Sunday, August 30, 2009

Leadville Lancy Panky

I heard that Lance entered a "closed out" mountain bike race, also got his support team in, then took first place and set a new course record. I know nothing about mountain biking, and don't know if this was like Barry Bonds showing up in an "A" softball league with two other ex pro teammates and then killing the record for home runs in the softball league--but I did find it strange that Lance has a love for riding "off road" considering his records of helping his team in Paris Roubaix where he could race against his peers.

My friend, Dr. Dave, who knows about mountain bike racing sent the following letter to Velo News, mildly critical of the great Lance. Dave's letter seems eminently reasonable and anti inflammatory, but I told him that the Lance sycophants would be shooting back.

The 800-pound gorilla

Dear VeloNews,

Lance Armstrong knows how to prepare for an event like nobody else, but did Lance Armstrong win Leadville, or did his unlimited resources win it? We'll never know. It is one thing for a high-profile rider to try his hand at a low-profile event because he respects the challenge.

It's another thing for him to arrive with his full entourage of big-dollar resources, including team riders to serve as rabbits, and pick off those with less access to Pro Tour style support. Dave Wiens was gracious in defeat, but he got run over by the Lance Machine.

Hollow victory, Lance.

Dave D.-Walnut Creek, California

Next edition had two letters, one that reacted to to anyone criticizing hero Lance in general and one taking particular aim at Dr. Dave.

In particular I want to object to those who feel Lance's win and subsequent record are not valid, or are in some way diminished because of the use of pacers, crew and sponsor clout. -Rob B.-British Columbia

Regarding Dave D’s letter about Armstrong at Leadville in the
August 21 edition of Mailbag : I, too, have a lot of respect for Dave Weins, but do you actually believe that Weins would have won had Armstrong not brought his domestiques to the race? ...You may dislike Armstrong; that’s fine and it’s your right as a fan. It’s part of what makes sports fun. But don’t allow emotion to cloud judgment. ...He deserves credit for his achievements, even from those who root against him. -Paul D.-San Rafael

So Dave is now a certified Lance hater, as published Velonews, the racing newspaper of record.

I've been so unfair to Lance I sent in a letter of support--

Some readers are being unfair to Lance. Obviously he loves racing "off road," after winning and/or helping his team win Paris Roubaix so many times, only Leadville was left for him. Now if we can only get slackers like Servais Knaven of "Mapei" to do the same. Funny--it doesn't look like Servais is wearing a Mapei jersey when he wins Paris Roubaix when his team attacks and attacks the isolated George Hincapie--where was George's teammate Lance who loves off road racing??? If VeloNews can revise history and put Servais on Mapei, they probably can further revise history, add to the legend of Lance, and place Lance at Paris Roubaix. (BBC & Graham Watson photos)

--unfortunately my letter went unpublished by Velonews but what do you expect--the same week the cycling newspaper of record had Servais Knaven, who actually won Paris Roubaix, on the wrong team.

Knaven re-ups for 2010
Published: Aug. 19, 2009

Dutch classics rider Servais Knaven isn’t done yet. The 38-year-old signed a one-year contract extension that will keep him in a Milram jersey through the 2010 season.

“I am looking forward to the coming year. I thank the Team Milram and manager Gerry Van Gerwen for the trust they have in me,” said Knaven. “I enjoy riding on this team. You can feel the great (talent) and I want to do my part to contribute to the team’s success.”

Knaven is best-known for his victory at the 2001 Paris-Roubaix, when Mapei stacked the race with four riders in the decisive, six-man final breakaway. Knaven attacked late and rode away with the Hell of the North.

Servais is an absolute model pro,” Van Gerwen said. “He can look back an unequaled career and is a major asset to any team. He brings enormous experience and knowledge of the courses of the spring classics.”

The German-sponsored team is also reportedly in talks with Geert Steegmans and Karsten Kroon to bolster its classics squad for next season.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


(August 22, 2009) Calavaras-Diablo Century 95.7 miles, 4,160' climbing, 16.7 avg. 70 miles with Diablo Cyclists, then 25 mile detour over Mt Diablo Ranger Station w/ Jack and Ward.

We had done this Century route on July 5th, but with 1/2 of Diablo first instead of finishing up on it, and climbed teh hard North side the first time, and today finished on the easier South side. Can't figure out which way I like it more though certainly warmer on Diablo in late afternoon, and better to do the South side with all of its recovery sections when tired.

Today was MIA Day. My fellow triple crown rookie (2005), California Mike, was coming back from his 3 month, one year, two year exile in Hawaii building something to hold Kaiser’s white courtesy phones to the advice nurses. Mike had become the ringleader, or chief hooligan (with new tatoo) on the Tradewind Cycling Team.

Big Mike had also been a regular of late, so with Ward I have my three training buddies from the last few years. But at the beginning of the ride no Ward and no CA Mike. CA Mike showed up at the last second—but no Ward who is usually early so I figured he was somewhere on Mt. Diablo (when it is warm in the early morning we always talk about how we should have prerode Diablo) and was somewhere en route.

About a dozen of us started down Danville Blvd where CA Mike started catching up--the usual email from CA Mike is a photofunny with a the caption "do not open this at work."

Cycling photo below Not actually from a CA Mike email but when it made the rounds the general reaction was "didn't CA Mike send it???" But those in the know knew that CA Mike didn't send it as cyclist is wearing too many clothes.
Danville Blvd not bad in the AM with its nice bike lane/ shoulder, light traffic and just enough stop signs/ lights to be a touch annoying. The pelaton rode down steadily—only exciting moment was when a cyclist passed us and I jumped on his wheel, but he was wearing a Kissena jersey—the name of the Velodrome less than a mile from my college--and I never knew the Veledrome existed. Turns out his team runs the Velodrome. Wished him a good ride and I went back in the paceline and was on good behavior.

At mile @18 we stop at the restroom and Ward arrives-no early Diablo, he just started late. Cross the freeway overpass and now on the great run in to Sunol, about another 8 miles of flats and easy rollers with less traffic, and less traffic controls than before. On this section we all pick up the pace, CA Mike is trying to lead me out to the triple decked roller before hitting Sunol but we get stopped by an active road repair zone, I marked Joe, and we he went I followed with predictable results—our best climber zoomed away on top of the first tier and there was no getting back.

Old timers day continued on the porch at the Sunol General Store, where ex president Trina (or the closest our club ever had a president) was already there with Chiropractor Jim. Jim would continue with us to Calavaras, while Trina went another way after inquiring about her good friend Clint. Later we’d even have a shorter Rusty sighting, when he passed us in the other direction. In Sunol a long line of antique cars passed, someone joked that they were rushing to get to the dealer before the cash for clunker program ended.

We had about another 14 miles to the end of Calavaras—one of the featured climbs on the Primavera Century. The direction we were going was the “slow” direction, a few miles of flats-2% uphill grade into what always seems like a headwind with a huge nursery running the length of the flats. Eventually the road is undivided, kicks up to 3-4% with lots of hairpins among a dense cover of trees with a beautiful reservoir off to the side.

On the flats Chris was the hardest working but luckiest cyclist, she was pulling the paceline for a long time, next up was Big Mike who’d easily kick up the speed—not the person you want taking over a paceline when you’re tired. But Chris got us to where the road kicks up, and all of a sudden she, Joe and I were off the front.

Chris was on a mission and she continued to hammer up the grade. We shot past two cyclists—woman exchanged greetings with us, guy was grumpy that he was being passed. Almost had a big accident on a hairpin—two Wells Fargo Racers were off to the side doing something with their bike when a human bowling ball coming down in the opposite direction kept his eye on them and drifted onto the wrong side of the road. About half way up we all started bs’ing, but I knew Mike and Mike would be charging once the grade slacked off so I took over. Near the end is a downhill and Joe and Chris rode away from me—but we all enjoyed the bonus time in the shaded driveway—5 minutes later other riders started coming in. Now officially very warm outside—Beth real comfortable sprawled out on the driveway when the owners drove down, then were back a few minutes later, then another car arrived, and then came back down a few minutes later—with all of us scrambling off the driveway, especially Beth. Turns out Ward had been a regular at Cincinnati's Skyline Chili that the great Giants Announcers Krukow and Kuiper kept talking about the other day

On the way back, the fast way, we had a real good paceline with Ward, CA Mike and me taking long pulls. Unfortunately ran out of water. Very soon back in Sunol where I enjoyed my second coconut fruit bar of the day along with a giant coke and giant Gatorade. Mountain Biker admiring Ca Mike’s new hooligan leg tattoo.

Little disorganized leaving. Jack wanted to do bonus miles and suggested Palomaras, I wanted to do bonus miles but more partial to Mt. Diablo, thinking we’d ride close to CA Mike’s house. Ward in for more miles also, and Beth with us as Palomaras would get her closer to her house. Ironically we all head out to the outhouses together and the rest of the group leaves—figuring we were heading out. We finally decide to go back with the group and add Mt. Diablo, and it is a fast chase back where we finally catch the pelaton remnants except for Joe and Chris who are far off the front.

Down Danville Blvd. has lots of traffic and the traffic lights seem to stay red much much longer as cars fill in the turn lanes. Both Mike’s hurting so we slow to ride with them when 4 guys pass. No chasing as we’re just riding in the back bsing. Ironically, after 65 miles while going at an ez pace we ride back to these 4 guys and most of the pelaton—yep, Joe and Chris off the front again. We get close o Danville and these guys pick up speed and jump in the front of the pelaton so I give chase and mark the leader as each person in their group attacks and then falls off.

Last bit of excitement for the day, after saying goodbye to Ca Mike we get ice and water in Burger King and start riding up Diablo, It was warm but hazy so the sun wasn’t beating down, no cyclists on the Mountain (circa 3:00) and a few cars. South side is soooo much easier than the North side with no real steep sections and two places the road levels off and you can easily hit 20 mph. At one point an army of SUV’s-mini vans coming down. No idiots going up passing us on the turns. Ranger Station was quiet, no campers nearby.

Not used to going down the North side as seems like we kept doing the longer South side loop all year—remembered why I don’t like the South side when a “whack a mole squirrel” came running out near the bottom and almost went flying into Ward’s wheel.

Soon back to Walnut Creek as odometer crept over 95 miles, making it just as long as the Chico Wildflower, so another unsupported (or unorganized) century in the books on a great riding day with friends.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Quick history of baseball stadiums. The classic era. Before 1960 most baseball stadiums had been built 40-60 years prior at the fringe of the city--often constrained by geography (strange sized block, hill, railroad) resulting, out of necessity, in a uniquley shaped quirkly outfield. Stadiums were unfair--some favored pull hitters (Polo Grounds, 258 & 279' down the lines that quickly sloped out, with 440' power alleys and a 482' centerfield), some favored right handed batters (Fenway Park), some favored left handed batters (Yankee Stadium, Baker Bowl, with a 281' right field line that DIDN'T slope out so the right field power alley was @340' away) but everyone knew going in what the park biases were. Batters tried to hit the short field, pitchers tried to locate strikes that would go to the deeper portions of the park.

Eventually the city grew around the ballpark, suddenly finding itself in a decaying neighborhood and almost always was not able to provide the acres of parking that the car crazed public now demanded.

Sampling of classic baseball stadiums--each had a bias but the bias was known and it was more talent than luck that addressed a quirky stadium. Forbes Field had 4 significant outfield changes, Ebbets Field also had 4, but the well in the outfield only appeared in 1948 so for 15 years previous there were only 2 changes. The quirky Polo Grounds has 6 changes but 4 involved the well in the outfield @500' feet away that was almost never in play--so in reality there were only 2 significant changes. Comisky Park only had 2 outfield changes

The second era, the modern era, was 1960-1990 when stadiums were built in the fringe of the urban area so they could be surrounded with a parking lot. As football was also booming, stadiums were build for both baseball and football, "like giant ashtrays"-circular that was barely suitable to be used for both sports but not really being good for either. Most outfield fences looked similar--with a gradual symmetrical arc. (see Old Oakland Coliseum below)

The neo-classical era, post 1990 began with Camden Yards--baseball only parks put back in the inner city, with outfield dimensions again constrained by geography or a nod to the asymmetry of the old ballparks. But the asymmetry nod would run amuck.
Camden Yards-only 3 significant changes--a realistic throwback ballpark..

The problem is that while Camden Yard was reasonable with their limited quirky outfield dimensions, more and more of the modern retro stadiums figure if a little change is good--then alot of quirkiness is better. But in essence the new retro stadium become skee ball machine--long fly ball might be a home run, but hit 5 feet to the left in "the well" a long out, hit 5 feet to the right on the side of the well on the high wall a double. They might as well put hoops on the top of the fence and holes in the fence and signs that say "hit the ball through the hole and get 2 bonus runs." While trying to recapture the feel of a mythical old ballpark that never existed- -in reality the old ballparks were not nearly as goofy as some of the new ones.
After my visit to Petco Park last year I wrote nice things about it but I also wrote "looks like a hodgepodge...right field corner is artificially gamed." I can now easily see why--9 angle changes in the outfield. Enron Stadium has 6. Citi Field also has 6--they will probably smooth out the right field well as bullpens hidden and power alley too far away.

Even refurbished ballparks try for that goofy feel. The "old" Oakland Coliseum was the typical modern multipurpose circular bowl (though really built on the cheap.) The outfield dimensions were symmetrical, and changed significantly twice. After remodeled, where Mt Davis (huge tower of stands in the outfield for football) ruined any feel for baseball the Oakland Coliseum had the outfield fence zigging and zaggin everywhere with 6 sudden changes--goofy indeed. Like most modern ballparks, smooth arc outfield at the Oakland Coliseum, boring but fair--now 6 changes in remodeled changes for that "retro" feel--good luck.
Diagrams from the great Clem's Baseball Stadium site

Monday, August 17, 2009


(August 16, 2009) Tour of the Napa Valley Century-100 miles, 5'000' climbing. Start at 7:00, no Stephen not here, 7:05, no Stephen so I'm going back to the car, 7:15, see Stephen putting on suntan lotion or the stuff Barry Bonds used, so 7:20-@2:20 w/ Ward, Stephen and June. 17.7 avg (inc 1 ½ miles of two slow trips from lower parking lot to registration and 6mph zone of @10 stop signs 200' apart at the end in Yountville.) **180 Course Rating***

Below-armada of hot air balloons launch from where our ride begins
This used to be the seminal ride. Back in the late 1990’s when I had to walk my hybrid a significant portion of the “impossible” 4 mile climb-Ink Grade, 'how did anyone stay on their bikes'-I wondered. In 2002 when my knee injury prevented me from doing the 100 miler as I was jealous of the Delta Pedalers who could do it—and their tales of the super steep Mt. Veeder. 2003 when Gruppo Pumpkincycle disappeared from the start, and I time trialed the course with Jerry, a mountain bike racer, and did the same in 2004 with Big Mike. Then really fast Diablo Cyclist rides—one year with Livermore Racer Brian and Michigan Tom hammering the course and the rest of us holding on for dear life.

This year there were 6-7 Diablo Cyclists scattered around the course and 4 in our 100 mile group—a very small showing, though not as small as the zero Delta Pedalers signed up. But our group would be good, Ward and Stephan great all-round riders, and June fast on the climbs, and can hold onto any paceline as long as it is steady. I think she is the Schleck sister no one talks about. Luckily the day before Ward and I took it easy on the 50 mile Diablo Cyclist ride--I kept my bike in the small chainring so I wouldn't be tempted to get caught up in the moment.

I was happy going into this as still had great form from the Mt. Tam Double training, and though this is a fast course with lots of pacelining, a few rollers, and two attention getting climbs, this should be a piece of cake. The doubles are not only twice as long, but the timed ones go ball out from the start, and if you can you best get out of the rest stops 30-40 miles apart in 6 minutes or less, living on carefully selected food. On the century we could slack off and we’d only pick up the pace voluntarily, meaning of any riders passed us that we didn’t like—and we could dawdle at rest stops 20-25 miles apart and eat any crap we wanted (though this probably meant locking up when we first leave and gain 2 lbs on the ride.)

Ward and I are usually Mr. Prompt, while Stephen acts…well like the musician he is. We had hoped to start at 7:00 but Ward cut Stephen some slack for a 7:15 start. How Stephan rode in France for a month with Jack, the King of Promptness-Getting Out of Rest Stops fast I’ll never know.

Ward and I were going to have a contest—who’d get po’d and yell at more cyclists. I only did two organized century rides this year--I’m now used to Doubles where by mile 75 you don’t see many people on the course, and self supported century rides with only our small group together. In his next life Ward will be returning as a bike riding safety instructor. On the Napa century they’ve figured out a route to get 3,000 riders in each others way by “mushing” the different routes together—many riding 3-4 abreast, blocking the road.

Stats for the ride “The Diablo Scott Passed Them: Passed Me"Ratio (better stats below in the writeup from Ward Industries award winning tech writing department.)

? : 2 I can only recall two riders getting away on the climbs , I have no idea how many people we passed (do people changing flats count?)

1 : 2 Ward yelling: Jay Yelling Ratio. Ward yelled once at a lady who was riding on the left side of the road and wouldn’t move over when he called out. I yelled at NO cyclists, but did scream at two cars, one who decided to pass cyclists on the other side of the road in our lane and a convertible who shaved us when passing late in the ride.

Anyway ride was well supported—check in was easy. Festivities began when arriving early at the Yountville Veterans Home, where traffic-parking tie ups are common closer to 7am, so I parked in a paved parking lot far away and took a half hour nap while hot air balloons were launching nearby. I cycled up to check in where there was a big spread of bagels and good pastries—you can easily gain weight on this ride—and many outhouses were scattered about (the lack of outhouses at the start a chief complaint on most organized rides.) Saw Ward when I checked in, as Stephan not there yet cycled back “down the hill” to drop off map-patch, and saw Stephen riding up—bet he thought it was past 7:00 and I was taking off. Cycled easily back up the hill where many cyclist hammered past and after Stephan stopped at his car for suntan lotion……we……were……finally……

Beginning of the ride is a straightaway for a few miles along service road next to highway. A few folks passed us but we quickly got on their wheel, and would lose them on the climb ahead. Uneventful except for group riding three across the road with woman blocking the traffic lane and wouldn’t move after Ward called out. Even though a looker she got a mouthful—Ward is nondiscriminatory. After a few turns we are going up Mt. Veeder—a climb of a few miles—mostly an easy grade with a few short serious but no killer sections. It's cool and damp which F's up my breathing so I plan to take it easy--but the plan goes out the window when a big group of Sacramento Bike Hikers come by, and they are really setting a nice pace as a pack up Veeder—I close and stay in the back of their group. Half way up a few of them start falling off—the Sacto Bike Hiker who was in the front is down the road and I’m closing in but a gaggle of cyclists are across the whole road. Only Sacto Bike Hiker in front of me rides to the “wrong side” to get around them, but then we are on a curve so I wouldn’t cross the center line, and am I’m blocked in on the “right side.” After getting past the rolling road block I can’t catch the Bike Hiker leader but zoom past everyone else.

Actually there is one Diablo Cyclist up the road—it is Michigan Tom. I catch up to him and tell him how we yesterday derisively recalled the year he and Brian hammered us to death on this ride. Tom (who had a baby) said that was 30 lbs ago, and that he recently ran into Brian (now w/ injured back) and they fondly recalled the same highlight.

Nice thing is that it has quickly gone from cool to warm on the climb—so I (a little too early) pull off vest and arm warmers.

The next part I dislike—a curvy narrow road, tree lined (so full of shadows) and the special Napa pavement with cracks and potholes hidden in the shadows. Here a few guys go past that we’d catch on the next section once the road went up—with Ward stayed behind me riding shotgun warning me when someone was about to pass.

We regrouped at the base of the climb and started a nice section that was a series of rollers. We were going at a pace just fast enough not to get passed, when we got behind two guys wearing Patriot Bicycle-Fair Oaks jerseys. They were moving at a good pace and I was content to ride behind them (I’m lazy until something gets my dander up), but soon Ward called out “on your left” and got set to pass.

We quickly learned on this ride that calling out “on your left" means

One of the guys breaks formation and goes off like a bat out of hell. That quickly got me out of my lethargy, I sprint up to him, and Ward and I would take turns attacking on each roller. Then on one downhill roller—around a blind curve—there was again a gaggle of cyclists blocking the road and Patriot Bicycle #1 went downhill on the wrong side of the road. Are cyclists nuts?? second time someone jumped on the wrong side of the road on a blind curve. When we safely got past the group of cyclists on the road Patriot Bicycle #1 was well down the road but his buddy, who was real friendly, rode hard to catch up and brought us back before the start of some more rollers where we then went up hard again; I attacked on every uphill roller, then slowed to see if June and Stephen could get back on, and Ward attacked on each alternate roller, where Patriot Bicycle #1 would try to chase back to Ward and I'd zoom past. The story has a happy ending—on the flats we slowed to have Stephan and June regroup with us—they must have been laughing at the antics, and we all rode in cooperatively together with the Patriot Bicycle pair to Rest Stop 1 (mile 30), and later we’d do the same later heading into lunch.

Knew this rest stop was NOT on a good double as no Hammer products but not a Planet Ultra ride either as loads of fresh fruit, coffee cake, bagels.

Leaving this rest stop we wound our way through nondescript suburban Napa until hitting 20 miles of the now uncrowded Silverado Trail. Early in the AM this is the most picturesque part of the ride with fancy wineries on both sides, but no one had a chance to be a tourist as on this relatively flat section with a few gradual uphills there is always serious pacelining. Here a couple of Z Racing guys drove the front of the paceline with a little help from others, and about a dozen of us were content to sit in the back. The paceline was very uneven—would fluctuate between 17-24 depending who came forward to pull, or if the Z Guys started goofing around. Woman racer behind me kept calling out “slowing” “slowing” “slowing.”

One thing slowed the paceline down to a crawl—a clusterfuck that you could see develop. The 60 mile course was merging onto the Silverado Trail from the left when some woman didn‘t wait (wonder if she would have came out if Hummer was going down the road) and slowly made the turn-slowly crossed two lanes, and slowly rolled in front of the paceline. Luckily no cars were trailing as most of us had to swing far left into the traffic lane to avoid a collision.

We were getting close to the turnoff to Lake Hennessey, a 2 ½ mile gentle climb to the rest stop—usually with a slight tailwind. I had told my group before the ride I was going to attack on Hennessey. I always do, and we usually arrive at the turn with our group driving a big paceline that now can be broken up. But here I was with really fast guys—and I was debating whether just to sit in to the rest stop. But about a mile before the turn the “Z’ guys sudden ramped up the speed—2-3 guys in front of me lost their wheel, and I had to sprint out and barely got back to them and the remnants from the front of the paceline. Luckily I recovered in the back until the turn to Hennessey and by that point, as the group had been blown to shreds I thought what the F and shot by right after the turn, jumped ahead, and kept the speed a consistent 22 ½-23 mph so as not to be passed. I have no idea if anyone was trying but I was first to the rest stop (mile 47)

Rest stop at Hennessey is nice but I’ve been on too many doubles—I was ready to go after 10 minutes but no one else was. Luckily in the extra time Ward found out that they were collecting drop bags of excess clothes this year—great not having to carry tee shirt and vest. Finally on the road continuing the gentle uphill of Hennessey while Stephan dreamed of changing the route “NO,” and had to settle for planning future rides.

Now a long but gentle uphill on Pope Valley Road that would eventually become semi flat with a few rollers kicked in. Racing girl from huge paceline joined us for the start of the climb. This gradual uphill was perfect for June to set a businesslike but steady pace. Not much traffic but lots of “Napa Road Ruts” to be mindful of. Soon we catch up to the Patriot Cycling Guys who look like they lost some of their earlier zip—and no games played (except for June attacking on one serious roller) when we formed a paceline past Deer Park General Store where loads of cyclists stopped?, Hubcap Ranch and onto lunch. We kept the speed up and towards the end the Patriot Guys were happy to let Ward and I pull which was fine, as I was feeling real good. The other side of the road is crowded with 60 mile cyclists leaving lunch when a car decides to pass them on our side of the road. I quickly tie Ward in the yelling contest.

Lunch (mile 66) is where I really broke down—I’m usually watching what I eat on a double when warm but today I expanded my diet and actually left the cheese on premade deli sandwiches and filled bottles with dreaded Cytomax. I’d taste the cheese for awhile. When we pulled in it was definitely warm and the tubs of ice had been raided and emptied by the 60 milers who had arrived earlier—but before we left the rest stop workers had made an ice run to the joy of all. Nice shaded spot among the Oak Trees, we could have stayed there for a long time—and Stephan probably wanted to. Racing girl says she is taking it easy to enjoy the sights-I tell her I’m jaded and am now nonplussed seeing grapes grow—or hubcaps in a field (Hubcap Ranch) When ready to leave June and Ward start text messaging each other--rumor is that they will try this later on a pace line. Then June discovers that she lost one of her cleat covers so we hung around longer while she vainly tried to hunt it down.

I'm at lunch spot actually sitting which you can't do on a timed double, we're gonna be here for awhile as Stephan has his shoes off..

Great—nice and tight for the big 4 mile climb of the day—Ink Grade—that gets steep in the middle sections. Two miles to get loose—or get on someone’s wheel when they try to pass but have to peel off when June stung by something. Suddenly we hit Ink Grade.

Ever since I had to walk my bike up Ink Grade I’ve attacked it—and always time myself. I think I had my best time ever but Mr. Stupid (me) didn’t start his watch. I think it was easily my best time as Stephan and I are usually compatible climbers—last year on this we raced up and he got me by about 30 seconds. Today he was riding well and I got to the top @4-5 minutes before he did.

I hadn’t planned on going hard—I hit the climb after going hard to put some distance between someone who had closely passed when we started up after June’s bug bite, and I re-passed and now wanted to put some distance on the guy, but also ride tempo and keep the group with me. I’m slowing when some other guy shoots by with a music phone on loudly, which caused me to lift my speed. I can’t get back up to him and vainly chase for another mile. Though I’ve lost music phone guy but have a good rhythm on the climb, flying by many riders. I flash back as many people are struggling on the climb and a few people walking bike-I flash back 11-12 years; so I yell out encouragement whenever possible.. Apart from music phone guy no one passed me on the climb.

Stopped at the top and then circled back for our group who was now on the flat final section. The guys then all stopped at the water station while June went on ahead for the downhill—she hates downhills much more than me. Another steep but short climb and then a long long downhill which Stephan and Ward scrubbed speed off on so I could stay with them. Actually on one section they still got away, but when someone sped past me on a wide open section, pedaling like a maniac, I drafted behind him and when he almost caught Stephan and Ward who were soft pedaling for me to catch up—I yelled out “Postal” just when the uphill rollers began and we all started going up the climb hard to drop the guy. One cyclist we catch up to has a homemade jersey that says “Dopers Suck”—I yell out that it should say “Dodgers Suck.” Friendly guy says it can be read both ways.

We regroup and now back on the Silverado Trail, now full of winery traffic. Though we have a medium width shoulder lots of riders in it from the slower and shorter rides. Some riding next to each other. “Goood god” as James Brown would say.

A real treat was a fast but steady paceline of “Peninsula Velo” came by—and we just jumped in back of them. Two benefits—the easier ride behind them. Second benefit, they had to deal with all the dumbasses riding two-three abreast in the bike lane/shoulder—so many times they looked back and smoothly jumped on the road between motor traffic pockets to pass cyclists and we followed. One mini convertible did come by and shaved me and I thought it was going to get stuck at the next intersection—which might have resulted in a squirted water bottle, but unfortunately they didn’t stop, and the Peninsula Velo team kept rolling when we turned into the last rest stop.

(below) Ward and I riding behind the Peninsula Velo team, suddenly everyone branching out as Photocrazy robot cameras surrounding us--way before their traditional spot much further down the road. Hey Mr. Crazy, can't you get grapes in the background??
Now it was real warm—and the fresh nectarine at the stop hit the spot. No more ice but obviously there was an ice block in the drink jugs, as the drinks were very cold. Then got a slice of my favorite hot rest stop food—a plain slice of wheat bread, and it was time to finish up the Silverado trail.

One great thing about our quartet—we all took turns taking pulls and as we ride together a lot we can tell when someone is losing steam, and someone else jumps to the front. At one point we started having a lot of people join the back of our line—we were content to pull--and we kept the pace high but steady and after a while everyone had fallen off.

Usually the course doesn’t change but surprisingly they took us straight into Yountville instead of doing a final loop. This was OK until we realized that this meant an additional 6-7 stops signs (one on each block) in town, with anxious cops ready to give out tickets and ride workers out there urging us to stop every 200’.

It was a little after 2:00 and great ride was over way to soon Man, did it go by fast. Still had loads of energy. Saw Quackcyclist Jessie in the parking lot and he had a stash of Anchor Steam beer so I broke down and had my 2nd beer of the year (later I’d have my 2nd Ben & Jerry’s of the day.) Now walked up the long hill to the crowded BBQ with great BBQ chicken, garden burgers and fancy veggie salads (ssssh! Don’t tell Sacto Doug I had veggies.) Woman from Santa Rosa Bike Club confirming how bad the roads up there are—worse than Napa and Marin’s which are in crappy shape. Live music a little too C&W for me but they eventually played “Gloria’ and did a nice cover of it. Club members Craig and Recumbent Tom who had done their own thing on the ride joined our group as we recounted the high and low points of the ride (mostly high) and helped Stephen plan an out of town epic where he’ll come up with a great route.

Over the years the Napa Century had lost some of its luster. It was certainly surpassed by the Sierra Century, but that is no more. I had the Wine Country Century and Chico ahead of it also but the Eagle Cycling Club had come back strong with little things like drop bags for excess clothes and a better lunch stop—and this was as good as a 100 mile ride gets.

(below) (1) Stephan and June at the finish (2) We're joined by Craig at the meal (3) Ward inspecting non FSA complaint bike parts so he wouldn't have to dance.

As a special treat we got the head tech rider from Ward Industries to break down the ride below:

I used the laps feature of the Garmin to separate actual riding time from the time spent rolling around in rest stops where riding a normal pace would be stupid (e.g., the long run into and out of Aetna Springs). That said, I goofed and segment 4 includes the exit from Aetna Springs so the speed for this section (over Ink Grade) is a bit low. The data is below:

Distance @ Speed - Climbing
(1)Veterans Home - Northwood School-(Mt. Veeder)
29.2 miles @ 17.2 mph; 1700'
(2)Northwood School - Conn Dam
15.8 miles @ 21.3 mph; 360'
(3)Conn Dam - Aetna Springs
18.3 miles @ 18.6 mph; 1120'
(4)Aetna Springs -Napa Valley College-(Ink Grade)
21.4 miles @ 16.5 mph; 1350'
(5)Napa Valley College - Veteran's Home
12.1 miles @ 19.0 mph; 290'

96.9 miles @ 18.06 mph

Data from the Cateye for the 4 times I've done this ride is shown below (I only have complete Garmin data for '08). The differences in distance (while small) are attributed to when the computer was turned on/off for trips between the car and the start/finish area, and rolling around at the rest areas. I do not know why the climbing distances for '04 & '06 are so much different, but the Garmin and Cateye climbing data for '08 are very consistent so who knows? What this does show is that we did a much quicker pace than years past (even though we were down on horsepower on the flats (Michigan Tom, Big Mike, Big Jim). This shows that it is important to "make friends". Also, our average for this year was 17.7 until all the stop signs in beautiful downtown Yountville knocked it down to 17.6.

Year-Distance @ Speed-Climbing
2004-98.3 miles @ 17.3 mph-5920'
2006-100.5 miles @ 17.1 mph-5840'
2008-100.7 miles @ 17.0 mph-5100'
2009-100.8 miles @ 17.6 mph-5070'

Idiot of the Ride - Contestant #1
I only remember "talking" to one cyclist; the idiot woman who was in the middle of the lane while riding 3 abreast down Solano Ave (parallel to 29 at the very beginning of the ride). Even after getting passed by a large pickup truck with a horse trailer, this rider would not budge from lane center. I was at the front and gave the usual "on your left" and she held her line down the middle of the road, forcing all other riders to go over to the center line to get past. (I retrospect, maybe I should have blasted between here and her talking partners). There was a reasonably sized bike lane at this point and at no time did I see her pay any attention to what was happening behind her.

As I passed her I said "You might try riding single file or at least ride in the bike lane." There was no time to explain that I did not care if she got herself killed by riding in the middle of the road (as long as she killed herself behind me so I would not have to wait while they cleaned up the results), but I did not appreciate her stupidity endangering me and my group.

Tom does a Rusty
We saw (Michigan) Tom at the top of Veeder and he rode down to Dry Creek Road with us. Then he disappeared? I did not see him at any of the rest stops. Did he head down Dry Creek before we did and skip the rest stop or was he abducted by aliens?

Patriot Cycles
After we regrouped at the bottom of Mt. Veeder Road, we started down Dry Creek Road towards Rest Stop 1. I was in front and caught up to two guys wearing Patriot (Cycles, Fair Oaks) jerseys who were riding two abreast. I was doing about 22 mph and these guys were doing maybe 18. I called out "on your left" and started to pass.

The Patriot Guy (known as the "big guy" for convenience) on the inside looked up, made a very strange face, and just took off as hard as he could go. I thought WTF to myself and held my pace. Jay took off after this guy and it looked like they were contesting a sprint point. The second Patriot Guy (aka, "tall guy") slowly picked up the pace to keep up with his buddy, so I just tucked in and let this guy do the work. He rode nice and smoothly and pointed out road hazards. So I just sat back there until tall guy reeled in big guy (as described by Jay). I gave a little dig just before the one steep "roller" but only so that I could start the climb at the front (since I expected go finish at the back anyway). On the flat run into Rest #1, we picked up quite a crowd. Jay was at the front and seemed to slow a bit so I moved up from position 4 and kept the pace high. When I finished my turn there were on only the 2 Patriot guys, Jay , me, and a woman who had gotten into the sandwich and been dragged along for the ride.

We caught the same guys again above Lake Hennessey (Chiles Pope Valley Road). I'm not sure how things got started this time but we all worked together for a while. Then June got a run on a roller and I followed (again, better to start the climb at the front so you can slide to the back as you go up). Shortly after this the pace picked up and we lost June and Stephen on the curving descent into Chiles Valley (the road was really bad and hitting those corners at speed was more exciting that it would have been on a smooth road). We then lost big guy on the next uphill roller, so we slowed a bit for him to catch back on and I think Jay and I pulled the rest of the way into Aetna Springs.

It was along the last bit of road before the turn into Aetna Springs that show crazy lady in a Volvo Station wagon decided to pass cyclists by moving completely into the lane for oncoming traffic (where we were riding).

Team Z Spastic Paceline - Silverado Trail North
Exiting the Northwood school rest stop (#1) I started looking for strong riders who would be helpful on the run north to Conn Dam. A strong looking guy in orange kit went zooming past so I kept an eye on him. His strength was an illusion.

As we turned on to Silverado Trail, we were in a huge group and we were not near the front. When things started to get sorted out (i.e., everyone into the bike lane) a group from what appeared to be Team Z was at the front. The lead rider rode at a very inconsistent pace, rode with no hands, and seemed generally unaware that he had a large group behind who could not pass without riding into relatively heavy traffic. This established the pattern for the rest of the Silverado Trail. A very inconsistent pace, riders at the front riding 2 abreast in the bike lane so they could not be passed, and the rotation including a limited number of folks at the front.

The dilemma was, there was a headwind and to go to the front to try to set a steady pace would require passing a largish group and riding in the heavy traffic in the traffic lane. Then who knows what kind of cooperation you would get from the folk already up there? So we decided to save energy by hanging back in the group (although this was a bit of a false economy since all the little surges and slowdowns burned energy unnecessarily).

There was also a guy in a white jersey (just behind Jay I think,) (note: he was "weaving" directly in front of me-and was gapped when the Z Surge happened-I should have passed him earlier-j) that was all over the road. The woman behind him (call her Helen since she had a Helen Cycles jersey on) was having a difficult time dealing with this guys erratic riding (as anyone would since the constant speed ups and slow downs take much more energy than riding at a constant fast pace). On one of the last rollers before the Lake Hennessy turn, she finally had enough and moved to the shoulder to get out of the line. As this was happening, the pace at the front finally picked up and we were gapped. I pulled hard to try and close and Stephen came up to help, but we really didn't close up until right before the turn.

Idiot of the Ride - Contestant #2
Somewhere along the Silverado Trail some idiot rider from a side street turned left into the middle of the paceline with the result that riders had to scatter all over the road to avoid Ms. Idiot. Someone said something to her because I heard her reply "That's ok, you own the road." WTF, she turned into a group of about 30 people (while going about 1/2 their speed) and does not understand why people would be upset or that she did something stupid?

Ink Grade
Oh Scary!
We rolled slowly out of lunch (Aetna Springs) towards Ink Grade. About 1/2 way to the climb, June stopped as she had gotten a bee in her shirt and the little bastard stung her. There was no shoulder so we cleared out quickly to avoid causing other riders to have to ride into traffic. I suggested stopping at the bottom of the climb (where there is more room) to check for a stinger but that was vetoed (note, this is two weekends in a row that there has been a bee sting). She found out later that the stinger was still in her side (don't scatch!).

It was hot 100°F by my thermometer at the bottom of the hill so I took it easy. There were a few guys who started just ahead of us that I was not passing so that was incentive to not go too easy. No worries in that they all slowed down about 1/2 way up when I was just picking up speed. There were a lot of people walking this year, seems like more than in years past. Were more people out of shape this year or was the salami on the sandwiches getting its revenge? My honorary Diablo Scott passed-them to passed me ratio was lots:3 (3=Jay/Stephen/June).

We don't usually stop at the top, it's a huge cluster* in the middle of the road, but when I got there I saw an orange helmet in the water line so I pulled over and handed Jay a bottle to get topped off. Jay was bummed that he thought he had done a good time up the hill but that he had forgotten to start the timer at the bottom. My GPS data tells me I took approximately 26:57 for the 4.0 mile and 1030' climb.

Then a bit more climbing before the fast fast descent back to Silverado Trail. It felt like I had a tire going flat so I took it easy. There was no flat so perhaps it is a case of square tire disease on the rear wheel, if my records are correct, that's only 1300 miles on an (original) ProRace.

Peninsula Velo
After coming down off Mt Veeder, we started down Silverado Trail at a relaxed pace. After a few minutes of this we were passed by a 4 or 5 man paceline from Peninsula Velo. After a couple of glances, June Bruyneel s tells us that she's content to ride at her own pace but that we are free to go ahead and play. So we pick up the pace and jump on the line. I was a bit tired at this point and did not know if I would be able to play. But these guys ran an extremely smooth line and, even when we had to move into the lane to pass slower riders, there was no drama I felt a little guilty that the PenVelo guys did all the work, rotating in front of us, but they seemed happy to do so. When we got to the Napa College rest they were continuing (not stopping) so we yelled our thanks for the pull and we turned off.

There was one exception to the non dramatic paceline. We were passing some guy on a recumbent while traffic was whizzing by. Just as Jay was next to recumbent guy, he (recumbent guy) swerved out pushing Jay into traffic just as a silver Mazda (Miata) was passing. That required a "whoa". Hold your line recumbent guy.

"Downtown" Yountville
We took a different route through Yountville this year. It was more direct but added a bunch more stop signs where coarse workers were stationed to encourage us to make full stops.
We used to turn down Finnel Road as shown below. Last time we did this ride I recall seeing a Mercedes on the side of Finnel Road with its windshield caved in. Obviously some sort of accident but I never found out if a cyclist was involved.

Perhaps this was a bone thrown to the local PD so they could generate some extra revenue in these tough times? At any rate, we lost .1 mph off the average speed and trying to sprint up the Veteran's Home driveway was not enough to get it back.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


(August 1, 2009) Mt. TAM DOUBLE, 200 miles, 14,500’ climbing, 15.7 mph, 5:00-6:34 w/ @52 minutes at rest stops. MY BEST OVERALL TIME FROM 2005-2009. preliminary results--33rd of 239 finishers, 286 starters so ALMOST in top 10% ("I missed it by THIS MUCH"-Maxwell Smart) (ride difficulty rating *359*)Mt. Tam with public housing w/ famous concert hall in the foreground.

At the end of Devil Mountain, though faded badly on Mines Road to the Junction (which necessitated a 15 minute rest stop), I thought I left everything on the table, and was pissed at the end of the Terrible Two where I kept too much in reserve. So the dismal effort in Terrible Two, and my fondness of the Mt. Tam course, had me super motivated going into the ride.

Typically the Mt. Tam’s course has one big climb (Mt. Tam of course) and one hard climb (Coleman Valley 10.7% for 1.4 miles)—and the rest of the course is seemingly gentle roller giving way to rollers giving way to “Italian rollers” (one you have to climb and can’t just power over) to a handful of 1 mile climbs. So enough climbing to slow down the big boys stomping on the pedals in the flats but no enough long climbs to be pernicious.
Day before the Double I'm at Big Rock--In the morning we'd do the long climb up to it in the dark--hopefully 12 hours later I'd be steaming past it after a shorter uphill.

The only negative about the course it is too damn cold in the morning, where the damp Pacific Ocean fog plays havoc with my exercise induced asthma, but USUALLY (not this year) by mile 86, it is warm and clear enough to pull off my undershirt.

I focus on this event and have come in between 23rd and 36th the last four years. I like to refer to the Death Ride as the “Mt. Tam Training Ride.” But this year high placement will be harder as the California Triple Crown included the Mt. Tam Double for the first time as the last of 3 doubles in their Stage Race Series. So all the people gunning for the stage race championship would be entered and going balls out on this one. (By way of comparison, Grizzly Mark, who has in the past I’ve been compatible with in the past but has ridden faster than me this year on DMD & TT, is in 25th, 6 ½ hours back) and club mate Jack who I finished DMD with, but then got me by a ½ hour on the TT is in 34th, 8 hours back.) So easily 34 folks who have done better than me this year on doubles will be entered; it will be a tall order for a high placement, but I get sky high for this ride.

Helped a lot that “I wouldn’t do a double” training buddy Ward has jumped in and helped plan whatever crazy training ride I want to do. All spring-summer long, on almost every Tuesday and Wednesday, we’ve done a 40 mile loop that includes going to the top of Mt. Diablo, and we concocted 3 different Mt. Tam Century rides to check out different parts of the course in the last few months.

Also helped that being super motivated for this ride I dropped to 4-6 lbs to145, equaling my lowest weight from 2003-2004. In 2003-04, when every ride scared me, and I was going crazy, it was real easy not to eat and drop weight. Can’t do that now, even before DMD or TT but did go low calorie-high protein for the three weeks prior to The Mt. Tam Double. Dropping the weight and all the training miles helped me do my personal best since 2004 (34:39) to the Mt. Diablo Ranger Station on our club’s Wednesday nights time trial.

Day before take a small chain ring 40 miles spin from San Rafael to Pt. Reyes Station—Bovine Bakery, which is part of the mid day double and then the finishing section the next day. Sunny at hotel parking lot so I DON’T take a vest or arm warmers—ride quickly became chilly with a cool wet breeze. BIG CHANGE from ride on the Sacramento Bike trail the past Monday when it was 113 back at the car and I was enjoying life. Weather forecast called for cool and breezy the next day—and I saw Dr. Dave at check in and he said he went for a drive on the Coast and the fog was thickly whipping in with high winds. FnGreat.

Registration was weird—no one at the @12 century check in lines but a dozen riders cued up at the Double Check in line. No free tee shirts like last year (in fact their web site still indicates a free tee shit) and when I asked about it some one said “oh, you signed up just for the free tee shirt.” Cute. Also they gave out cards we had to turn in at the start—registrar saying “if you don’t turn in the card you were NOT on the ride I guess as part of the stage race series they really had to keep detailed track of time. Good Marin Century jerseys from last year for $5—of course no mediums left. (and though good looking on the front the back looked like the Vietnam Memorial with the long list of sponsors.)

Up Mt Tam to Bolinas/ Hwy 1 (to mile 35)
Jack and Kitty lined up near the front of the mass start—but that just means they’ll be passed by dozens of riders who go balls out from the get go. I used to start off at the back but a few years ago was caught immediately by a red light on Freitas Parkway (only light on the course) a few blocks from the start, and we had an instant pelaton split, so I’m hanging in the middle looking out for Don and Dave. Dave spots me and squeezes his way in claiming he’s in my club (I don’t wear the Diablo Cyclists vest as I have a clear one that folds up much smaller—but having the same vest would help keep interlopers out of pacelines.) Slower folks who aren’t in this ride for time already left at 4-4:30am, now we’re all bunched up waiting for 5:00. At 4:58 Dave says “I forgot my glasses,” and has to go back to his car when we are ready to go.

I think this is from Bicycling Magazines 101 Tips To Riding A Century

23) Don’t wear wool garbage men gloves and think they are cycling gloves.(me on last weeks training ride)
38) Don’t forget your glasses (Dave)
49) Don’t forget your shoes (Jack on ES, 2008)

55) Hammergel and Bars left in the car don't do much good (me on Mt. Hammy Training Ride, 2009)

66) Bottles left in frige stay cold but not in the best place for the ride (Ward, on Mt. Tam 2 Century, 2009)
75) Don’t forget your lights (Don on TT, 2006)

We’re off and have about a dozen gradually up then down through a neighborhood until we turn on Lucas Valley Road. Don comes up and joins me, which is great as we can trade pulls. Then we turn on Lucas Valley where it’s a 1-2% uphill which is nice as the pack is going full tilt but the slight grade keeps the pace down a bit. I see Grizzly Mark go by and hustle to ride up to his wheel, he is tactically aware and reads a race really well.

We then hit the Big Rock climb (8.4% for .8 mile) which instantly breaks up the pack. As being one of the worst descender in the bike club, I have lots of motivation to go up climbs hard, essentially so I get to the downhill in semi isolation and don’t have to ride in a pack. All of a sudden I was at Big Rock, rolled the arm warmers down, and sped downhill for the @ 6 miles. My two little lights were mostly illuminating the fog. Luckily I got off the steepest section before a big group in the pelaton caught and passed—Grizzly Mark yelled “don’t stop pedaling now” but I was going to mostly coast as 1) its dark, 2) its foggy, 3) its downhill, 4) I’m coughing away because of the dampness.

We then have 9 miles where the sun will eventually come up and three serious “Italian” rollers which will further break up the pact until we hit Fairfax and the start of the Mt. Tam Climb.

On this stretch ran into ride idiot of the day. Going into the longest Italian roller is a long flat stretch where Don almost caught up to me. I was passed by a guy and woman and I jumped on their wheel. At one point guy sees we’re on his wheel and he ups the pace but we just draft behind. He never signals for anyone to come forward. He then looks back and yells something about how “HE has to do all the work”, goes to the far left of the traffic lane (we’re on a wide shoulder so he moves 10-12” away from us) and then sprints out. I mockingly yell out to the tall white translucent jacket clad rider (didn’t have his number showing) “wow there goes George Hicapie.” Hope he tried sprinting out all day. Woman and I trade pulls to the base of the climb were I catch on to the group ride idiot has joined going up hill so I put in a dig to get in the front of that group.

Sun has risen, yippie, but still cool whereas I’ll climb with a vest which I usually never do. Here my double wrapped bar tape from my right drops started to unravel—I figured I could F around and try to fix it all ride long or, I just unwrapped the whole thing and pulled it off. Luckily the torn ligaments are on my left hand—though with the super fast but super stiff American Classic wheels on today I’d feel every little irregularity on the road.

Start passing some of the “leave early” riders as we go up Bolinas Fairfax Road, and then the curvy descent to the Alpine Dam. The ride up from Alpine Dam is one of my favorite climbs, the grade kicks up without being nasty and it really kicks up on the frequent hairpins. Here I’m motoring past anyone I see.

Then, unfortunately, we don’t ride the rolling ridges on the top of Tam but have to go down secondary Bolinas Fairfax Road—described in the Mt. Tam 3.0 free century post. Luckily today it wasn’t wet, and when I yelled hairpin at the unannounced hairpin off the smooth pavement, someone thanked me for knowing it was there. But if I passed a dozen riders on the climb, at least a dozen riders passed me on the descent.

Pulled into rest stop one at 7:04 (mile 36), as first time rest stop was here nothing to compare it to from the past. Out the door in 8 minutes.

Up Mt. Tam Again past Muir Woods to Highway 1 (to mile 54)
We were now going south on Highway 1, where in 5 miles we’d start climbing Tam again. It was my good fortune to have stage racer Ryan I nicknamed “Fabian Cancellara” come by with his climbing buddy, as on the flats and on the smaller rollers this guy did all of the pulling at a nice steady high speed—and we’d ride on and off together until mile 86.

We bs’d at the start of the 4 mile Tam reclimb but my dander got up when some guys went past and I took off after them. Unfortunately this climb is very steady one for the pure climbers, and though I came close I never caught up. Again motivation to go hard up as we’d soon be riding down on a twisty cold descent to Muir Woods where I turned on my rear flashing lights again. Seemed we were on the Coast very fast, where it stayed damp and cold. Rest stop was wide open in an inlet on Highway 1, no desire to hang at all—besides topping off the Perpetuem I grabbed some strange textured fig cookies to nibble on while riding, unfortunately they’d crumble while in my jersey pocket. 8:33 (mile 54)-5 minutes at rest stop.

Up Highway 1 to Pt. Reyes Station and Hicks Valley (to mile 86)
I started out of rest stop along but soon two racer guys in Capo Jerseys went past, I jumped on their wheel and they upped the pace but I stuck firm. They each took short pulls, and I did to, though I kept the speed 20-21 instead of the 25-26 they were going at. Soon Fabian Cancellara arrives, he brought a long pace line with him. Now with a dozen riders a few of us took turns at the front, which was great as this 20 mile stretch along the Coast and is the only real place you can endlessly paceline on the ride.

Only one little problem, the 20 miles is punctuated by a series of short rollers. Instead of keeping it steady a few times the racing guys tried to pick up the pace and get off the front, so when we hit a few rollers I picked up the pace and Cancellara and his friend went with me. Cancellara pulled about 80% of the time but when we hit a roller his friend or I would do the work at the front.

Besides the beautiful rollers, I love this part of the ride as it gets sunny and is usually wind neutral (we had a little tailwind.) Near Olema the road again flattens out and the racers/ pelaton caught up to our group. I cautioned Cancellara to take it easy as the Cheese Factory climb is long for this ride and coming up soon.

When we hit Pt. Reyes Station I planned to hit the 3-4 block uphill out of town hard to break up the pelaton but the pelaton outfoxed me—they ALL turned down the wrong street (I was the ticket collector at the time) so I was alone on the climb out of town and took it easy and waited for the pelaton to regroup as they stole my designation as “rider most likely” to get lost.

A few more gentle rollers where I upped the pace, but now there was a crosswind and then got back into the pelaton awaiting the Cheese Factory Climb (1.1 miles, 5.3%.) We were also now merged in by Century riders who had 66 less miles in their legs than we did. When we got to the Cheese Factory Climb I felt good and Cancellara’s riding buddy and I took off; I was able to stand most of the way. Passing century riders was kinda iffy with lots of cars on this road. I got to the top first so I figured it would be easy for me to solo to the rest stop, as only a few miles of a wide open smooth downhill remained. I get near the bottom when Cancellara yells “hop on” when a streaking tandem is pulling the remnants of the pelaton I had left behind. I painfully dig in to catch the end of the train, wondering where the F did the tandem come from. Of course they were on the century ride.
Thanks to Photocrazy for getting this shot of me actually riding and being serious as I scramble back to the pelaton being pulled by a fast tandem towards Hicks Valley.

I usually take off my undershirt at the Hicks Valley School and its the first rest stop I spend serious time at, but there was still a chill in the air so I left on the tee shirt but (stupidly) took off my arm warmers. Wasted time walking all the way to the back, through a sand pit, to get to the drink/ food while Team in Training tent was put close to the entrance--hey, if your're gonna run a timed event how about making it easy to get in and out of rest stops. After reloading Perpetuem/ Hammergel mix and downing a breakfast bar I was again out of dodge quickly. 10:16 (mile 86) – 10 minutes. Pulled in 15 minutes earlier than my best time from 2005-2008.

Marshall Wall to Tomales to Crowded Valley Ford Lunch (to mile 116)
Usually when I do the Marshall Wall run in I do really good. Today had a good run in (11 miles) but not great.

First there was a slight headwind—which would pick up the closer we got to the wall. Then it was still cool and foggy in spots. Worse, the road was deserted with people I could paceline with. There was only one guy from the southland who was a brevet rider who knows Eastern Sierra Vic we just briefly bs’d with, and there were a few century riders (when I went off to the side of the road to whiz in lieu of the crowded Hicks Valley outhouses, one commented “can’t he wait a few miles.”) I was zooming past.

When I got to the top of the Marshall Wall I stopped to put on my vest and arm warmers before plunging into the thick fog. At that point Fabian Cancellara and friend came by, and the brevet rider. In reality I couldn’t have stayed with them on the fast downhill that shoots by the Peace Bell on knarly road, but if I had started the downhill earlier and arrived at Hwy 1 with them it would have been great riding up the Coast with them.

When I got back to Highway 1 I go North by myself, more rollers that are more serious than the earlier ones, with flat sections between I’m doing 20-21 comfortably in the drops on. Seven miles of this and the first time I see any riders are when passed entering Tomales, and ready for the left turn climb into the headwind. One guy shoots off, the other guy is wearing a cool Project Rwanda jersey, and we’d keep passing each other the rest of the day. Then a long fast downhill on good road with an annoying crosswind, misty also which necessitated wiping my glasses often, but nothing like the wind causing mass bike shimmy last year.

Lunch stop is crowded—takes awhile to establish that there is no one taking numbers/ checking in riders, and food is near the rear. Special table for the double century riders, where regular century folks are constantly begging for endurolights/ Perpetuem. There are some gourmet wraps but I pass on these for some good seeded Italian bread.

As I’m pulling out Grizzly Mark, who is a great closer, is pulling in. So I figure I’m 10 minutes up on him, that he’ll eventually join me, but I can at least make it hard. 12:20 (mile 116) 7 minutes at the lunch stop. Pulled in 8 minutes earlier than any time from 2005-08.

Bay Hill to Coleman Valley Hill to Empty Valley Ford Rest Stop (to mile 145)
Apart from riding with Cancellara earlier in the day, this was the most fun re riding with people.

After a short flat ride starts on a long ( 4 milers) uphill with traffic (Hwy 1) and a good shoulder into the headwind towards Bodega. Then short of the Coast there is a right turn onto Bay Hill, another 4 miles climbing on a knarly side road with little traffic but a cold cross/ headwind.

I passed a few riders in Hwy 1 and was pretty tired when I got into the windy Bay Hill climb. Here I caught up to a woman wearing a Roaring Mouse Cyclist kit who had been dropped by her friend. First we saw a car almost spin out as it was racing past us downhill. Then she helped me out by blocking the wind so I spent some time riding behind her standing, and then I helped her back to her friend—and followed them down the roughly paved road back to Highway 1.

Now it was a few miles north along the windswept coast until up Coleman Valley. Coleman Valley climb is tough but I like it as it means the rest of the ride is away from cold wet headwind. Luckily no one in front or in back of me so I decided to take the climb at a solid pace but nothing where I’d burn out. One person did catch me at the top of Coleman but we all regrouped for the 134 mile water stop. Playing bluegrass music at the stop, which should be banned as makes you want to cycle at 3mph (all day long I was trying to get sag maestro Lee to play the Doors or James Brown.) Was out in two minutes where we had a 5 mile fast descent along badly paved Joy Road. The jolts from all the bad road was starting to bug me—I hadn’t remembered this much crumpled road in the past..

When we got back on fairly level road two guys from the Double joined me and we organized a paceline where we caught up with a larger group in the front, and then came into Valley Ford together. It was even windier and more inhospitable than it had been two hours ago, and now the rest stop was almost empty. No more Perpetuem. Took a Cliff Shot and more Italian Bread, Deju Vu--while leaving saw Grizzly Mark roll in again. . 2:48 (mile 145) 9 minutes at stop, rolled in 10 minutes ahead of any time from 2005-2008.

To Petaluma (to Mile 172)
Back had been tweaked on Coleman Climb, and foot was starting to feel the cleat too much from all the standing-but my energy level felt OK and my legs felt good, so disappointed that passed by 5 riders while passing 1, in this 30 miles stretch of rollers and tailwind aided flat sections.

This is the part of the ride where you incredibly only see 6 cyclists for 30 miles, and have to recall the hordes of riders at the mass start. Actually I saw a 7th, saw someone make a right turn where I recalled road should go to the left, and though course was usually well marked, arrows here had been scuffed out. I went left and spent a mile or so wondering if I had gone in the right direction. On a climb two guys shot past me, good as I knew I was going OK, bad because I couldn’t get on their wheel.

Even more disappointing was that “Colanogo kit guy” got away—think he is same strange dude that I rode away from in DMD, squat guy with tri bar setup who mashes big gears—with every pedal stroke his bike looks like it is about to fall down as it makes a grinding sound. He flew past without calling out at one point, I caught up on the next roller, he flew down it, I caught again on the next hill, but on a wind aided stretch he easily went 30+, I drafted on this section but lost him when the road turned into a crosswind. Disappointed I couldn’t give it a better effort. Otherwise just spent time recalling riding this section with Don and Jack last year. This was only time I looked at odometer and miles seemed to slowly tick by.

No targets up the road either. One guy I caught said he was fading fast so we couldn’t two man, then close to Petaluma I hear two guys talking loudly rapidly approaching—I thought one was Grizzly Mark. But when they passed it wasn’t and I lost the two guys on the next hill.

Weather was warmer than anytime during the day but still not hot . My drop bad missing at Petaluma stop—luckily hadn’t turned in lights like was suggested at registration. Found out later Grizzly Mark’s was missing also. Luckily they had some Cliff Shot Blocks & Endurolights (which had been in my drop bag), I still had Tums, and I mixed a 20% Cytomax drink as Heed I had sent here was missing. Unwrapped a Cliff Bar and stuck it in my pocket, as I wasn’t going to stop again. And as I’m rolling out, who rolled in—again, Grizzly Mark. 4:38 (mile 172) 7 minutes at rest stop, 6 minutes ahead of best pace 2005-2008.

To the Finish

Seeing Grizzly Mark gave me more than my usual impetus that no one is passing at the end of the ride—especially on the next section I really love. Grizzly Mark is a good guy to ride with, we helped each other out on the Terrible Two a few years back. Usually we’re are ride times are similar, but this year he’s been up by a lot on all the timed doubles we both entered, and many of his clubmates finished well ahead of Jack and I on DMD. So it would be a little special getting in before him—so I conjured up the images of Museeuw during his 30 mile Paris Roubaix time trial in 2002—and I rode really hard all they way in. Passed three riders on the road, plus anyone who had pulled into Nicasio.

One long climb into the headwind getting out of Petaluma, and then another downhill on crappy pavement, where the American Classic wheel transmitted every rut in the road. Passed one guy wearing a Terrible Two jersey who I had ridden with earlier, I had hoped he’d be on my wheel so we could trade pulls but no such luck. So then onto serious climb between Petaluma and the Cheese Factory in an annoying headwind.

Made the turn to Nicasio—a tailwind but not the gale force tailwind usually there, but I get into the drops and try to hold a constant 20-21. Only a few of the slower Century riders on the course. Pass the Nicasio rest stop (mile 189), yell out my number, and keep going—only 11 miles to go, no need to stop. (above) Last rest stop by Nicaiso's new school with old schoolhouse in background--but with @12 miles to go no need to stop, ride would pass (minimally) 3 historic schoolhouses. (below) I'm passing the Nicasio reat stop--looking for the person taking numbers (thanks to Brian Chun)

Flip through town and then the long uphill to Big Rock. Its almost 4 miles but a gentle 2% grade, and with the tailwind I can stay in the big ring and stand whenever I have to. Finally see Big Rock, look back to see that there is no one behind of ahead, but I still go up as fast as possible, though miss the rush when this was contested last year. Now the curvy downhill with the 19 bends that used to scare the crap out of me, and its off again on the straightaway 20-21. Start and finish of the Big Rock climb we'd hit at @ mile 195--short and with a tailwind, I love it.

All of a sudden I’m at Las Gallinas Road and the few block climb up through the neighborhood, and then the downhill to Freitas Parkway-see the green light, see the green light, about a block away, light is green, now half a block away it TURNS RED. OH SHIT. Major thoroughfare—light stays red for 2-3 minutes which seems like 2-3 hours as I keep glancing back to see if anyone is coming. Just when light turns green I see off to the side a big group pulls in, I’m ready to go and hear a friendly “HI JAY.” Voice sounds familiar but I don’t look back and yell “got to sprint to the finish and I go hard the last 3-4 blocks, ride into the crowded area where the finish table is, one lady almost steps in my way when I yell “on your left” and I’m in at 6:34 – 8 minutes AHEAD of my best finish two years ago when the course was wind neutral.

Nice little spread of pasta, pizza, chicken, at the end. Even though I don’t like the colors figure I’ll buy a Mt. Tam Double Jersey—but they’re not taking credit cards so I save the $$$$ (I’ll wait them out until the get a brighter color than drab green on it.) I go to eat when I hear “Hey you didn’t say hello.” –it’s Sacramento Doug who was the guy pulling in with a group of Century riders—not Double riders.

Ate with Doug while purposely didn’t take any vegetables so he’d cringe. Then hung out for Don and Jack’s arrival. Joined Grizzly Mark and a few of his clubmates as we swapped Doubles stories. He writes a good article on how to train for them. Then lounging around and recognize Alta 8 Mick—I called out and he said “do I know you??” To be fair I was in regular clothes and he was still in cycling clothes, and people look real different out of cycling garb. Ironically he rode part of the course with Don & Jack, and was bummed that there wasn’t as much pacelining on this course as on the Terrible Two. Then Jack and Don come in—Don hadn’t trained for this ride and Jack was still feeling the effects of eating too much escargot at last month’s Tour de France.

I felt that I had ridden as hard as I could all day, only suffered some energy loss from Valley Ford to Petaluma, and got out of rest stops in a Jack like 52 minutes (including 3 where it was hard to access fast)—which, if you can, is great for not tightening up. While I didn’t have nearly as much fun as riding with clubmates, I couldn’t envision riding much better.