Sunday, October 15, 2006


(October 15, 2006) Riverbank Wine & Cheese Century, 110 miles, 16.1mph, 7:30-@3:30-inc stop at a crash. End OP Season Party Pace w/ Jack, Doug, Jeanne, Anna (Sandal Girl), Sara (Trampoline Girl)

This years organized cycling season came to quick thud. No one interested in traveling to the middle of nowhere and do a beautiful but hard climbing century, the Grizzly, as done the last two years. Fleeting thought to bring back weird memories by doing Pedal Round the Puddle (last done in 2003 as last Gruppo Pumpkincycle Ride) but rebuilding a string of wheels and wanting a fixed gear left me short of $$$$, and didn't feel like paying at another cheesy motel just to do a century. Then two 2nd tier century rides "Foxy's Fall Century and Riverbank" held on the same weekend so couldn't do both, and which ensured a split Diablo Cyclist squad. Don and the crazy fixed gear contingent, picked Foxy's Fall. Jack reasoned that we'd been over parts of that course multiple times, most recently on Knoxville Double, so we choose Riverbank. With no single event in focus interest in both was light-- Ward, the Mike's, not eager to do either. It's been a long year. Just in terms of timing seemed like the NFL Pro Bowl Game--season is over and done with.....and then something thrown in with little interest or excitement. Luckily Doug, fellow member of Triple Crown Rookie Class 2005, would come down from Sacramento to do this ride. So would Jeanne, who used to race and is as competitive as I am. At the start joined by Sara--last seen being pushed by Doug off a trampoline (see previous page), and Anna, who I'd never ridden much with but always rides with cleated sandals and had given me the idea to get a pair for my hybrid coffee run bike. Riverbank is in the middle of the farm belt, and a long, cold, dark (sunlight now about at 7-, damn, there were some doubles we started at 5:30 when the sun was up.) On the way out I tried remembering things about this ride from last year but very nondescript. Mostly flat farm roads and minor highway shoulders that goes East in the Am with tailwind and back West in the PM with headwind. Nicest part is big climb before the turnaround at Moccasin Dam Power House. Knew I drove in a different way than last year as actually went through the town of Riverbank--old movie theater-downtown district--looked like plunked out from the 1950's (though of interchange now big strip mall with Starbucks and other ubiquitous stores.) Lots of nervous people at the beginning of the Century leaving at first light. One stoker lady on a tandem told her captain "we are NOT going over that", pointing to a bump in the parking lot. Captain was going to be in for a long day. Then I had a drug flashback--guy in bike clothes on rollerblades leaves the parking lot--drafting behind a bike.

Small group ready to leave at Riverbank High School--most people left a half hour earlier. 7:30 and still cold--yes!-those are sandals with cleats on Anna's feet. Doug not in photo as he is taking it.

Ride is run functionally well but has no soul. Registration easy, workers friendly, nice sag support, some good bathroom facilities at the start, Turlock Lake & Knights Ferry rest stops.. But out of 119 miles, 27 miles of lousy riding:
23 miles highway shoulder
4 miles pissing among subdivisions (8 turns in 4 miles)

Almost everything else is going up/ down/ around nondescript farm roads. Only 19 miles really memorable. 9 miles of climbing up and then down to Moccasin and right after Chinese Camp 10 miles of rollers off the beaten path.

At dumpy 2nd rest stop on side of Valero Station-rollerblader who did the 110 miles.
We had a good group,, weren't going hard but we kept the minimun speed up so never any lagging--with Jack, Doug, Jeane and I splitting the pulling. One race group shot by and I got on their wheel and then slugged it out with their lead rider on a few steep rollers, but soon flipped back--no impetus to go hard and I needed many other Diablo Cyclist around to make it interesting. Jeanne would have played but she made a pact to say with Anna. Back in the group Jack was laughing--said I was like a dog chasing fire trucks. Otherwise I was on good behavior and we stayed together. I'd pull, early could ride side by side and would bs with Jack, Doug or Jeanne, or just sit way off the back taking in the scenery and making unusual observations--Jack and Doug have huge seat bags that look like they are going around the world and have a change of clothes, Jeanne with her racing background has one so small it barely holds a tube. With the tailwind we were flying into mile 48 rest stop where we met up with rollerblader, who said this was his first 100 mile attempt, though he had done 87 miles previously.
Sara saw my Peets Coffee Bag and thought I brought coffee on the ride ( the stiff 1/2 lb bags the best things to carry extra sports drink powder in) The rest stop were nondescript with some fruit and gatorade. Big climb now up where we'd split up, but lunch right after that where we'd group. Jack promised he'd be on good behavior and not rush us out of the lunch stop. Nice rustic road which starts of with a little climb, then a long swooping curvy downhill before the serious climb starts. Now it was coming back to me--I was almost hit by a car last year when it came around a turn on my side of the road. Jack-Doug and Sara quickly zoomed away on the downhill. I eventually came around a hairpin where I could see the climb starting, the club trio off in the distance and a lone rider way ahead of them.. My goal was to catch up to lone rider in the distance and I felt great so I stood on bike and probably the quickest on a climb I had been all year. Feeling good and a working bottom bracket helps. I was in "the mode" and shot by my clubmates and didn't slow until I reached solo rider in front of them. Then set my sights for next rider up the road and wanted to go as hard a possible, as 2 mile curvy 12% downhill at the end and had didn't want to be passed on it, where I'd be one of the slowest cyclists around.
Zoomed to the top--frequent cattleguards but the rumbling over them just got me pumped up. Paris-Roublex!. Now the fun over for me as downhill started. Damn-came around one corner and one cyclist on the road yelling "SLOW DOWN-SLOW DOWN", beyond him two other cyclist kneeling over girls body--she had just skidded out and crashed a minute before me. Too many f'n accidents on rides this year. Helmet cracked, blood everywhere. At least she remembered her name and friends name. Jack came by in a few minutes--he had a cell phone that actually worked in the middle of nowhere and placed 911 call. (Gotta find out what service he has) While waiting we saw rollerblader come by--his technique for going downhill was to hang onto the back of a pickup truck. Crash victim established her friends were ahead of her--so I then went downhill where they were waiting at the base, and had to give them the bad news, and then stayed with them for awhile. Lunch/ rest stop at Moccasin Dam just a mile away, we rolled out--and real somber lunch. By the time we were ready to leave most riders had already split.
Camel on top of steep climb out of nice Knights Ferry rest stop. Thanks to Doug for photos.
Luckily the sun had broken through--and though Sarah established that she is a worse cold wuzz than me (as her jacket NEVER came off), for me it was now non vest-non knee warmer weather. Yippee. Anna was now dressed perfectly in her cycling sandals. She had an odometer that gave loads of information, elevation gain, temperature, stock market readings (well maybe not stock prices), when I told her she was an information center like like Ward with his multicomputer/GPS information, she then refused to tell me any of their readings. Ride back was in a mild headwind which started out on an 8 mile section on the road shoulder next to a thin arm of Don Pedro Lake--somehow I got a quick flashback to riding next to Lago di Corbara between Orvieto and Todi. I had lots of time to daydream--either I'd pull or I'd fall way off the back to get some more training in and pull anyone up if they fell off the paceline. Dangerous left turn over train tracks off Highway 49-120 into Chinese Camp, but this was a delightful stretch of rural rollers--now it seemed like I was on the backroads of Trequanda. More time to daydream, as like a double, (only @300 riders at event, our tardy start, and waiting at accident) almost no one else around.
On the rollers Sarah zoomed out and on a significant roller she passed two guys ahead on a climb-I was bs'ing with Doug and we started predicting if the guys she passed would be po'd and ride harder, and/ or if Sarah, with JACKET on would stall before she got to the top of the roller. She didn't, but next person she passed, some tri guy, put in an effort to repass her on a flat section. Doug came up and took a long pull and tri guy just sat on his wheel for a long section of flats, and also when the next big roller started. I expected tri-guy, who was getting a free ride, try to shoot past Doug, so I kicked it into gear and flew by them all on them on the uphill. Doug regrouped with me but at the end of the rural road, which was going back onto the windswept highway, we slowed for the rest of our group. Tri guy came along and darted across traffic well in front of us, and some of our group got stuck until traffic abated--which caused a delay. Once together I started the pull to get us motivated, and then Jack took over. I think he's the master for reeling in someone slowly. We weren't going that fast, but fast enough to catch the tri-guy down the road Once past him Jeanne, Jack and I kept the pace up until we again could get off the highway shoulder onto secondary road leading into Knights Ferry-Odd Fellow Hall, which I remembered from the old flat Manteca Century. Strange century as have no clue what time we pulled into Knights Ferry (mile 85) and didn't care. Finally broke my habit from 2004 when, doing loads of century rides solo, I always "ran against the clock." Leaving Knights Ferry short but steep hill Stephan attacked on last year, but this year everyone on good behavior and not killing ourselves. (I don't recall starting with him but he wound up in our group)
In fact, when we regrouped at the top of the hill there was a farm with a CAMEL, which we all had to stop and marvel at. Farm roads for awhile to Oakdale, where we then hit a huge clump of subdivisions that had us stopping and changing directions consistently.. At one point I'm leading the pelaton and traffic circle ahead. Trying to recreate my infamous looping the traffic circle on Chris' wheel on Mt Hamilton Challenge so I ignore arrows and continue around traffic circle to chorus of "Jaaaaaay, this way." . Last laugh on the group--they went the wrong way up a dead end street (though until we backtracked I had no idea where we should really have gone either.) Finally out of suburban hell and last stretch of farm road back to the start where I luckily started a sprint to get average speed nudged over 16. Salty chicken and lots of salad/ cubed fruit at the end with lunchroom low key and half full. One girl we had passed earlier came in stoked--her 1st century. Now 3:30 and only a few hours from twilight--and air getting real cool. Another century done, yawn--I remember when I got stoked like the person doing her first. Unusually slack ride, but nice to have a laid back ride and bs , and much easier than the usual Diablo Cyclist ride where people are always going off the front. Now the organized century season is over, and so is my youth..

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