetts 1. Forrest not as densely paced to the sides as Ebbetts 1. And now hordes of cyclists are screaming down the other side of the road, so you have to pick your chance when passing someone. Started yelling early as on guy coming down was almost to the edge of the side we were riding up—“MOVE OVER ASSHOLE.” Again passed easily by some guy in a pink jersey. Are old Giro Italia winners doing this ride?

Sight of the day—guy doing ride with gym shorts and underwear—gym shorts are sagging as well as any ghetto high schoolers. Passed before I thought of taking a photo and didn’t (luckily) have another opportunity.

I’[m going at a good pace, but not a killer pace, as still don’t know if this is a 5 or 6 pass ride. But again it seems that I arrive at the top with little difficulty, and earn the sticker I got when I started the climb.

below (1) Climb up Ebbetts 2 is narrow, with nice vistas to the right. Luckily no cyclists coming down when photo taken (2) To of Ebbetts is now crowded with cyclists bothing coming up Ebbetts 1 & Ebbetts 2. Down Ebbetts and back to Markleeville
The Death Ride gets its name not from the 5 hard climbs, but from the FN downhill on Ebbetts 1. Earlier, when I was climbing with Truckee guy we’d bs side to side but be very aware of anyone coming down, and yell out a warning and ride close to the right side of the road. When we were passing cyclists we’d pass front and back so we were never 3 across.

Now the hordes were coming up, around hairpins, and riding 3-4 across the road. I yelled at someone who was again almost on our side, but to calm down I ducked behind someone who was going downhill at a good steady pace. Here the “on your lefts” picked up, as there wasn’t much room to squeeze by. I also kept a lookout for Donna, here is where I saw here last year coming up but must have missed spotting her. Also saw some guys riding a weird bicycle. Looked like a NordicTrack and it was propelled by their stepping up and down.

Soon the fast straightaway to lunch where it feels great to spin—one guy shoots past and I draft behind him. Get to lunch, mile 80, at 11:45—a little slower than in past years considering I left 30 minutes earlier, but I had never shot a few dozen photos before. They have premade wraps so I grab on in its early stage and take it apart to remove the lettuce or anything else I could taste on the next 50 miles. Ready to leave in 10 minutes and I run into---Donna, she is having a lousy day. Had an early flat and got a bad case of altitude sickness. She’s just going to ride up to Silver Creek and then turn around. Feel bad for her, but now I know we wouldn’t be doing Carson 2x and I can open it up.

Turtle Rock Park is 10 miles away, with some rollers and then the steep uphill from Markleeville—with the wind picking up constantly changing from headwind to tailwind. Just before 12:00 I pass the Monitor Junction, cars are stacked up on the road as the highway is set to open at noon. In fact, now the remaining roads will have traffic on them. (above) Cheering folks on Courthouse lawn and drum group greet us in Markleeville

I catch a few riders, but if I catch them they are two slow to paceline with. Some folks sitting around and cheering off to the side, which would now become a common occurrence. Come around the curve into Markleeville and the Courthouse lawn is packed with folks cheering, and a drum group is playing nearby. Long drag uphill past Turtle Rock Park where I finally spot my car. Grab two new cold premade bottles of Heed/ Perpetuem, down another half bottle of cold Perpetuem on the spot, and eat a rice pudding, one of the most easily digestible carbo laden foods when its hot, you're climbing, you're going anaerobic—all 3 conditions when the body stops wanting to eat. Johnna and Stanford guy fly by—figure there are 2 rest stops coming up and they’ll at least stop at one, by tradition my car is the last rest stop until I get to the top of Carson. Get rid of extra clothes—full sun out so only carry a vest.

Up Carson
Its now 18 miles to the top of Carson. The long climb is only 14 miles, first is a 4 mile downhill to the turn to Highway 88-Carson.

As I turn onto Highway 88—I swing wide of the Woodfords driveway with the next rest stop. Most cyclists are turning in but a woman follows my wheel and comments “it looked like you were planning to skip it too.” I think her name was Laura(?) (I’m terrible with names), but we had ridden in together at Davis and she had just also completed the Terrible Two. We bs about how the climbs we regularly do don’t get us ready for the 16-18% grades on the Terrible Two.

(Terrible Two difficulty rating 501, Death Ride 329--strict translation, you'd have to do the Death Ride x 1 1/2 to have it equate with the Terrible Two. Real world translation--I had to take the elevator at work 4-5 days after the Terrible Two, on first day back after the Death Ride I was using the stairs at work all day.)

Meanwhile the typical Carson headwind is blowing, which prevents me from standings as much as I want to, but I’m happy. In 2006 & 2008 no wind at all and thunderstorms formed on the way down.
above (1) Start Carson with woman (Laura?) I finished the Davis Double with. (2) Steepest part of Carson is at the base of the climb--note cars now on the road. Note how blue and beautiful it is now--in 2 hours it will be gray and raining. below (3) Carson flattens out by the Luther Pass cutoff but the headwind will kick in. (4) I tried to help Nico Matten on the flat level part but he just wanted to ride in front of me--great, then I dropped him when the road kicked up. (5) After Blue Lakes Road cutoff grade kicks up again.

Besides the headwind the shallow grade of Carson is deceptive. The beginning of the climb is steep and so is the end. The middle portion—between Luther Pass Cutoff and Blue Lakes Road cutoff, is almost level.

When the wind would die I’d stand and pick up the pace. Where’s Johnna?? She’s a real good climber but I should have spotted her. I don’t so I keep the pace high—this is reminiscent of me trying to catch up with Jack in 2006. I start to get worried as sky is suddenly dark—OH SHIT—thunderstorms forming.

Soon go by Pickets Junction rest stop—look in and spot 1st time Death Rider Chris who went on some training rides with me, Jack and Ward. She looks happy—and give her a big thumbs up—I know she’ll finish the top now 9 miles away. Now on the level section of the ride and get into the drops, when Nico Mattan, a rider in a full Cofidis kit shoots by, I get on his wheel. When he starts to fade I go to the front and pull but Nico doesn’t like that and he goes quickly back to the front—OK, I get to play Johan and draft and when we go past the Blue Lakes Road cutoff and the road kicks up I jump on ahead and never see him again.

It is now getting windier and windier, but its also sunny again . I try to catch some riders in the front so we can paceline up—but when I catch them they are going to slow and I jump forward. Where’s Johnna and the Stanford guy??? A guy with a pink jersey flies by—too fast for me. Isolated people off to the side sitting and cheering us on. Cars passing often—maybe one every 30 seconds, but Highway 88 either has a shoulder or wide enough for the car to safely pass on rider.

I’m isolated in the wind and am soon dead. I then get passed by the strangest sight. A big guy wearing cleated sandals on oversized pedals is standing on his bike and slowly comes by but also slowly puts more and more distance between him and me. The way he’s hammering the pedals I thought he was on a fixed gear—but he wasn’t. As slight girl is riding directly behind him. I decide to also stand in the wind and catch up to him and we briefly talk about my coffee bike , also set up for sandals. But I can’t keep standing and he just powers away from me and the woman who was on his wheel.

About one mile to go when we reach the long left handed turn under a steep rock wall. I’m toast as I sit and spin in x27, and a half dozen riders pass. One comments “oh, you’re finally in the large cassette,” which was first time all day. They pull about 200’ past when all of a sudden the wind dies—as soon as it is perfectly calm I jump out of the saddle and catch up and pass the group.

Sharp right turn, crosswind, almost there but I screw up the finishing photo. Riders about 100’ up and then one 50’ up but fading fast. I want to stay well back of anyone ahead to get good finishing photo, but no matter how I slow down guy in front of me is slowing down more. I pass the last photographer, usually my favorite photo, right on the butt of the guy in front of me.

Carson is breezy and cool but I’m burning up. All I can eat is an ice pop. From 2004-2008 it has taken me 1:44 to 1:53 to reach the top of Carson from Turtle Rock, this year it took 1:47 with a stiff headwind. I put pumpkin insignia at bottom of 5 pass poster. Johnna soon pulls in, she had pulled into the last rest stop and saw me go by. She’s jazzed about finishing another Death Ride. They have some plastic Adirondack chairs set up and we see one collapse and rider land on his back, worker says “there goes another one break,” I say “now it looks like a recumbent rider” to laughs. Chris then rolls in, she’s stoked, says my ride reports description of the course really helped her.

(above) By Death ride Poster (below) No, I'm not with podium girls at the top of Carson. Even better--Multi time 5 pass rider Johnna and first time 5 pass Death Rider Christine.
Long downhill and ride is essentially over but portends trouble later on. As I’m going down Carson-Highway 88 loads of riders coming up. Many riders NOT riding single file, but in large mobs—so cars passing them uphill are coming into lane of downhill traffic—at one point car 100’ feet in front of me has to slam in his brakes and I almost wind up in his trunk. Strange crosswind at the foot of Carson, where riders are still first starting the climb. Right turn and 4 miles of uphill back to wherever the car is parked—lots of cars had to park 2-3 miles from the start. One guy comes along and we start hammering each other but luckily we start talking and then just pace each other—he’s a pilot and he’s going to ride to the airport to go home right after this.

Donna waiting at the car for a couple of hours—she’s disappointed in her ride. Under full sun we do the ¼ mile trek to Turtle Rock Park for a good fajita fest with some blue grass band that isn’t to Donna’s or my liking so we sit on the isolated other side of the building. Johnna finds and joins us—apart from riding an 11x23 she slept in her car overnite and is driving home right after this. Unfortunately, Schwans became a sponsor this year so instead of gourmet ice cream they only have very pedestrian bars or cones.
Yep-a few riders did the Death Ride on that strange machine.

All of a sudden the sky gets dark quickly, it gets cold, and the wind really kicks up. I know what’s coming. Quickly say goodbye to Johnna and Donna and I start speed walking to the car. Its now very cold and half way there it starts to rain—luckily not as hard as 2006 or 2008. I pull out a rain jacket so I can secure the bikes and we start back to Kirkwood in a moderate rain.

As a result of last year, when folks were wearing garbage bags on Carson, the Death Ride organizers gave out rain ponchos this year—but cheaper rain ponchos couldn’t be found, they look like the plastic covering a dress that was dry cleaned. As we drove up Carson we saw many riders coming down, with their wedding dress flying behind them.

When we started Carson only an isolated rider was still going uphill, but when we got to the top third we ran across large groups of cyclists—many still not riding single file but riding in a bulging pack. The road was still very wet but luckily the rain had stopped. At one point one cyclist was riding right in the middle of the highway, when safe to pass we did on lane going downhill but we rolled down the window and Donna yelled “are you trying to get killed?” You could easily see why cars get pissed with cyclists all over the road.

Another Death Ride. Looking back the best Death Ride ever. Weather perfect. More importantly NOT stuck in the crowds and had a good person to ride up the longer climbs which made them seem much shorter.

And another asleep by 8pm. Do I really want to wake up at 1:30 am to do the Alta Alpina 8 next year? or do I want to hold on the telephone for 45 minutes to get into the Death Ride?

Go Giants--But Someone Wake Up Sabian

Go Giants—Playing GM

The Giants are the surprise team of the NL, leading in the wild card race (as of July 10, +3 Milwaukee, +1 Colorado, +3 Fla. Their starting pitching has been very good, relief pitching good, and hitting piss poor. If not for BENGIE MOLINA being an early season RBI machine, and PABLO SANDOVAL (ALL-STAR!!) being the second coming of Kirby Puckett, they’d be in bigger trouble with probably the worst first base production ever. For some reason the Giants don’t play NATE SCHIERHOLTZ (.294) every day, and finally figured out that JUAN URIBE (.300) is a better second baseman than any of their prospects—but still there is no power on this team.


Meanwhile the Indians are in the cellar (-13) and there was a rumor that VICTOR MARTINEZ (c/1b, b-12/78, .298-14) was on the bloc. This switch hitting rbi machine would be perfect for the Giants.

Trying to offer up a basket of promising prospects for him, I’d send JONATHAN SANCHEZ (b-11/82, 2-8, 5.30), the pitcher with loads of stuff but hasn’t figured how to pitch with a runner on base to the Indians, along with outfielder FREDDIE LEWIS (b-12/80, .245-4), infielder EMMANUEL BURRISS (b-1/85, .238-0) , and high prospect CONNOR GILLASPIE (b-7/87, A .276-2). Apart from Martinez I'd ask for JOSH BARFIELD (b-12/82, AAA .230-0) who hasn’t worked out for the Indians.

In any event I wish the Giants could make this trade. Ironically, a few days after I thought of it JOHATHAN SANCHEZ pitched a no hitter. Timing is everything in life, but it is still a deal I’d make.

Go Giants—but we need a .300-30 hr guy to get into the playoffs.

7/17-1st game after all-star break-Giants with all world Tim Linceumn (10-2 2.33) facing the last place Pirates (38-50). The Giants offense led by firstbaseman Rich Aurila (.212-2 hrs) gets 1 run (on a throwing error) in 14 innings and lose.

7/18-Much maligned Zito only gives up a couple of runs...and Giants offense gets shut down by a pitcher with a 4.29 era and they get shutout and lose 0-2.

7/20-Tommy Hansen with 25k's this year gets 11 against the Giants.

In the Five Games after the all star break--Giants 1-4 and have hit ZERO home runs-fall OUT of wild card lead as Colorado shoots by..


The Giants didn't get one great power hitter (w high average) but they got two solid professional hitters to replace their two biggest weaknesses--and only gave up one high prospect.

Ryan Garko has a good average, and mediocre power--he's not a "dream" first baseman, but wouldn't be the nightmare that has been there all season. Basically a "B-" player replacing the group of "D's" that were there.

This was then coupled with acquiring Freddie Sanchez, former batting champ, to play second base. When I saw Sanchez he seemed like he took a lot of pitches, and was the second coming of Eddie Stankey. But he has little speed (no stolen bases the last few years) and I was surprised to see his low walk totals. But he is a "B+" player replacing a group of rotating "D+" players.

With two hitters that will not make easy outs, the other hitters in the lineup will benefit as the opposing pitchers wouldn't have to just focus on 3-4 hitters in the lineup, and just bounce curvevballs for swinging strikes when the Giants first and secondbasemen are up.


(PS PS Two Months Later, after it looks like Giants will pull to within 3 of Colorado with 10 to play, and with a one run lead on the Cubs, with two outs and two strikes, the Cubs hit a 2 run homer. Could blame it on the Giant's reliever, but real blame has to go to the Giants hitters--with any attack they should have had a 5 run lead and would not be in another tight ballgame where the pitching has to be near perfect. Clearly Vic Martinez and another bat was desperately needed. As very good columnist Bruce Jenkins wrote:

Outside of Bowker, whose double and homer provided the San Francisco runs, this was another brutal night in the batter's box. The spectators knew it, too. These are fans numbed by months of the harmless popup, the ludicrous whiff and the six-hop dribbler. If people were expecting a buzz as the Giants launched the season's final homestand, they got more of a hum, turned way down low.

At one point in the fifth inning, a Giants runner on third with just one out, a couple of lower deck fans stood up and began gesturing wildly for the rest of the folks to rise. Not a soul responded. The man was left stranded. Sort of like the season - or so it appeared.