Monday, April 26, 2010


(April 5, 2010) Chico Wildflower Double Metric, 123 miles, 5,000' climbing. W/ Ward & Dr. Dave on the Double Metric, w/ Jim, Jeannie, Mark, Amy on the Century. 17.1 avg. (175 ride rating) (WI)

Ward's email directly below nicely sums up some of the ride highlights & remember to vote for Doug LaMalfa as he's one of US, not one of THEM!Hi.

I hope everyone made/makes it home safe and sound.

A good ride today. Preliminary stats are 121.0 miles in 7 hr and 8 minutes. I lost about a mile of data after lunch when the POS Garmin Edge 500 (did I say it was a POS) would not restart and I had to reboot it (I need to practice hanging onto the back of the paceline and rebooting my instrumentation, chasing back is too hard). Last year our time for this ride was 7 hr and 7 minutes, so we are slowing down as we get old.

Special thanks to Jim for his work on the front on the windy run in to Durham. Once again, we had quite a parade. And note that we are just over 7 hours for the extended ride, tempting eh?

Thanks to Mark and Jay for the suffering you provided on Table Mtn Road on the way to the Lake Oroville rest stop. I was kidding (sort of) when I thanked Amy for flatting so we could pass all those people again. I did no work and struggled to hang on, then I fell off the back on the last roller. When I caught up I had to go "over the top" as hard as I could (isn't that what Paul says to do?).

Dave, I'm amazed that you bented your way up Table Mtn. That's not an easy climb and dodging the pedestrians while on the bent must not have been easy. You did not miss much by skipping dinner, there was not much left.

Jeanne, next year we will get you a tazer so those guys let you into the appropriate place in the paceline.

Amy, you rode well for as few miles as you have in your legs this year. Next year we'll get you trained up and you can help Jim pull us across the flats.My butt hurts, I vote for smoother pavement.


Chico, the ride around the college town in the middle of nowhere (3 ½ hours North of San Francisco, 1 ½ hours North of Sacramento, the closest city, with only farmland and rednecks in between) brings back lots of memories. In 1997 went up to this strange place and bought a jersey from one of the many local bike shops, figuring I’d never be back. Then John and I closed down a pizzeria/ bar at 1am and the next day may have been last to come in on the metric ride. For a couple of years after I’d go up with Donna and we’d do the metric where the honey Run climb with its hairpins that kick up seemed damn hard. We also loved walking through the light bricked college campus and the downtown loaded with bike shops and mom and pop stores. Then there was the year I stayed home to take my daughter to a No Doubt Concert and then saw Patti Smith the next night—and the next year I couldn’t ride as was rehabbing from getting upended by a dog—so I hobbled around Chico with the kids while mom rode and hoped that one year they may go here for college to this school—as it is one of the few California colleges actually in a college town.
After a year of knee rehab time trialed the 100 solo, joined the Diablo Cyclist but they still left at 8am and cut out a chunk of the course so Big Mike and I started at 6:45 and then tried looping back to find the wives’ in 95 degree heat after the kids drained my water bottles at the end. Then my oldest wound up in Chico State and we stayed in her apartment the night before the ride—the one next to the freight train tracks and her building shook and shook and shook for the train or next door parties all night. Now I feel old as it seems like yesterday that I wanted my kids to go to Chico State and now my oldest graduated a few years ago.


Historic Chico photos, w/ my cycling mentor John by Honey Run Covered Bridge (1998), I'm in front of downtown mural (2002)

In any event gotta love a college town that has its main streets named after amusement parks—the Skyway and the Midway.

For the last few years Ward and I and other Diablo Cyclists have instituted the double metric. The Chico Wildflower is “only” 95 miles—basically 3 mediocre climbs with few sections of rollers and lots and lots of flats. The last rest stop, in Durham , is a @25 mile loop to Chico but there is a bail out straight shot shortcut back to Chico that tired century riders can take. So when we loop back to Chico we ride the bailout in reverse, get back to Durham, and then do the last loop again.

Donna, Ward & Dave take the Chico Bike path to Honey Run the day before the Wildflower (PC)

Somehow, in the chaos that is the run into Covered Bridge/ Honey Run, we never see the interesting things on the side of the road. (PC)
The other tradition, as the Chico Wildflower is on Sunday, is to do a good ride the day before but stay in the small chainring to prevent tired legs. One year Donna complained we were going to slow. The pre ride has gotten more ambitious in the last couple of years. This year we started going up Honey Run, the 2nd hardest climb on the course, which the next day would be jammed with riders very early in the day. But due to the different light and absence of other riders Honey Run the day before is very different and enjoyable and the views are great—so we decided to do it again. Donna has been on bike sabbatical this year but she was game and Ward, Dr. Dave and I paced her up Honey Run and into the drunken town of Paradise (some “we hate bikes unless they are Harley’s” fest was going on.) From there it is a long smooth downhill almost back to Chico on Neal Road—oh yeah—one little thing. Someone forgot to build an overpass--Neal Road dead ends with Highway 99 so we have to play frogger to get to the other side. Ward & Dr. Dave by the Covered Bridge--the next day we never stop here though we slow down greatly with cyclists spilled all over the road (PC)

Donna by the Covered Bridge (PC)

I hope Ward doesn't look down tomorrow on Honey Run and steer off the road (PC)

Dave didn't know that Christine drove up here in her mini Cooper (PC)
While the warm up ride was great—it cut our time hitting the many bike shops arts/ crafts stores in downtown to a few minutes before the usual pizza dinner. (Downtown has sagged a bit over the years as a mall on the outskirts of town has gotten larger.) Its always great seeing the downtown area ringed by huge shade trees and bungalow type houses with no garages. Very different from California typical California suburbia.

Checkin at the Fairgrounds (PC)

New bike hands free water bottles that look like pumpkins. (PC)

I'm urged to pose with my hero, Mr. Overrated, who needs a Domo hat. Then maybe he would have raced a full schedule. (PC)

Over dinner, Mrs. Dr. Dave and Mrs. Pumpkin plan where they will attack the pelaton before they used the Chico Wildflower cloth map as a napkin (PC)

Next morning we set met up at Chicoland main Gate. First time I did a century ride with Cyclocross Champ Mark and his wife Amy. As last year Chico Native Jim, Jeanie and Ward were back again and Dr . Dave was new to the ride. He’d have both his bent and wedge machine up in Chico and as he prerode with the regular bike he’d be on the bent for the Century—I thought a better idea was to stay with the regular bike for the first 65 miles which features the climbs and duck the bent’ in Durham and switch to it for the pancake flat loop. (Like wise AI should change to a time trial helmet in Durham) Temperatures were supposed to touch 80 for the first time this year sop all extra clothes was left behind. Dave had packed his recumbent steamer trunk with 10 lbs of “stuff” including two different suntan lotions (I think one for a base tan and one for a savage tan later in the ride.)

The Diablo Cyclist squad meets at Chicoland Main Gate (WI)
First climb is Humboldt Road which goes up in pothole strewn asphalt and luckily down a smooth road. Rumor had it that it was repaved this year, I think they just blacked out the old graffiti. I started out wearing a cap as the sun is just rising over the bluff behind the climb. Mark shot off as he would on all three climbs. I rode strongly up with a college student from Chico—incentive being that as the worst descended I had to get to the downhill before the group so I could get to the bottom and pull off the hat and neck buff.
Jim leads the paceline down the bike path to Honey Run (WI Helicopter Shot)
Off Humboldt we were almost immediately on the run in to Honey Run, which is narrow and filled with bicycles including 60 milers who get to bypass Humboldt Road. English as a second language is tested here, when we nicely yell out “on your left” and the person bsing in the middle of the road doesn’t move. But we kept a nice paceline, and bypassed the Covered Bridge water stop as cyclists were aimlessly walking the bikes in circles around the road as volunteers tried to get them off the road.

Honey Run Road starts going up so I go to the front of the paceline. (WI)
Donna reminded us the day before that the road kicks up when the double yellow line disappears and this is a pretty good guide. Honey Run is the type of climb I enjoy with shallow sections punctuated with steep hairpins and a steep section at the end. Mark again was off and I rode pace with Ward as we squeezed by people, always shouting out an “on your left” or “good morning” warning. A few people passed but I took it easy, figuring I do hard on the hardest climb of the day, Table Mountain. This tranquility ended when we approached the top and one person squeezed by on the left without saying anything. This got my dander up and I kicked it into gear on the steep section and repassed him and 2-3 other people who had ridden past in the last ¼ mile.
Amy on the special Chico Wildflower diet (WI)
The rest stop in Paradise was packed—the biggest line for food I had ever seen. Actually volunteers were telling people to use both sides of the table and the long line was just cued up on one side, so it was easy to walk over and grab some great locally made date nut bread or coffee cake. The only bad thing is water is kept in clear dispenser bottles that require a pump that isn’t too exact/ not working, and because they are in clear bottles the water would be warm all day. It was nice having 6 clubmates on this Century ride, conversely, but unlike last week when we only had 3, we stayed at rest stops much longer—this and 4 flats would slow down our coming in.

Mark & Jeannie at Paradise rest stop (WI)

Leaving Paradise are 3-4 significant Italian (you can’t power over) rollers, which eventually leads into a long straight shot downhill which I wanted to start before all my clubmates who are downhill maniacs. Also, again not hard getting ones dander up as while waiting for a red light before a roller someone would time/ jump the light so they have momentum going into the roller. Here Mark and I tag teamed and we shot ahead of everyone—he slowed on the downhill so I could keep pace with him.

I'm talking with Dave at Lake Oroville rest stop that maybe if we wore our Diablo Cyclist jersey we'd keep interlopers out of the paceline--oh wait, its over 80 degrees and we don't want to melt (WI)

We regrouped on a flat section that leads into my favorite part of the course. We’d lose the 60 milers so the crowd on the road lessens and we head to Lake Oroville on a fast back road that starts with a series of baby rollers and ends with a series of medium rollers. Again we rode a nice paceline until a group shot by without saying anything, Mark, Ward and I got on their wheel and when the medium rollers began Mark and I went hard to the front—Mark did most of the pulling and I gave him some relief ion the middle before he resumed. Only Ward and one guy from the other paceline managed to hang on with us and just when the road flattened Ward, who had been unhooked, shot by in a nice sprint finish.
Mark takes it easy as he waits for the rest of the club to regroup at the top of Table Mountain (WI)

Lake Oroville rest stop was the most crowded I had ever seen it. Years ago most people opted for the metric, now more folks doing the century. I also think lots of people left early fearing the hot weather. More coffee cake. Lots of great food but many more porta-potties needs as lost of time standing in bathroom lines. Then it was off to Table Mountain.
Dave hits the top of Table Mountain (WI)

Table Mountain looks just like its name, instead of a peak it looks like someone took a ginsu knife and cut the top off. It was now approaching the heat of the day and Table Mountain is mostly out in the open. I was planning to hit it hard for Alta Alpina (being fatigued) training and there is windy, bumpy, technical downhill off of it going into lunch which I hate—so my plan was to slip into a pocket where there are no riders around on the downhill.
Jeanie and Amy at the base of the twisty Table Mountain descent (WI)

Table Mountain worked out well—stayed with Mark about 15 seconds. I talked to one guy about the Davis Double and I couldn’t keep his pace—I was disappointed but he was the only rider who wasn’t a cyclocross champ who passed me on Table Mountain. At the top most riders stopped at a large water stop but I hammered up the road until I got on someone’s wheel who was going at a good clip. We traded pulls, and I told him I’d fall off on the downhill, but I did a good job keeping the speed up until the intersection that is about a mile from lunch. I didn’t want to go hang at the crowded lunch stop so I just found some shade above the intersection and waited for the club—unbeknownst to me Ward flatted, and Jim said it was a cluster fuck coming down as they were surrounded by the large YoungLife (follow Jesus off the road) group who were flying all over the road taking turns at unsafe speeds.
The Chico Wildflower--the chaos that is the lunch stop. (WI)

Lunch was hang out city—I stupidly had a premade gourmet deli sandwich (yup ) that had lettuce and may on it—8 hours later I’d still be tasting the lettuce. Another super crowded stop. Donna said she got there on the 60 mile route at 10am and it was virtually empty. Now it was a zoo.
Jeannie on the flat section between Durham and Chico (WI)
We help a good speed but nothing crazy, mostly behind Jim or Dr. Dave. I’m getting good drafting off the bent as I like riding in the drops but when Jim was second wheel the bent just provided cover up to Jim’s knees. We were passing loads of folks, but missed two more powerhouses (Mark and Amy had gone back on the shortcut) to keep our paceline energy up. Half way in we were passed by a big paceline, our group fell behind them and I was attentive for late sprinting hijinx or a gap forming—but the guys up front were steady and we wound up back in Chico.
The nature of the 2nd half of the ride significantly changes. Now it was time to go through the flat valley and the most significant climb left would be a freeway overpass. We held a nice paceline with Jim and Dave usually leading the way.

We had a problem with people trying to cut into the paceline—I was kinda oblivious to it but Dave was getting pace line "shoulded." But the trip was uneventful and soon into Durham , from there a large circle of the ag fields back to Chico.
Jim pulling on the flats on the run in to Chico (WI)
Only Dave, Ward and I were going back for seconds, and Dave/ Ward needed water. I was wary about pulling in to the fairgrounds as I just wanted to roll and not tighten up. Donna was sitting in a lawn chair, she loved the metric ride and figured Santa Rosa, with less big climbs, would be easier. Then we were off.

Donna finished the metric and relaxing at the fairgrounds as we start the last Durham-Chico loop again. Oops, I forgot to tell her I have cold drinks in the cooler. (WI)
First it seemed the wind picked up. Then when we pulled into Durham rest stop it was kinda “slow and uncrowded”—we hadn’t made the same time we made last year. Now just the slower riders were on the course, we’d yell out encouragement as we rode next to them.

Then I flatted and it sucked but kicked my butt into reality to be prepared for the hard Doubles coming up. I had an aero wheel but only packed a regular tube. My CO2 adapter was broken. By the time we got going all the impetus was gone. Whose stupid idea was it to do the final 25 mile loop again if Jim isn't here to pull us (WI)

We rolled in around 5:00 and give the Chico folks lots of credit—they still has lots of dinner for us and the people limping in behind us. We agreed that ride is unique due to “different” nature of Chico, and rest stop food is great, and with abundance of course markings even I couldn’t get lost. But SAG vehicles were invisible, drinks could be better, more toilets at rest stops badly needed, and course would be more interesting with more rollers and less totally flat. Also noted that more Wildflower out this year than in any other, which somehow corresponded to more clueless cyclists out this year than any time before (maybe folks riding with their head up their butt looking at the flowers)..

Wish we would have stayed another day to leisurely take in the town, but instead kind of hustled so we’d get home around when the sun went down, so went quickly through ag land dotted with campaign posters that read “conservative for…” and “he’s one of us.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Re: Historical Photos - Who's the fat guy and why is no one wearing orange?