Saturday, October 10, 2009


The ride announcement:

Levi's Grand Fondo too commercialized. Then you'd like
Dave* & Ward's** Grand Fondue
*published Lance hater, **certified Bush hater

Saturday Oct 10

An Unsupported Century: Fairfield to Middletown and back. Start at the Solano Community college, take Suisun Valley Rd to Highway 121, Highway 128, Knoxville Rd, Pope Canyon Rd, and Pope Valley Rd to Middletown. Return Butts Canyon, Pope Valley Rd, Lower Chiles Valley Rd, Highway 128, Highway 121, Wooden Valley Rd. A brisk pace will be needed to get back before dark. For strong riders who like Hendrix' 'Are Your Experienced' only.

Leave Solano Community College on Suisun Valley Rd north of I80 at 8AM sharp.


(October 10, 2009) Dave & Ward's Grand Fondue, Solano via Knoxville Road via Pope Valley to Middletown and back, 124 miles, 6,400' climbing, 17.7 average. w/ Ward, Jack, Dave, Christine & Stephan, June with us to Pope Valley

Ride graph--Dave got very happy when he hit the fast recumbent heaven at the end of the ride (Ward graph)

All the usual suspects (the “extra credit group” as Jack calls us) on this end-o-season ride. A few weeks ago we were trying to find an end of cycling season century to do but the offerings “not the best.” Dave tipped us on an organized brevet that went near Winters, so we thought of the great Winters-Middletown route that goes through the beautiful Pope Valley near Napa.
Unfortunately, upon further investigation we found out that brevet ends in Winters and starts in the industrial suburb of Hercules. Eh. So we decided to do our own brevet, Ward and Dave worked out route details. But as daylight was short we figured we’d start at 8 instead of 9 so Ward/Dave figured starting at Solano Community College in Fairfield would save us some driving time instead of going up to Winters. (Mileage would be about the same as at Winters we’d have to cycle West, from Fairfield more cycling North.) Other improvement was that instead of doing an out and back on Chiles/ Pope Valley Road we’d outbound on Knoxville Road, the lower portion that actually runs by Lake Berryessa (Jack/ I had done the upper wilderness climbing portion a few weeks ago on the Knoxville Double.) It became a posted club ride, where our resident route tinkerer Stephan started suggesting change after change, and we suggested he post a few more great routes on the club schedule.
Wording in club announcement was “FOR STRONG EXPERIENCED RIDERS ONLY” which was unfortunate as this guaranteed a low turnout. On this route there are not many turns and there are many chances to truncate the ride. However we had a better turnout that predicted with 7 riders, 2 that were going to do an abridged version.
Though much of the ride is desolate (2 traffic lights and 2 stop signs), there are 3-4 spots to pick up food, including Middletown, our turn around route. However, I decided to do traditional brevet style, self supported/ sufficient as can be. I took the GT Steel Bike with rack and brevet bag filled with extra drink mix (2 scoops each of Heed & Perpetuem,) 6 energy bars, 2 Cliff Shots, backup lights in case we got stuck in twilight. All told about 10 lbs heavier than my Lightspeed. Don’t believe Luddite Grant of Rivendale when he “claims” that a heavier bike doesn’t noticeably slow you down. Climbing/ getting up to speed on the loaded steel GT is like accelerating truck.
But I was damn happy I brought the rack and brevet bag. Forecast called for a high of the day touching 80. Unfortunately it was 50 and breezy when we started at Solano Community College (the Flanders Flag I was flying to establish a meeting point in the parking lot was flying straight out from the flagpole.) Now 50 isn’t that cold, but I get my comeuppance for being one of the few people loving life when it is 95 degrees and we’re climbing Mt. Diablo—when it is 50 and breezy I can’t wear enough clothes. The knee warmers, glove liners and toe warmers were on. Jacket was over vest over wool undershirt. (At nearby Travis AFB it was 49 at 7:55 with wind speed of 17, the wind chill makes it feel like 31-42.)
Luckily ride started on rolling uphill through vineyards on Wooden Valley Road, then a jog onto two lightly traveled (except by pickups pulling boats or trailers) California rural main roads. No other cyclists on the road, and we had a good bonus mile group where we all ride cooperatively and keep a nice paceline. As rolling uphill Dave on the recumbent kept in the back, or would fall off slightly—at one point the road straightened out and he came to the front to pull but I begged to stay in the front as I was fn freezing and had to get my heart rate up.

The pelaton starts Wooden Valley Road--suns out but its COLD. (All photos by Ward except if he's in them, then I stole his camera.)
We soon came to the turnoff to Knoxville Road, where though I had been on it before you could have given me $1000 and I wouldn’t have remember to get there—though I remembered every attack point from the last time our club had an aggressive ride over it. We had an earlier quick rest/ regroup stop, and a but our first one of substance was a stop in Spanish Flats, mile 36. The sun had come up nicely, the breeze had stopped, and my brevet bag was now stuffed with all my extra clothes. Jack rides with a big saddlebag, which someone declared looked like a scrooleuiem and quickly many songs were made up using our newfound magic word of the morning.
Another quick vault toilet break where we turn off Knoxville Road (2nd rest stop on the Knoxville Double.) where we ran into two motorcyclists who had passed us earlier and were impressed that we were doing such a long ride. Now we were working our way backward on the Knoxville Double route and heading to Pope Valley where our second stop was the Pope Valley General Store—mile 47. Here June and Stephan were going to do some hills before riding back—but not before our incessant route tinkerer Stephan said he was thinking about making changes to his great “Turning of the Leaves” Sonoma metric coming up, and solicited our input. He may regret this.
At Pope Valley store--June is sad that she & Stephan are going to turn around (after doing some hills) or the seriousness of Stephan encouraging us to suggest route changes to his upcoming Turning of the Leaves ride. Ward, Stephan and Christine all contemplating route changes.
Started north to Middletown on lightly traveled and decently paved Butts Canyon Road (Lake County know how to pave roads—what the F does Napa County do with all their wine money and shitty roads.) Some serious rollers where we’d lose Dave, who is one of the best recumbent climbers, and then he’d shoot by us when the road straightened out and he was trying to gain momentum for the next roller. A few miles out of Middletown the road does level off and Dave went to the front and pulled us in—while you can’t draft off a recumbent like you can a regular bike, you do get about half the benefit.

Vineyards in Pope Valley. (above) Jack (below) Me

Some great Hubcap Ranch shots by Ward. (above) Christine and (below) Dave--who needs to stop and get some Spinergy Rims on his ride.

Christine getting very aero in order to draft off of Dave--nearing Middletown.

I'm thinking of all Davis Doubles that took us to Middletown in 100 degrees.
Spent awhile at the Middletown Quickmart where we bs’d about some of the great rides we did in 2009 and goals for 2010 while Ward was having a fig newton fest.

Some highlights of 2009:

- Jack and I motoring on Devil Mountain Double toward Sunol during twilight when Ward, coming back from the Terra Bella, drives by and takes photos.
- Riding past the last rest stop on the Death Ride and seeing Christine looking like she is enjoying life at the rest stop-knowing she’ll finish the ride.
- Dave looking like a French Professor wearing a shower cap and rain jacket backwards when it was pouring on Santa Rosa Wine Country Century. Oh yeah, scrambling and achieving the Triple Crown after his recumbent was stolen.
- Ward always doing our training rides (eg. Sierra Road 2x, Mines Road-Mt. Hamilton-Sierra Road loop) no matter how insane, always taking photos.
The GREAT Middletown gas/ market stop. Great as they have tables, ice, and clean bathrooms.
Where do you put a chrome bike rack on this car?

On a brevet you have to collect receipts to show that you got to certain check in points. Alas the gas station with no gas store at Muskovite Corner (stop 1 & 6) couldn't print receipts.

Yea team!! By a scenic water crossing right outside Middletown.
Time to go South where now there was some cross/ swirling wind—some weird swirls where at some point you zoom up a roller at 20 mph. My finest point of the ride occurred here. Usually we try to keep our bonus mile group together, but on the fast tailwind points Dave would zoom by—even when he was soft pedaling, and of course shoot ahead on the downhills. Meanwhile, I get pissed at myself when I lose the group on a downhill. So on one downhill Dave and Christine storm ahead and I hook on to the back of Ward and Jack chasing. When the road levels off I bridge up to Dave/ Christine, but a tailwind roller starts, I am cooked as they again zoom ahead. Now I’m really po’d, but I know the MOST SERIOUS (longest/ steepest) roller is going to soon start so I hammer up—pass them, and try to stay ahead on the ensuing downhill until I reach Aetna Springs Road—success, and Christine does a nice job bridging up while I slow to wait for the group. Later my worst part of the day was near the end of the ride, when I cracked after Dave jumped on a fast tailwind aided straightaway (F, after 110 miles we were going 28-30) and luckily Ward and Christine got me back to the group.
But I jump ahead—back on Pope Valley Road I quickly wasn’t happy, which was mostly my fault. I like to stand and pull up on the bars when on a climb, which usually means I have to tape my right hand. But I didn’t think I’d need to without a “big climb”—mistake, my hand started blistering. Then my riding gloves should have been permanently retired—the palms were quickly disappearing. Finally, when I went to shift I mindlessly hit my nail on the shifter (this is why we needed “experienced rides”—I deserve to get left back, which somehow cracked my nail and blood started oozing out. The blood was soon remedied by “Spidermanbandaids at the Pope Valley Store, but my hand and thumb were killing me for the rest of the ride.
Now went back on roughly paved, pot holed Pope Valley Road. Some parts made me long for my woolen tee shirt—now in my brevet bag. Took a secondary/ back road at one point with even worse paving which killed me, and some short steep hills which killed Dave. Back on the main road we took our last stop at Muskovite Corner.
Ward gets into the Cowboy spirit.

And we only though French Canadians curse, though Jack did say this with much more good humor than a New Yorker would. (Still photo and caption supplied by Ward Film Industries) There goes my chance of getting Hammar as a commercial sponsor.
Now mostly downhill rollers, and when the road straightened out we had a nice tailwind. Dave always 200’ up the road—Ward put in a nice dig to finally get back to him and after one rotation Dave took off again and I was just ready to mail him a postcard. But one of the two traffic lights had us regroup, and then the final mile back into windswept Solano Community College.
Holy f—our average speed at Middletown had been 17.2, we finished at 17.7. Seven hours exactly for the 124 miles, @ 9 hours of total time. Christine had taken on the role of providing us with good food at the end of our rides, here she broke open a cooler filled with grapes and figs. What a great riding season.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Correction: better re-count. There were 7 riders, two of whom turned back.
Box Boy Jr.