Saturday, July 10, 2010


(July 8, 2010) Mt. Shasta (Self Supported Solo) Double Metric Century, 119 miles, 13,138' climbing**, 100 photographs, 2650 grams (6 lbs) of extra water bottle, food, rain jacket, extra tube & C02, drink mix, 11.5 mph, 5:35-7:20
**The Official Super Century advertises itself as tougher than The Death Ride
Mt Shasta Summit Century is 100 miles, 10,500'
The Death Ride is 129 miles, 15,000'
Mt Shasta Super Century is 135 miles, 16,100',
I did 16 miles less and had 2962' less climbing
I first saw Mt. Shasta when Donna and I celebrated our 7th anniversary by driving to Seattle, and was amazed how this lone giant rose from the ground. Since I started endurance cycling I've wanted to do the Mt. Shasta Super Century, but it always around the time of the Mt. Tam Double. With our anniversary plans f'd this year numerous times, and our not being together on our anniversary, I thought this was a good time for me to cycle the Mt. Shasta Super Century route. But as so many plans went down the toilet this year I waited until 2 days before our anniversary day to find lodging, plan the route etc. The day before a crappy weather forecast:

"As slight chance of showers, then scattered showers and thunderstorm after 11am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 90. Light northeast wind. Chance of precipitation is 50%."

Wonderful, so now would take my good rain jacket and stuff it in on my brevet bag on the rack my steel bike, so adding 4-5 lbs in bike weight and 6 lbs in supply weight--+10 lbs, not the greatest way to climb. And rain jacket or not, with no support and my propensity for getting lost, a thunderstorm is the last thing I'd need.

The Mt. Shasta Summit Century/ Super Century DOESN'T climb to the top of 14,162' Mt. Shasta--as there is a little problem of NO ROAD on Mt. Shasta after 7730'. The official rides involves 3-4 climbs; 3 of 13-15 miles and 1 of 7 miles. The Mt. Shasta climb goes to 7730' and the other two longest climbs get over 6,500'. (Note-The base of the climbs are at 3036'-3360', so while the three long climbs are about 20% longer, they all have about the same elevation gain as the 11 mile Mt Diablo climb which goes up to 3,849', but which starts at around 300')

On the Official Century the climb of Mt. Shasta is last. I reversed the order and made it first a I didn't want to miss it if afternoon thunderstorms curtailed my ride, and with it being closest to the start I wouldn't be wasting time looking at maps/ getting lost first thing in the morning. I could also loop by my car and grab more food, drink etc. coming off Mt. Shasta before heading to the Park Creek climb which was far to the Northwest, and the Barr Road and short Castle Lake climbs to the Southwest.

Overall the ride is GREAT--THE NICEST ROADS I'VE SEEN ON A CENTURY ROUTE. It combined the pine forests of the old Sierra Century and the snow cap scenery of the Eastern Sierra Double. Climbing Mt. Shasta is like climbing Haleakala, little traveled wide roads with views of the peak and town far below around every turn. Park Creek and Barr Road, with well paved narrow roads surrounded by waterfalls, creeks and great views reminded me of the climbs on the Grizzly, and the Ebbetts/ Blue Lakes Road climbs in the Death Ride.

Only negative-National Forests have NO WATER!!! (I should have stuffed snow in my waterbottle.) Luckily I have a 3rd water bottle cage on my GT Bike and after a camper gave me extra water near the top of Mt. Shasta I had 3 bottles with me for the rest of the day.

It did drizzle a few times, I rode looking for things to take pictures of and I stopped to take 100+ photos. No one else out so I could ride at a real sightseeing pace. Near the end of the route I did get lost, low on water, and was worried about running out of time before it got dark--so I skipped the last 7 mile climb to Castle Lake. An hour later I kicked myself when back at the motel it was still very light out--but then a thunderstorm suddenly hit and a 50% chance I would have been caught up in it if I had done the last climb.

If my wife drove we'd have made Mt. Shasta City in 4 hours. But I loop every town with a "historic business district" sign, which made the drive up 7-8 hours. Some like Woodland were worth stopping for.

And some, like Williams, are just good to get gas in, but another interesting town was Red Bluff with a domed memorial in the middle of town.

Near Redding, 65 miles away, you can spot the snow capped giant, Mt. Shasta.

But first I need to stop off in Redding to see the Sundial Bridge, a pedestrian cable stay bridge that cost 23 million. It crossed the Sacramento River, which may have the most interesting NON-auto bridges in the world, specifically the Old Iron Bridge in Folsom and the replica of the Golden Gate Bridge by CSU-Sacramento. The cancelled trip to New York was to include a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, which I had never done, so this was a small consolation prize.

A little after Redding a scenic overlook with the omnipresent Mt. Shasta.

The town of Mt. Shasta sits right under Mt. Shasta--which is directly east.

If you somehow miss seeing Mt. Shasta from town, there are plenty of paintings and signs it appears on. More on our friends later who may be the best customers of the Mt. Shasta Cannabis Club.

To the west are a range of smaller mountains and immediately Northwest, like a pyramid, is Black Butte (formed from Mt. Shasta lava flow.) But another sign reminds you what the main attraction is.

Climb 1-Mt Shasta Officially this is climb #4 on the Super Summit Century. It is 13.9 miles-ending at the Old Ski Bowl, and 4370' of elevation gain, so roughly a (very steady) 5.9% grade. I did 12.8 miles and about 4025' of elevation gain, as I had to stop about a mile and a half after Bunny Flat (11.3 miles, 6920') because of the road blocked by snow.

Note-mile markers superimposed on photos below.

Easy to get to Mt. Shasta from the middle of town-Lake Street almost immediately becomes the Everitt Memorial Highway which is the road up Mt. Shasta. Though wide open "highway" is a misnomer--it is one lane in each direction and 2 cars passed me between 5:45-7:45.

If Mt. Shasta City is at 3590' I'm not sure why Mile 2 is at 2440' as we've been climbing the whole time. (The helpful sporting goods store in town-The Fifth Season-can't figure it out either.) The climb is mostly gentle--with a 32 lb bike and NON compact gearing I never had to use more than an x25 for the whole ride, usually sat my ass in the saddle which is unlike me, and on this climb stayed at a steady 6-8mph, with a few 9-12mph sections.

McBride Campground is at 4880' and I understand that they have piped in water--but I figured that there would be more campsites and plenty of opportunities later to get water. WRONG. Stupidly I thought I wouldn't need more than 2 bottles for this climb--soon I was down to two 1/4 full bottles.

Everitt Vista Point with (bathroom but no water) town of Mt. Shasta below.

Look what appears around a corner.

Bunny Flat is 6950' up--bathroom but NO WATER. Met two great hikers who gave me a 3rd bottle and filled up my two bottles. Conversely, met two assholes who preened for my photo--which was OK, but they went on and on laughing like hyenas ("did you see that--man, hee hee hee"), whereas before I left I asked Einstein if he had dropped his pants in the background.

After Bunny Flat gate down and ROAD CLOSED. What's with this ROAD CLOSED nonsense, it looks fine to me--time to hop the fence.

Turns out a large group hopped the fence also, all clad in White (maybe that is why Ward got our club white jersey's)--they are New Age I AM'ers. Many hobbling up the mountain, one of their major spiritual homes, with cains. Friendly enough when I cycled past them going up, when I came down later they had set up for their "rituals" and they all quickly clammed up until I passed. Wish noisy potheads at Bunny Flat had been part of this group.

Snow off to the side of the road with the snow covered Mt. Shasta peak in full view.

A little after the 7180'/ 12 mile mark spots of snow would cover the road--but easy to get around. Why the heck is the ROAD CLOSED?

Hmmm, what is this. Where did the road go?

So figure I came one mile and 350' elevation gain short of reaching the Old Ski Bowl, where the road really ends.

This is what the start of the downhill looked like. No Frank Zappa Yellow Snow here.

Instead of looping back to my car, the middle of town (Lake/ Mt. Shasta Blvd) had a water fountain (and restroom on the side of the Police Station.) So I refilled here and started the long drag out to climb #2. (Note: official ride crosses from East to West, over Highway 4, via City Park north of downtown, but crossing here was optimal for me due to availability of water and it was closer to my car)

Climb 2-Park Creek Road. Officially this is the 1st climb on the Super Summit Century, along Park Creek Road to the Summit, 6868'. It is northeast of Mt Shasta, starting close to Weed, and its a 13 mile dragout to the base of the climb (Stewart Springs Road). Stewart Springs Road involves 4 miles of climbing and Park Creek involves 9 more. The whole climb totals 13.3 miles and 3838' of elevation gain, so about 5.5%--again real steady, no real steep pitches (or sudden downhills except for turn from Stewart Springs Road to Park Creek Road.) I did this whole climb.

The rollout to the beginning of the climb reminded me of the high plains of the Bishop area (Eastern Sierra) surrounded by snow capped mountains. Mostly easy rollers on lightly traveled but well paved roads.

It had drizzled a few times from Shata to Stewart Springs, but now the sun was out and it was time to shed some clothes at the base of the climb.

The Stewart Springs climb reminded me of the Pine Forests of the old Plymouth Sierra Century. I was supposed to turn right before Stewart Mineral Springs but it looked interesting and the road kept going up through it so (shhhhh! got lost) took a detour through the Mineral Springs for 1/4 mile until the road turned to gravel and I realized I missed a turn.

More Pine Forest on the Parks Creek climb. Like Mt. Shasta grade it is steady but not hard at any point; unlike Mt. Shasta road is very narrow and usually not divided--but I got passed by a car maybe once every 30 minutes. It was like riding through the quiet El Dorado National Forest of the Sierra Century.

Eventually something new appeared--creeks and waterfalls were all over the place.

And suddenly around a turn a bank of snow.

The snow banks, all on the side of the road, grew bigger and bigger--this one probably 1/2 mile from the summit. From all the climbing it was WARM.

Bathroom but NO unfrozen water at the top--the road continued downhill to points west. View of snowcaps all around.

Stupid moment--I start the downhill and see majestic snow capped peak very far away. I do think how the hell did I ride so far away from Mt. Shasta which has loomed large everywhere I'd been. Actually the mountain is Mt McLoughlin in Oregon, a bit closer at 135 miles away.

This is the first anniversary that Donna and I not together so I wrote a special message for her--I think she's the only person to get an anniversary message at @7,000' today. (Though I put on jacket for the downhill, it would come off about halfway down--it was warm)

Narrow but well paved downhill surrounded by forest.

Aaaah-around a turn there is Mt. Shasta--so confusion ends re Oregon imposter in the distance.

Climb 3-Barr Rd to Mumbo Summit, 6520'. This is climb #2 of the official ride. The long Barr Road climb and the 7 mile Castle Lake climb (climb #3 of official ride) are next to each other Southwest of Mt. Shasta. Barr Road is 14.9 miles and involves 3270' of elevation gain, so about 4.2%--a little less for most of the climb whereas for the last few miles the grade kicks up a notch. I did 13 miles of Barr Road, with about a 2853' elevation gain, taking a wrong fork in the road near the top. And I fully skipped the short Castle Lake Climb which is 7.1 miles with a 2200' elevation gain, making it around a 5.9% graded climb.

To get to the start of Barr Road/ Castle Lake you can go directly by staying west side of Highway 5, but I had to circle back to the car to grab water, eat lunch (drink lunch--Perpetuem, it was now touching 90 so solid food isn't appealing--it had quickly gone from 78 to 89 in one hour between 1 - 2 pm.) So I detoured back across Highway 5 to the east side to get extra water in central Mt. Shasta and then head to the car. Got to the car at 3:40 and had ridden 84 miles. *

The 13 mile trip should have been easy, but I made it a little longer with my detour, and made it longer still when I got lost and wound up 1 mile from where I should have turned. I wasn't making great time, so made a decision to do the hardest climb, and wherever I was at 6pm I'd turn around as wasn't thrilled about getting lost again in the twilight.

Both Barr Road and Castle Lake climbs start after riding by Lake Siskiyou.

Like any other place in the area Mt. Shasta looms large.

The Barr Road climb seemed faster than the first two, with many 9-12 mph sections. Again narrow road, again well paved, again not much traffic. There were some steep banks off to the side which meant falling rocks and logs. Glad I had on blinking headlight as some shaded areas (mountain blocking setting sun) and occassionally a car would be traveling down. For the few miles near the top (or where I mistakenly turned the wrong way), the grade kicked up. Nothing terrible but it became a 6-8 mph climb.

Barr Road eventually has a fiercely running stream running alongside/ under the road--the sound of rushing water was constant--waterfalls also appeared.

The road forked, and I took the side going up--in retrospect I should have gone right on a downhill that continued a few miles from where my road dead ended at a pond. It was now 6:00 and had done three of the longest climbs on the ride--though truncated them a bit by snow or getting lost. Of course no drinking water at the pond.

Half way down Mt. Shasta again appeared. I may be jaded now and not fully appreciate seeing grapes growing on rides in Napa or seeing the Pacific Ocean out in Marin, but seeing snow capped mountains in the summertime is surreal.

At base of Barr Road is start of 7 mile climb up to Castle Lake. It was now 7:02. On a conversational pace (but fresh legs) on the 6 1/2 miles up Mt. Diablo I'll do it in @ 42 minutes. I had no idea if the Castle Climb is steeper or not, so I figured 50 minutes. (Rough estimate puts it at 6%, so it is slightly steeper than Mt. Diablo) Figure 10 minute break at the top and 2o minutes to come down. Didn't know how long it would take me to get back to town--if I got lost again it would take 30 minutes, and it would be deep twilight. Also had only a 1/4 bottle of water left. So a quick calculation gave me 80 minutes if everything went well, or 8:22, and sunset is 8:30, so I called it a day. ***

Getting back to motel only took 18 minutes, took a shower and was kicking myself for not doing the last climb as still light outside. I grabbed my camera and started walking to the center of town when at 8:27 started hearing thunder to the west, where I had just been. Suddenly a few "heavy" drops came down, followed by more lightning/ thunder, I made a bee line back to the motel and sat in a covered area as the sky opened up. I have no idea if I would have gotten backl before the thunderstorm but all of a sudden I was glad I skipped the last climb. FOR THE FIRST TIME TODAY THERE WAS WATER ALL AROUND.

Food facts

Pre Ride Breakfast

Hot Cereal-1 3/4 packets-47 carbs

Rice Pudding-11 carbs (68 total carb grams)

Banana-27 carbs (85)

Dried Cranberries-1/4 cup-24 carbs (109)

Up Climb 1

Bottle of Perpetuem (3 scoops) + Hammergel (1 shot)-187 carbs (296 total grams)

Bottle of Heed (2 scoops)-50 carbs (346)

(Mile 10) Cliff Shot Block-48 carbs (394)

(Mile 13) Water 2 1/2 bottles

(Mile 14) Lara Bar-23 carbs (417)

To & up Climb 2

(Mile 27) Water 1 bottle w/ Heed (1 1/2 scoops)-75 carbs (492 total grams)

(Mile 30) Cliff Bar-41 carbs (533)

(Mile 43) Cliff Shot Block-48 carbs (481)

(Mile 52) Lara Bar-23 carbs (504)

(Mile 56) Add Heed (1 1/2 scoops)-75 carbs (579)

(Mile 83) Water 1 bottle

Lunch Break

(Mile 84-total time 10 hours, so @7 hours of riding time so taking in 83 carbs an hour which is high (should be around 40-60 carbs and hour of riding.) Now very hot in the afternoon in lower elevation so not that hungry--so lunch will be a liquid diet.

Perpetuem (2 scoop) + Hammergel (1 shot)-133 carbs (712 total grams)

Vit B (Also took Tums and Endurolites which I took (2) at the base and summit of each climb, & Endurolite Powder (1) mixed with every 3 scoops of Heed)

To & up Climb 3

(while riding) Bottle of pre frozen Perpetuem (3 scoops)+Hammergel (1 shot)-187 carbs (899 total grams)

(while riding) Bottle of pre frozen Heed (3 scoops)-75 carbs (974)

(while riding) Cliff Shot Block-48 carbs (1022)

(Mile 102) Lara Bar-23 carbs (1045)*

Ride ended at 119 miles, and a speedy 11.5 mph as I was scouting out photos instead of chasing up a hill. So 10:20 riding time. At 40-60 carbs an hour I should have taken in 415-620 carbs so I did wind up eating to much.

Postscript-maybe as a result of not chasing anyone and riding leisurly, I felt good enough to do a hilly aggressive Club ride two days later--that turned into a century when Joe realized at the top of the Oakland Hills that he forgot his cell phone in Berkeley (or he thought Peets was giving out free samples of milk) and we went back down to get it, and then I added the Mt. Diablo ranger station after. So THREE century rides in one week--think my endurance is OK for the Mt Tam Double.


Anonymous said...

Do I understand correctly that, even with the heavy bike, 39 x 25 was low enough gearing?

No nasty steep sections (e.g., Diablo summit ramp) where I might cry if I don't have a pie plate?

What if I forget my bottle and have to ride back to the top to get it?

Anonymous said...

That picture that you think is Mt hood 350 miles away is actually Mt McLoughlin in southern Oregon. Mt Hood is too far away to see from Shasta (purhaps from the summit) and there are many other mountians between Mt. Shasta and Mt Hood.