Sunday, August 28, 2011

Oakland Zoo Review Century-2011

(August 27, 2011) Oakland Zoo Palomares Century, Diablo Cyclist Metric Ride with add on of Palomares, with Ward, Christine, Cisco Dave, new rider, and Joe accompanied for a good portion. 16.6 mph, no official elevation but Zoo ride is listed at 4500 feet and Palomares ride is 2000 feet, so with some overlap we probably did 5000'. The official Ward Industries elevation chart shows 5490' , 200' of that going over tree roots in the road down to the Oakland Zoo. (WI)
Not one of my favorite Club rides. Crapshoot going towards the Oakland Hills in the morning, can be -20 degrees cooler. Today while clear where we started the ride--fog rolling over the Oakland hills with scant visibility. Bunch of nice rollers to have fun on towards the zoo, nice except for the potholes, cracks and tree roots coming up in the road on the descents. To the zoo Super Joe and Cisco Dave racing from point to point--unless they were stuffing free newspaper inserts in their jerseys to stay warm. Ward, taking a cue from BART protesters, almost stopped the zoo train full of screaming kids to get this shot. (WI)

I'm with Joe who just visited the goats in the petting zoo to get more sports drink (CB)

The bonus mile group with Joe holding up that disgusting sports drink he snatched from a kid on the merry-go-round(PC)

Real problem figuring out how to add on from the Oakland Zoo. Riding back on Skyline in the Oakland Hills a possibility--but we'd contend with more crappy weather in the hills, in the bad direction (better going North to South on Skyline) and then once back in Contra Costa we'd be hitting the treeless Bears climb in the heat of the day.

Another possibility would be to head to Sunol. We'd have to do a warm climb, Palomares, from the shorter steeper side but it is tree lined. Then uphill on Niles Canyon but we'd get a tail wind so it would even be faster than going downhill in our usual direction. Then we could circle back through Livermore and Collier Canyon--thus avoiding the 10000 traffic controls on Danville Blvd.

Ward and Christine figured out how we should go, Dave worried about getting 100 miles in, and Joe looked for the nearest dairy. Jim rode with us until we turned towards Palomares. But before we could get going, and depart from the larger group, new guy had a flat--the second one in our Club for the morning. Ward got to use his years of rolling expertise. Two flats and two long regroups made it seem we were riding all day and did not that many miles.

As an aside, exiled clubmate, California Mike, was doing a All Day Ordeal Gang ride out of Riverside, where the scheduled options were 120-132-144 miles and 8,000-14,000 climbing so we'd seem like pikers compared to what he did. Of course we didn't realize that due to smog it looks like the sun set at 4 in the afternoon and he only did 75 miles.

Sun was full bore when we climbed out of Oakland and back in central Alameda-Contra Costa. Now about 90 degrees for the rest of the day. Ward pulled the group to the Palomares climb, then Dave and I were determined to make this ride hard and "pushed" each other up the climb as fast as possible. Then long downhill off of Palomares and sweet tail wind aided uphill into Sunol.

Ward leading the charge to Palomares. (CB) I'm enjoying the good weather after the crap in the morning. (CB)

Usual great regroup in Sunol, watching nothing happen in tiny town from yesteryear plopped in the middle of the Urban Sprawl. Joe turned off here. Our remaining 5 pacelined through windy Livermore. Dave gets the Museeuw award as he was often at the front pulling everyone along--sometime too fast. Another nice break in Livermore before hitting windy Collier Canyon.

Ward and I watching time go by in Sunol (CB)

Dave probably wanted to do Mt Diablo but nicely he didn't say a word--everyone else was beat. I was unexplicitly tired--related it to spider bite two days ago were I was running mild fever the day before the ride. But the next day found out my rear wheel was out of true and slightly hitting the brakes, so who the hell knows. But in any event too tired for a course not especially hard and hi jink ended when we left the zoo.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tour of Napa Valley Century (2011)

(August 21, 2011) Tour of Napa Valley Century, 101 miles, 5200' climbing, 17.4 mph inc slow ride up to registration, w Ward, Jeanne and Jim until lunch spot.

Route profile provided by Garmin and Contadinia, that provides the model for stuffing items in small places that the Napa organziers follow (WI)

The Tour of Napa Valley has great end of ride food, crappy roads, and despite two relative short climbs with some steep pitches its a very fast course with lots of miles to paceline. It also has perfected how to get all riders on different courses into the crowded rest stops at the same time (and later the shoulder of the Silverado Trail)--taking a cue from the tomato paste advertisement--how do they get all those tomato's into the itsy-bitsy can? And Yountville police, the town where the ride starts, get their local budget in line by stopping and citing cyclists. Ink Grade--the seminal climb of the day--only 4 miles but steep in places. (WI)

There are other Century rides that I like more, but this holds special memories; some bad. First time on Ink Grade I had to get off the bike and walk, and when I returned from knee surgery to do the 100 people in my old bike club flaked out the morning of the ride. More recently slamming through the course with a few Clubmates, and getting revenge on Ink Grade while maneuvering through the crowded road is great. Seems that our Club never does this with a large group (Santa Rosa Wine Country much more conducive for keeping a large group together,) and its a signpost that the riding season is almost over. All of a sudden the morning moist air seems to be ushering in the Fall, and if we haven't noticed this in the East Bay we are hit over the head with dampness in foggy Napa.

This is one of the few Sunday century rides so the story of this ride really starts the day before.

Usually on our Satuarday self supported century rides, we go hard and answer attacks before breaking off from the Club after the first 40-50 miles; when the Bonus Mile group forms we then take it easy and ride tempo for the next 50-60 miles. On a Century we'll try to go hard for the full 100--easy to do when I get my dander goes up. I know I'm going to be passed--and if someone comes by smoothly while calling out "on your left," more power to them. But if some goofball shoots by closely with nary a word, looks like they put in 120% effort to pass as they flail away, then slow until they turn around and realize we're easily getting back to them so they again try to kick it into high on, especially if the road is going up.

The day before the Napa Century our club is doing a metric century over Morgan Territory, one of the easier climbs on the Devil Mountain Double. No way I want to be tempted to hammer. In fact Ward and I developed a rule before other Sunday century rides that we have to ride in the small ring--so wouldn't be temped to chase/ do intervals etc. This wouldn't help on the climb up Morgan as we'll be in the small ring anyway. To be under control on the Morgan climb we left 15 minutes earlier and 15 minutes closer to the climb after kidnapping Christine. Going up Morgan we took it sooooo easy (until two dogs came out) that I expected our club to roar by any second. Surprisingly no one did, we got to sit out at the top on a windless day (rare) for 30 minutes until Super Joe showed up, and everyone else straggling in for the next 15 minutes. Then on the flat portion of the club ride we wanted folks to pass us, though at one point while pulling on some rollers in the small ring we surprisingly found our group way out in front. (Game going on--passed by the Snotting Tandem +10, unless they snot on you--then no points.) At one regroup Jack, Cisco Dave and Stephen kept asking "ok--bonus miles to..." Ward and I just kept saying "NO NO NO NO NO." Strange seeing my house at 2pm on Saturday.

Next morning I knew parking would be a clusterfuck so Ward and I carpooled--getting near to the Yountville Veterans Home complex where ride begins we already saw riders on the road at 6:45. We wound up in a lower grass field parking lot next to Jim and Jeanne--about a mile away from registration (and end o ride meal.) We rode up to check in with riders coming down, cars looking for parking, and cyclists from the upper parking lots walking going all over the place blocking the road. Why am I doing this ride again? Oh yeah--the great bakery spread at the start and the great food at the finish, and maybe the best Fall ride on the menu. (Fall pickings are slim). Check in easy. Saw our clubs fixed gear/ recumbent contingent doing the 100 mile course minus Mt. Veeder. Saw old clubmate Johnna, a prime Death Ride troublemaker, who had jumped to an all woman's tri club.

Then back down through the crowd and time to, no, Jeanne has a flat. Later my wife reminded me that when we did the Napa metric course together years ago I had two flats when the valves tore off--maybe that is why I pump up bike tires the night before the ride (+5 lb over what I want.) So we finally left at 7:45. Bakery spread at the start of registration. Is that knife for people who are not wearing a registration wristband thrying to grab food? (PC)

"Damn, the paparazzi found us," Johnna with clubmate (WI, not Steven Sands)
When they figure out how to make a high performance solid tire--cycling will take off. (PC)

Ward had asked the day before if I remember the road conditions--I didn't think they were all that bad. Shows I'm getting old and losing memory. First 8 miles along the service road next to the highway, and its like riding on cobblestones. Crappy patch job after crappy patch job. I speed up here to get warm--actually not that bad but heavily overcast. This is Jim weather. We get a good 4 person paceline going, but not to many riders up the road. We pass one poor lady who yells out "is this the 60 mile course?" We hated to tell her she already missed a turn.

Eventually we make turn and commercial strip/ suburbia ends and quick transition to rustic Mt. Veeder. Real gentle climb at first. I always have to laugh when I was rehabbing knee and could only do 60 miles (which does not include Veeder) and folks from my old club came in and made it sound like Mount Vetoux--so the first time I did the 100 mile course I expected a monster and was pleasantly surprised. At the start of Veeder no riders in sight--then about a quarter of the way up we saw pockets of riders all over the road ahead. Time to do climbing intervals--meaning hard from group to group, and then when get close to the top look for a pocket sans riders so I can start the downhill alone. At one point Ward and I were joined by Drew who sometimes, and we rode hard up Veeder. A few people joined us until the elevation kicked up near the top where I could get away and look to descent with just folks I know.
Going up Mt. Veeder many interesting sights, we were going to stop and "take Jesus for $100, Alex" (WI)
Music at the top--thinks he's playing "its a cold and damp twisty descent down Veeeeederrrrr."(PC)

Large group waiting at top of Veeder, so I wait until no one starts down the twisty road. Shades of Mt Tam, I could hardly see out of my glasses due to the dampness. Finally a pocket opened up--no one coming up or starting down so I took off. "Fun" being surprised after every turn what crap is on the road--chip seal here--cracks and ruts there. We have our usual regroup where the downhill ends after the bridge on Dry Creek Road--Jeanne under dressed and freezing, we now are going inland and eventually to the next valley to the East and all expect it to heat up--eventually.
(1) Jim and Jeanne arrive at regroup at Dry Creek (WI) (2) Jeanne on the rollers on Dry Creek. (WI)

Next 10 miles loads of fun. We start out on a fast section that will eventually become gentle rollers with some short steep roller surprised thrown in. We start out at a nice pace and immediately 3 lime green windbreaker folks shoot by without saying a word. Gets my dander up and I close right behind them--one lime green sees this and shoots out from the group and I get on his wheel.

From then on lime green puts in an attack and I just follow--looking back and seeing our group now passing the other two lime greeners and holding steady at 200' back. Another attack on a downhill where lime puts in some distance but I easily closed on next straightaway or uphill roller and now looks like lime is really straining to get away. Next time I turn around to see if group made progress I am pleasantly surprised as Ward is on my wheel, which is perfect as a steep roller surprise suddenly came up and I put in a dig--lost lime green. Ward came with me and rolling regroup for Jim and Jeanne. Now a couple of miles from rest stop and lime green tries to get by on the flats, Ward and then Jim up the speed of the paceline until lime green is gone for good. Rest stop 1, or the bathroom at an Aerosmith concert...............(WI)

Next part of course is real nice, after a few blocks of riding through suburbia we meander into the wine part of Napa, and eventually get on the Silverado Trail for 10 miles on the main road through the wine country. Coming back it would be exceedingly crowded with bikes and cars but at this early hour it is enjoyable. Mostly flat road past wineries not yet opened, with a few gentle uphills thrown in.

Here we made friends--to many. We had our 4 "man" rotating paceline going when all of a sudden a dozen people were riding in back of us. Two guys asked if we wanted help and volunteered to come to the front. Great. At one point I came off the front and figured I'd drop behind our Club riders, and two guys helping out, and anyone else who looked like they might. Mistake. Oh shit--line had swelled to about 16, no one was letting me in and I should have been insistent but wasn't. All of a sudden I was sitting about 16 back--no one else came through when our Club and two guys rotated, and it was real squirrly where I was sitting.

Approaching long uphill and I planned to get to the front. Ward now pulling and he was a tad pissed that not to much help from others, so he decided to up the pace on the uphill. That worked out well--line stretched out, I got back to 3rd wheel and could ameliorate my speed so Jeanne could get on my wheel and get to the top with our group and other two guys who had pulled. Now our group of 6 rode faster than the acktervulgers off the paceline and nice turn into the 1 1/2 mile gentle uphill to the next rest stop. Jeanne at the front--setting a nice pace, and quickly into mile 47 rest stop. Here it was expected (by me--cold wuzz) to be sunny--unfortunately still Jim weather (foggy and cool.) Eat a few spicy ginger cookies** that I don't re-taste to the next rest stop. (**In honor of Colin and Kitty who just finished P-B-P, and will eat anything on a long ride.) Planet Ultra-esque welcome sign at the Hennessey rest stop. Remember Jesus has answers--more porta-potties would solve this problem. (WI)
Entertainment at rest stop though still not playing The Doors (PC)

We are now heading for one more valley away from the ocean, so the sun is peeking out--yes!! After rest stop there is a fast climb that will lead us down to a long but fast climb into Pope Valley. Nice stretch of road but many cars on it heading to some local water recreation spots. Jim and Jeanne got caught behind a motorcade so Ward and I stop to regroup with them as we make the turn into Pope Valley.

More fun time; we are slowly rolling out when a big club, Monte Vista Velo, roars past. Someone yells out "Diablo Cyclists!" when they past. OK--our two best climbers are not on the ride but I figure its up to me to uphold our soiled reputation. I take off and sit in the back of the group of MVV riders with a few other folks also attached--intent is just to get to the top with them. Climb starts off gentle and will get steep, not super steep but noticeable, at the end. I'm content to ride with the MVV guys when the MVV guy in front looks back, sees me and immediately starts zooming away. I jump to get alongside him, meanwhile someone has blocked Ward off from passing in the rear of the disintegrating pack. MVV guys starts going harder and harder, I just take it easy alongside him, try to talk to him (no dice) while calling out a friendly "on your left" as we go up the Pope Valley Climb. MVV guy ain't saying a word and finally drops off--I then just ride pace toward the top when I hear someone getting closer and closer. 'Oh shit," I think, 'another dig by the MVV guy' and I'm ready to jump. Nice surprise--a woman comes along and I go back to the original plan, just ride pace with her to the top.
Paparazzi still out as we regroup at the top of the Pope Valley climb (WI)

Now downhill rollers and a tree lined fast course along a road filled with crappy pothole fill and cracks--the tree cast shade makes it so hard to pick many of them out. On this fast segment Jim, Ward and Jeanne cook. At the start two guys--one wearing an Orange Christian Hammergel Jersey and one wearing a shoppe jersey in Belgium colors (both color combos I like) shoot by hard, then slow, then look back, then try to dig again, and Jim, Ward and Jeanne are right on them as I stay in the back and take a dig on any uphill roller. We get to a long roller and Ward and I get off the front.

A calmer moment in Pope Valley. Sun is finally out, tee shirt and knee and arm warmers coming off at lunch. (WI)

At the Pope Valley General Store Jim/ Jeanne say goodbye--and cut off 5 miles to the often crowded lunch stop to start up Ink Grade, the signature climb of the day. Here I just want to spin a little so legs wouldn't be so dog assed tight when we leave lunch. Two North Rim Outdoors Sports guys come by and I'm content to ride behind them. Ward goes to the front for a pull but in the no good deed goes unpunished category, one guy quickly repasses and tries to put a dig in the front which we just stay behind.Paparazzi strike again-Jim and Jeanne at the Pope Valley general store.(WI)

So this is how you mix a massive dose of drink mix--1 part drink mix-10000 parts water. But they made up for the weak drink mix with ice nearby. (PC)

Lunch spot crowded but much better when they used to have it across the road squeezed onto the side of a golf course. Spot a lady with the rare "Mr Rossi of Siena" jersey. Ward spots the guy who blocking the road earlier and one of the lime green racers. Good deli meat and cheese sandwiches NOT PRE SMOTHERED with Mayo or Mustard. Yippie.

Go back slightly uphill for a few miles until the sudden right had turn--Ink Grade. Its only 4 miles and not that steep but does have a few 12-15% kicks, one of these spots are where I walked my bike @14 years ago--as some would be doing today. Usually I try to enact revenge on Ink Grade but this time just figured I'd ride pace. This lasted until we came across our Orange Hammer friend who again kicked it in on the beginning uphill when he saw us coming. I took a dig past, Ward told me that Orange Hammer tried to respond but couldn't. Ward came around and plan was to ride up at Ward's pace. Plan lasted for about 500'

Shortly guy from another big club, Tropia, was hauling butt and zoomed past on this first section that isn't that steep. He continued to fly onward and I kicked it in trying to get back to him--but was soon about 15 seconds behind. On the middle sections where it gets steep I started closing a little--down to 10 seconds, but when the climb flattened out a little I wasn't getting any closer to the Tropia guy. Get to the top in seemingly no time--later kinda disappointed when I look at Ink Grade times from 2003-2004 and I'm 30 seconds-1:30 slower thoug I/ bike are 10 lbs lighter.

One more steep pitch before a fast flat into a fast downhill. I set out with Tropia guy-he's regrouped with a buddy while I rode over to group of DMC women to see if Johnna is there. I beat Tropica guy and his buddy up steep climb--then they raced past me when road flattened out--I jumped on their wheel and stayed with them until the descent began. I'm getting better on descents not going to try to stay with anyone fast. For the rest of the downhill only one other rider passed (I expected more.) Guy wearing a brevet type (lots of foreign words with some strange kilometer number) jersey passed on a downhill straight section and nicely said "on your left." How many rides have I been in when some stupidass squeezes by on a hairpin on the right without saying a word. There is a crazy hairpin at the end of descent where in past years riders went crashing as some missed the turn and went into turning bicycles--Ward and I had planned to regroup at the bottom of the hairpin. Wisely Napa folks has a guy directing traffic before the turn--big change from mini directional arrow right on the turn years ago that no one saw until too late.

Ward has great bike handling skills, so support worker trying to get him to turn and ride downhill in the dirt. (PC)

Stark reminder that bicycling is risky--we hit a nice back road that is better paved than the main roads we've been on when cyclist is laying out on theside of the road, already surrounded by other cyclists, and we can hear the ambulance sirens approach. Damn.

Kinda peaceful on this back road (Crystal Springs), which it wouldn't be when we make the turn on the busy Silverado trail for the @15 miles back--now loaded with cars wine tasting on the road and a shoulder usually full of cyclists riding side by side blocking forward progress. Ward and I start a two man and very soon comes across the brevet guy who was so courteous on the downhill, he asks if he can join our paceline and i thank him for his downhill tact. Crosswind through the wine fields but we're still holding 20+ mph, and surprisingly only one rider would not know the meaning of "on your left" on the whole run in.

A few miles later came across Walnut Creek tri guy who was one of the two people who helped pull earlier in the day. Yelled out a "hop on" before we passed, and now we had a nice 4 man for the rest of the way.

Its warm and one rest stop on a side road detour only 12 miles from the finish--stop to refuel and once again find out (I know this but had to retest) that watermelon and I don't agree on cycling rides. Meanwhile a car driver is yelling at a whole group of people for blocking the road--Ward tries to reason with her (spur off Silverado trail where offending act took place is about 500' and riders have to make a left turn into rest area)--for his effort she yelled at him also. We leave and get our paceline back--pass the DMC woman (who run the Cruella Challenge , turn your speakers WAY UP before clicking on this link) would were riding at the pace of their slowest rider so they didn't hop on. Came into a long gentle uphill when I went to the front and determied to keep the pace steady but high until the road went back down--and I was feeling great. Went to the back stoked as we turned toward Youtville--ride organizers stationed at first few blocks stop signs making sure we came to a complete stop on mostly empty streets. Luckily a bike path has been built on the edge of town and we now go on that--thus avoiding a half dozen more full stops.

Suddenly back to the start--well not the start as we're in the lower parking lot a mile+ away. Change into "street clothes" and ride bike to very crowded lunch area. Road is blocked by other people tried driving up to get closer to lunch and disappointed cars coming back who couldn't find anything. Long, long, long line--did I mention long line, but worth it for some good veggie salads and BBQ veggie burgers (first time I had a veggie burger was here years ago), chicken, soda and ice cream. Not that many seats so had to sit in full sun--tri guy who joined our pacelines twice sits with us. At one point he asks Ward "how many century rides have you guys done this year." Ward says "one almost every week." When its been warm out that certainly has been true. Tell tri guy about Plymouth Sierra Century Redux we are going to do in a few weeks, and then pester Johnna who has been a mainstay on our annual Plymouth pilmigrage if she is going to be there. Can't wait.
Recounting with Johnna how she spun away from everyone on the Death Ride Climbs and see these guys unsuccessfully try to chase her down (WI)

The DMC women both admiring Ward's Lion of Flanders socks and giving him leg shaving tips. (PC)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Calavaras-The Wall-Palomares Century-2011

(August 13, 2011) Walnut Creek via Sunol to end of Calavaras--down and back up "The Wall" and back via Palomares. Diablo Cyclist metric ride, bonus miles done with Ward, Jack and June. 95 miles, 5,000' climbing, 16.7 mph. Special appearance by Rusty, International Cycling Man of Mystery..

(C) Calavaras (P) Palomares-WWF graph

A favorite club ride featuring the recumbent/ fixed gear gentle, tree lined, Calavaras climb at the end. An early season Century, the Primavara, is nondescript but its best sections are coming over Calavaras and then the much steeper still tree lined Palomares.

I had an idea for bonus miles the night before--Sierra Road, the 3.5 mile, 9.4% climb up 1973' (per Phil Liggett on the tour of California, but as he called "Mt. Hamilton" "Mt. Vernon" a number of times, who knows if this is true.) The night before I watched the Tour of CA DVD to see how fast pro riders go up Sierra Road. Good amature riders can do it in 30 minutes, I think my best is 35. Chris Horner was first up the climb in 2011 at @14:20, Andy Schleck came in @15:30. The first guy who started the climb and faded a little, Ryder Hesjedal, did Sierra Road in @16:15. So I just needed to seel it to my club mates as a 15 minute climb. Ironically Ward watched the same race the day before.


Didn't have a large group for this usually popular ride, and after going balls out last weekend on the double didn't mind just spinning on flat Diablo Blvd which is full of traffic lights until the freeway intersection about 20 miles out. When the Jeffrey tandem went to the front we just organized into parade formation behind it--we made a light that most of our club mates caught and the Jeffrey tandem zoomed out and a few of us just rode easily behind. At the regroup before the freeway Dr. Dave on the bent' told me that we missed some fireworks. "Vino," some rider in an Astana Kit, passed the group at a light--Dave caught and zoomed out ahead, but then when Dave stopped for a red light Vino ran the light. Green light-Dave catches up--passes Vino--next red light--Vino runs. Repeat.

After the freeway is a nice 15 mile run in to Sunol--only a couple of controlled intersections, nice shoulder for much of it, auto traffic falls off from pre freeway, and some nice noticable rollers that do lead to some very fast falt portions until a short 3 stage climb into Sunol. Ward and I agree that we'll stop being lazy after the freeway and pick up the pace--especially early so we can put some distance on the Jeffrey tandem on the rollers and don't have to keep tandem pace on the fast sections.

Of course Dr. Dave and his bent' is around to keep us honest. A few of us spring out on the rollers, but when the course turns fast Dave roars by, on next roller we put a little distance on him until he rolls by again on the flats. But intramural hi jinx ends when we pass a rider who hooks on to the end of our paceline and wouldn't come to the front to take a pull. Ward volunteers to sacrifice himself to do"the Old 2001" (watch Paris Roubaix 2001 where Paul Sherwin say "Come on, Hincapie says but they can't; George is now frustrated) so we drop the Sports Basement rider before the hill--but all of a sudden a tandem shoots by--not the Jeffrey tandem but one unknown and they are flying. Time to go into sprint mode and catch their rear wheel on the fastest part of the run in to Sunol. Dr. Dave passes and takes a dig at the front which tandem drags me along to pass--then when road turns up I take a dig at the front but quickly drop behind them as they ease back to my wheel. Then with about 500' to the uphill before Sunol Dr. Dave takes another dig at the front and passes the tandem--and starts the climb while we're still 100' back. I stay with the tandem that tried to drop us into the climb and thank them for the pull after I pass them--"yeah, right" captain retorts. I get back to Dr. Dave and I know he can fly the bent uphill much faster than the tandem, but he's worried about the Sports Basement guy getting back to us and tells me to go on without him--unknown to us SB guy had turned into a park a mile behind us. All fun and games but hardest effort of the day.

Regroup at Sunol where June had started early and goes on with us. Unfortunately Dr Dave hurting after he just came back from climbing Mt. Vetoux and he turns around. Weather is not a scorcher but hotter than expected (or warm) and lots of riders are already coming back along the fast Calavares return course as going out is the slow course which is slightly uphill punctuated with long hairpins that kick up but nothing bad. Jack, June, Ward and I keeping a nice pace but nothing real hard, and soon we are off the front. Dave's friend "Vino" rests behind the outhouses in Sunol. Dr. Dave catches up to him on the ride back--Vino runs a red light to get ahead--when this happens a third time Dave yells out "are you kidding me?, you're running the light again" No response. Dave--of course no response--Astana is a team from Kazakhstan and you didn't yell out at the rider in Kazakh or Russian, and he probably has never seen a traffic light in Almaty. (WardWorldwideFoto Spycam)


At the end of Calavaras Ward and I do "the Wall then regroup at the usual shade tree--joined by Jack and June. After 15 minutes no one comes along--good possibility that everyone else turned around at the top of Calavaras and cut the ride short. I try to sell the Sierra bonus but the hot weather ain't getting me any takers. Palomaras is proposed as an alternative, I'm not training for anything else so instead of going on solo I throw my lot in with the rest of the bonus group.

Store near Sunol has a big collection of Whirligigs--as football season just started here a couple gives us a demonstration of what happens to Raiders quarterbacks.

Rest of the ride is uneventful except for Rusty passing through Sunol as we are resting--so we get to bs with him for awhile. We take Palomaras at June's pace which is businesslike and very steady. At the end talk to a CAL coed who is waiting for a Oakland Yellowjacket older guy struggling on the climb. I'm stoked that on the downhill I do less braking than I usually do on a downhill and feel good. Nice tailwind on Dublin Grade climb, and great downhill via Schaefer Ranch after a short attention getting climb. When we regroup it now feels really hot and great to get ice at gas station. Too many lights on the way back and we paceline nicely between them. Good effort but nothing hard except for run in to Sunol--easy self supported Century.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mt. Tam Double-2011

(August 6, 2011) Mt. Tam Double, 197 miles, 14,500 climbing, 13:35 (5:00-6:35), 15.3 mph; 41 min rest stops. 43rd of 275 riders**; 11:12 winning time; 12:51 25th rider; 14:58 median finisher; 81% starters finished, middle of course run "backwards" (Petaluma to Ocean) into headwind

**Fast top end of the field--1st (non pro) rider and 25th rider has best time of any of the Mt Tam Doubles I've done. But new course wasn't fast--median finisher and % of people dropping out around the average. I'm not getting much slower but much more excellent riders now doing Doubles.

2005 13:48 (6:48 finish), 36th of 211 riders, start w/ Don, Steve, Mike, Tom (11:20 winning time; 13:32-25th rider; 14:00-median finisher; 85% starters finished)
2006 14:15 (7:15 finish), 35th of 233 riders, whole ride with Don (11:13 winning time; 13:57-25th rider; 15:26-median finisher; 81% starters finished)
2007 13:42 (6:42 finish), 23rd of 247 riders including Steve Cozza who finished @3 hours ahead of me (but he also did Paris Roubaix), solo (10:50 Steve Cozza 10:50, 11:39-2nd place; 13:47-26th place; 15:24 median finish; (82% starters finished)
2008 14:35 (7:35 finish on slow windy course), 28th or 29th of 199 riders, most of ride with Jack, whole ride and finish with Don (11:32 winning time; 14:33 25th rider; 15:47 median finisher; 72% starters finished)
2009 13:34 (6:34 finish), 33rd of 289 starters (Triple Crown race so field enhanced, Mt Tam closed so climbed 2x halfway), start with Don and Jack (11:29 winning time; 13:17-25th rider; 15:03-median finisher; 84% starters finished)
2010 Did Not Start-Death in family
When Mt. Tam Double/ Marin Century sent out a promo email--the first photo in email was Don and I chasing a rider out of Petaluma in 2008

There is one thing I can do well on a bike, stand and grind up short but steep climbs. To this skill the Mt. Tam Double course is great for me. At 14,500' in elevation gain its 7th out of the 22 doubles on the schedule (range is Alta Alpina at 20,300' to a few tandem friendly ones under 8,000'.) Has a big climb up Mt. Tam but climb is a series of steep hairpins and recovery points and rollers, most of the rest of the course are Italian rollers (long ones you can't power over), a few Eddie Stankey rollers (never mind, see post for Tomales-Petaluma Century last month), and a hard steep climb up Coleman Valley.

Usually I'm sky high for this event and its the focus of my year (I used to joke on the Death Ride that it was a training ride for the Mt Tam Double) but I'm a little nervous this year. Alta Alpina was my focus this year. I missed the Mt Tam Double last year. Middle of course is being run in reverse and while I like a slow course full of steep rollers this would also throw in headwind and I'd be unfamiliar with course run the first time last year. Also after Alta Alpina I stopped watching weight, and while I was focused dove down to 145 two years ago year before this event I gained up to 144 coming in, whereas if I had teh same foxus from two years ago I could have come in at 140. Also faded at Knoxville last year at mile 160 and same on Alta Alpina this year--hoped that this was not a trend. Worse thing is NO teammates starting this ride--it will be a long day. Hope to come off of the Mt. Tam climb before Grizzly Mark and then we'd ride together like we did in DMD. Things going for me are good endurance training rides. and luckily scouted out the middle of this course a few weeks ago.

Mt. Tam with San Quentin sitting at the base. (top) Day before nice and sunny (bottom) Colorization trying to match gloom hanging over Mt. Tam day of race. All photos unless indicated taken day before on 40 mile small ring spinning ride at beginning of course. This is Marin Civic Center Auditorium--designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Mass start ride starts at 5:00, about 45 minutes before daylight. This year the Mt. Tam Double is one of the three tough Doubles combined for the stage race series so the field is enhanced. After short snooze I start getting bike ready at 4:30 at a school in residential neighborhood, and enjoying the quiet, but that doesn't stop some of the yentas from throwing a party (seems the same few hundred crazies do these rides.) One yenta is yelling from across the parking lot about some Grizzly Peak Cyclist who broke their collarbone last week (oh shut up), and a woman who took 147 photos on their last ride. When we cue up for mass start nervous energy continues a guy next to me yacks on about this being his first ride not on his fixed gear, even Mt. Baldy?--then with 5 minutes to go he notices he still has on slippers and not his cycling shoes.

Then race director says something no one can hear (I used to start in the rear, now solidly in middle of pack as don't want to miss out if only traffic light on ride-500' from start/ finish--turns red as it did a few years back,) and its balls out in the darkness up a neighborhood hill and then a left turn on Lucas Valley Road, with an almost immediate steep climb up to Big Rock and then downhill in the darkness through Redwoods. I always have motivation to go hard up the Big Rock climb, though descending doesn't scare me like it did a few years back, I still want to go downhill with as few people as possible. Turn onto Lucas Valley Road marked, but can't be seen when we started at night. This year no road markings used but signs. Unfortunately at mid course some signs were stolen so a little confusion and backtracking to stay on route.

At night no one would see the Indian guarding the base of Big Rock Climb.
Crest of Big Rock Climb--but no one would see it as still dark out (above) ...then it got foggy and cool for the downhill (below)
Still dark at mile 11.3 when we make a left and a series of rollers to Mt. Tam. Century riders later would go right and ride mostly flat where they'd join us at mile 75 and push the pace to Petaluma.

In the dark managed to get over Big Rock nicely and luckily descend with just a small group of people. It was suddenly foggy and visibility was poor. I used to hate this descent on clear bright days, now taking it slow but calmly--small group rode behind me as my Exposure Joystick Light (@75 g, 200+ lumens) was perfect. When the road started to level out a paceline came by and I jumped on the back. After left turn suddenly a big cluster of riders as many riders coming up and many caught up with--but this pocket quickly breaks up on three substantial rollers. Small paceline to Fairfax, again do well on climb and start downhill by myself--I know I'll get passed but hopefully near the base of the descent. Works out and ride into Fairfax with a small group--bs with a nice guy from San Francisco doing his first double as we start the Mt. Tam climb.

Mt. Tam climb starts as a gradual/ consistent grade--not something I'm particularly well at doing. If we were kids trying to imitate our favorite pro players, picture Andy Schleck easily spinning while seating up a mountain--I can't even try this. I ride more like (a crap version of) Cadel Evans-pogo'ing out of the saddle which doesn't help on the shallow stuff or when there is a headwind--but great for short steep sections of road. So on the shallow climb a few pure climbers are passing me (or already off ahead in the distance) but I'm also passing lots of folks.

Rest stop at mile 24, I get here at 6:30. Many long distance riders pass this up but I have to stop but do so for only 5 minutes. Start climbing again and pass big group led by Fresno Lori's tandem--doing doubles solo is too easy for her now so she instantly forms best co-ed tandem. I shout out that she should yell out when ready to pass me on a downhill--and all day long I expect to have her tandem roar by on the flats or a downhill but they never do.

I'm passed by a few riders on twisty descent to Lake Alpine but this starts one of my favorite long climbs. Next few miles of climbs is steep hairpins joined by shallower road--like a series of rollers. I love this climb with good legs and ride just began so I'm feeling great. Here I pass many riders and can't wait to get to Ridgecrest--the 7 miles of rollers on Tam where it is always clear above the clouds.

But today we're fucked. It ain't getting sunny as we approach Ridgecrest. The mist is rolling through and the tall trees are dripping wet. Hold on--that ain't the trees dripping--ITS RAINING. A minute or two of rain , a reprieve for a few minutes and then another minute or two of rain. Repeat. Repeat. And first gate (and later another gate) is locked so we have to dismount in the drizzle and make a path through the redwood needles.

Ward/ Christine on the Century and they'd be going over Mt. Tam about 3 hours after me. (below) Christine riding by Lake Alpine at base of Mt. Tam in full sun. At the top its much nicer than when I went through and you can still see remnants of the clouds/ fog laying over the road. (WWF-Worldwide Ward Foto).

It's so foggy at the top can hardly see the two bikes who just crested the roller 100' in front of me. In fact soon I can't see 10' in front of me as glasses steamed. I ride most of Tam's Ridgecrest peering over my glasses on the tip of my nose, so at least I can see 3' out clearly. After Alta Alpina debacle where I overdressed I only had a vest/ undershirt/ arm warmers with me today--no jacket or knee warmers or cap, now I wished I had everything I left behind.

I could hardly see the start of the downhill to Muir Woods that is half way on Ridgecrest that we'd come back to. Luckily by the "radar" that looks like a huge golfball, about three quarters on Ridgecrest, the sun broke through strongly, started drying off, and the impetus returned. At the same time started to see a dozen riders who had already reached the checkpoint at the end of Ridgecrest and now were returning to start the descent.


Reached the end of Ridgecrest checkpoint at 7:43, mile 38, which was my same time as in 2005 when I was a much faster climber. (In 2005 stayed at 1st rest stop 3 more minutes, but didn't have to navigate two closed gates or the drizzle.) This was great as my descending since 2005 has improved greatly. And I would need the improvement today on the wet/ foggy descents. Took a few minutes to grab/ release water at the top as I planned to skip the next rest stop

On the way back I saw Grizzly Mark coming up but no other familiar faces. Hoped that in 1/2 hour? it took to ride back to the "T" intersection, that the sun hadmoved over the descent down to the Muir Woods and the Pacific. Not a chance. Usually a fog layer is waiting at the base of Tam next to the Pacific Ocean, but even before the intersection fog/ drizzle started again. It had been nice riding with glasses, they soon came off again.

Luckily this part of the Course was familiar; when I came to the fork that splits the road going directly to Stinson Beach instead of the long way past Muir Woods and miles to the south of Stinson I couldn't see any road signs. I went left and didn't see any riders ahead, and slowed down and for a few minutes no one passed me--so I really thought I took the wrong turn and was off course. (Usually there are packs of riders going down at this point.) I was never so happy to suddenly be passed by two riders--yippie--going the right way.


Some more spot drizzle, catch up to and follow one rider on next turn down twisty road to Muir Woods. Another descent that used to terrify me--I'm now slow but relaxed. Seemed we were very soon on flat road by Muir Woods and then past rest stop at mile 50--I yell in my number for worker to take down (ride not the greatest making it clear where checkpoints are) and continue on in the fog. Luckily a few steep rollers out to Highway 1 so can get warm and pass a few other riders.

Beginning of this part of Highway 1 tight to the Pacific Ocean is relatively flat with a few Eddie Stanky (aka easy--you can get a running start) rollers. Usually lots of pacelining but I rode for miles--past Stinson Beach, as a solo cyclist. Where is Lori's Tandem pulling a line or Grizzly Mark organizing one?? A little past Stinson one paceline shot by, I was a little tired but picked up the pace to hop on the back. Luckily for me Highway 1 turns inland and the roller start kicking up so the paceline slows considerably. Its also easier for me to go hard on rollers and stay ahead of the paceline so I wouldn't have to scramble back to the paceline on the downhill. On flat section paceline reformed quickly--we all rode fast and cooperatively to Pt. Reyes Station, mile 73, and quick 4 minute stop at mini rest stop. Day before--in Pt Reyes Station, on redwood recumbent seat.
Out of Pt. Reyes Station, pointing the way to Petaluma, 20 miles away.

Out of Pt. Reyes Station some mini rollers. One guy from Peninsula Velo does most of the pulling, while another guy makes sure he never gets to the front. We are now cutting across Marin County, West to East, in a new direction. All of the earlier Mt. Tam Doubles I did eventually turned North and came back to Petaluma at the end of the day well after the Century ride was well over. But now we'd see Petaluma early in the day, and when we merged with the Century riders just starting out havoc reigned.

We merge with Century riders who have 15 flat miles in their legs, and we have 75 hilly miles. Right after the merge is the Cheese Factory climb, attention getting but nothing hard. As Peninsula Velo guy pulled most of the time figure I'd ride his pace on the Cheese Factory hill, and in fact Peninsula Velo guy and the Passenger started pulling away from me at the base of the climb. But then two Century riders quickly passed without saying anything and shot by the other two Doubles riders. That got my dander up--I put in a spurt and stayed even with them for the rest of the climb.

After the climb the road to Petaluma was fast and Century pacelines sped by with Doubles riders trying to jump in. I missed one but a big guy with his number flopping pulled me back. Then another fast paceline came through that we jumped on until crappy road in Petaluma City Limits started. At Petaluma rest stop, mile 93, at 10:48, out in 6 minutes.


Now had to recross Marin, going West, on Chileno Valley Road. On old version of ride this was done near the end, some sharp rollers but with tailwind--sweet. Now into a headwind and had ridden balls out for 93 miles and energy low. Traded pulls with one other rider for a few miles but when a fast Doubles/ Century mix came by I was too tired to stay on.


To digress--around mile 105 is where I couldn't stay on the paceline. For the rest of the ride I don't remember catching anyone and three Doubles riders caught up with me--so for 95 miles I just saw 3 Doubles riders.


Luckily this is portion of course Ward/ I rode a few weeks earlier (see photos from July post)--solid cow country. At some intersections NO direction signs--later told they were "stolen." A couple of times had to circle intersection and double back after looking at route sheet. After fading last year at Knoxville and Alta Alpina I was a little worried about low energy now. Map had a checkpoint at mile 118 that didn't exist. Real happy when hit Valley Ford lunch stop at mile 124 at 12:44--7:44 after start. Bike Mechanic Ryan working ride (built my front wheel years ago)--good talking with him briefly. Stop has special table for Doubles Riders with drink mix I'm used to (by now bottle had mixture of Cliff/ HEED & Gatorade)--nice but table far in the back of rest stop.

Loaded pockets with mini muffins and got out in less than 9 minutes. Then started the 30 mile Northern Loop that contains the steep Coleman climb. And before Coleman its a long drag out over steep Bay Hill and Hwy 1 (inland portion with lots of traffic and uphill.) By now my legs starting to tire and my right ankle mysteriously hurting, but I rather take my chances on slow climbs than on flats with another speeding paceline coming by. Passed a few Century riders but no Doubles riders on the road. Started singing "When the Music Over" and "In Shreds" on the desolate climbs. Laughed when passing a point on Highway 1 where years ago I was dead and "luckily" Don/I got stuck by a horse camp crossing. Not so funny when a auto PARKED on Highway 1 blocking traffic with everyone yelling at the dazed driver-parker. Watermelon GU Chomps I had carried from start were perfect here. Cursed myself for not losing 5 pounds when Coleman Climb was kicking my butt. Coleman checkpoint/Mini stop at mile 136 was great, 2:22, a few funny workers here. Took Advil for ankle, took off undershirt figuring it would be warm (wrong) rest of the day. Worker voluenteered that I was doing great--about 137th rider. 137th??, oh crap, but he quickly corrected himself and said "I meant around 37th." Just like a few years back this knowledge made me redouble my effort to defend my position and try to catch other riders.

Worker also told me that pothole strewn Joy Road, which was a long descent leading back to Valley Ford, was kinda fixed--potholes filled with an uneven patch job. Shade from tall trees made it hard to see many of the patch jobs. I was surprised that I was not passed on this downhill, and didn't see anyone until back at Valley Ford Rest Stop, now mile 153, now 3:20, and now most Century riders gone--and so was I after 5 minutes. As I was leaving two doubles riders also leaving but talking each other into first starting the Coleman loop.

Now feeling better as knew rest of course--a few short but real steep rollers, rollers down Highway 1, and the Marshall Wall backwards. There were two more rest stops on the course but I'd only stop at the one after the Marshall Wall, as the one at Nicasio was only 11 miles from the finish. Though I didn't like long headwind drag out from Petaluma earlier--the new course modifications meant an easier home stretch.

Again desolate on steep rollers and actually nice going downhill into Tomales instead of climb into headwind out of Tomales as in the past. Soon on Highway 1--small rollers of all varieties and flat sections where (damn, why did I watch 2002 Tour of Flanders last week where Erwin Thijs is run down and caught near the finish, instead of 2002 Paris Roubaix where Johan Museeuw motors away from US Postal chasers) I expected a large paceline to zoom past--but no one ever does.


Quick turn and suddenly past the Peace Bell and climbing Marshall Wall. More wrong expectations (when riding solo have alot of time to think) -- I expect it to get warm and sunny after we turn East but it never does. On the climb I don't expect to get caught but I soon hear a guy and woman bs'ing far behind me--and as we go further up the climb they get a little louder as they move close. Marshall Wall is easier in this direction, soon on undulated top part the guy and woman catch me and inch ahead as we start the downhill. To my surprise both pretty large (tall) folks. On downhill they put in more distance away from me, but then my next surprise is I catch them in the @ 3 mile flat run in to the rest stop, and then I just ride in their draft. Woman clad in a Luna Kit, guy has a light jacket on--and she seems to be slowing for him. and urging him on.

Pull into Walker Creek rest stop at mile 172 at 4:57. Usually I'd stay awhile at the penultimate rest stop (in the past Petaluma) as I wouldn't stop in Nicasio and want to refule for the last fast 28 miles. But here I felt good albeit strength in my legs kinda down. Club member and super long distance rider Kitty working rest stop--and instead of yelling at me for dawdling at a rest stop as she does when she rides a Double, she offers food, suntan lotion, drink, etc. I just gobble down another a mini-muffin and get fresh energy drink and I'm out in less than 6 minutes--though Luna Gal and Jacket Guy have already left.
At Walker Creek rest stop--couple I came in with from Marshall Wall in upper left. I'm happier than I look--thinking about what I need to get out of rest stop quickly. Thanks to Kitty for taking the photo and letting me dawdle for five minutes.

Road markers show just 4 miles to the end of fast/ flat Hicks Valley Road, where we'd turn to do the Cheese Factory Climb from the easy side albeit headwind. Coming off Hicks Valley Road one rider did catch me and he pulled into the climb, so on the climb I went to the front to block the wind. I lost guy on subsequent long downhill, and knew I wouldn't catch him on the fast run back to the finish but I hoped to pass other riders.

I'm now on fast tailwind flat road back to Nicasio past Nicasio Reservior. Check out the clouds covering teh Coast in upper right. (Photocrazy)

Map indicates Nicasio rest stop is a checkpoint so I slowed to yell out "who is taking numbers" as no one near the entrance doing same. Someone yelled back "we're not taking numbers here." Didn't notice if any/ many riders in the stop as I quickly go through Nicasio and start the 11 mile uphill along Lucas Valley Road--but the uphill is gentle as we're pushed along by the tailwind. Years ago after knee surgery I was amazed that I could do 20mph on an uphill along this section.
(above) Nicasio Rest Stop--I've never set foot in it on 6 doubles. (below) Town of Nicasio--so close to the Bay Area but looks like it belongs in a different century. (far below) The turn into Lucas Valley Road, one of the great ending roads of any ride--outbound wind is neutral, then picks up during the day so always get a tailwind inbound.

Lose much of the daylight in first section of road when suddenly surrounded by redwoods. Spring is back in my legs as I stand on the pedals--see and catch a few riders ahead but they are the remnants of the Century ride and no Doubles riders. Seems like in a flash where Redwoods end, and sunlight and yellow vegitation begins, and then the 2-3 turns on road that never gets steep but you finally realize you are on an uphill.

Redwoods (above) and front yard art (below) on Lucas Valley Road. We didn't see any of this when still dark 13 hours ago.

All of a sudden at Big Rock--semi steep but short in this direction. I always liked the climb but the twisty descent off of it used to really scare me--organizers put a few warning signs on this downhill and found out later club member Todd had crashed here on the Century, in about same place another club member crashed years ago on a training ride. As a relaxing mechinism I count out the 22 hairpins and curves as negotiated, usually do it quietly by now yelling ".....7........8........9......." as I'm sky high. Coming off downhill I usually catch a rider or two on flat fast run in but no one visable down the road.
(above) Start of Big Rock Eastern descent (below) One of the many curves complete with warning signs. (far below) Earlier on the century ride WWF News Fotos--covering the Todd crash--gets photo of rider who just overshot the curve while rider behind quickly unclips. (WWF photo)
If Chileno Valley dragged earlier in the day and seemed like hours to ride--the few miles on Lucas Valley seemed like seconds before right turn onto last street before Highway where we climb through suburban neighborhood. Three blocks from the finish we have to cross a main street/ parkway where I almost always catch the "red" light--and it just turns red when I'm 100' from the intersection. To the amusement of two Century riders waiting patiently I keep hitting the -walk- button where the machine announces somethin inane as I bob up and down waiting for the light to change. When light changes I'm now wound up, skid into Courtyard of school (checkin is in the middle, not the front) where at 6:35 I shout out my number a few times ...


Unlike most post doubles I have a good appitite at the finish. Courtyard is a little depressing as workers already putting stuff away as Century riders finished hours ago. Also not like past years where some cubmates at the finish with me or we wait for them to come in. But after hours of stuffing mini-muffins in my mouth while "on the run" or drinking some chalky Hammar product time to enjoy some pizza and ice cream--real food, and then start drive home still in daylight..