Sunday, March 27, 2011

Walnut Creek to Del Valle-2011

(March 27, 2011) w/ Diablo Cyclists for 30 miles, then w/ Ward, Jack, Christine, Stephen, Jeannie via Flynn Road to Del Valle climb and back. 93 miles, @15.6mph, 4575' climbing. Ward Industries--the home of the honest Garmin (Still trying to figure out how Colin's and Matt's Garmins had 30% difference in elevation for Davis 200k brevet, CA Mike theorizes its because Colin is taller and his bike is higher) *** Yesterday was supposed to be the great 300k brevet in Davis. But it did what it did all last weekend and every Wednesday (and Monday, Tuesday....) night since daylight savings time 2 weeks ago--it rained--hard. So the morning was spent on the fn trainer and when we were down to a drizzle in the afternoon I got the homemade Earthtainer tomato planters out--and worked on a lightweight MP3/ speaker combo for the Alta Alpina 8--whereas I just got my induction notice: *** Dear ----- Congratulations, you have successfully registered for the Alta Alpina Challenge--The World's Toughest Double Century. We received your entrance fee and there is no turning back. You signed up to ride (8 passes) *** Riding the trainer for an 1 1/4--no matter how hard, wasn't really going to cut it. So even though the weather forecast was for 25% chance of rain, and overnite it hit 40 (the tomatoes under empty water jugs) I was sky high for the Sunday club ride, which felt more like a Saturday where we go harder and extend ourselves. Many people felt that way as BIG turnout under heavily overcast skies. I took the beer truck as club ride was relatively flat through the rich neighborhood bordering Blackhawk--and this is when the aggressive riding/ attacks would be at their worst. Later--even if the bonus mile group decided to do some climbing, we ride more of a hang together pace and riding a heavy bike on climbs would be good training. *** The big group of Diablo Cyclists started in a nice paceline, but the ride to "the Trees," is a short (40 mile) and relatively flat which means that after Blackhawk there will be attack after attack at two points--on the long downhill right after Blackhawk, and after a turn at a controlled intersection (busy so we stop and regroup) another hammer fest to the end of the road. Usually half way down out of Blackhawk Dave, the recumbent doctor, or the fn tandem, shoot by and we are all left gasping for air trying to hang on--though Dave is nice enough to shout out a warning--sometimes. Today I keep looking back and Dave is sitting near the rear of the pelaton very content--knowing he can blow by whenever he wants to. I look back again and Dave almost looks bored--either he is thinking about Stanford Basketball or he wants to look real disinterested before he makes his move. So on one of the only rises I shoot out--maybe it was watching to much of Paris Roubaix 2000 video this week or energizing punk song "In Shreds" pops onto my mini speakers, and I keep going hard solo till the first turn. After the regroup I'm fried and I can't stay on Cyclocross Champ Mark's wheel over the steep pitches (but even if I was feeling OK I couldn't) and couldn't stay on Stephen and Darrell's wheel when they powered past on the flats. Good training once again--get beaten up before we do the bonus miles. This is new song I discovered--GREAT beginning of dueling guitars and middle, though the end really collapses. After the trees most turn around but six of us push on after a quick stop on the outskirts of Livermore. Any blue has disappeared from the sky and the windmills as we climb are definitely turning--a headwind awaits on Patterson Pass. We get near the Flynn cutoff and decision time--can go on to Patterson Pass and have a long solo ride back, or do Mt. Diablo at the end of the ride--when it will be cold....or can do something special further on the ride. Flynn is a series of short steep climbs--a local Tour of Flanders, and then a long downhill into Livermore. The sun is back out. In Livermore we'll pass Mines Road--the 30 mile drag out which we did two weeks ago--and in two weeks we'll do it and continue onto Mt. Hamilton. Today would be a crappy day to do that as there are usually a couple of spots of deep runoff on the road--after recent downpours they might be rivers. But there is another option--one I haven't done since 2003 when I was learning to climb. There is a 6 mile out to to Del Valle Regional Park--recently in the news as the water level is so high they had to release water and flood a neighborhood park. I fully expected to do this alone, but when we hit the intersection and I said I was going to Del Valle everyone joined right in. About 3 miles of slight uphill, then by the Mines Road cutoff the other fork becomes a 1 1/2 mile 600' climb, which then has a 1 1/2 mile drop down (which we'll have to reclimb) to the lake. Lake area is virtually deserted--only 1 other cyclist in the big picnic grounds Restarted the MP3 player for the climb out--it worked nicely--small speaker but aimed right at me for when Dancing Barefoot came on--perfect climbing song. (above) Ward and Jeannie in front of Lake Del Valle. Water level is pretty high. (below) Jeannie is pensive and I'm tired--put back MP3/ speaker rig (orange on handlebars) for the climb out. (Ward-o-photo) This year I finally learned how to ride to Livermore--but Stephen had to muck up my newfound knowledge by suggesting a new way back to Walnut Creek. Actually, his alternate route was good--a little less traffic and we had a constant tailwind. We stayed on uncrowded back roads for as long as possible before reentering the Blackhawk area--instead of hammering as we did in the morning we had our usual cooperative bonus milegroup paceline. Back in Walnut Creek the sun came out full bore (of course--had worn glove liners most of the day.) But great century ride, did lots of work early, and it really felt like a Saturday.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


"The Giants were lucky, Phillies have a better pitching staff, all the talent moved East...THEY ARE NOT GOING TO REPEAT"

These things heard alot during the winter. "THEY ARE NOT GOING TO REPEAT" No shit Sherlock, a safe bet as the last NL team to win back to back championships were the great 1970's Reds--40 years ago before free agency made it harder to keep a team together.

Through it all the Giants have a BETTER chance to win it all than they did at the start of 2010. The only team that has a better chance than they do right now, IMO, are the Boston Red Soxs. Note: I don't blindly support my team, and felt that the Giants had no chance 2 years ago. I wrote in emails to baseball friends back east that the Giants had the WORST offense in memory. Last year, I was a bit more kind before the start of the season:

"The Giants will finish 1st this year--yep first baby. They will lead the league by alot--on days players on the disabled list. Huff-Sanchez-DeRosa--they'll be lucky getting two of three playing at the same time." (3/11/2010)

As it turned out Huff is a stud--he scored over 100 runs, ran the bases with aplomb, and played at any position the Giants needed. Sanchez came back from injury and must be the streakiest singles hitter ever--the former batting champ got red hot when the Giants needed him the most and played incredible defense. DeRosa's season never really began.

"Giant have slightly better hitting but worse fielding than last year, fragility high, and can't exepct long relievers to have great season like last year (note: they did, but they were different long relievers.) Best thing would be for them to play Buster Posey regularly, 4x a week at firstbase and 2x a week at catcher. Not like he is taking at bats away from Willie McCovery/ Bill any event SF for the wild card. (3/29/2010)

In 2011 the Giants had DEEPEST pitching staff I ever recall, and the putt-putt offense was totally revamped by the end of the year (secret: they had the MOST road home runs of any NL team, with 15 more than the mighty Phillies.) The Giants offense by the middle of 2010 much different than their offense from 2007-2010 when Matt Cain suffered with the major's worst offenseive support (3.72 runs per game.) The nadir of 2010 season was in late May when the Giants got swept by the A's--scoring a whole 1 run in 3 games. A reconstituted Giants team returned the favor a month later, scoring 17 runs in 3 games, Through it all the Giants showed the rare fortitude to bench their big $$$ stars if not performing. Not to many oher teams do that. So what is the Giants upside in 2011:

1. Pablo Sandoval, their best (only) hitter in 2009 had a bad year in 2010. With his better winter conditiong he should improve. (To a lesser extent, after poor conditioning ruined Tim Lincecum's August, he got serious and wouldn't have a disasterous month this year if he avoids arm problems.)

2. They didn't have Buster Posey or Madison Bumgarner until a third of the season has passed. Andres Torres started off as a spot player. Cody Ross on offense and shut down relievers Javier Lopez and Ramon Ramirez weren't on the team until the 2nd half of the season. Now all these guys ready to go from day 1.

3-Mark DeRosa was out for the year.

4-After a half dozen years of having turkey position players in the minors, they (Posey) was the best rookie of the year in a decade, and they have another minor league hitter, Brandon Belt, that has great promise.

5-No mass panic by the local radio--even Giants flagship early last season when Cousin Bruce wanted the Giants to trade trade trade Matt Cain for hitting and Amechi's Ralph wanted the Giants to move in the right field fences (that psych out other teams) to improve their hitting.

So the Giants start off SIGNIFICANTLY BETTER IN 2011 than 2010. Their lineup wouldn't need jesus.

What are the downsides?

1-Brian Wilson has a great season though he usually lives on the edge--an injury or his just being a little bit off would hurt greatly. (Gotta like the guy, doing a Cowboy Bill Flett tribute)

2-Pat Burrell had a good reclamation year--providing many key hits, but was this a last gasp for him? Andres Torres has a very good year as the leadoff hitter, but was this his career year?

Otherwise I see Tejada a wash for Uribe. More hits, less homers. Both not great in the field but the Giants showed that their strikeout pitching staff makes up for their fielders having little range (albeit secondbase and center field.)

Of couse, deep staff or not, a pitching injury (see Adam Wainwright) derails most contenders hopes. After hearing how the Giants shouldn't even show up against Roy Halliday and Cliff Lee in the playoffs, should we be scared that they are both on the Phillies? Not really. The Phillies essentially traded Jason Werth for Cliff Lee--they better hope that Dominic Brown can come close to losing Werth's .300-30 hr output and protection of Ryan Howard. Otherwise the Braves, who almost won the division and played the Giants the toughest in the playoffs, will win the East.
Last year I picked Colorado to win the division and the Giants to win the wild card. I think the Rockies will be the NL wild card team. The Giants should get back to the World Series, but the Red Soxs are scary with Adrian Gonzalez--who is the 2nd best hitting first baseman and is moving from a lousy hitting park to a great on, joined by Carl Crawford (and Jacoby Ellsbury coming back.)

But in an era of me-me-me pro athletes, the Giants attitude is refreshing. I see them winning the pennant., and then who knows. Only thing sweeter that what happened last year is if the would have beaten the Yankees in the World Series.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Its March Madness--Round of 64

Rain and thunderstorms all this weekend--drowning out a good ride to the Pt. Reyes lighthouse while the narrow road out there is closed to cars (buses shuttle folks in for the whale watching season.)

So its Tournament Time--who will be the National Champion in our Round of 64 ALL TIME GREATEST ROCK SONGS. (Oh, there is another Round of 64 going on.)

That was what I was planning--a play off between the 64 best rock songs of all time--I figured it would be interesting to see who'd win after a bunch of one-on-one match ups. Horses v. Light My Fire--concert versions each--oh baby!

The selection of the top 64 was done by listening to my MP3 and quickly throwing any song I really like on a list with songs that I seemingly similarly liked. There would be structure to the judging in the tourney (music, vocals/ lyrics, significance, like factor) but for now I'd just thrown in 64 tunes (actually the bottom 16 had to have a match up against choices 65-80 on the list.)

It was apparent to me that some songs got jobbed by my rush to judgement; for example I think Jefferson Airplane's Grimly Forming (#90) and Gil Scott Heron's The Bottle (#97) are better than Louie Louie (any version, #67) and Cream's White Room (#79), but I must have been in a really good mood when I heard the latter and pissy when I heard the former and threw them low on the list.

Then my friends chirped in. As Dr. Dave pointed out "hey, you got ONE song written in the last 20 years" (#20--Smells Like Teen Spirit-Nirvana.) Maybe I should have had 4 brackets--something like classic rock, girl groups/ punk , soul/ disco and tunes written since 1990. California Mike had his own long list--he wanted something from Fleetwood Mac when they were a blues band before they all found god and ran off to be replaced by a pop singers.

This soon became clear that this was a bad idea. Music is so subjective. Growing up we had a friend forced to play dainty Chopin (we derisively called him CHOP-IN) when we obviously would have respected if he hammered away at the piano like Franz Liszt. Early in the last decade Whiny Mike, a big Dylanphile--knew every lyric to every song. I never know the lyrics or really care much--I just view someones voice as another instrument while I try to follow the bass guitar line, and I'd complain how Dylan ruined his early work by another strange makeover at the latest concert. The intense "Masters of War" if done syrupy Budokan style doesn't cut it.

In any event you like what you like even if there are rock snobs or resemble their classical music forefathers years ago (when the radio announcer would endlessly try to educate you about what you heard--"shut up and just play music.") The chicanery of Dave Marsh, THE ROLLING STONE "ROCK CRITIC!" proves this point.

Years ago, before the Internet when books were needed to get complete lists, I got the Rolling Stones Record Guide 2nd edition (1983). About two dozen rock writers each tackled reviewing different bands and their LP's. Dave Marsh, the editor of the book, wrote a mean spirited review of The Doors.

"Comparing the Doors to any of rocks' great Creedence Cleerwater Revival and the Clash is clearly absurd...the Doors take their place in pop history as the progenitors of a whole wave of tennybobber anti-icons, the genuine precursors of Alice Cooper and Kiss. The Doors (are) more shrewdly marketed than Tommy James and the Shondells and the Guess Who, but not necessarily better. In fact arguably not as good, since the band possessed a drummer too laid back to really kick out jams, and organist who sounded like he had been laid off from a cocktail lounge, and a singer whose notion of the best way to express passion was to belch and grunt."

Marsh's scathing review made me suspect of the review value of the book. Ironically, years later I came across the 1st edition (1979) of the Rolling Stone record guide. Same, editor, Dave Marsh. Almost the same two dozen reviewers in both editions, most carrying over their expertise and reviewing the SAME band from edition to edition. Hmmmm, the Doors were originally reviewed by someone who really liked them, the record review editor of Creem who had also founded Punk magazine..

"Brash courageous, intelligent, adventurous and exciting...The Doors were all this and more! Of all the groups to emerge from the West Coast in the late Sixties, only the Doors succeed in consistently getting their often disturbing messages across to the core of America. ..and the fact that they were able to do it without compromising their stance or their art makes the accomplishment that much more incredible.

The Doors played unique music...(each band member) weaving around in the specific needs of each song. The Doors were such an intriguing band: blues and rock forged together, poetry mingled with standard rock lyrics."

So, Book editor Marsh (founding editor of Creem) replaced the favorable reviewer from the 1st edition in the 2nd edition with himself to write a scathing review. Watergate. Watergate

Luckily in the 3rd edition of the Rolling Stone Record Guide (1992) Marsh is no longer the book editor, and a new reviewer of the Doors, who worked as a reviewer for Rolling Stone, gave the Doors almost as glowing a review as the one found in the 1st edition before Dave Marsh pulled rank:

"The Doors were originals--Robbie Krieger, a competent guitarist who sounded best when he kept things either elegant or bluesy; the steady John Densmore on drums: Ray Manzarak and organist and electric piano player whose semi-classical turns added a touch of the baroque. The Doors, ultimately, were Jim Morrison. Except for Jimi Hendrix, there hasn't been since Elvis an American rock start of such raw immediacy."

For the record the top 8 seed in my tourney

1. When The Musics Over--The Doors

2. Dancing Barefoot-Patti Smith

3. Gloria-Patti Smith

4. Horses (Land)-Patti Smith

5. Rock and Roll Nigger-Patti Smith

6. Light My Fire-The Doors

7. Frederick-Patti Smith

and first NON Doors/ Patti

8. Rock You Like A Hurricane-The Scorpions

but truth be told I like Super Freak (#14)-Rick James, the Beat (#15)-Elvis Costello, Gloria (#17)-Van Morrison better than Rock You Like A Hurricane. And if a ride is going good one of these tunes will usually pop into my head.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

OPENING DAY 2011--Mines Road

(March 12, 2011) Walnut Creek to Mines Road Junction, 120 miles. w/ Jack, Jeanie, Tom. Dr. Dave, Stephen, Christine joined on the return trip. 16.1 mph

The Diablo Cyclists ride up Mines Road is opening day of the long distance cycling season. Even during my great trip w/ CA Mike around Hawaii, it felt weird missing this traditional start of the cycling season. The bonus mile group starts 2 hours early and 30 miles of flats/ rollers away from the base of Mines Road; we meet the Diablo Cyclists for the long but gentle 30 mile up (1900' elevation gain) and 30 mile back down Mines Road, and then the 30 mile trip back to Walnut Creek.

Unfortunately my "posse" wasn't going to be on hand at the start. Christine, Dr. Dave and Ward all coming off the injured reserved list so they'd start in Livermore. CA Mike off doing his 300th brevet of the year (or maybe its his 6th 300k brevet of the year). So apart from Jack it was a crapshoot who would be at the Walnut Creek start. I pulled in 6:50 and was the first person for the 7:00 start. Then five minutes later two new guys showed up saying Christine told them she'd be on the ride--bad news, 1) she's not starting here and 2) you have 5 minutes to get ready. I pictured getting lost dragging these guys along when luckily Jack and Tom cycled in--Tom is a well respected rider who used to do doubles and now he's getting back into long distance riding; he and Jack are as steady as they come. Ironically Tom is on a Litespeed with tri-bars, last person on a Litespeed w/ tri bars on this ride was Uncle Steve who'd attack and attack and hammer the flats like crazy all day; a few years ago he and I just started the day attacking and counterattcking each other. Today Tom just kept us in a paceline (we were pulling around the newbies), Jeanie joined us a few miles out.
What--no going downhill past the fire station and having to go balls out when Dr. Dave on the 'bent or the fn tandem flys by; what--no sprinting for the end of the Trees, which is done on each ride. In an organized paceline with very little wind I felt like I just got started when we coasted into Livermore.
Opening day--the President is at hand throw out the first pitch and Dr. Dave getting inpatient with Jack for dawdling at the rest stop.
Rolled into Livermore about 8:55--great first view of fountain fronting some restored buildings. Some years there is soap bubbles sudzing up, some years the water is dyed green (St. Patty Day.) I always wanted a picture of the fountain mid morning so I pulled off and took a few--then to my surprise parking lot was jammed with Diablo Cyclists--another great turnout for this popular ride. I figured that with such a large crowd the ride would start a 9:15--so I went over to the secret organic garden to see how the plants were doing and get water--when I returned the pelaton had left and was down the road.
I scurried to catch back on and looped around the back of the group that was busily bs'ing--the riders who'd have some urgency getting to the Junction had massed at the front. So unfortunately didn't see many people who were on the ride--just spotted the Ward-Dave-Christine-Colin group near the front and slipped in with them.
After a few miles of flat road Mines Road goes up san any intersections for 30 miles. Except for the occasional speeding motorcycle very desolate where the center line goes in and out. Hard to believe you are in the populated Bay Area.
Route "Highlights" are"
1. First @5 miles of the climb are the hardest, my guess 5-6%
2. Next 20 miles probably 1-2% with an occasional kick of 3%. Goal after the climb is to regroup and paceline this portion EXCEPT through the 2 stream/ puddles that are always running across the road--last one close to the County Line.
3. Last @5 miles after the County line varied and technical--attention getting uphill rollers leading to a 1/2 mile 6-7% climb, and a similar downhill. Then a short, 1/4 mile 8-9% climb with a longer curvy downhill that is too long for my liking--ending with a tiny bump uphill--fire station and then Junction Cafe. Mt. Hamilton "the hard way" is beyond.
Plan is to help one of my compatriots get to the downhill section (where I'd lose time) before anyone else, but no annoying person on ride we really want to drop today.
Colin, Dr. Dave, Matt and I go over the initial hard climb together--we all did the brevet together last week. Dave notes that my "64 bracket" (no not NCAA--best 64 rock songs of all time)--only has 1 song written in the last 20 years. Christine (Junction winner in 2009) a little off the pace, no sight of Ward who had the worst injuries of the group. Matt hasn't ridden with us much; when the rest of us slow so Christine can hook on Matt keeps driving so we just get on his wheel. We're zooming past alot of cycling groups that are on Mines Road.
We get to (guess) mile marker 12 and hear Christine hooking back on--but as soon as she does Colin yells "Postal." A racer on a tri bar setup shoots ahead of us. I get on his wheel, someone gets on mine (I thought Colin but it was Matt.)
Tri-guy was real steady and was calling out hazards (some falling rocks.) but he was hammering. We were on a flat part and I was getting killed, I figured I just had to hang on until the road went up a little and tri-guy would slow more than me and I could recover. WRONG. He may have slowed but not enough for me to recover. This nonsense went on for 4 1/2 miles, I hung on for dear life until miles 16 1/2 marker where I dropped off and Matt hung on for another 1/2 mile.
In fact when I dropped off a Diablo Cyclist rider/ vest up ahead on an UGLY GOLD & GREEN bike, but I was so f'd up I needed a minute to recover and then I recognized and joined Rusty; one of the funniest guys on a bike, and one of the great downhill bike handlers. He had left a little before everyone else at the start. After Rusty assured me he wouldn't attack on the ending downhill I rode and bs'd with him--another person I know who says they now feel old. Fuck. He's been off the bike all winter--been cross country skiing (probably training for a biathlon where he can take out some Lake Tahoe bears.) Caught back to Matt and while we were all bsing Colin and Dr. Dave joined in. OK--good group to come in together. MMMM, no.
Get close to county line--before the hills become serious, and tri guy had pulled off to turn around. I'd like to think that if I knew he was going to stop at the county line, @8 miles short of the Junction, I would have hung on his wheel, but best thing was that I dropped off so I could recover. Uphill, county line in sight, slow so Matt can go past it first as he hung on tri guys wheel the longest when Colin and Dr. Dave do a mad dash past us. This gets my dander up so I go hard up the rest of the hill--hit a flat section and Matt luckily joins me so we can get away from Colin and whoever he brings up. Matt and I go over the next section together--saving grace is he doesn't like downhills anymore than I do. After downhill we get to short but steep climb which I love, I go max effort so Colin, Dr. Dave or Rusty don't catch on the long downhill. Downhill seemed to take forever to complete but up the ending hill and 1st to the Junction BABY!!!!
At the Junction, Christine trying to pass out Soilent Green, I mean Perpetuem Chalk Tablets.
Dr. Dave practicing making animal hand shadows for his class.

Relaxing at the Junction, most of the club will arrive 15 minutes after our lead group. Its sunny and warm so the bonus rest stop time is great.

Rusty and Jim--two of the strongmen of the pelaton.

Pulled Pork and Buffalo Burgers--the specials of the day at the Junction Cafe.

I love the trip getting to the Junction-all uphill with some steep pitches at the end--a nice slow course. So of course the trip back is on a nice fast course which I don't like. usually takes max effort to hang with the speedy return pelaton and I'll get sawed off on the ending portion when the downhill becomes steep.
We had a few of the strong riders--Colin, Ward, Stephen, in our return group but for once everyone was taking it easy, and the reduced speed made it easy to hang with until the end. Well, everyone was taking it easy until we came back to the County Line--there a mad dash ensured--except for Stephen who usually takes it out and me--after all after BEING 1st TO THE JUNCTION I don't have to participate in mundane sprints to the County line. (I think this is going to my head.)

Our group on the return trip; June wanted to get in the photo so she flashed by when the photo was taken.

Colin, Christine, Ward at regroup at base of Mines Road.

At base of Mines Road a few of us ride back about a mile to wait for other riders coming down. Tom and Jack from our bonus mile group arrive so I turn around but do it after everyone else and suddenly everyone is down the road. I put in a big dig to catch up and now I'm wound up--Christine dropped off the back to help me regroup but my dander is up and I shoot by the front. Colin--our fastest rider--catches me and we just hammer and hammer the few miles of flat road doing a two man. I'm trying my best to kill myself before the 30 mile return trip.
Get water at the Livermore Library where a big welcome crowd is in front. No not for us--it is very cool--they have a sister city program with Japan and families are housing some school aged kids. Also cool--Dr. Dave, Stephen and Christine will join our bonus mile group back to Walnut Creek (somewhere we lost the two new guys from this AM who got car rides back.) Our group has 4 different Diablo Cyclist color jerseys on the ride back.
Wind had picked up a little so extra bonus mile riders appreciated. Stephen, who is probably the fastest person in our group did a great job keeping the pace down so everyone could stay together. On one fast section Dr. Dave forgot he wasn't on the recumbent and still took the lead hammering away.
Last bit of fun was on Diablo Blvd, close to Walnut Creek. We had 115 miles in when a guy with legs like tree trunks came by--Dave has seen him on racer training rides. I jump on his wheel for the sprint point at the end of the road but I have to no chance in hell. About 500' to go and Stephen shoots by, racer looks back at me as if I'm going to try chasing "no buddy--I'm just marking you now." Sprinter/ racer jumps up--pulls away from me but to late- down the road Stephen flashes past the Walnut Creek sign.
Great ride and I feel good. It had gotten a tad cool--if any warmer I would have gone half way up Mt. Diablo. Big difference for a few years ago when I lagged back into Walnut Creek and promptly slept in the car for a couple of hours. Oh did I mention (absent Super Joe or Cyclocross Mark) 1st to the Junction!!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

DAVIS 200k BREVET (2011)

(As an aside) Can't wait for daylight savings time to begin, and start going up Mt. Diablo Tuesday and Wednesday's after work. Now stuck on the trainer, which I've made into torture.

Have a good Kirk Kinetic trainer (on the cobblestones) that offers more resistance the faster your go (just like wind resistance increases the faster you go on a bike.) Trouble is, in order to get through the boredom of 1 1/4 hours on the trainer I have to make a game of it.

GT will special trainer wheel (11-21 cassette), on Kirk Kinetic Trainer with homage to Paris Roubaix underneath and on ceiling of garage.

First step, turn on college stereo--LOUD. Second, after a 10 minute warmup have to time trial--go as hard as I can for 60 minutes--trying to increase my speed consistently. The holy grail is to keep over 20 mph, which I've only done once in the last two years. Trouble is, if I start out to fast I flame out.
***Time trial program is 60 minutes go as fast as possible after 10 minute warmup and 5 minute 1 leg cooldown. Alternates are hill climbing w/ ankle weights and have to stand for 2 minutes every 5, and sit and spin program where I have to keep my butt in the saddle and maintain an 80 rmp cadence.***

On Tuesday for whatever reason I couldn't get started. After 15 minutes I was going at a 17.6mph clip--1 mph lower than I usually like to start at--and I was having trouble keeping this speed going. Sometimes things don't go as planned--instead of slowly dying for the next 45 minutes I called it a night.

On Wednesday I was supposed to do the rollers through the neighborhood on my fixed gear (actually on the side of a Regional Park/ Golf course so no cross traffic/ intersections on the loop) but was so bummed out from the trainer session the night before did the time trial program again. This time 15m splits were 19.1-19.1-19.2-19.4 mph, max 33.6 mph, so average watts were 242. I much have rather been on the fixed gear but this does much more for my cardio, which usually goes faster than my legs on a long ride.

(March 5, 2011) Davis 200k brevet, with Mike, Dave, Jack, Collin, Jeanne and Matt. 130 miles, 17.4 average, 5000' climbing.

This ride is the beginning of the 200k-300k-400k-600k series for rider wanting to qualify for the Breast-Breast-Breast ride, which Mike and Collin are hoping to do. Being sane Dave, Jack and I will stop with after the 300k brevet, we just like the two shorter rides as on a good route, nearby, inexpensive, and supported better than many expensive Planet Ultra Doubles.

This ride almost got washed out. After a few weeks of sunny but near freezing weekends, weather forecast was for 30% chance of rain. Oh crap. 30% chance is the borderline, whereas if its over I'm not starting the ride. With 30% chance of rain, I scrapped the plan to take the Litespeed and instead prepared the GT with the rack/ brevet bag so I could take a raincoat. (Not many people had racks/ brevet bags on this one, though a sizable minority rode with huge backpacks adorned by a safety triangle.)

The day before the weather forecast changed for the better--now it was a 70% chance of rain--BUT AFTER 4PM. Before 4PM there was only a 5% chance. Great. Stayed with GT as speed would not be an issue--we'd comfortably finish before dark and before rain showed. We also had a disparate group. Young Colin was by far the fastest rider. Jack and Mike our best endurance riders. Dr. Dave on the 'bent could whizz ahead on the flats but would lag on any steep series of rollers. And Jeanne and Matt had never ridden 130 miles before. In short, with no worries about time we'd get in, we'd just ride to our slowest rider at any given moment.
It was 50 degrees when I left the house at 5am--OH GOD I HATE WAKING UP IN THE DARK FOR BIKE RIDES. Temperature steadily decreased toward the ag fields surrounding Davis to a sunny 45.

Had preregistered but got to checkin early so I could take a short snooze in the car until some crazy guy parked next to me and banged on the window. Surprised no food provided (luckily had taken banana with me for the start)--on this short brevet the only rest stop with food was in Pope Valley--65 miles out; the longer 300k brevet would have 3 provided rest stops. Jeanie had asked how much food to bring, though stores along the route we want to bring enough to be self sufficient without being weighed down.

My initial answer to her was:

8 hours (16.5 avg for 130 miles) at 40-60 carbs an hour, 320-480 carbs for the ride.

With food/ drink averaging 75% carbs then 1700-2560 carbs for the ride. So I'd take:

Bottle 1 -2 scoops HEED 54 carbs

Carry -2 scoops HEED 54 carbs

Bottle 2 -4 scoops PERPETUEM 108 carbs

Bottle 2 -1 shot HAMMERGEL 23 carbs

So liquid refreshment would total 239 carbs

Carry -2 CLIFF SHOT BLOCKS (great while riding) 96 carbs

Carry -2 CLIFF BARS (or similiar carb type) bar 82 carbs

Carry -2 shot HAMMERGEL mini grenade 46 carbs

Lunch Stop-Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich 45 carbs

Solid food, 269 carbs, so total 508 carbs.

As it turned out I didn't touch the Hammer Grenade, but did have 4 carb bars; and had a turkey/ ham sandwich + banana at lunch in lieu of PBJ. Also took one scoop of Sustained Energy to add to my Perpetuem mix. So I took in about 30 carb more than planned, or 538.

Surprise when we were ready to roll and worker ran up to us with a box of Brubar Power Bars (very good) and grabbed one while rolling out.

(side) Dave's not yelling at me, yet, when I go for his neck that he sometimes strains during long rides (above) Cuing up for mass start

We got stuck at a traffic light right outside the park and ride and started shivering uncontrollably. I had my rain jacket in the brevet bag--but wasn't wearing it as I knew that once we got going I'd be miserable wearing a jacket unless it was raining. To get warm I went to the front and started going hard, but also stayed in the small ring---seems to help on long rides just to spin the first 5 miles. I was on good behavior when a guy with a spin worse than mine-bowleggedly mashing the pedals-shot by; shortly after a lady wearing weird half leggings did the same thing while weaving--surprised Jeanie wasn't chasing her. Our group joined me while I watched the odometer--4.7 miles, 4.8 miles--NOW--5 miles, can go into the big ring.

I don't recall if we joined a bigger paceline or a bigger paceline joined us, but it was a clusterfuck going to Winters through the ag land. Our group (which usually meant Colin) was doing most of the pulling, a double paceline formed, and anarchy ensued. Our group was usually 2nd, 3rd and 4th wheel but next to us were folks we didn't know--some riding straight, so weaving like crazy. The woman who passed earlier, later nicknamed "crazy lady" (and worse), wound up 3rd wheel on the right side and needed more than 3 feet width of road. Jeanie (who used to race) said she though brevet riders knew how to paceline and she was unpleasantly surprised.

Best move of the day may have been when Colin was in the front but indicated a whizz stop was in order, and that sounded great to me (did I mention it was cold.) Over the Pedrick overpass he went straight, I followed, and everyone else went left. Well, after taking care of business we had to bust butt to catch the pelaton on the very flat course, but with Colin doing 80% of the work we were both out of the mass lunacy and got warm in a hurry chasing back.

When we finally got back Mike was driving the paceline--after being lazy for the longest time and sitting on the back, after we accordioned for the seemingly millionth time (paceline accordioning is terrible at the back) I dug in past 25 riders to see if Mike needed help--just when I got near the front he was rotating out, so we both got n 4-5th wheel. Jumped from the pelaton before first good bathroom stop at Lake Solano Park-28 miles from the start, and I figured that the park stop would be jammed, so I suggested to our group that we go to the campgrounds across the street. Good move.

Peacock at Lake Solano deserted campgrounds--swarm of them cheered us on when we arrived (Dr. Dave Photo)

Many brevet riders may be slow but they are great at not needing to stop--at least half blew by the Park/ Campgrounds. Our group didn't and took our time leaving, something that we wouldn't be able to afford on the 300k. Jeanie had a leaking bag of sports powder (need to double bag!)--reminiscent when I tried carrying sports powder in a Peets Coffee bag. Now I use an empty Hammer grenade. Now the ride would get interesting, rollers up to the Cardiac Climb and then the rollers through Pope Valley.

We stayed together to Cardiac but then became unhooked. From the side we had a two stage climb, an easy one to Monticello Dam and then a much longer climb to the end of a Lake Berryessa "finger." Climb was nice even if I was still wearing a Nordic headband and undershirt for freezing weather. At least wasn't also in a long sleeve jersey. Pulled over near the top to take photos of our group coming up--was in front of someone's unique mobile home homestead.

Interesting front yard at the top of Cardiac. Heard that last year occupant was in his front yard cheering on the Davis Double riders.
Colin and Jack near the top of Cardiac.

The climbing recumbent doctor has already attacked two riders and ready to mow down a third... ...oh, those two riders were Jeanie and Mike.

Long downhill where Mike checked his speed so I could get behind him and arrive with him and Jeanie to the next stop at the 121/128 junction at mile 45 where Jack, Matt and Colin were waiting.
When we were ready to leave we heard someone whine about which way to go now, are there more hills, their bike is broken; a lady on a Litespeed had her chain stuck--Dr. Dave preformed the operation and fixed her bike. Later dubbed the "Cat Lady"--good for her for doing the ride but amazed that she would finish it though a brevet gives riders incredible amounts of time to do same.
Now our group is basically alone and we began to paceline through the gentle rollers in Pope Valley. One guy in a red jersey joined us and took a nice pull.
Grapes are not the only thing that grow in Napa Valley--there is also Americana folkart.
At mile 53 had to take a sudden right and go on a pothole strewn backwater road--nice except for the occasional car zooming in the other direction that had us taking corners gingerly and far to the outside. This road had very short but steep pitches which did not make our recumbent doctor happy.

Brevet master Mike on backwater Lower Chiles Valley Road. It had warmed up so he took off his PI Ultra-thin floppy jacket that he had worn under his jersey--which looked like Steinfeld's "puffy Pirate shirt"
At mile 56 back on the main road and we started seeing the fastest riders coming back from the turnaround--9 miles away. Pothole road (Napa never fixes their roads unless a Mini-Cooper sinks into a pothole) familiar from the Tour of Napa Valley, Davis Double, Knoxville Double etc...

Seemed we were at the Pope Valley Turnaround/ Control, mile 65, very quickly. Apart from Sustained Energy and made to order sandwiches, had alot of "crap" (donuts, cookies) that I think Colin liked.

Pope Valley Control where we saw many people we encountered earlier.

We stayed at the Pope Valley Control for @25 minutes--definitely 15 minutes too long for the 300k ride, but this was the 200k and the sun was out (so much so I pulled off thick undershirt and was just a bit cold riding with just a jersey/ but better than being bundled up.) In total we'd have stopped 1:15 for 200k, we should easily improve on this by 25% for the 300k. Jack was being antisocial and perhaps spooked by the late rain report, he started down the road well before we left--knowing him he'd only stop one more time on the return trip and we'd never catch up to him. Jeanie and Matt-our two riders extending themselves, said they were feeling good.
We started out very sluggish on the return trip--the same ez rollers I died on and gave up the ghost on last years Knoxville Double. Riders first getting to the control/ turnaround were riding en masse on the other side of the road. Dr. Dave and I were playing a game; after a few miles the riders on the opposite side of the road had thinned out and seemingly stopped for a few minutes--when a recumbent rolled by. I bugged him about a recumbent rider bringing up the rear, but he got a sense of satisfaction when a half dozen diamond frame bikes were soon spotted really bringing up the rear.
Soon the wind shifted (gentle all day) and we picked up speed to the backroad turn off. Rollers a little steeper in this direction--not Dr. Dave's favorite section of the ride but he wasn't far behind--especially when stuff started falling out of Colin's stuffed pockets (who nicely clinched his rain jacket behind his saddle with reflective straps). We then kept our group nicely organized back to the 121/128 junction.
Group photo at 121/128 Junction stop, mile 85. Mike recreating the "We're #1" sign he gave here 4 years ago on the 300k brevet while dressed in his brevet crossing guard uniform.

Mixed blessing for Dr. Dave here. The run in to Cardiac is fast and he easily zoomed away from us-but from this side the climb up Cardiac is much shorter but steeper. I like it--Dave doesn't. Here our group spread out again so we regrouped half way down the downhill. Then passing Lake Solano half the group didn't need to stop but we deferred to the half that did.

Folk art at Lake Solano campgrounds.

I really wasn't looking forward to the end of the ride--it would just be pancake flat through the ag fields of Winters/ Davis. But I was nicely suprised. Earlier in the day Jeanie complained about the disorganized pacelines--this time we caught ("we" means Colin doing 80% of the pulling and I'm doing 15%) a big group from the Davis Bike Club where they were more than happy to let us do most of the work. That was OK, they took a few short turns. The tranquility was broken about a mile from the finish when all of a sudden--OH shit, a woman with an anti-PETA seat and someone else in the Davis club did their traditional sprint for the City Limits sign. I was so surprised I didn't have time to yell "Postal" to warn Colin and try to set him up.
Back to the car 3:45. Sign the brevet card--in about 9 months when I forget about this ride I'll get it back--stamped by some secret society in France. Packing up and -- rain drops --- it's 4:01 -- the weathermen nailed it (rain would pick up from 4:20-4:50)
The 200k brevet route is the first (and last) leg of the 300k brevet, the additional 100k beyond Pope Valley has serious rollers and a serious climb up Cobb Mountain. We definately wouldn't be doing 17.4 mph that day, and will be returning at nite. So better read up on all those reflective vest, reflective ankle band, no blinking lights rules and regulations.
Ironically our techno geek Colin's (he really isn't one but more than anyone else in our group) Garmn said we had climbed 8,000' which we all agreed was way to high. Matt's GPS had 5,000' which was more like it. Mike decided the descrepancy was due to Colin being taller.

(above) Colin and Mike signing in at the end of the brevet. (below) Dr. Dave and Jeanie doing the same.