Sunday, September 25, 2011

Knoxville Double-2011

(September 24, 2011) Knoxville Double, 202 miles, 12,600' miles, w/ Jack and large parts with Grizzly Mark and Ernesto. 5:30-@9:00 with doobie breaks.

Scenes from Pleasant Valley Road--the PERFECT loosen and spin in the small chainring ride the day before. This would be the last stretch done when completing the double--unfortunately always done in the dark.

The new math--it takes me about 13 1/2 hours to do the Mt. Tam Double, with 14,500' of climbing--so finish about 1 3/4 hours before sunset. So how come I finish the Knoxville Double with 12,600' climbing 1 1/2 hours AFTER sunset? OK, its almost 2 months later so sunset is 1:10 minutes earlier at Knoxville. Knoxville is a social event instead of a timed ride so not psyched (after last year just psyched to finish) while riding and can actually sit in a rest stop. And for some reason for me Mt. Tam with their steep but shorter climbs and continuous rollers seems much easier than the more laid back but evergoing Knoxville climbs.

First great thing about Knoxville is its location. While suburban Vacaville with outlet stores is to be avoided--reasonable motels abound. Better still is that a few miles out of town is totally rustic--one of the great sit and spin warmup rides is the 26 miles out and back from where the Knoxville ends down Pleasant Valley Road. As my previous paragraph alludes to--on the Knoxville Double I wouldn't see anything but the white lines on the road as it will be dark when I come in. (Riding in the dark is a necessary evil on Doubles, sure is exciting to see endless white lines...yawn....) Great preride--though 103 degrees. Supposed to cool down by 10 degrees for the ride which will be great as Knoxville Road--though a gentle climb--is 30 miles with a very limited supply of trees near the road.

Start/ finish at Pena Adobe Park--ride put on by Quackcyclists who did a great job--albeit no Medium shorts--advertised to be in a "limited supply"--was more limited than shade casting trees on Knoxville Road.

At 5am it was 78 degrees in Vacaville. Great!! Kept waiting for the temperature to drop from motel row to Pena Adobe Park next to a lagoon but it hung firm. So mesh gloves--no knee warmers. Was going to ditch the t-shirt but saw Grizzly (Peak Cycling) Mark in the parking lot and he reminded me that temperature dips -10 in Napa Valley--where we were headed. (In past years workers at rest stop 1 in Napa dressed for Arctic weather.) I did forget one little thing--to reset my odometer to zero--so mileage was off the whole day.

Met up with Jack for planned 5:30 start. In past years I'd hustle up climbs to get ahead of Jack before he roared past me on descents--but my descending has gotten better, and after going balls out on Devil Mountain and Terrible Two wanted to take it easy. So we made a pack that I'd stay with him on the climbs if he'd take a little off on the downhills so I could keep him in sight.

Jack and I both have new Exposure Lights, and we probably had 3000 lumens between us for the dark trip around the Pena Adobe Lagoon--and the first hour of riding in the dark. We were soon joined by the yellow clad Grizzly Peak Cyclists--Mark and Ernesto. Mark and I have finished a bunch of doubles together though we like different parts of a course (I hammer slow parts of a course and he hammers fast parts.) He also likes to BS as much as I do on rides and also gets his dander up on timed doubles. (Lucky guy--he has a last name that starts with "A" so he gets a 1 digit number that he can origami on his jersey smaller than I can,) So we had a good 4 man paceline for the 20 miles to Mt. George that we'd climb and then get dropped into Napa Valley. When not BSing with Mark, "Noisy at the Circus" looped endlessly in my head. Then we reformed our paceline for the 16 miles in Napa to rest stop 1--where workers were just in sweatshirts as weather so nice.
Above--mixed Diablo Cyclist/ Grizzly peak peloton going down Silverado Trail. Below--hot air balloons over Napa Valley--there were at least a dozen setting out in the morning. From the rest stop a peloton soon came roaring by--led by a tandem containing Lori--past triple crown women's champ and someone I kinda casually know as Cal, Honolulu, Riverside Mike a mutual friend. We all jumped on the paceline for the 15 miles to Howell Mountain--a climb that would get us back in the Pope Valley--closer to where we came from. Howell Mountain has a twisting descent but Jack and I did well staying together on the first climb of the day so I stayed with the group. Mark told me he wants to start the descent well ahead of the tandem so we can draft behind when the road gets flat again instead of having them roaring past so there was some urgency in our group on the climb--Jack and Mark stayed with me on the downhill so we easily regrouped for the 10 miles of gentle rollers to the next rest stop at Lake Berryessa before Knoxville Road started. Unfortunately the tandem didn't come by. Up Howell Mountain, (top) Jack-Mark and Ernesto--closeup of Grizzly Mark. (below) I'm with Jack at Lake Berryessa--Photograher is bitching about something so I'm trying not to crack up. Jack happy as he just cut the porta potty line. (Nevada Doug--the Planet Ultra Watchdog). Unfortunately our four man broke up here. Mark had to take care of serious business at the rest stop and to save time I took care of business up the road where Ernesto joined me. Jack went past yelling we'd catch him. Stayed 2 more minutes--no Mark. So Ernesto and I set out at a nice tempo down the road--wanting Mark to catch up but we still had to get back to Jack. We reached Jack--no Mark, and a few minutes later the Lori tandem went roaring past on a gentle uphill section with a freight train of riders in tow. Jack didn't want to go that hard and follow them so Ernesto took off. This is the sort of train that Mark--ever the opportunist--would have been behind but he wasn't? but he soon got back to us and the three of us rode up Knoxville Road. 1) it was very warm, 2) the pavement stinks, 3) I was running out of water but a Sag soon passed with cold water, 4) less hunters than last year, 5) no more trees in Knoxville Ecologic Preserve than in Knoxville hunting area, 6) many riders on Knoxville wear their newly obtained Triple Crown Jersey, but the 508 jersey , homage to narcoleptic riding had become the new Death Ride jersey. Not to be confused with the redwood forests--the Knoxville Ecologic Preserve where they preserve goat head weeds.

There is a water stop 3/4'ers up to the top and here Mark unhooked with Jack and I. A long descent punctuated with some sudden uphills and the into Lower Lake for the lunch stop--a nice canopied picnic area. There Sacramento Doug and Joanie working--Doug always nice--Joanie nice when she's not on the bike yelling at other riders (of course I remind her of that often) At lunch I had my usual bland diet of bread and two slices of coldcuts (NO MAYO, NO MUSTARD, NO VEGGIES.) I'd also make sure to have a sparkling juice at every stop to keep the fluid intake up--especially after two bottles of Perpetuem I get off that as to not get a bloated feeling.

Joanie pushing food at Lower Lake.

Need for race radios very apparent--and showed that our club not the only one to "misplace" riders on a course. Out of lunch and before "THE CLIMB" we see Ernesto who tells us that Mark is still at the lunch stop. We all continue on and after THE CLIMB, all day I expect to see Mark come roaring past, but he never does??? The kicker--Mark left the lunch stop BEFORE Ernesto. Grizzly Peak Cyclists have nothing on the Diablo Cyclists misplacing riders during a ride.

The Quackcyclists say that most of the climbing is before lunch but the kicker on the ride is Cobb Mountain. Its only about 8 miles but contains all the steep sections of the ride. Here Jack was suffering and though I stayed in the saddle and thought I had slowed (oh crap did my butt hurt staying in the saddle so much on this ride.) I got way ahead of him on one section and at one point went back down Cobb Mountain a few hundred feet. But Jack probably has the best recovery capacity of any cyclist I know, and expected him to recover nicely once we quit climbing--which he did--though I actually saw Jack sit down at the next rest stop after Middletown (mile 136.) I didn't mind--road has been chewed up for much of the ride and my feet were a little sore from the constant vibration.

Jack on Cobb Mountain.

We now had the serious rollers through Pope Valley. Also was getting cloudy to the West with a cool breeze blowing in whenever there was an opening. Road was also seriously unpaved but now going slightly uphill so -5 slower than running roughshod over it during Napa Century last month. Fast downhill to Lake Hennessey rest stop, mile 161. In the past I sent my lights to the
mile 189 rest stop where I'd come in when twilight was just coming in--but clear that Jack/ I running 40 minutes behind where we wanted to be and lucky our lights were here. I also stuffed my drop bag with a few packs of Chomps--great for hot weather and also easy to digest if losing appetite late in the day. We'd be going up and over Cardiac in the dark. Though cooling I had some delicious plain bread.

Luckily Highway 128 newly paved and that alleviated 90% of foot soreness. Seems we were flying towards Cardiac (now stiff tailwind at our back and slight downhill) but also getting darker and darker. Could still see but taillights put on, then front blinkers. On climb up Cardiac nightfall arrived. So did' New" sag vehicle. New as Lee Mitchells' one blasting Clearance ("play some Doors") and Nevada Doug's with him yelling at us pass often. This new van also wired for sound--but they play ice cream truck music. OK, I'm never complaining about Lee's music again.

Screeming downhill in the dark, but Jack's @1200 lumens and my 2200 lumens worked nicely. Back on flats wanted to get to next rest stop, and seemed like we were flying by in the dark seems like you are not moving and though familiar with the road had no FN clue where we were. A tandem came by, first complementing us on our light display, (besides the Exposure lights also liked the brightness of the small Blackburn rear light.) Seemed like an eternity when we finally reach the store on Pleasant Valley Road.

Joanie working there and now cool outside so I could eat, and she made Jack and I her killer peanut butter-jelly sandwich. OK--now 13 miles to go on a farm road with NO ambient light. Funny, first part of road was warm--I took off my vest for the remained of the ride. We shortly passed Ernesto who was not feeling as he did earlier in the day. Still surprised Mark never caught us. You'd now have no idea that Jack was ever suffering on the ride--he was now hammering. Our last bit of excitement--an angry dog suddenly came out and startled us--luckily escaped unscathed.

Suddenly ride over. Kitty (also former Triple Crown women's champ) greeted us with a friendly "what were Jack and you doing--smoking a doobie." Sitting behind her was a chuckling Mark--he has left lunch chasing us as he thought we left before him--and had the good fortune of getting behind the Lori tandem for a stretch until the mob behind it was all over the road.

Good end o ride meal with Jack-Mark and Ernesto. Paceline-bike philosophy-club ride structure talked about. Rumor overheard--the Sierra Century will be back in Plymouth next year. So started 5 doubles this year and finished 4--the two hard races strongly and at Davis (the easy one) I barely dragged my butt in. Knoxville somewhere between Davis and Mt. Tam/ Devil Mountain. Alta Alpina was a great ride but alas didn't finish it so something to aim for next year( along with dropping the 5-10 lbs I rode with in 2011 over 2010--I need all the help I can get.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


(September 3, 2011) Self Supported Homage to Plymouth Sierra Century-102 miles, 8'735' climbing. w/ Ward, Jack, Christine, Cisco Dave. Historic Photos from 2003-2006 (PC)

Elevation (WI)

Once upon a time the Sacramento Wheelmen ran the greatest century--the Sierra Century.

roads as smooth as a baby's butt

virtually no traffic or traffic controls

surrounded by fields of oak or pine forest

great fairground starting point & rest stops

Oh yeah, they still run a bastardized version of the Sierra Century--moved three times after one of the counties wouldn't give the Wheelmen a permit.

Since the official Century ride ended our club has gone up and run the century backwards on the old course--eliminating the easy part of gentle Eddie Stanky rollers in the Gold Country lowland and adding the climbing portions of the (secret) 20 mile bonus of the old route for those who didn't get timed out and wanted to suffer some more after doing Slug Gulch--one of the hardest Century climbs. Done backwards as we then hit Slug Gulch at mile 20 instead of 70, and there is a natural cutoff at mile 50 for anyone who wants to bail and just do a metric.

This is the 4th time I've led the self supported ride. I've written (too) long posts about this seminal ride before and to learn more about the route you can read the recaps from the official ride in 2003, 2004, 2005, bastardized 2006 & the self supported ride in 2008, 2009 & 2010. This year it was warm, we had a small group that liked taking photos, and had a great time. Just some quick notes and then I'll shut up.

-Very dry. At noon, at a National Weather Station a few miles away (at 2,559' feet) it was 89 degrees and 21% humidity, and for the rest of the afternoon humidity would get lower in the teens. By way of comparison at our home base, Walnut Creek, it was 85 degrees but 34% humidity at noon. In the middle of San Francisco, it was 61 degrees and 81% humidity at noon. (I went to the SF beach to get moisturized and hydrated the next day) On this ride we all couldn't drink enough.

-I love when we have a new person on the ride as this is as close to cycling paradise you can get in California. On this ride Cisco Dave was the only newbee and Dave thought we'd be seeing dry fields of yellow grass all day, and was pleasantly surprised by our being surrounded by pine forest. as promised traffic was very light--in 12 miles of El Dorado National Forest we were passed by 3 cars. Most roads very smooth; Volcano-Sutter Creek Road is a little rough (would probably be the best road in Sonoma County) which is why we go up it and come down smooth Shake Ridge Road. Bonus--the 1/4 mile of road in Fiddletown, previously bad (the only bad spot) now is newly paved. Warning, do this ride soon--the outskirts of Sutter Creek growing--new stop sign put up--which made for 7 stop signs for 100 miles. In a few years they may get to 10 stop signs.

-No one did the Charleston Challenge out of Volcano (mile 75.) Slug Gulch is hard but a side road called Charleston is almost impossible. It has a 1/4 miles section STEEPER than the Diablo ramp (Diablo ramp @18%, but only a few 100 feet), relief then 1/4 mile just as steep as the Diablo ramp, then a downhill leading to a 1/8 mile section just as steep as the Diablo ramp. Pre ride Cisco Dave was gung-ho to do it, Ward brought a Garmin for me so we could measure the grade. But in the middle of the Slug Climb Dave's enthusiasm wained, which was fine by me as unlike all the other climbs that have lots of shade, Charleston is out in the open and the weather would have killed us.

-The Fiddletown Freeway sprint was won by Cisco Dave. The Fiddletown Freeway is 10 miles of downhill rollers--even when I hated downhills I loved this section. Our club doesn't have ride leaders for our in-town rides, but we do for out of town rides and I tried to keep everyone together and ride with anyone who lagged. Except for this section. After the initial downhill I wasn't far behind the pack, and then Cisco Dave ramped up the speed when we hit the rollers. I caught him on the first attention getting roller and then attacked on every uphill roller. Dave stayed with me even when we flew over a roller at 31mph. As he's faster than I am after a roller I got back behind him and stayed with him to the next fast roller and attacked again. After 8 miles of hammering we kind of called a truce--we arrived at Fiddletown together but he would have zoomed away if he knew where the road ended.

-In the live and learn department, I couldn't shift into the big ring unless on a downhill and would have to try 2-3x. Fuck. Once in the big ring didn't want to get out of it on some uphill rollers. I was ready to screw around with the front derailleur adjustment screw at the first rest stop--but Ward had me first squirt a few bottles of water on the front derailleur and the underside where the cables go--under the theory that spilled drink mix gunked up the works. I didn't expect this to work, did. Shifting got markedly better--and problem was totally corrected the next day when I scrubbed down area and lubed everything.

-As you can see below almost everyone packed a camera. Ward almost took 200 photos--Christine also getting real good at taking photos while riding (and so is Dave when he borrowed a camera.) I still have to get uphill before anyone and stop the bike. Photo credits below Ward (WI), Christine (CB), me (PC) and Cisco Dave (CD)

Led Zeppelin comes to Plymouth? No, a bluegrass festival at the fairgrounds from where we start he ride (WI)

"Downtown" Plymouth--not one of the better towns in the Gold Country--though the nearby County Fair Grounds looks like an old Wild West Town. I had to hustle back to the car for forgotten sports drink powder. (WI)

Jack and Christine on the rollers immediately out of town through the growing wine region (WI)

Our paceline on the rollers outside Plymouth. The old Century used to go Southwest to the lowlands--we immediately start going Northeast to higher ground. Plymouth is at 1000', eventually we'll get to 5,000' after 36 miles. (CD)

I'm having fun in the Shenandoah Wine Valley. Most wineries open at 10:00--we're going through around 9:30 and wouldn't come back until they are long closed (CB)

Cisco Dave signs up for the Ansel Adams section of the Diablo Cyclists (CB)
Another Shenandoah Valley paceline photo (WI) After loads of practice taking bar photos with his cellphone for Facebook, Cisco Dave takes a great self portrait (CD)

Rest Stop 1-Pioneer Park in Fairplay, mile 17. All rest stops shaded with REAL bathrooms and water. Here is where we had a water fight with my bike to loosen up the shifting. (WI)

Almost immediately on rustic Perry Creek Road. The rollers get serious, the little traffic we had previously almost nonexistent during our 4 mile ride to Slug Gulch. (CB)

Dave enjoying Perry Creek Road , thinking "Slug Gulch can't be that bad"(WI)Ward on Perry Creek Road. Ward's done this ride numerous times--he's not laughing about Slug Gulch (CB)

Sudden left turn and Slug Gulch begins. Five mile climb but second half is gentle--which does you no good during first half. But its a climb I like as the climb is terraced into 4 hard sections with relief points after each. (WI)

Cisco Dave and I on Slug Gulch--I'm getting the camera ready. How do I change the film while riding? (WI)

Some homes with barking dogs (all well behind solid fences) on Slug Gulch and a few surprises. (WI)

Cisco Dave on Slug Gulch with Ward in background getting camera ready. Dave still looks like he wants to do the even harder Charleston Climb later ( PC-fresco)

Ward photo ready on Slug Gulch. Since I would never hold the camera crooked--we must be riding uphill. (PC)

Jack at the end of Slug Gulch, where its been much more gentle for awhile than the beginning. (PC)

Reward for climbing Slug Gulch--one of the great rest stops--Indian Diggins School with a schoolyard surrounded bu tall pines. Rest stop 2, mile 26. (PC)

It's almost football season and Ward had lots of practice kicking rocks, pine cones and beer cans off of Diablo roads so he is ready to kick a field goal--but one of the local kids has other ideas. (PC with WI post production editing)

Now 10 miles of more climbing, but the trip though the El Dorado National Forest-Omo Ranch Road is much more gentle than Slug Gulch. We're now doing the extension of the old 120 mile route through dense pine forest. Cisco Dave is ready to roll (PC)

Christine and Dave start the El Dorado National Forest. We're over 4,000' feet. My favorite part of the ride. (PC)

I'm in the El Dorado National Forest (CB)

We approach Cooks Station for our lunch break. (PC in MC Escher style)

Christine at the 5,000' sign-hard to believe we are 1,000+ highre than the top of Mt. Diablo. (WI)I can't drink enough--Gatoraid was a nice change of pace from Heed--actually a Cold Beer would have been also though I probably would have laid out and slept the rest of the day. Rest stop 3, mile 36--this detour was never on the Sierra Century but found by accident on a training ride when trying to guess where the bonus miles went.(WI)The papparazzi found us eating lunch at Cook Station (WI) Most of teh climbing is over--now the fun begins as we gradually descend in 25 miles from 5,000' to Sutter Creek at 1,200'. Quick downhill along lightly traveled Highway 88, then long downhill with significant rollers on Shake Ridge Road. We stay on Shake Ridge as it is a nicely paved, divided road. Here Cisco Dave yelling at his support vehicle, Christien following. (PC)

Rare photo--both Cisco Dave and I are finally serious going down Shake Ridge Road. (WI)

At secret bathrooms in Sutter Creek Christine says she hasn't gotten enough exercise (rest stop 4, mile 62--supposed to be a mini stop but we stay there longer and longer as it gets hotter and hotter) (WI)

(above and below) Jack and I riding along the tree lines Sutter-Volcano Road--9 miles of gentle uphill with a tailwind so it feels like a magnet pulling you up--at FABIO road marking (which we are riding over below) last 3 miles becomes noticible. Creek on the side all the way up--nearly dry until Ward stopped to help Christine change a flat--the runoff of his sweat helped flood the creekbed. (WI)I arrive with Christine to the megalopolis known as Volcano--now up to 103 folks. Rest stop 5, mile 74. (WI) General store closed but new bakery open. Luckily Jug n Rose Baking had Gatoraid and good Sourdough rolls--though they tried to poision me by first suggesting something like onion and parsley and dill rolls which I would have tasted and retasted for the remained of the ride. (PC)

Volcano might just have 103 folks but it has one more Greek Theatre and one more Cobblestone Theater than almost anywhere else. This must be the place to see Paris Roubaix movies. (WI)

Jack taking a break on Volcano's ex-Mayor Rosie's bench. On the century ride Rosie was a fixture yelling encouragement (or something else) to all of the cyclists (WI)

Christine and I getting cobblestone water--maybe some of the Johan Museeuw magic will rub off. (Note the socks almost everyone has on) (WI)

Leaving Volcano Dave/ I veto Charleston and we go up the "easy" (in comparison to Slug/ Charleston) Rams Horn Grade, with annoying uphill continuation at the top. We're back to 3,400'. But Jack is getting close to the Disneyland turnoff--the 10 miles of downhill rollers on the Fiddletown Freeway. (WI) Fiddletwon Freeway is more fun with air in your tire--Jack fixes flat and Dave consults. (WI)Christine & Ward find a nice place to relax while flat repair ensues before the "D" ticket ride down to Fiddletown. (PC)Cisco Dave heard a rumor that Heed/ Cytomax and Gatoraid runs out of the hoses in the front yards. (PC) What a great day, and we haven't even done Fiddletown yet. (WI)Fiddletown is a quiet Gold Rush town and Christine looks happier than she did on the Rams Horn climb. Rest stop 6 at mile 91. (PC)

A short but attention getting climb of Ostrom Road is thown in just to remind you that you best like to climb on the Sierra Century. Ward relaxing through the vineyards. (PC)

Christine enjoying her Sierra Century (WI)

Dave wondering how long this climb will be. I may have lied and said 20 miles so Dave wouldn't sprint off. (WI)

Christine and I finish another of the long uphill rollers on Ostrum Road, Happy we'll now being doing the downhill rollers that we climbed earlier this morning. (WI)

Cisco Dave going to a post ride toga party while I'm entered in the local Scottish games (WI)