Friday, January 3, 2003



A Club ride near the Marshall Wall, Marin County, with Donna. I could only reference this strange area from the the Holsteen Hundred Metric--little did I know that within two years I'd discover that this is a key part to the Mt. Tam Double Race.

(August 2003) HOLSTEEN 100, 102 miles, steep rollers w/ Thom & Veronica , 7:20-2:40 16 mph avg

Don't know why I signed up for this--I hated the ride years ago when doing the metric. But next week is TOUR OF THE NAPA VALLEY, which used to be the best century, and want to stay in condition--as no doubt Joann, Mike, Jerry (who did the Sierra) and I will blast through Napa; though Mike whining that he wants to start after 8am.

Started out riding solo but at mile 15 saw Thom and Veronica on their tandem. Rode with Veronica a few times--including the only time I went up Mt. Diablo from the South side, and a few times behind their tandem on Sunday morning rides. They start out slow, like a steam locamotive, but then get to a nice cruising speed which they hold steady and are great to draft behind. (Also great to bug them about their devout following of the high priest of retro--Grant Peterson of Rivendell.) They are decked out in matching wool jerseys--Grant would approve. So, with some early morning rollers out of the way I hopped onto their jetstream and got a free ride until mile 60.

Then the hills started--not good for tandems, and it was getting hot--not good for wool jerseys. After the cheese factory, around mile 75, they said they were going to rest and take it easy so I went off solo again.No big climbs on the Holstein but lots of steep, short ones--and near the end a headwind picks up. I felt real fresh and was zooming past everyone--including two women who were doing a "two man" that looked real pissed when I passed. Not a bad course, mostly rustic--but the Marin drivers do drive like shit and don't give you alot of room.

(August 2003) TOUR OF NAPA VALLEY, 100 miles, w Jerry--finished with Joann and Mike who had done metric course, 6:50-1:25, 17.7 mph average, 19.2 mph to Hennessey, 22:45 up Ink Grade.

If the DEATH RIDE was the apex of GRUPPO PUMPKINCYCLE, this was the start of the death knell for GRUPPO PUMPKINCYCLE and alot of other things. Mike was whining for two weeks how we should start (a 100 miler!) at 8-, Joann thought this was too late also but wouldn't tell him anything. Strange. Thank buddah for Jerry to provide perspective--when I told him that Mike wanted to start at 8- Jerry said "is he nuts." Jerry and I decided that the latest we'd start was 7:15. Mike called the day before the ride-he was staying up in Yountville with Joann, and agreed that we'd start at 7:00'ish. Cool--with Mike, Joann, Jerry and Dr. Y (also from Sierra Century) we'd have a strong group that we could keep together for the whole ride except for the two big climbs--MT VEEDER and INK GRADE. (INK GRADE is the 4 mile climb I had to walk the first time I rode the metric course--for good measure I went to Ink Grade four days before the ride and did a short loop including it to see if I could slam up it.)

Get up early; in car with Donna who was going to ride the metric with her girlfriends. Cell phone rings--it is Mike--he and Joann not doing the 100 as they have some flu, didn't get sleep, fatigue, mystery bug--reason always changed dependant on who was telling the story and when. I'm pissed. I usually goof around, pace myself and talk when starting out a long ride but now it is cold out and I'm pissed and ready to hammer.

Meet Jerry at the start, "where is everybody," repeat the b.s. to him, and we're off. Jerry's famous last words-"we're starting out early so we can take it easy." Oh!-did I mention that Jerry is a mountain bike racer and is very competative.. One guy passes us and Jerry, I and a half dozen other cyclists give chase. Before long only Jerry and I are chasing the guy. We start going up MT. VEEDER and Jerry is losing some steam on the uphill--and I had never done it--just heard how difficult it is. I take some speed off--the guy we were chasing--150' up the road, sees that and also takes off speed. Damn-is as weary as we were. He is the last person to pass both Jerry and me all day. VEEDER turns out to be much shorter and easier than I imagined. I get to the top and wait for Jerry-I should have kept going as a technical downhill follows--one that I stink at and Jerry excels at. Two guys pass us--Jerry is having none of that-he shoots to the front and one guy chases as I hang back with other guy--we are both spectators.

Metric course is actually nicer as it takes you thru the vineyards--while 100 miler takes us through suburbia. Long flat section to LAKE HENNESEY and Jerry is doing lots of pulling--my job is to remind Jerry that when we are joined by riders that he can drop back and let them pull. On the uphill section the paceline would fall apart, Jerry would take 5 minute pulls, mine lasted for 1 minute, and we'd pick up more riders until the next uphill.The run up from LAKE HENNESEY to POPE VALLEY is my favorite, as it is a wind sheltered gradual uphill. Here I started to do more pulling. Out of POPE VALLEY more pacelines, two guys came blasting trhough and tried to pace us off their wheel. We got to one blind section and I told Jerry-if the road is downhill you go, if it is uphill I'm going. Road went up, I went off the front, upped the pace. One of the two guys stayed with me, and I dug in past HUBCAP RANCH (which I didn''t even see) to the lunch stop.

I'm enjoying life on straightway going into gradual climb to Pope Valley on Napa Century--good action photo taken by Photocrazy or Miles...

After crowded lunch stop INK GRADE CLIMB; I did it in 22:49 and no one passed me. Less concerned about other riders--lets face it--there are lots of better climbers, but I NEED TO exact revenge on INK GRADE for my having to walk up it 6 years ago. (I went up just as hard during my practice run a few days earlier with no one around.) Waited for Jerry at the top, who then zoomed back down to the valley--he was taking off speed so I could stay close to him and he was still going incredibly fast.The TOUR OF THE NAPA VALLEY'S achilles heal is the route back along the crowded SILVERADO TRAIL--crowded with cars wine tasting, and the shoulder crowded with bikes riding slowly 3 across on the 20-40-60 mile loop into a headwind.

At the last rest stop we saw Jo-Jo and Mike who had done the metric century. Heard more bs as to why they didn't do the 100, but we teamed up to finish along the Silverado Trail, where riders from all routes converge on a narrow shoulder next to traffic and into a headwind. Someone mentioned that my wheel was wobbling; Inexplicity, an alloy nipple had brike and my wheel was taco'ing into the brakes. Shit--I came down the long downhill like this. I opened up my rear brake, so down the Silverado I'd either pull the paceline or ride well off the back.

Real funny story--with Jerry the powerhouse driving the paceline, we pass scores of riders and picked up a few for our paceline. Almost a dozen riders. Jerry kept leading the paceline, Mike was near the front, Joann was near the back and I was in the rear. One guy, wearing a Santa Rosa Rose Covered Jersey filled the space in front of me but couldn't keep a straight line, half wheels and keep weaving near Joann. Joann kept swerving away but Mr. Weaver kept coming close to her. So, we make the right hand turn west and Joann gives the sprint signal "Ciao Baby" --I go into a sprint with Joann on my wheel and we zoom past the dozen riders in the paceline. Mike sees us fly by, yells "Ciapollini" and flys by us. Jerry, probably wondering what the f is going on, kicks it into high gear and shoots by all of us. It looked like the charge of the light brigade--all to get away from Mr. Weaver.

At postride fest Donna comes in from the metric course and we enjoy the good foods with great local salads that Napa always provides--and for once some good music (no one playing bicycle instruments or polka music.) Rode this century faster than ever, but we missed a great opportunity to have tag teamed this course as a foursome, and something isn't quite right.

(October 2003) PEDAL 'ROUND THE PUDDLE, Lakeport, 102 miles, hills, 15.9 mph, Jay and Joann.

A great ride--unfortunately the end of alot of things. PEDAL is a unappreciated century ride with a great route, nice scenery (CLEAR LAKE) and very good support for an event run by a non-bike club. But it is late in the year, and "out of the way" (a few hours from the bay area)--and goes through towns that seem stuck in the 1950's.After blowing up a few years back, Donna was going to do this ride again, but not the 100. I told her that the last part of the 100 mile course is also the out and back 20 mile loop, and she could come off the metric, tack this on, and then have an 80 miler with the big climbs cut. out. She and Pat were game, while Joann and I planned to do the 100--and hopefully not get lost like the year before when the ride became a 109'er.

Donna and I drove up and went thru Hopeland, home to the unique Solar Energy Center (want one of those waterless urinals for my garage) We rode from the UPPER LAKE motel to the LAKEPORT preregistration center--told Donna to sit on my wheel and we did the out and back at 16.8--first time Donna ever went over 16 mph on a ride ever. Saw beautiful CLEAR LAKE that the first part of the ride hugs, ringed by the 1950's summer homes. A poor man's Lake Tahoe. Also saw the potholes and ruts in the street-remembered that they haven't resufaced some of these streets in decades.Pat and Bert met us at the motel, and then Joann. Bert doesn't ride bikes, he motorcycles and is going to go Ito the Indian casions while his wife and Donna went around the lake. He is complaining about being tired lately, and he had started/ was going to start getting a checkup. Donna kidded around that she'd rather go Indian Gambling with Bert than ride this route with Pat. Pat and Bert went into town to find a good resturant, I insisted on eating at Pirate Cove Pizza, which is the best pizza I've tasted on the west coast, and what I've always eaten before the PEDAL ride except for the time we ate at a good resturant in town, blew up on the ride and with each other,and didn't finish the course. Scorecard: Lakeport Pizza 3x=finish the ride, Fine Resturant 1x=don't finish the ride. I'm not superstitious but I'm sticking with the pizza. Donna, Joann and I go over--Pirate Cove had morphed from an old person bar the first time I was there, to a huge game room for kids last year, to now a sports/ family theme. Never know what changes to expect in Upper Lake.

Next morning is unseasonably warm; at least it wasn't the usual 48 degrees on the Lakeport Bank Clock. Fishing boats starting near the muni doc where the ride starts. As usual Bert sets Pat up, General Pat (always running early) had Donna out on the course while I was probably am still deciding how many layers to wear. Joann and I started about 15-20 minutes later, zoomed through town passing scores of riders, passed and waved to Donna and Pat, and then were off to the races--with Joann having the good sense to have us pace ourselves at the beginning. No huge paceline like last year--a guy from the Fremont Bike Club (Max) joined us for awhile and we run a 3 man around the lake.

Funny moment at "mobile home" rest stop--where everyone lines up for the two restrooms availabe (hint: NEED MORE RESTROOMS.) I had sprinted in with a fast group, sun was now out, it was getting warm, so I took off top jersey. I had underneath "Death Ride" sleevless jersey. I ordered it though I didn't do official ride, but hell, did 4 self supported passes, and figured would never do the real thing. Joann comes out of the restroom, sees my new jersey, and proclaims in a loud voice "YOU NEVER DID THAT RIDE." Oh shit-cover blown--but damn funny. Yet another reason Joann is my favorite person to ride with. I proclaimed for everyone to hear that that I did it self supported, which is harder than doing the organized event. ( In 2004 would do a solo training ride from Pope Valley-Napa to Clearlake and turn around right at this spot--bittersweet memory.)

We were riding easy leaving the rest stop, leading up to the start of one of the big climbs of the day--when 5 young guys flew by us. Joann and I retook the lead, then one of the guys repassed and standing on the pedals he set a fast pace up the climb. He looked like I did a year ago, when I tried to stand whenever I could, now I kept my butt on the saddle and sat on his wheel. Young guy was setting a nice pace, and didn't seem like he was getting tired, but I dug in to stay with him. Then we came to a part of the road where the grade significantly jumps--with Jim Morrison singing in my head "we want the world and we want it NOW!" (When the Music's Over, my favorite climbing song), I jumped on the pedals and flew by and kept the temp up to the top.

At the Yogi Bear Campground rest stop in the hills on the Pedal Round the Puddle--I'm proudly wearing the Death Ride Jersey though I didn't do the official event.

Young guy came in behind me within a minute and was jazzed and congratulated me--we then bs'd about rides I had done that he might like. A few minutes later Joann came up well ahead of the rest of the young guys. We started the long downhill, where Joann took a little off so I could keep up, and damn if I almost didn't miss the same turn as last year--didn't help when Joann yelled straight as she started making the correct turn. I don't need much help to go the wrong way.

Much easier than last year, cooler, we didn't go 9 miles out of the way, and in much better condition. Got to Yogi Bear campgrounds and workers running around with camera taking photos. More attention getting but doable climbs, and zoomed over the flat section of the course at 20+ mph. Donna and Pat loved doing the 80 mile route, Bert had fun at the Indian Casino--great BBQ steak dinner at the end of the ride. Last time I'd eat dinner with Bert-he would be dead 3 months later. Last time I finished a century with Joann.

GIRO DI VINO (Lodi) metric, flat, with Mike, Joann and Donna. WHEN THE MUSIC'S OVER...

This ride combines wine tasting with riding along a real flat course. Not a great idea--and as I don't drink while I ride I miss out on half the concept. But as course was flat, this was a change to ride with Donna and both of my Pumpkincycle "friends," Mike and Jo-Jo.There is a fundraising event before event, and Mike/ Joann got there early to set up Joann's LAF booth. The GRUPPO PUMPKINCYCLE jersey's finally came in (not easy getting custom jerseys when you only order 3., but we were wearing so many layers of clothes on the cool morning you wouldn't have noticed the jersey with Patti-Bob and Jim in front of Mt. Diablo). Donna and Joann wearing their "Ride for the Roses" jersey, which they inexplicity had done together. Actually almost first time since Death Ride (albeit the end of Napa) that the three Pumpkincycles rode together. A month ago went on a training ride with Donna and we accidently crossed paths with Mike/ Jo-Jo.. I can sense that things are different but couldn't get a handle on it. In any event, we'd be riding together today.

Did about 30 miles together--nice relaxed pace. Cool wind and more traffic, more crossroads than I remember from the previous year. At one point a co-ed group passes us-or we pass them, and before you know it we are all upping the pace.

Then a sharp left turn and a dog behind a fence begins to bark, and runs along their long front yard.. Kind of like my big accident in 2001, but then there was no fence and the dog ran out and undercut my wheel. Now, Mike takes off to spirnt and I take off behind him. When I sprint, which I just started to do more and more of, to get torque I stand and almost hang over the front of the bars. Great way to get some ooomph when climbing--I haven't sprinted on the flats that often.Oh, just for a scary aside-two days ago it was my birthday, and at a party at Joann's house talking to another (not wife) Donna who had a big bike accident at the beginning of the year. I just ordered a lightweight European helmet-and as Donna's helmet literally saved her life when some passing motorhome knocked her off her bike, she started to lecture me about how I need to make sure my new helmet is ANSI, SNELL, NASA, NASDQ approved. I also talked to Mike about pedals-I was still using SPD's and loved that I could walk around easily on them. Mike used both SPD and road pedals, and even though his SPD shoes were better than his road shoes, he said that it was much better riding with road pedals. Hmm, got me thinking about changing--but i don't want to walk like a duck when off the bike.In any event, when I stood and stomped I clipped out of the right pedal,. Bike weaved and I remember correcting. Next thing I knew is that I woke up in an ambulance--didn't remember being on ride, didn't remember my birthday. Donna was about 50-100' behind me and had seen me flip over the bars and smack on the ground. Easiest f'n ride of the year! Concussion and broken collarbone--memory didn't return until I was transfered from Lodi Memorial to John Muir, as former had no neurosurgeon on staff, and ambulance driver had no clue how to go, and I had to tell him what exit to get off.

POSTSCRIPT-felt like an ass, and depressed as in pain and insurance doctor would only tell me that my collarbone would take 12 weeks to heal, and not that I could start riding earlier. Thought I was going to be on the shelf for 3 months.

During this time my "Pumpkincycle" friends basically vanished. Eventually found out that can do things after 4 weeks--went up Mt. Diablo 6 weeks later (riding up 1 handed OK--coming down was a bitch.) But first month was depressing as hell. A few months later ran into bike mechanic I knew in Livermore--told him what happended to me--he then pulled off his shirt and showed me his broken collarbone--he had clipped out of SPD pedals a month before me and flew off his bike. In any event, like my hero Museeuw, wanted to come back stronger when faced with adversity, so decided to jump into racing. Was also ready to also join the DIABLO CYCLISTS as saw handwriting on the wall with DELTA PEDALERS and GRUPPO PUMPKINCYCLE, but a few last good training rides had me overly optimistic about the large group we'd have on century rides, minimally tag team them with Joann and Mike, so I didn't do anything. In racing termonology, I missed the move.The broken collarbone started the most fucked up, strangest 10 months of my life. It had two significant--though at the time unrecongnized-- ramifications. I began bike riding again on 12/7/03--drove to LOS VAQUEROS so I could ride solo. Afterwards there was a bike fest in Brentwood to celebrate the opening of a new trail with an inaugural bike ride. I didn't want to ride near people/ kids so I went to the fest and b.s'd with Bert, while Pat and Donna joined the scores of people on the ride. We bs'd for about 1 1/2 hours--while he urged me to give his daughter Sheri a hard time, who was running the coffee concession nearby (where is the soy milk?) Lately Bert was getting tired easy, but he'd joke that it was this old Italian thing that runs in his family and it isn't anything. He just had tests done at the local hospital, and results weren't back yet but he was optimistic. The next day his tests came back-leukemia--I'd see him die on New Years Eve.

I usually visit the folks back in Florida in they winter--but they always worry about my bike riding. Figure I'd visit in late spring instead-no need for them to know/ see me with a broken collarbone. Dad was disappointed but always stoked when we'd talk about my visit just a few more months away--but he was also feeling tired and went into the hospital for tests. As my little protest againts the f'n war (or to look like Roman Vainsteins), to my fashion plate daughters horror I had grown a small pony tail--and one night the person who cuts my hair braided it--daughter in more horror. I spoke to dad the next day, told him the pony tail story and Jessie's reaction, he just cracked up laughing. Last time I heard him laugh. I was going to cut it off when weather got warm, but now kept it on--wait till he sees it during my visit right after the Sierra Century. Dad never saw it-- he collapsed three weeks before my scheduled visit and was unconscious by the time I got to the hospital where he died the next day.

2003 Statistics, 6050 Miles, 4425 Trainer Minutes (Thx Arnie Baker)

No comments: