Lucky decided to take a thermal vest as it was FREEZING going down. As usual passed by lots of riders on the downhill--some even nice enough to say "on your left"--"some." Stopped once at Juniper to whiz instead of crowded restroom on top, and stopped on bottom when it flattened out as I thought I had a flat tire from rough ride--no-tires ok--it was from my shaking.
Back on the flatlands I was still cold--luckily there is a series of long rollers that take us through Walnut Creek and Concord. Strangely no cyclists up the road or behind me. Told Christine I'd be past her house at 7:45-8:00 and kept my word--passed her enthusiastically ringing a cowbell and taking photos of passing riders. I half expected her to jump on a bike and join in the fun. She told me about 80 riders had already gone through (@240 had signed up to start.) Took 5 minutes to shed thermal vest, sock liner, glove liners, lite jacket, thermal headband and handlebar bag--kept knee warmers as though I had my goofy orange ones in the drop bag for later--though promise of a 76 degree day it was still just 55 degrees. I was amazed I actually remembered to get rid of everything I wanted to. Had debated about tee shirt but 55 degrees is 55 degrees and I'm a cold wimp. Only stopped for 5 minutes and half way through the shed clothes stop Colin came by in a small group.
The "Get rid of clothes stop"--great move. I filled up the mini Cooper. Its sunny and climb coming up shortly but its still only 55 degrees. (Christine photo)
In Clayton they closed off the route for a street faire so we had to take a impromptu detour. The two Porta Potties for the faire were perfect. Shortly out of surburbia and back in rural land. Two longer rollers (ok-mini hills) on the way before turnoff to Morgan Road. Unlike when I was a lazy ass riding with Ward a few weeks back I kept a good workman like pace to get back to Colin.
BIG CLIMB #2-MORGAN TERRITORY-7.4 miles, 1,500 feet-4%
This is the type of climb I love--road "not the best" so never ride it downhill, but good enough for a climb in dense woods, which today stopped the wind. Grade is really 2-3% with short hairpins that significantly kick up, so great for standing through them.
Only a few cyclists on this who I easily passed, and half way up saw a a few on a hairpin with Colin in the middle. Came in, yelled "HIT ME" (from James Brown "Payback"--which is the battle cry for short steep climbs.) Colin and I bs'd for a few seconds and then I was off--I figured he'd easily catch me on the downhill and then I could do my best trying to ride behind him on the flats out to the next climb--but I stayed a little too far in front of him for that. Morgan easily the best climb of the day--again left rest stop quickly with a stuffed muffin in my mouth. Dreaded the usual crosswind that is at the top and steepest part of descent--going south road is smooth but narrow and fast. Again passed by loads of riders on the downhill--most call out but a few numbnuts flying around corners with cars suddenly appearing going up in the other direction. Relieved when finally hit the flats. Long ride in farm country now and great to paceline but no one up the road or behind me--and was "sleeping" when two pacelines came by and I didn't hop on. I finally jumped on one but we were very close to the dirt bike track--which starts the easy climb out to Altamont-before turning into Patterson Pass.
We had been warned that we'd be sharing the road with the Wente Road Race We were warned that racers don't get along with Doubles riders but at the first and subsequent checkpoint/ traffic controls the race Marshall's were really enthusiastic when we passed by. I also was lucky to get in with the group, as instead of the usual tailwind out to Altamont we had a headwind.
Big Climb 3-Patterson Pass, 6 miles, guess 4% for first 5 1/2 miles, but block headwind, double digit % for last 1/2 mile)
I dropped off paceline as we neared Altamont turn--expected to put alot of energy going up Patterson in block headwind so wanted to "rest up." Rolled up knee warmers around ankles while riding before climb. Made turn by PGE substation expecting to get blasted--most windmills not turning and it was surprisingly calm, in fact in some parts we'd get a little tailwind.
Talked to one guy briefly who is thinking about riding a fixed gear on the Davis Double--told him about my experience (extra sore butt.) Rode behind two strong riders talking about a Deborah (Planet Ultra) who needs to be more accommodating to bike riders--even though its seemingly harder to get volunteers in Southern California than up in Northern California. Nevada Doug would have had a good time riding behind these guys. Good to see Craig working a water stop two thirds up the climb, which was real easy without the usual block headwind. I'm still just riding tempo--not going after any carrots as I remember in 2009 when I died on Mines Road after going balls out here. Very fast downhill off of Patterson where we make a sudden left turn into two short steep rollers--when I get to the intersection a road racer on the Wente Course makes a right with me and Grizzly Mark is right behind me.
I go hard over the first roller in front of the racer, and stay in front on the second--then the course flattens out and becomes slightly downhill and fast. Funny moment of the day--On the flat portion Mark comes up fast yelling "hop on" to me--he is right behind road racer. Road racer says in a loud voice "DON'T BOTHER ME!" As Grizzly Mark yells back to racer that he was talking to me racer picks it up and Mark gets on his wheel. I totally miss the move but almost fall off the bike laughing as racer speeds away and Mark is very visible in his yellow kit sticking like glue on the racers wheel for as far as the eye can see.
Again solo but real nice ride skirting Livermore and then left turn for a few miles before the Mines Road climb begins.
Fun Climb #4, Mines Road, 25 miles, 2000; gain, 2% but probably 1% for the middle 20 miles, steep at beginning 4 miles and last mile.
OK-I haven't ridden that hard and feel good at 11:42 am but at start of Mines rest stop (mile 91) I'm 3 minutes behind my 2006 time & 25 minutes behind 2009. First time I'm at a rest stop for longer than 5 minutes as I wisely pull off ankle warmers (formerly knee warmers), arm warmers, and tee shirt. Its about 66 degrees now and we'll be climbing for the next few hours as after the Junction we start the steep/ full sun ride up Mt. Hamilton.
Grizzly Mark pulls out of the rest stop a few minutes before I do. Sacto Doug is working another stop and we bs for a few minutes. One word about Quackcyclist rest stops--they were good and businesslike in the past but they now have almost become Santa Rosa-Terrible Two like. Oh, not the wild cheering but at every stop there was someone grabbing the bike to put it in the rack and filling up drink bottles. Much appreciated. I again remembered to take Fig Newtons or a Cliff Bar for the road while Heed and Perpetuem bottles are refortified and topped off--seemed like Caffe Latte is a crowd favorite,
Again downing half a muffin while I started down the road. When I'm ready to leave Colin and Matt pull in and they look like they are having a good time on their first DMD.
Mines quickly starts up steeply for a few miles before it almost levels off. Just when I think I'm climbing well a slight woman who is not on the ride comes whipping by. I try to match her pace but I can't. But the acceleration brings me back to Grizzly Mark just when the road starts to flatten out. Perfect.
Mark likes to bs as much as I do when riding and we set a good pace while riding together. I don't think anyone passed us except a Stanford & Son truck who kept missing their address and blocking the road when U-turning with noxious fumes. Of all the club members I expected to see en route Trina wasn't one of them but there she was rolling in the opposite direction and gave me an encouraging shout out. We are joined by a 3rd guy and we stopped bs'ing, Mark picks it up and so do I. Nice fast pace but we are not going nearly as fast as the balls out club race that occurred the last two times up Mines Road. This ride is real enjoyable--the 20-25 miles pass by in no time. I didn't even realize when we passed through the 100 mile mark. As I'm a crappy descender I tell Mark I'm going to jump on last uphill grade kick, as its followed by a long twisty descent. I go ahead and pull into the Junction where lunch is being served--grilled chicken, pulled pork. I picture Colin (who eats anything) pulling out a lobster bib and salad fork and settling in for a feast. I get my lunch special--a slice of bread and a slice of turkey with a diet Coke--something I know will digest easily. Out very quickly, unlike 2009--and the worst climbs up ahead.
Big Climb #5-Mt Hamilton-5 miles, 2,100' climb, 8%
Continue on in the desolate San Antonio Valley--about a dozen miles of flat punctuated by sudden steep uphill rollers. Here is where I fell apart in 2006 but today still riding my good but not hell bent pace. A few guys come by and I jump in their draft until the sudden sort downhill to the bridge that signifies the serious climb is about to start--5 miles of hell. Water stop here where Tom/ Veronica shout out encouragement as I just top off the bottles and keep going.
This side of Hammy in full sunlight, with road markings telling you how much longer you have to the top. Some guys some guys speed by and I try to match their pace but notice when standing that I'm suddenly "not feeling the best. The bottom of feet starting to get sore, my heart rate quickly elevating too fast when I stand, and worst of all, injured knee is killing me for the first time since the Terrible Two years ago. So I keep my butt in the saddle and continue my mantra of not chasing and just ride at a comfortable tempo. Somewhat related, no songs popping in my head and I'm getting too thirsty--two more signs of fatigue. Road marker ahead--hope its mile 2 in the countdown --oh fuck its mile 3. Peak off to the side, view is tremendous as in just a couple of miles we're high above the San Antonio Valley we just climbed out of . Some really steep hairpins I stand on but it feels like someone has kicked my knee each time. I keep telling myself that after mile 1 marker road flattens out.
And so it does--I pull in by one of the observatories to take Vitamin B-Naproxin and get more water. The climb was warm, but its suddenly very cool at the highest elevation in the Bay area. Good news is that I'm now well ahead of my 2009 pace (26 minutes); still behind my 2006 pace (32 minutes) but in 2006 for the rest of the ride I'd camp out at rest stops.
Now very long downhill to the next rest stop at Crothers--this is the "easy climb" side of Mt. Hamilton as never over 5% so the downhill is somethng I like--albeit the sudden shallow potholes that blend in with the light tarmac and some falling rock off to the side. Matt was warned by Hawaii Mike not to follow me on the course, unfortunatley he didn't as somewhere he made a full U-turn and took a dead end road for 10 miles off course. Still very desolate--and ride has totally split up--for next 15 miles would only see one other rider.
Crothers rest stop is at someone's house--which is at the end of 3 or 4 steep uphill blocks. Previously every foot of getting to this house seemed like torture, today no problem. Gracious host had popsicle sticks--after bottles refilled and downing popsicle and taking fig newtons to eat while riding, it was off to the hell known as Sierra Road. Now ahead of both my 2006 (2 minutes) and 2009 pace (18 minutes.)
Hell Climb #6-Sierra Road-3.2 miles, 1,800 feet-11%
Now entering surburbia and zig zagging streets on the edge of San Jose. Will hit Sierra Road at mile 155 and am worried about my back--in past years it has always gone out though on the training ride this year no pain and climb seemed easier than in the past. Actually worst part is at the beginning when you turn into Sierra Road and the street goes staright up. Not many relief points, which I need on steep climbs, but some places that the road almost flattens out to 3-4% for a few feet. But it seems that every steep grade is quickly followed by another one. I figure I'll have 40 minutes of hell.
Grizzly Mark briefly joins me before the Sierra Road turnoff. Then sudden turn as in the words of most first timers seeing it "oh fuck!" Naproxin has solved my knee problem but still worried about my back so I sit on the steepest section until the grade necessitates standing. A few riders up ahead--I eventually pass about half of them but I approach slowly at pace. I pegged time right, 41:30--about 6 minutes slower than on training ride. There is more climbing to come but this is last severe climb of the day.
Now fast slightly downhill section--drop bags are at the water stop--Pet The Goat--shortly along the route. Only misstep by Quackcyclists--ride info (and in the past) drop bag pickup later at Sunol but I found out last night that this wasn't an option so I have lots of crap waiting for me at Pet The Goat, and its too warm to carry everything. The ubiqutous Sacto Doug working another rest stop but its closing at 11pm and he'll be back to the finish at midnight so leaving stuff with him not an option. So here I put on my armada of heavy duty lights, though its only 5:55. Also put on heavier vest--at least mostly big downhill or fast tree line shaded sections back to Sunol. Couldn't tie short backup orange knee warmers (gotten as a goof) around handlebars so wore them with regular ones tied around bars. We'll, at least I'd be visable to cars in the dark down busy Niles Canyon. As I'm fn around with all this stuff--probably here for 15 minutes--Grizzly Mark pulls in and leaves. As course now gets faster I figure I wouldn't see him the rest of the day.
Speedy downhill with a sudden turn onto the Calaveras "Wall" (miss the turn you're f'd as back down in the flatlands)--after Sierra Road "the Wall" is just a bump. Agan soloing rustic Calaveras in the fast direction--using Ward's tick of looking for oncoming cars before the hairpins and having my two big lights blinking through the shade. Not many oncoming cars but oncoming the end of the Mt. Hamilon challenge on the narrow road--most riders shouting out encouragement as I go by--real cool. Music again pops into my head over and over--unexplicatly a country western tune (I dislike Country music but like Johnny Cash, PG-13 version for your viewing pleasure.) Feel great and twilight not threatening like in the past two years as I steam into Sunol.
Pirates of the Carribean Climb #7-Palomaras, 4.5 miles, 1000', 4%
Usually just make it into Sunol at sunset, around 8pm. But in Sunol at 7:23 today and no need to have to spend a long time at the rest stop--I'm feeling great. Hell, I can now go down traffic heavy, tiny shouldered Niles Canyon Road in the daylight before the turn off to rustic Palomaras.
Two surprises at Sunol Rest stop. Clubmate Craig is working the stop-great to see a familiar face. And Grizzly Mark camped out with digestion issues, I never thought I'd see him again until dinner.Don't look at knee warmers and look at DAYLIGHT!! Yep-major lights on bike and flurenscent clothes for going down Niles Canyon in the dark--but I'm in Sunol well ahead of sunset. A toast is called for. (Craig M photo)
I take off with an Alta Alpina rider. He does most of teh pullingh, I remind him of the sudden right turn that kicks up sharply. We talked about the Alta Alpina 8--he said that Blue Lakes Road (one of the great out and backs) was barely opened last year for the event and this year there is more snow--a bummer if we can't ride it in a month. I'm so close to the finish now that I'm not going to blow it trying to go harder than necessary on a climb so when we hit Palomares I drop off and Alta Alpina rider goes off in the distance.
Once again solo--and still daylight!. See no one else on Palomares. As busy as Niles Canyon was is how quiet Palomares is. Maybe see two cars. Oh did I say quiet--sound of running water from nearby creek--peacocks shrill yelp as I pass along with other animal noises. Animals are disturbing the McDonald's Jingle, Boom Like That setting tempo in my head for the climb. Make it to the top when there still is a sliver of daylight.
Luckily have 2nd vest as its getting cool and put it under my reflective vest--and put all 3 of my lights on full power--1200 lumens, 700 lumens, 200 lumens. The steep downhill in the dark ain't bad--soon hit the fast flat part when Grizzly Mark zooms up and we trade pulls to the end of the road. At the stop joined by two other riders who are riding balls out. Seems like they are trying to drop us so Mark and I get behind them in the short climbs through Castro Valley. When we turn onto the Crow Canyon Expressway-steep and lots of traffic with a shit shoulder Mark digs in and pulls away from the two guys and I follow him. We decide we might as well ride in together.
Reminder You Were On A Climbing Ride, #8 Norris, 2.1 miles, 530'
Not a bad climb but annoying 200 miles into the ride. We go at Mark's pace until we get to the steep end-a few cyclist coming up and Mark says that I should go on ahead and he'll back to me on the downhill. I do and he does. We stop for a major traffic light before we cross the freeway and are joined by another person who wants to get ahead of us to the finish. No fear of not finishing now--Grizzly Mark jumps from interloper then I figure I'll take a dig but zoom by the short driveway to the finish and kill a minute going through the main entrance.
Incredible ride-I could have gone a little harder at times but probably wouldn't have felt this good at the end and took 30 minutes off my previous best finish. About an hour later Jack and Colin come in. Don't know what happened to Matt--later find out he took a wrong turn. I think that moves him into the leadership position--replacing me--for wrong turn honors in our club.
But Colin and Matt enjoy the ride, even with Colin bonking a little on Mines road and Matt's extendo ride--two real positive ride. Hopefully we'll figure out a way to keep together on a future double.