Sunday, September 26, 2010

Knoxville 3/4 of a Double-2010

(Septmeber 25, 2010) Knoxville Double, Start w/ Jack. DNF. 151 Miles

This is a hard ride report to write. 1) After missing every planned double this year--I was looking forward to this one; after all, last year when I did 6--this ride was soooooo easy. 2) Four years ago I DNF'd on Central Coast when it suddenly became hit, my stomach shut down, and I shut down after not eating/ nausea for 50 miles. In retrospect I thought that this was cause by both wearing a dark colored jersey and I should have immediately gone to a liquid diet (eg. Perpetuem and hammergel.) Since then I did a few hot rides--including two 100+ degree Davis Doubles, and a Terrible Two and though energy was zapped I never felt close to shutting down.

Climbing Mt. Diablo I love hot weather and hate when it is cool and damp. But that is only 12 miles. In retrospect my highest energy double is the Mt. Tam Double "time trial" which is always cool.

So after feeling good for half of Knoxville- the tough half with most of the climbing, albeit the unseasonable hot weather (Vacaville, 96 degrees at 4pm, Lower Lake 92 degrees at 3pm), I stopped eating at mile 113 and was totally out of it 2 hours later--by mile @150. I tried going on a liquid diet but was going to upchuck Perpetuem & Heed. One Gatoraid stayed down but didn't help much. On top of Cobb Mountain, when I felt this coming on, I was hoping the local store would have a frozen fruit bar which would have carbs--but all they had were popsicles.

So after finishing 13 doubles in a row, through snow/ hail to 100 degree weather--it will be a long winter trying to figure out what went wrong.

The first 112 miles were alot of fun. Knoxville is a "fun", untimed event, which runs backwards over part of the Davis course. But it is MUCH DIFFERENT. As no mass start but with limited riders like the mass start doubles, Knoxville breaks up like no other double, you can go miles before you see anyone. And with the signature climb desolate Knoxville Road (climbing gently for 30 miles), there is much more climbing on Knoxville than on Davis.

And though the Knoxville course is easier than Mt. Tam, due to the time of year, while I've always finished Mt. Tam in the daylight, I've always had to ride the last segment of Knoxville in the dark--though near a suburb the course stays rustic until the end so there is no ambient light. This would be in the back of my mind as we were lagging our usual time for most of the course and probably didn't rest as long as need be in order to limit nighttime riding.

The support is 1st rate--the Quackcyclists (tied with the Santa Rosa Cycling Club's Terrible Two) do the best job supporting the riders. Though a desolate course sag wagons constantly drive by, emergency water stops kept appearing. Pena Adobe--first house of Vacaville.The lagoon that we circle but never see at 5:30am.The first part of the ride goes through suburban housing tracks--by the time the sun comes up we are out of the neighborhoods. So never saw the turkeys running around the houses.
The rest of the ride is rustic to the end--and just a few miles away there is a desolate road populated by garden centers and small farms.

The ride starts between suburban Fairfield and Vacaville at Pena Adobe Park. The ride starts in the dark, and for me always ends in the dark. The day before I took at 15 mile preride of the start and 15 mile ride of the finish. Timed my return to coincide with the opening of registration, then it was back to nice sized room (and cheep (sic)) motel in suburban outlet hell half way between San Francisco and Sacramento.

Quackcyclist check in at the park--unfortunately their supply of ride shorts matched Bike Nashbar's clearance outlet choice, XS or XXL.

I really like doubles, riding the whole day--as Uncle Steve used to say "at one point on every double you are suffering and wondering why you are doing it, then at the end you can't wait for the next one." But one thing I HATE are the pre sunrise starts which necessitate going to sleep at 9:00 the day before, waking up during an ungodly hour, and then riding in the cold and dark. As I didn't start any doubles this year (the Davis 300k brevet started at 7:00), though I had gotten used to this insanity last year, it was suddenly very strange again.

The start at 5:15am.
Jack and I started at 5:30--I think most people start at 5:00 with the speedsters starting at 6:15, so for 20 miles Jack and I might have seen one rider. Though a high of 96 was promised, at certain lowland parts (especially around the starting lagoon) it was very cold--but inversion layers would suddenly crop up on the top of rollers. When going up Mt. George that gets us in the Napa Valley I was "overdressed" with a tee shirt and vest, back in the Napa Valley it was again very cool. My game plan was to go moderately hard up the climbs as Jack is a much better descender, and this was we wouldn't have to wait much for each other.
Not much traffic until I pulled out the camera to get Jack when he got near the top of Mt. George.

First rest stop in Napa Valley at mile 35. Backdrop apropos as my ride would go down the toilet.

Going down the Silvarado Trail joined by another rider--though dressed in 'Mellow Johnny' & "Hincapie' gear he was a nice guy, and funny that he was number 113, while Jack and I were 114 & 115.

We started seeing riders leaving the Napa Valley going over Howell Mountain Road--a 6 mile "serious climb." Now the chill was gone from the air. Coming off of Howell Mountain would be a real twisty descent--something I'd easily lag far behind Jack, so I pushed up the climb and passed loads of riders. I was going to stay with our "113" buddy who helped pull down the Silvarado Trail, but stopped a few times for photos. One of the great views on Howell Mountain Road.
At Pope Valley I waited a few minutes for Jack to come down. The course is a figure 8 is this is basically where it all intersects. Ironically--next time we'd see this part, Jack would be waiting for me. But here we had loads of rollers out to Lake Berryessa, mile 62, and it had been a real easy 62 miles. Grizzly Mark and tandem companion at Lake Berryessa. We'd later regroup with him, but only becuase he had a tire blowout.

It seemed that we were at the Lake Berryessa rest stop for an eternity--Jack kept getting food and had to use the one outhouse (the do need more outhouses at the rest stops) which necessiated waiting on a long line. In reality we were only there for @13 minutes but with Jack that's an eternity--he usually wants to leave after 5. He confirmed he was a little tired and he started falling apart on Knoxville Road--the 30 mile climb in the middle of nowhere. Other features--it is devoid of trees/ shade--at least the road, it is pothole strewen, and in the middle section you see lots of people with BIG rifles--a very popular hunting area and this year there were more hunters out than usual. (Maybe I'll join their club with the orange outfits.)

Quack Motorcycle sag on Knoxville Road.

George, who I've casually known for about 15 years--I remember starting out when this crazy man enthusiastically talked about 200 mile rides and I could barely ride 20. Today he yelled out "nice bike" as if he had seen it for the first time, jeeze, when he owned a bike shop a few years ago he was the guy who took care of my bike and built my rear wheel.

There is a great water stop 7/8 up Knoxville Road--last year Jack blew it off, today he needed to stop. I overheard someone say only 60 riders behind us, so with 240 riders we were in the last quarter of the ride, and our time would mean much more night riding than usual. This got me real anise. Though I rode most of Knoxville at Jack's pace, I picked it up at the water stop to get to the lunch at mile 107 before Jack and be ready to leave when he wanted to--he never hangs around for a long time at lunch, and we had to pick up some time.

Sacramento Doug my man of the ride--after getting ice for everyone at the Lower Lake Lunch Stop.
Jack was in no hurry at lunch, and thought he might retire after Cobb Mountain. Last year I went up Cobb ahead of him and then just waited a little at the bottom of the long descent. I was going to ride his pace up but we soon got into a big group setting a slow pace, with Mr. Blackwell annoying me directly behind:
Mr. Blackwell to friend-"well (sniff) I think he's overdoing it with the pumpkin on the saddlebag. It is soooooo orange."
I responded to Mr. Blackwell "yes it is" and then took off. Cobb I kinda shaded but steeper than Knoxville Road and now the heat of the day setting in. Up the climb passed a woman from Montreal who called out "love your bike"--she had an orange one in the shop. Much rather hear her than Mr. Blackwell whine.
At lunch I just has some bread and ham, not real hungry, but made a real cold mix of Perpetuem and Hammergel for the climb. But up the climb it tasted worse and worse and was finally undrinkable. The Heed was no better. I figured I'd pull into one of the general stores near the top and try to hydrate and eat, hopefully a fruit bar, and wait for Jack there.
No fruit bars, just a popsicle--which has no carbs. Diet Coke which had me burping like crazy--helping with slight nasaua that had set in. Cold Gatorade was a nice relief from Heed--the remnants of the hammergel in the Perpetuem bottle mixed with the cold Gatorade and it was the only thing that tasted good.
(STUPID ME!! -- Cliff shotblocks are real easy to digest when it is warm. I had my "Pumpkin" small handlebar bag and should have taken 3-4 in the bag along with the 2 I started with in my jersey pocket and one I sent to drop bag rest stop. But I didn't and didn't even realize I had 1/4 still in my pocket.)
Jack came along while I had my banquet, and I figured the way he was riding I'd catch up to him so I took my time finishing. In Middletown Jack was waiting for me, and he looked like he had recovered and I felt much better than when at the top of Cobb. The long cool descent helped, but it was again warm in the valley. A pace line came by and we jumped in--felt good pulling into rest stop at mile 132.
Tried eating but couldn't???? Oh crap--I need to and took 10 minutes to down a kids granola bar. I figured I'd go on a Hammergel diet--but in the next segment when I went to it I got nauseous quickly. Meanwhile Grizzly Mark came by on the tandem, and figured we could draft off of him once the road turned flat if we could get over the climbs ahead of him as there was no way could jump behind a speeding tandem on the downhills. Anything to make up some time as we'd be riding for more than 45 minutes in the dark.
But going into Pope Valley the Hammergel didn't work, the Heed (they had my favorite flavor) made me sick and I pulled into the Pope Valley Store to get a fruit bar and more gatorade. I was hoping for a good recovery but after 10 minutes I was just slumping in the seat. I had NO energy. I told Jack to go on ahead--he did but circled back for me. We hit some small rollers--Jack wasn't going fast and I just kept lagging further and further behind. It seems like I hit every bump and rut on the road, and Napa has alot. I finally told Jack that I'd sag in at the next rest stop--sure enough two sags promptly passed and one said I might as well get in now--which was a good move, I was dead. In the crowded sags I asked for the a/c to be turned on high (Dr. Dave must be laughing over this), partially as I was burning up, partially as the stuffed sag wagon smelled like an old gym locker. A few miles down the road was the rest stop and I stumbled out and barely was able to retrieve my drop bag.
Maybe should have just downed a bottle of cold Perpetuem/ Hammergel while sitting at Lower Lake lunch instead of while riding. Maybe should have stopped at air conditioned Middletown Store for a fruit pop and too cool off--but with "running behind" I didn't. To this end probably should have started 1/2 hour earlier than usual, not to beat the heat but as the ride would be slower. (Heck, saw people leaving at 4:15 when I pulled in the parking lot and caught a last nap) Definately should have had some Cliff Shot Blocks with me, instead I had finished them off in the cool morning.
Jack did a great job finishing the ride but confirmed he was running well behind usual. The sun was setting when he left this (Hennessey) rest stop, usually we are @25 miles up the road when this happens entering the next (Pleasant Valley Road) rest stop. He said "(he) did not see the climb up Cardiac except for the blinking red lights ahead of us." I woulda 'loved' going down Cardiac in the dark at half power and I had less than that when I sagged in. Further confirmed that I was out of it when we got back to the finish, an hour+ later, and they have a real nice spread. After packing up the bike and changing clothes I slowly walked over, had a cold drink, and ate 3 pastas--no not three bowls of pasta but 3 nibbled on noodles. No appetite still
So for me a crappy year, no doubles completed, and I have to figure out what's the scoop. But award for "poor luck" rider was guy next to me in the crowded broom wagon--going for his triple crown. But he had cramped on Cobb Mountain, then fell over, and jammed his derailleur. But earlier, on Knoxville Road, some stupidass hunter discharged his gun near the road and a pellet ricocheted off a tree and hit the cyclist in the arm.
A week later-I still feel like crap--no energy and low grade fever. Tuesday (heat wave continued), 3 days later, was my slowest time to the Mt. Diablo Junction all year, and I bailed in the Wednesday ride as I could barely drive home from work.
I'm telling myself that there were 101 little things I should have done to starve off heat exhaustion. I may be bsing myself, but for once I didn't pay attention to the little details as I hadn't started a double this year and I figured I'd breeze through this one. But the top 5 items on my list:
1) Take 2 Cliff Shot Blocks and 2 Sports Beans for the Knoxville/ Cobb climbs as they are the easiest thing to digest.
2) Drink a full bottle ice cold Hammergel/ Perpetuem mix while sitting my butt down (or laying in the shade) at lunch instead of while riding (though ice didn't arrive until we were almost ready to leave the lunch stop--but this had worked great on a 100 degree Terrible Two before the big climb)
3) Leave a half hour earlier, at 5am. Not that we'd "beat the heat" but we'll be riding slower on a hot course.
4) Wear a sleveeless jersey--the white Diablo cyclist Jersey was cool--but a light sleeveless jersey is even cooler.
5) Get a haricut. Usually my first real short haircut ie right before a hot Davis Double, this unusualy weather forecast sprang up out of nowhere--a cool summer--but shoulda paid attention to detail.
and I'd also thrown in 6) double up on the Endurolights-I was taking the same amount, 2 per rest stop, I take on a cool day, and 7) Don't be stubborn and take the fn ice sock they were handing out.

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