Saturday, April 8, 2006


(April 8, 2006) TIERRA BELLA Double Metric, 127 miles, 7130' climbing, @7:45-5:30, 16.5 average w/Big Mike, Ward, Jack, Steve, on 120+ mile course; w/ Jeannie, Don, Chris, Doug and Brian on first 58 miles (where 100 & 120 mile course split) Thanks to Ward and his new GPS toy, this is rest stop/ elevation of Tierra Bella. Ward also figured out how late we started, how long we were at each rest stop, and how many blonds were on the road earlier in the day. We should have started at 7:10-7:20 instead of 7:45 (would have saved 30 minutes), skipped rest stop at mile 13 (save 10 minutes) and all others should stay for no more than 10 minutes--20 minutes at Silver Creek where Jack had a mechnical (save 24 minutes.) So if we didn't goof around would have come in easily an hour+ earlier . At least we got quicker out of rest stops as the day went on.

At the beginning of last year was waiting to see how weather shook out--and when I decided to register for Tierra Bella just two weeks before it occurred the ride was already filled up and closed. At the end of last year, after my crash and looking like shit, told Big Mike I'd like to do this one 4 months away--he said he love to see my try to come back from my injuries and ride it. With all this anticipation the Tierra Bella kind of fell off the radar as now focus on doubles so century rides are not that important and it rained almost every day in March, with no letup in April. Been concentrating on route descriptions and time splits of similar riders for Devil Mountain Double, which I signed up for day after Solvang, so I finally read about the Tierra Bella two days before the event. Hmmm 7000+ feet of climbing, and my Litespeed is in the shop undergoing a bottom bracket overhaul (FSA mega-X0 bearings shot after only 1 1/4 years??) so I'd have to take the steel GT, 5+ pounds heavier. But I didn't care,-great training for the DMD, so didn't even take off the rack.

Very popular Diablo Cyclist ride, some of the "oldtimers" recounting the route changes over the years and the big Metcalf climb, which had fixed gear Don and Brian actually bring out a bike with a derailleur. I'm sure 10 years ago much more rustic, and that nature of route has drastically changed due to explosive South Bay growth.

Plan was to start at 7:30, which is too late for a 120 miler (see Mt Hamilton last year), but was appreciated when I had to set the clock for super early 4:00 for the 1 1/2 hour drive. Starting place at Gavilan College in Gilroy showed how much organization and great support Almaden Cycling Club would provide--plenty of parking with lots of volunteers in lot directing the cars nicely. Then at registration windows a NOVEL idea with signs over each one that said "ANY LINE OK"--not like alpha sorted madness/lines at most events that have some huge J-K-L-M-N check in lines that take a half hour+ to get through (waiting on Death Ride lines harder than doing all passes) , while no one cued up on the X-Y-Z line. Only thing strange is that we couldn't get a 120 mile route sheet, and were told that it would be available at the 3rd rest stop. Sure enough one of us (Chris) was late changing into their cycling clothes so we first left at 7:45. Not before Jack made fun of the cloth covering I put on rack to act like a mudguard, "looks like something (local bike eccentric) Dick A. would invent," and Steve made fun of my mismatched glove--BMX glove on my left hand to hold and protect brace--with regular cycling glove on right hand. I told some people that the mud cover on rack was a wind faring to make me go faster...Thanks to Almaden Cycling club photographer who got us all in at rest stop 2, Coyote River--the more rustic portion of the ride. That is Jack hiding in the back.-we tried to get Jeanie in the front but Don did what he usually does when riding and pushed his way to the front.

First rest stop only 13 miles away mostly on roads off the beaten path with enough rollers to separate the group. With so many doubles or strong 120 milers we normally would have blown off the first rest stop, but we wanting to regroup so we made the sharp right turn over a badly placed cattle guard (some woman fell in on the turn.) BS'd with some folks from Benicia Cycling Club we do rides with. Alameden Cycling Club worker going around taking rider photos. Good date/ nut cake. I know Jack and Steve were impatient as we probably stayed there 15 minutes, which would be the MO of the day.

As soon as we left a climb started, which I liked as chance to warm up, as ride was now on back roads with lots of shade cast by trees. Actually nice once we got going as a pleasant 60 degrees and partially sunny. A 5 mile climb over a gentle grade, which Chris, Mike and I going at a good working pace. At one point near the top we passed 3-4 young guys who then jumped back past us and the race was on. But the downhill was steep and curvy (someone dressed as skeleton with a slow down sign), I fell off but Chris and Mike were off to the races, joined by Ward who came over the top and down rapidly . I was now in no mans land--off by myself. When I got near the bottom of the downhill figured I'd take it easy and wait for the rest of the Diablo Cyclists. No need to wait as Steve came roaring by. He slowed for me when the road flatted out and then it was all business as Steve was determined to catch Big Mike and Big Chris--though I told him no way we'd catch those powerhouses together unless we chased them for 100 miles. (Chris is the Ludo Dierckxsen of the Club, will go balls out until he can't go any longer, Mike, the strongest rider I know, will pace himself better but he doesn't train but rides himself into shape as the year goes by--so his endurance probably down this early in the season. We went a few mile and then saw Ward ahead with one of the guys from the race group, so then we had a 4 man for the 18 miles to the Coyote River Rest Stop at mile 37. I think Steve was a little frustrated that we never saw Chris/ Mike up ahead--and when we finally pulled into the rest stop they were already looking very comfortable. Wait another 5 minutes for rest of Diablo Cyclists, more date/ nut bread. Another volunteer taking photos. A few huge multicolor hula-hoop out--I exclaim loudly that they are the Rivendall Speedblend tires I just bought for my "get coffee" hybrid. We again get out of rest stop 15 minutes after pulling in.

Now we head towards civilization, streets with traffic. I'm a little frustrated, I finally put an odometer that works on the road (had one for when bike is on trainer), but had forgot to reset it until we left rest stop 1. Plus didn't know the course and the terrain coming up.. The big climb of the day, Metcalf, loomed ahead. Lucidly on the 5 mile run in on the Monterey Highway Chris, probably feeling bad that he was changing clothes at the start when we wanted to leave, decided to pull the whole way. Chris did a great job as we flew by all the cyclists on the shoulder--most cyclists riding two abreast heeded Chris' "on your left” warning and moved over--I was sitting 2nd wheel and would call out greetings. . But woe to the cyclists who didn't heed Chris, twice person blocking our way didn't move an inch--Chris passed ever so closely and then cut them off as soon as he was in front of them.Almaden Cycling Club takes photos of all the riders at this rest stop.

All of a sudden we were on the Metcalf climb-47 miles into the ride. Only two miles but medium steep and I didn't know how long it would be. And sun was out in full force--I felt great. . I set a moderate pace and kept passing all the cyclists ahead. One guy passes me and I ramped up the pace to stay off his wheel though I couldn't repass. Hand strength in injured hand 1/2 of what it should be (measured at p.t day before) but I no longer have much trouble grabbing the hoods, so I could stand on the pedals whenever I wanted to. About the time I crested I passed another two cyclists and then Big Mike came roaring up to join me up at the same time. I think about slowing to regroup but the two cyclists I just pass put on the gas and repassed, and Mike chasing. I was already pissed about being dropped on the last downhill, and this downhill was straighter than the last so I took it more at speed and hustled back to get on Big Mike's wheel when on the flats and then held on to the back of the pelaton-at one point a rider who we passed jumped right in front of me on Mike's wheel but was no holding a line--didn't want to take a chance and repass on narrow road. . A few other cyclists that we passed joined in and we flew into Silver Oak School, 9 miles away, mile 57. We got in about 11:40 but wouldn't leave for 30 minutes. Again rest of Diablo Cyclists rejoined in about 5 minutes, and Jack another 5 minutes behind as he had a flat and his brake rubbing against tire. This stop had the "Sweet and Salty" bars that I love, so started a diet of a couple of them, half banana, and mixed a new batch of Perpetuem.Our group bsing before we'd split on the Course.

Cutoff to start bonus loop of 26.5 miles, 2200' feet of climbing, which Tierra Bella said would take 2 hours, was 12:30 and we finally left at 12:15, after picking up the bonus loop route sheet. It showed us continuing north to the base of Mt Hamilton in San Jose. About half of our group decided to do the 100 mile route, but Steve had befriended a mountain bike racer named Jeff who joined us for the bonus loop. At this point the road tuned suburban ugly as we weaved through subdivision after subdivision, traffic picked up, load of street changes and doing the bonus loop seemed like a mistake. At least most turns were well marked turns. When we first left Silver Oak we were pretty sluggish but Steve would have none of that and picked up the pace. As I am the 2005 Diablo Cyclist Club Champion--in getting lost., I was happy that Steve and Ward did most of the pulling and spotting the turns. This part was an "out and back" and as we got closer to Alum Rock, 10 miles away, cyclists going the other way gave us the "shit eating grin"--probably thinking "you suckers don't know what you are in for." We'd have the same smirks when we were riding back and other were cyclists first coming out.

Don't remember when the series of climbs started, but all of a sudden we hit a series of short but steep climbs maybe 2 blocks long but 10% grades. We'd see a dead end approaching and just KNOW that the road was turning to the UPHILL side. On the Alum Rock-Crothers-Mt Hamilton loop some of the grades hit 19%. I was feeling good and happy on the climbs as I figured good DMD training and could easily stand--don't think anyone else was in a good mood. At one point off the front and suddenly wonder "OH SHIT am I going the right way," so I slow for someone I had passed wearing a"Triple Crown" jersey so I could ask. On fast downhill on Mt Hamilton back to Alum Rock again and had a fleeting thought that I had gone the wrong way and how the hell would I get back to Gilroy. Luckily rest of Diablo Cyclists came down behind me and we went behind a parked semi and did a symbolic Sierra Club dedication towards the golf course--symbolic to me as no doubt tomorrow there will be Masters-Masters-Masters-Green Jacket news without a mention of Paris Roublex. At first rest stop-early in the morning-relatively warm and dry--finally. Nice touch Almaden Cycling Club running around with cameras at rest stops. Back towards Silver Oak School stop, which we got to at 2:15, yep, it took 2 hours. Now at now barren rest stop 10 minutes as due to close soon and next rest stop would close within the hour (though route sheet had more generous times, signs posted had rest stops closing 1/2 hour earlier.) Now through industrial park sections where Ward continued to take long pulls. I am content to sit near the back until we got to a subdivison with a castle type entry gate which had 3 thing that was like waving a red flag in front of a bull. 1) A long cobbled entryway, 2) An immediate steep uphill, 3) Riders from ANOTHER club. I went up hard and I try not to look back, after I pass on a climb I figure I should go full out just as if the other rider was right on my ass. Now, with the super fast riders long gone, I managed to pass the rest of the riders I encountered on any hill for the rest of the day.

I was actually happy at my aggressive mindset as with everything that happened in the past few months I lost most of the my competitive fire--if passed on a climb on a Club ride by someone I that I could easily stay with I really didn't care and let them go. But as series of Doubles are timed events I was worried that I'd be too laid back going into them--so the Tierra Bella got me stoked. And knew I had to go hard up every climb as I am worst descended in group, and Steve would be hammering to get back to me--when he did I'd return the favor re what he did earlier, wait for him, and then we'd two man. In any event there'd be at least one noticeable climb between every rest stop for the rest of the ride. Ward also wouldn't let me pull for long, especially when I wouldn't follow an arrow as it looked like it was going into a shopping center parking lot.

We got to next rest stop at mile 99 at 3:28. Nice park (McKean/ Calero.) Route would again get scenic. More "Sweet and Salty." and again 3 porta-potties (which is appreciated when some rides have only 1 w/ long lines per stop.) Now getting out of rest stops faster--in @10 minutes, as they are all due to close shortly after we arrive.. Another climb I went hard on, on downhill a guy who I had passed shot by just when road was flatting out. I pulled a Museeuw and just rode behind him. Slowed down to regroup when we got to intersection, guy jumps away on turn but Diablo Cyclists just 1/2 minute behind, we get into 6 person paceline and shortly pass solo rider who was left dangling in the wind. Great being able to put in an effort and then rest behind Steve, Jack, Ward, Big Mike and Jeff who was still riding with us.

Not sure where this happened by tragedy almost struck. We're pacelining on the shoulder of another busy road--and Ward hit an uneven lip on the asphalt which suddenly had him propelled off the road into the high grass towards a ditch or worse. Using his mountain bike skills he kept the bike upright and returned shaken but OK--ready to lead me into the next climb--flew by more people from other clubs--and again Steve rejoined me at the end of the downhill and we two manned to the next rest stop. At some point the road became rustic again and passed a nice looking reservoir--only traffic the frequent passing SAG vehicle.

At Machado School., mile 114, 4:35. Though have talked and corresponded about doubles with Steve had never ridden with him so I was surprised when he starts puking. But told that this is normal for him and he was OK. Now near end of ride so I had some of the deli wraps that I had bypasses at the 2nd rest stop. We may have stayed here for 15 minutes.

Now our pace line joined by a NYer who was working Sea Otter tomorrow and we bs'd about training and racing. I was frustrated that I wasn't exactly sure where end of ride was as I usually feel better at mile 120 than mile 10 and love to go hard at the end. Jack now picking up the pace as he feels the same way, and Steve would never slack off if we slowed. Finally got to Santa Theresa Blvd. so I knew finish was a mile away so when Steve jumped I went with him.

College parking about 4/5 empty as 60 & 100 milers and people who started 128 miler at 7:00 and not 7:45 long gone. Nice meal at end--Almaden Bike Club ran a first class event. (Can you guys run the Solvang Double???, please) Only negative--about 1/2 the ride in suburbia or on heavily traveled roads.

Post ride meal great chance to b.s. and recap the ride. We tell Jeff about other great century rides, and talk about what constitutes a great century***. We also keep wondering how we came in so late--in reality we should have left 30 minutes earlier and 100 minutes of rest stops 30-50 minutes more than we use on the doubles. Mike and Ward real tired (we all were, just a little less) and Mike surprised when Jack and I both agreed that this ride definitely harder than the Solvang 200.

Long long drive back home, but I am real happy as it was an unexpected day when good legs and good breathing come together--the type of day that anything is possible. Now put in a 200 mile ride and a very hilly double metric for training, though Devil Mountain Double would be 50% longer with 3x as much climbing. But my bike will be lighter and my gearing will be easier (27x with a compact crank.) Unfortunately will not have 5 compatriots to ride with. With next weeks Diablo Cyclist Mt Hamilton run I hope to go in to DMD well prepared. Can't do much more than what I've been doing. Thanks to Ward and his new GPS toy, this is rest stop/ elevation of Tierra Bella. Ward also figured out how late we started, how long we were at each rest stop, and how many blonds were on the road earlier in the day. We should have started at 7:10-7:20 instead of 7:45 (would have saved 30 minutes), skipped rest stop at mile 13 (save 10 minutes) and all others should stay for no more than 10 minutes--20 minutes at Silver Creek where Jack had a mechanical (save 24 minutes.) So if we didn't goof around would have come in easily an hour+ earlier . At least we got quicker out of rest stops as the day went on.

***So what constitutes a great century. ***
There is 1st rate support
1) Uncrowded check in lines (any line open to all!)
2) Patch and as many maps as you like.
3) Frequent passing sags
4) Energetic, enthusiastic and friendly volunteers.
5) Numerous toilets in start area (here they could have had more) and at rest stops.
6) Rest stops with a variety of carbs (BONUS for unique local goods and/or Hammar products)7) Variety of sports drink (not just Gatoraid or even worse, just lemonaid)
8) Good hot meal at the end.
9) Frequent photography
10) Bike repair at rest stops

Second is great route
11) Little traffic.
12) Nice rustic scenery.
13) "Oh wow" view
14) Maintained roads
15) Memorable climbs
16) Good road markings, especially well before downhill turns
17) Few road changes
18) Minimal traffic lights

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