Monday, January 5, 2004


(May 2004) WINE COUNTRY CENTURY, Santa Rosa, Double metric, 4500' climbing, solo. 122 miles, 17.8 mph average (6:45-3:11 total riding time)

The Santa Rosa course is perfect to paceline, starts off going over small rollers and a gradual climb through semi-surburban/semi-rustic roads. Then one gradual climb to the coast , where there is a sharp downhill to the Pacific Coast. Then the rest of the day is on flat, small rollers through vinyards and associated winery buildings--this ride probably features the best man made scenery of any ride. Stays flat in the valley until the very end, with a short but steep climb back whcih suddenly puts you back into civilization.This ride cries out for a large group to paceline with--and I was riding solo.

Joann, my favorite tag team riding partner who had done this with me last year had sent word through "the grapevine" that her back was hurting--but strangely it turns out she wound up riding along the coast to the south. Strange. Mike, the other Pumpkincycle Death Ride participant, who had chased me along the course a few years back until it started raining, has also disappeared. Looking back a few years I have a photo of over a dozen DELTA PEDALERS starting this ride. Today only Donna and Pat would be out here-doing the 100 mile route.

While course is great, support is real inconsistant. On the negitive side--five toilets at the beginning of the ride, and NO food. Course moinitors who wave you to keep going when there is cross traffic that doesn't stop. Small (very small) chicken meal at the end. On the plus side you can drop your clothes off at most rest stops where they'll haul extra layers back for you, and the rest stops are well stocked with good food--featuring great roasted potatoes. And of course person dressed up as skeleton on top of big climb to warn about sudden sharp descent over cattle guards before hitting Highway 1. I loaded up my riding wallet with $$$ before the ride, Donna wondered why as we get plenty of food along the way. Little does she know.

Morning was cold and foggy--so foggy it was hard to see, and beginning of course has lots of sudden turns. Some reckless cyclists were going at breakneck speed around the blind curves--in the hopes that no traffic was coming. My plan for most century rides is to start slow and pace myself--but when cold I have to go out fast to warm up, but I was wary about the slick roads and poor visability--and figured that I'd catch most of the people who passed on the big climb of the day. Sat in the back of some pacelines. Surrounded by fog, the new Patti Smith release "Cartwheels" was playing in my head. At first town, GRATON, rider was down, ambulance on the scene, as the day laborers looked on. First climb was OK, but breathing laborered as fog and cold affected my exercise induced asthma.

In Occidental had to make decision-100 or 120 mile route. Not a hard choice as last year when it threatened to storm and we still picked the 120. Most riders took the 100 route, and after awhile there was a large stretch I was riding without seeing anyone. I saw a local and asked him if I was on the proper route--while he was basically telling me no a half-dozen riders came through and they all yelled out "yeah-they are sure this is the route." So continued on, shot along a long but gradual downhill that didn't look familiar, and wound up near BODEGA, 10 miles south of where I should have come out.

Choice was reclimb and backtrack to the correct route (and rest stop at mile 24) or go up the Coast. Had a tailwind so decided to go along Highway 1--but was hungry and badly needed a porta-potty, as hadn't waiting on the ridiculously long lines at the start. Here is where $$$$ comes in--thank buddha for the Texaco station that soon came up--as the first course rest stop I would see was now at mile 46..

Was cold but beautiful with surfers, fog and rocks sticking out of the ocean. Went 10 miles north in no time and joined by riders coming down Coleman Valley Road. Rode a little with guy in Hawaain shirt, and someone with a great GRIZZLY CENTURY jersey, who told me about the ride-10,000 feet of climbing. Then inland to DUNCAN MILLS where I passed the same guy I had seen last week on DOMO FARM FRITES MERCYX bike--"hey, that's my bike" I shouted out again.

From crash in road race my shifters had gradually begun to fall apart and now worked like crap when I tried to shift into a harder gear. Luckily this part of course is fairly level so no need to do lots of shifting. Missed a few speedsters go buy, but jumped on a tandem paceline that reeled in the speedsters, and we all went really hard to lunch stop and premade sandwiches. Incentive to ride hard was thought that I'd catch up to Donna/ Pat; I always expected to see them on the next turn or rest stop.

Spent to long at lunch stop and legs tightened up. Felt like crap--struggled to stay on guy on ti bikes wheel. He missed the DUTCHER CREEK loop and so did I--so now I was back to doing a 120 mile course instead of 130 miles. Crosswind picked up near GEYSERVILLE; I was getting loose again so I put in a big pull.

A few miles from rest stop at 117 the Gerolsteiner guy from Chico, with friend, shoot by and I jump on his wheel--and we bs about the great ending at Chico. We start out again from the rest stop but Gerolsteiner tells me he is going to slack off on the CHALK HILL climb. One guy passes me on the climb and I couldn't catch, but when road leveled off I got into the draft of a large rider and he brought me back to the climber. The climber and I rode in together.
At the end of Chalk Hill I am still enjoying this double metric--Photocrazy Photo.

Donna and Pat had finished the 100 mile course well in advance and were worried that it took so long for me to come in. "Long-I was flying" But they had seen RAAM finisher Ish come in a hour ago and they thought I'd be right behind. Huh-next thing they are going to have me do is hit homeruns with Barry Bonds. Donna did great--in two weeks she had done her first two full century rides in California that did not have the word "Lodi" (flat-flat-flat)in it.

(May 2004) TOUR OF THE UNKNOWN COAST, Ferndale. 100 miles- Huge climbs at the end.99 miles, 14.7 avg, total time including massage 7:00-2:35, Solo
Now I was getting into unchartered territory--the first of two rides that I had never done and would be tough. This is a self proclaimed "the toughest century." May not be "the toughest" but it is much harder than the longer Chico or Santa Rosa routes.

This turned out to be one of the most rustic and unique century rides--and is a timed event unlike most other "this is not a race" century rides. About half the people on the natural 100 mile loop (even I couldn't get lost) are racing, the other half are in touring mode. I was in both.

The route starts off with some short but steep climbs, and then is flat though the beautiful Avenue of the Giants Redwoods. Then suddenly turns the Coast, along roads that haven't been paved since the first Roosevelt was president, and the climbing begins. But no one worries about the early climbs, because at mile 82 is a one mile, 18% climb, and then at mile 88 starts the "endless hill," which is a long "endless" climb to almost the end of the route. But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Bike had been in the shop the whole week for new shifters--one of the ones I had crashed on wasn't working by the time I was finished Santa Rosa. So my mountain bike saw some action--damn-I need to get a backup road bike. Midweek I realized I was doing this ride and started getting a little nervous--it sounded like the Sierra Century in the cold-and rain was forecast. Joann and I had talked about doing this ride last year--now she was incommunicado; on the way up it started to storm and Donna told me that Joann was doing another century ride somewhere. Real melancholy feeling-storming, riding solo, mixed signals, week of mediocre training for a ride that may be the toughest one I've done yet. Patti's "Cartwheels" was a pefect fit, song would play in my head over and over:
Come my one-look at the world. Bird beast butterfly. Girls
sing notes of heaven-Birds lift them up to the sky
Spring is departing-spring is departing....
Nice motel row in FORTUNA, and sun finally came out and danced off the Eel River. Donna and I kicked aroud Victorian FERNDALE, where 20 years ago I had a glue factory horse win by 36 lengths at the country fair. Ironically, the pre-ride registration was also at the fairgrounds. The pre ride checkin was the most disorganized I had ever seen--drop outs from the 1960''s were in their own world. Rides official slogan could have been "HEY DUDE." Would have been a nice place for vendors, but only two were there. Donna wisely said NO to the Samoan Cookhouse (all you can eat heavy food) and we found a great Italian restaurant in downtown EUREKA, which has been restored nicely.
Read about ride which features mass start for 100 milers, who are then timed. Usually when going solo I take a pen to mark down times to rest stops, but I decided I'd enjoy myself on thsi ride--so left pen at home and packed a portable camera. Morning forecast was for NO RAIN, but it was cool and I thought it would get cooler on the coast so I packed two vests--too many clothes.
We got to the fairgrounds early--Donna was doing the 60 mile out and back flat ride and was due to start well after my mass start time of 7:00. One worker, Sam Kinnison's lost brother, was screaming at some of the cyclists regarding their parking--finally someone took him away. But for the rest of the day it was a great ice breaker when I wanted to join a group "hey did you see Sam Kinnison this monring?."
Lined up for mass start--all the young people we didn't see the day before at preregistration were now out. Ironically, guy next to me was also wearing a DOMO FARM FRITES jersey, he told me that it would be real fast out of town, that I was overdressed, and expect a headwind on the Coast. Suddenly surrounded by scores of riders ready to motor--a little nervous as unlike the racing starts wasn't sure that everyone would hold their line.

Boom-we were off, and noticed that FERNDALE streets weren';t that well paved. I was near the back of first paceline out of town when we got to a spot where water bottle littered the road What the hell-mine shook loose also and I made a quick decsion to retrieve it--I wsn't going 100 miles with one bottle. By the time I circled back first paceline was long gone and I hooked in with 3rd or 4th to come through. I'd go to the front on uphill rollers but with new brakes and my lousy descending skills I'd get repassed on the downhills. In RIO DELL and SCOTIA people where on their porches chearing us on. How cool. Then it was onto Highway 101 for a few miles until AVENUE OF THE GIANTS.

Noticed that there were no tiny arrows marking the course like most century rides--here someone used an orange spray can and free formed huge swiggles--some even looked like arrows. Not much traffic on Highway 101, and nice clean shoulder--on gradual uphill paceline spread out. Soon off the highway and on the AVENUE OF THE GIANTS--motoring among the giant redwoods on the damp pavement.

With new brakes (and excessive caution) I continued to fall off the back whenever the damp road turned down, and would rejoin the paceline when the road started going uphill. But mostly flat and we were speeding through. At mile 28 we passed first rest stop of the day, and half of us skipped it. Little did I know that next rest stop with bread was 35 miles away. Soon I was out in front of the paceline remnants with a guy from Belgium and we worked together to catch another paceline about 300' up the road--we could always see them before they disappeared around a curve. We passed HONEYDEW--the 32 mile mark, where Donna's route would turn around. If we went straight we'd be in the heart of HUMBOLT REDWOOD STATE PARK

But instead made a sudden right turn and were on a pock marked one lane road through the forest. Riding behind a fun race team that had "how ya doing" plastered across their team shorts backside. Oh shit--another water bottle shook lose and I stoped to retrieve, and was off the back.

Not far from ALBEE CREEK rest stop, mile 39. Pulled in averaging 17.9 mph. After this the first real climb of the day would begin, 8 miles, 2400' feet--but it paled by comparison to what waited for us near the end of the course. The rest stop was strange--no bread and SELLING tubes, but had premade bottles and Cliff Shot packets, anyone racing the course wouldn't have had to stop for long. I starrted climb and tried to power up the beginning, but when standing my left lower back hurt badly--which never happens (SI problem is on right side.) Two locals were setting a good pace so I sat and joined them--we passed some of the "How Ya Doing" boys. Road was lousy; locals told me the start of the downhill was really steep and the road got worse. After the crest I stopped to put on windbreaker-locals took off. Road was the shits and I was taking it slow--no wonder some people were doing this ride on mountain bikes

Grade of downhill flattened out a little, and girl shot past. My competative spirits kicked into gear and I chased back onto her wheel. All of a sudden came across loads of cyclists standing on the side of the road, looking at the beautiful panoramic misty valley. Mile 47-PANTHER GAP, and I reminded myself that I was supposed to take it easy and enjoy this ride. I pulled over and took my first photos of the day.

Still a long twisty downhill--dodging the potholes. Brutal until suddenly upon the HONEYDEW BRIDGE, mile 56, which had an uneven/ raised surface and we had to ride across three raised planks. Scary. Rest stop was on other side of bridge--when I asked I was informed that porta potty was on the side of bridge I first crossed. Damn-I wasn't recrossing it again. Asked how many riders were on teh road--guy didn't know but said I wasn't far from the front group.

Rollers to the lunch stop only six miles away in a park in the middle of nowhere. Don't think I saw a car on the road since we had turned towards the Coast. Nice lunch stop at AW WAY PARK (mile 65); had mechanic tighten pedals and chainring as was making a clicking noise. Helicopter landed in park--one rider mentioned to me that on Auburn Worlds Toughest Century you have to throw $20 in a pot to pay for a medical helicopter standby fee. Good premade sandwiches, but workers said they were mislabeled and no one was sure what they really were. Typical. Female massage therapist at rest stop, and my lower back needed a massage but line was very long.

Steep rollers out. Came across two of the "How Ya Doing" boys and talked with them awhile--was told that I need to pronounce their slogan with a heavy Brooklyn accent. Their team is out of Santa Rosa, and I didn't remember them from the races I did--this was kind of laid back, fun, group I'd have loved to join. All of a sudden a young guy whizzed by us on the downhill portion of the roller, would "wait" for us on the uphill, then take off on the next downhill. Noticed hotshot was getting a little slower on the uphills, and after a few I raced up and sped by him--stood with no pain, and then rode hard so I wouldn't be repassed. Never saw hotshot again.

Supposedly went through the town of PETROLLA (mile 70) but it was so small I missed it. Now going steadily uphill, maybe a 4% grade. We were getting near the coast and it was sunny--I'd stop often to take photos. Went around a bend and then all of a sudden WOW--THE OCEAN AND COASTLINE laid out after a beautiful gentle downhill.
photo below--best OH WOW view ever on a ride
The Coast was real clear, with craggy rocks jumping out of the water. The road we'd take was almost at water level, nice tailwind; and off in the distance it looked like a mountain put an end to the roadway. below-right before I climb "the Wall"
Sure enought, the closer we got the road we were on went STRAIGHT UP. A tiny rest stop was in front--OCEAN HOUSE (mile 82). No sports drink-no bread. Just Cliff Shots, water, bananas and another massage therapist. Table was empty and wanted to make sure my back was OK. Got a 10 minute massage--all the time visualizing the road "up to the sky."

Started one mile/ 18% and dropped into 32 for first time. Set a comfortable pace and kept in the seat as I had been warned that after this there was a sudden drop and then another climb--the "Endless Hill"-8 miles and 1600' +. All at mile 90. "The Wall" made a gradual turn and I could look back at the beach--it seemed like I was on an airplane. My water bottle kept hitting my leg--the cage had broken and was swinging out.

Come my one--look at the world. Don't let it bring you down.
Come on open for me-those eyes of brown."

The climbs weren't bad. Soon saw the two "How Ya Doing Boys" ahead--one pushing his teammate up the hill. Was hard to pinpoint where downhill started--after a few false starts sped up on another road full of cracks, drainage ditches, potholes and gravel. Not many riders on the road--a guy in a Coast Guard jersey flew past me-I gave chase. Suddenly back in Ferndale, towns people giving directions , and I was flying at 20+ mph after all that climbing. Photographer at end-and Donna waiting from her ride--I got a great greeting.
Great greating from the podium girl--though I wasn't on the podium and they never published the ride results.

Unfortunately no patches, just a cheap sticker, and a crappy end o ride meal. Cold pasta and meatballs and mystery sandwiches--looked like they were getting rid of leftovers. They had another massage therapist--but we just wanted to go spa at motel and then good meal in Eureka. Some more "hey dudes" heard-and we were off.

Most uneven century with incredible positives--great route, scenery, no cars, giant redwoods, massage therapists. Friendly workers (except ffor Sam Kinnison) who were kinda aimless. But spotty supplies at rest stops, terrible roads (luckily after wheel taco'd at Chico pulled all alloy nipples off of wheel and put on brass) , dark bike jersey. Would have been hard to keep a group together on this one, but was a great adventure that would have been great to do a Pumpkincycle adventure as planned. . In a few weeks will see if harder than the SIERRA

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