Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Year In Review 2012

2012 was a great cycling year.   There were 4 highlights:

1. After 3 years of planning (Year 1 I broke shoulder blade a month before, Year 2 crapped out with altitude sickness on the 5th pass) I finished the 200 mile, 8 Death Ride pass, 20,000' climbing ALTA ALPINA DOUBLE.  Finished near the back (53rd of 70 finishers) but 35% of the 107 starters couldn't finish it.  Weather was perfect and Toby joined me for his first Double, and as he got lost he may be the only 8 1/2 pass finisher. 

2. After 7 years of being booted out of the El Dorado County,  THE SIERRA CENTURY returned to Plymouth and reclaimed its mantle as the world's greatest Century.   Great support and the BEST route.  I was sky high for the double metric version and great that I was joined by Ward, Toby and Dr. Dave--with Dr. Dave making friends along the way.  Perfect weather for me--maybe a tad to warm for normal folks.  I was stoked for 6 hours that seemingly passed by in 6 minutes.

3. My last doubles race was on my favorite doubles course, THE MT TAM DOUBLE.  I've finished in the 20's and 30's before, and was shocked when midway at a water stop I was told I was in the high teens.   So I had to ride hard the rest of the way--only passed by one person when upright and ? when down on the ground.  I rode this one solo but was lucky to team up with many good people, especially Ish who used to live around the corner from me--and would joyfully talk about the crazy long distance rides he did while I did 20 miles max on a hybrid.  While following Ish up the Coast a car took us out but still managed to finish (t)16th of 239 starters.

4. My original plan was only to do DEVIL MOUNTAIN DOUBLE, formerly tied for hardest double until Alta Alpina came along, every 3 years--but I did it three years in a row for Alta Alpina training.  Cisco Dave decided to make this his first double (I know some crazy people) and we rode much of the front side and end together.   Except for a tough last two mile up Mt. Hamilton-the "other shoe" never dropped.  My training buddy Ward waiting in Sunol to take photos and he said "you guys are here early."  Shit yeah--down Niles Canyon-up Palomaras-up Crow Canyon in the daylight.   Finished 32nd of 132 starters. 

All told #35 (hoping to get in #36) century rides* or more (*century ride counted as 90 miles or more--as Chico Wildflower 95 miles and Solvang Double 191 miles.  Seems ridiculous to ride around the parking lot 78x to get 100 miles.  The ride is the ride.  In any event, a 200 mile ride just counts as 1 century ride)

Two Part Video of Seminal Ride Highlights
HD versions on You Tube at these links


Biggest Bust
Sequoia Century.  After hearing how great this ride was we kept running into long-long lines at rest stops, with the official slogan being "oh, we ran out of that."  ("That" being basic things like bananas.) 

Worst product
Garmin/ Strava--I may be the last person to get this .   Do I really want to race an unseen Freddie Rodriguez one day, and someone 80 lbs overweight the next.   No--I don't care about your Strava segment putting you 1st on your buddy's driveway.   Just do an fn interval to catch up to the person who really passed you or is ahead of you.  Sign up for a timed Double--your time for the whole 200 miles is what is important, not that you were 2nd on a 1/4 mile stretch.

Best product

This is an independent collaborative effort between WI and PC.    I added a subtle modification.  I'm still wondering how WI did such a good job pasting in CA Mike under Kate Upton who was reclining on the bench in Berkeley.
Photoshoppe Elements-This is addictive.  On most rides there are about 50-150 photos taken and some movie clips.  Then some photographs call for "modification."

Funniest Quote
Sacto I Doug's Friend To Ward at the End of the Sierra Century
"Oh, are you in Doug's church group"

Feed The Homeless Cyclist Quote
Salivating Cisco Dave at the top of a cold Mt Hamilton when I break out a peanut butter/ pumpkin butter sandwich
"Are you going to eat all that?"

Brave Moment
Fredrick eating a 7-11 hot dog before shooting up Sierra Road

Biggest Regret
No Dr. Dave Cabin ride-sleeted out

Bowlers or Shuffleboard Players welcome.
Newcomers kicked our butt all year.  Especially Toby who once did 5 full triathalons (and was leading) in 5 days.  And Rebecca who won a marathon, and rode with a usual 174 h.r.   Luckily training with them and the rest of our Club made the crazy rides easier.

Hope They Are Having Fun
Guy who finished 2nd in Alta Alpina  indicates he would have finished first but needed to take a dump.

Guy who finished in top 10 in Mt Tam Double indicates grams from rear light flasher caused exertion of needless energy.

Part of Devil Mountain Double I Never Have To Do Again
Sierra Road

Part of Devil Mountain Double I May Did Again if Pleaded With to Join In
Patterson Pass--the @12 mile run in is the best East Bay ride.

Clearance Items
Livestrong Helmets from the "most successful doping program sport has ever seen"

Growing Old Is The Shits
Combating vein problem most of the year and back mysteriously went out for a month (a record.)  After this year culminating in the best results on endurance rides, maybe next year is time to cut back.  They're getting too damn hard.

Athlete of the Year
Michelle Jenneke

Socialist Government Handout of the Year
Sudden and rapid paving of the crater strewn road at the Southgate entrance to Mt. Diablo State Park.  Even the Tea Party may agree that the government should pave the roads.

Shoe Carving in 2012
Seems so long ago now, but started off the year with brand new cycling shoes.  OUCH.  Someone decided to move the top strap back 1 cm so it digs into the ankle.  Solution--cutting fringes along the top strap.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Calaveras and Tour of Livermore Century (2012)

I'm falling apart so Good god, is this my future in cycling??   Photo thanks (I think) to Dr. Dave who can't keep out of trouble after pouting with the President and his favorite athlete McKayla.

Century #36 (November 24, 2012) Calaveras Reservoir and Tour of Livermore to Collier, 102 miles, 10' climbing (or so it seemed) 16.5 mph.  w/ Jack and Stephen.  Calaveras section with Ward, Mike, Eri, Fresno Kim, Jose

This was a perfect ride to appear on club schedule.  Not much climbing (80 miles, 2,000' climbing.)  We had a group kept the pace down which was fine by me.  Good news is that my back is better than it has been for a month--the bad news is that its only at 70% and hurts when starting from a dead stop, climbing, or hitting the gas hard--so this ride was what the chiropractor ordered.

Ok, its November but was still fn cold when we started.  At 9:03 (per National Weather Service) it was 45 degrees in Walnut Creek.   OK--I know that the folks in Yakutsk think this is summer weather--but this is why I live in California.   With my brain frozen I forgot my official Lance drug kit (tums, endurolytes, lip balm), and didn't bother to take a light as I didn't expect to go 100 miles and finish 30 minutes before nightfall.  I need to go on more century rides--maybe by year end I'll get the hang of getting ready.

I did remember to break out the toe warmers and arm warmers but I was not happy--though full sun it was fn cold when we started out.  Woman visiting from Fresno, Kim, had done Climb to Kaiser so we bs'd about the ride.  New rider Eri is fast on flats so she'd like the route.  Mike only got to play a half day of hooky so he could only join us for part of the ride.  We started off with about a dozen riders but we'd eventually split into three groups.

Riding out Danville Blvd-San Ramon Valley Blvd in the morning isn't bad--not enough cars to turn every traffic light red as usually happens later in the day.  Group kept a nice paceline going.   Huge Frostys (the Giants of Roubaix?) springing up on vacant lots now becoming X-mas Tree Farms. 

(above) Ward on the run in to Sunol (below) Jack, Stephen, Mike on Foothill (PC)

Eventually warm enough where I could pull of glove liners-toe warmers and vest.  Was wearing an orange and black Museeuw Bike jersey--unfortunately it is mostly black and has one of those real short short zippers, so when there is even a hint of warmth it is useless.  But for the rest of the day (well, until the last half hour when we rapidly lost the sun), the black jersey with a thin wool undershirt was perfect except for some of the densely shaded tree hairpins on Calaveras.

After San Ramon we continued on Foothill Blvd which has little traffic and traffic controls--then our paceline started revving up the speed.  Ward pulled me into the hill before Sunol but Stephen and I must be getting old--we used to beat each other up on this hill, now we just rode up together.  All along I was pleasantly surprised how well I felt.

We now need a special wrench for formerly free water tap in Sunol so I went to park across the street from the general store--we've never been there as entrance is around the corner.  Man, we've been missing out on some fine art. 

Here we lost the "Mike Group" who turned around, and the rest of us continued onto Calavaras.  Eri and Kim never had ridden it--always nice to ride a great section with a first timer and see their reaction.  I remember long ago (actually Paris Roubaix day in 2003) riding the nondescript Primavera Century--but the highlight was going over Calavaras for the first time.  Its a gentle climb along a narrow forested road with sudden hairpins --its actually a perfect fixed gear route going South.  Ward has perfected the art of looking across the road before hitting a hairpin so we can spot the occasional motorcycle, or bicycle flying in from the other direction.  Real important to keep way to the right on this road.

Statue in Sunol Park--we've gone to Sunol for years--first time we saw it (PC)  
One or two regroups--one where everyone seemed like they were looking into a nudist colony, but it was a bald eagle nest on  a transmission tower --but at least 300' away.  Downhill to the turnaround at the end of Calaveras but Ward, Jose and I rode about 2000' past the turnaround so we could continue the Brother Vic tradition of going down and then back up THE WALL.  This is a short but steep climb which scared most Primavera riders.  No one proposed Sierra Road today--the real WALL to the 10th power--which was very very good.

Eri and Ward on Calaveras (PC)
Only takes about half the time to fly back to Sunol as now mostly slightly downhill with a tailwind.  Fond memories of being on this section on the Devil Mountain Double, with Jack last year and Cisco Dave this year, with Ward stopped on the side of the road taking photos ("your here early"--which was great to hear.)   Two or three times ago here on DMD 'Ghost Riders in the Sky' popped in my head going back to Sunol and now it gets recalled again. 

I think Jack a little freaked by the whirleygigs (PC)

The peloton leaving Sunol before we split up (PC)
Seemed early when we got to a corner store in Sunol---but Ward was going to lead a group back on Danville Blvd.  Meanwhile Jack and Stephen were devising a route looping Livermore that would bypass the sections with lots of traffic.    Though I couldn't match a sudden acceleration to the county line earlier I felt good enough to say I'd do the longer route.  Besides getting a century in we'd be coming back on rustic Collier Canyon with no traffic controls. 

Jack, Stephen and I did the customary Happy Valley Loop then out to Vineyard.  But instead of turning on Isabel that passes the local airport and all the motor traffic usually surrounding an airport--we continued out on Vineyard, turned on Vallecitos (only place with a no control lots of traffic intersection) and eventually circled back to Murrietta.  Basically, instead of taking the direct rout out of town we circled far to the East and then after traveling North we came back East.

At this point we had @30 miles to go and I mistakenly thought I was down to two Chomps (I did have a ZBar buried between all the clothes I had taken off.)   So when "Hate To Stop" Jack got stuck at a light--I rolled into a convenience store with Stephen and grabbed the great cycling food Rice Krispie Treat.  

After crossing the highway we were almost on Collier Canyon and it was great riding on rustic Collier.  Sun was setting a bit but still very bright--no worries (the modern catchphrase) of losing daylight.  Stephen and I continued our cooperative ride and passed by another county line sign together without any hi jinx.  Mostly we were bsing about the clubs future--older membership and noticeably less riders on seminal rides this year.    Soon on the hill up to Blackhawk where......Jack got a flat tire.

OK, any thoughts of finishing the ride much earlier than sunset now gone. 

Of course a flat near the end of the ride--Stephen looks like he could be in Presidential Photo next to Dr. Dave (PC)

Downhill from Blackhawk was nice--we hit mostly green lights.  Stephen turned off to go home.  When we got to Danville the sun was now low and long shadows on Danville Blvd--at all other times we would have run lights but neither of us had front lights and my back light needed to get charged.  Also temperature seemed to have dropped 20 degrees.  F-though about Mike's emergency blinking light he had on his bars--I gotta get one.  Jack has the magic ability to ride his fastest at the end of a ride and he was hammering down the boulevard.  

Jack turned off to go home while I had to navigate through the shopping district in Walnut Creek.   I didn't want to temp fate and get hit by something thinking about Neiman Markup so for once I jumped on the bike trail early which was still crowded at twilight.  Got back to the car at about 4:50--a half hour before full darkness.

Good ride, very very glad for the easy route and steady pace.  Next week is our club ride up Morgan Territory which means-----Salvador Dali's  Patterson Pass. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Metrics around Marshall Wall, Marin, and Memorial Ride, Benecia--Last Diablo Cyclist Rides with Toby

Usually I just post regarding seminal Century rides, but we just had two interesting but disparate metric rides.  A week ago we had a beautiful ride around Marin--over my favorite part of the Mt Tam Double, the run in to the Marshall Wall.  Yesterday we joined the Benicia Cyclist for a memorial ride when one of their members were killed when striking some wild turkeys on a downhill. 

These were also the last two extended rides before Toby moves back to England.  There were earlier "move back" false alarms--the last reprieve had him stay here so he could set a record on the Alta Alpina by doing 8 1/2 passes.  His first double, but what the f--he once did 5 full triathlons in 5 days row.  More importantly to me, bs'ing with him for the days leading up to the Alta Alpina took my mind off the event--which was good as it was the only ride remaining that I was a little intimidated by. 

During our club rides he was our Fabian Cancellera--riding steady for a long time pulling the fastest people in our Club along and barking "get out my way, you're slowing us down" if I tried to help out chasing down a young kid who tried to get away off the front.    Toby got Ward hooked on power meter training.  Real positive on our long training rides--he'll be missed.

We tried to find out Toby's rigorous training secrets--his web site is just a cover.   Ward and I got a few clandestine photos of Toby's secret training methods while he trained for the three parts of a triathlon--now we'll share his secrets.

Coach Toby shows proper crosstraining
(top) at Pt Reyes Station on his secret training course (WI animation)
(middle) high in the hills of the Gold Country on the Sierra Century course (WI animation)
(bottom) practicing palming basketball skills with Christine (Pumpkincomics)



 Hicks Valley on run into Marshall Wall (top) Rebecca, (below) I'm with Toby (WI)

 November 10, 2012-Marshall Wall Metric, Marin
November 18, 2012-Craig Elstins Memorial Ride, Benecia

Rain was predicted held off for our Marin ride.  For some reason I started to fall apart after the Patterson Pass Double last week--leg vein issues morphed into back problems.  Usually 1 chiro treatment is all I need, I screwed up my back so much, at this writing I'm sitting on my third chiro visit.  If this ride hadn't been in Marin--one of my favorite loops as its the Mt Tam Double highlight course, I would have skipped it.

Good day where our group stuck together nicely on the flats and rollers.  All hell broke loose on the climb to the Cheese Factory.  We passed a large group around Nicasio and the fastest of that group took exception--so then it was a race to the Cheese Factory climb, and then up the climb.  I'm happy to report Toby and Rebecca dropped everyone from the other Club on teh climb and I just hung in with the chasing group to the Cheese Factory.  To paraphrase the great Servais Knaven--I don't care who wins as long as its a Diablo Cyclist.  My back wasn't happy--especially on the rollers I usually love or when I tried getting off the bike, and luckily we had a relaxed pace ride for the rest of the day.

(Top) Rachel, (Middle) Jack, (Bottom) Eri & Ward, on the Marshall Wall climb (PC)

Toby coaching Renecca on proper technique on ringing the Peace Bell (WI)

(top) Rachel, (middle) Toby, (bottom) Rachel and Eri leading the paceline-all along Highway 1-Bodega Bay (WI)

Da Group at Pt Reyes Station (WI)

Toby by Nicasio Reservoir (WI)
Ward coming back over Big Rock--ready for the 23 curve hairpin descent.  (PC)
Next week it stormed on Saturday--our usual long riding day.  On Sunday we joined the Benecia Cyclists for a memorial ride for a cyclist who died in a freak accident. We started across "the river" in Martinez which necessitates a disgusting ride through (Christine coined this along time ago) "Perpetuem Factories" bellowing smoke, then trying to find the hidden bike tail that leads onto the bridge. Nice large turnout where our group tried to follow some Benecia Cyclists who were going hard--man, what a fast Club ride this is. Light bulb came on when we pulled into first rest stop--we had followed the fastest guys in their Club--much of the peloton rolled in 5 minutes later. The next rest stop got us into the agriculture belt outside Fairfield where the Benecia Club ride ended.  Ward took us through bonus miles on a road mostly void of cars. Void of cars as a small bridge in the middle was closed and we had to trudge through the mud for a few hundred feet (cleats love this.)

Downtown Martinez (PC)

Toby on the bridge over the Carquinez Strait--soon he'll be riding over the London Bridge (WI)

We saw a guy with a cool Lion of Flanders helmet--this wasn't him.  Is anyone missing a traffic light?(WI)

Toby meets up with a neighbor from the United Kingdom, which is something like England.  Jack in the background is from the Commonwealth.  Everyone has the Queen on their money.  This only makes sense if you are from Great Britain.  (PC)

No comment (WI)

(top) Jack (below) I'm with local honey at the cigar factory.

Solano Art (WI)

Ward and Toby practicing if crazy lady from a few weeks ago appears and again asks for directions (PC)

(top) Toby (below) Jack in Wooden Valley

After a lackluster effort, Coach Andy had to tell us to go hard THROUGH the county line on a sprint--Ward looking for excuses. (PC)

Christine, with the best pony tail since Roman Vainsteins, in Gordon Valley (WI)

Toby and I are following Christine (WI)

(top) Toby and Christine at Mothball Fleet overlook (WI) (below) Andy happy that he can see Mt Diablo (PC)

Heading back to Martinez--Andy telling Ward and Toby they best not slack off at the upcoming county line--which Christine "gifted" to Toby (PC).

Christine and Ward on da bridge (PC)

I'm going by another trainload of Perpetuem (WI)