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.)

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