Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Hell of the Sierra Road (2012)

Happy Paris Roubaix Sunday (Greetings from the Church of Ward)
Century #9 (April 7, 2012)  Mines Road, Mt. Hamilton, Sierra Road loop.   w, Cisco Dave, Jack, Fredrick--Ward and Christine to the foot of Mt. Hammy, 112 miles,10,000' climbing, 14.2 avg.
From Ward Industries Historic Files--we actually also did this stupid ride a couple of years ago

Club is doing the Mines Road ride and a few options present itself.  Can do the same ride from last week--ride from Walnut Creek two hours early and then join the club for the (mostly) gradual Mines Road Climb, bonus miles up super steep Mt. Hamilton,  and return the same way.  Cisco Dave is agitating NOT to do an out and back but descend the long side (San Jose side) of Mt Hamilton and then go up the climb I hate the most--mega steep Sierra Road.  (In this case 'mega' is worse than 'super')  Wanted to leave options open to see if our injured hockey players Ward and Christine could do a long but shallower climbing miles, so an option I left open was to go down and back up to Patterson in the Central Valley with them and then upon return I could do the Del Valle climb in Livermore.  Leaving from Walnut Creek (at 7am)wouldn't do good for options 2 & 3 so I decided to leave with the Club in Livermore (at 9am).

Meanwhile Cisco Dave was "threatening" to bring people faster than him on our ride--after the way he rode last week I thought he meant Freddie Rodriguez.   In any event he started an hour earlier (8am) half way between where we were and Walnut Creek.

I'm riding with Christine on the flat beginnng of Mines Road (Ward-o-Photo)
When I woke up glad I chose to start as late as possible.  Last week it just stopped raining a couple of hours before our ride but it was 44 degrees in the early morning.  This week the sun was out strongly and it promised to touch the 70's in the afternoon--but it was 36 degrees (F--Dave and I already froze on Wednesday night coming down Mt. Diablo  it was 38 degrees at the top--with a 25mph wind chill....well you figure it out.)  Today at 9:00 it was warm enough that we could leave the hated glove liners behind. 

(above) Road goes up and Cisco Dave, Fredrick and I go up the road (below) Paparazzi shootout--Cisco Dave getting camera ready (both Ward-o-Photos)

Nice group for this popular ride, but many less riders than in past years.  See my description of Mines Road--Mt. Hamilton from last week for first part of the ride description.   Noticeable differences this week:

-Either a Sunday factor or morning wet road factor but last week Mines Road was deserted.  This week about two dozen motorcyclists passed us on the ride up (and a fuckin SUV who passed on a blind turn--bad enough as we'd be collateral damage by flying crap when he got hit head on--but in the curve he came quickly in from about 4' away from us to 6" away.)

--We had a much easier ride up Mines Road as last week going balls out--this week regrouped for my injured compatriots, and we still managed to be the 2nd group to arrive at the Junction.

--Traditional huge puddles were minuscule.

--Toby already at the Junction--he was doing the same loop we were doing for Ironman Training.  (He said he left before us but for all we know he left at 10am and whizzed past us.)  He'll be racing against some over hyped cyclist -- Toby's on my Team BRL (Beat Roubaixless Lance)

--For this ride switched wheels to my new Stan Rims/ King Hubs and even though before Memorial Day switched to my Gleaming White Carbon Soled Shoes.  (More comfortable foot bed then my other shoes but not the uppers.)  Want to get everything "spot on" before Devil Mountain Double.

--Loads of cyclists and motorcyclists at the Junction this week. 

Christine thought we were riding too cooperatively--so on the lead in to the last hill before the Junction she drafted off my wheel and then made a move to get ahead--but I was too motivated as I didn't want to suffer her taunting like some poor guy she passed on Mt. Diablo last week.  (Women arev in bad mood when Cinderella Ride is rained out

OH YEAH--Last Movie of the Season Being Done of the Ride--Will Be Here When Completed

Fredrick-Christine & me in the San Antonio Valley (CiscoDavevision)

At the Junction Ward/ Christine decided they didn't want to go to Patterson but would ride the rollers  (progressively steeper) out to the Isabel Creek Bridge before Cisco Dave/ Fredrick/ Jack and I started the Mt. Hamilton--Sierra Road loop.  We somehow lost Jack and rode a spirited ride through the beautiful country 10-15 miles out to the Isabella Creek Bridge.  Fredrick had done the Devil Mountain Double before so we were trading DMD stories.
(above) At Isabella Creek before Hammy Climb, Cisco Dave pestering the cows to go up Mt. Hamilton also (below) I prepare for it to get warm, (far below) Christine says good riddance to us and we prepare to go up Mt. Hamilton (Ward-o-photos)

We awaited about 10 minutes for Jack at the Bridge and he never showed (getting dropped from a fast moving paceline is sure death re the reduced speed and additional energy you have to put in.) .   We wanted to get out of there before our legs tightened up--and the aggressive cows that were over the fence and on the road charged us, so three of us left while two turned back.

Last week I was not happy on Mt. Hamilton while Dave zipped up.  This week I was much happier and Dave less so--which showed the fickleness of trying to hold condition when you work for a living and not 21 years old.  Unlike last week the Climb it stayed warm throughout (last week a cold headwind developed), and the snow from last week was all gone.   Good move getting rid of knee/ arm warmers and t-shirt at the bridge.

Only bad thing about observatory is that you have to take cleated shows off--and in restroom floor was wet.  From now on I'm looking for a tree outside.  

We were ready to go when Jack dieseled in.  He was in good spirits and he's super quick at rest stops so we waited a few minutes for him to get ready.  Seemed like downhill wouldn't be THAT cold--and didn't want to put on t-shirt and then take it off before Sierra Road so just threw on vest.  It was a little cold on the way down with just a vest but not bad.

Unlike last week when we returned on the super steep east side (curvy, wide, decently paved, silt covered, super steep road), this week we were going down  the super curvy, narrow, cruddy paved, fallen rock covered west road--at least its not super steep, a steady 4-5%.    But loads of caution around every hairpin--most had gravel/ rocks around the bend.

Dave and Fredrick slowed for me after the downhiill and we rode the "fun part" of the ride together--about 3-4 medium rollers and the rest is fast on a well paved road.  I pointed out on DMD the fun ends when you have to take a side street to the LAST HOUSE on the top of a hill for a rest stop/ check in.

(above) Fredrick gets special Hammar Nutrition before tackling Sierra Road (below) I just finished 37 minutes of punishment (CiscoDavevision)

Suddenly in suburbia for the first time since Livermore--66 miles ago.  We zig zag the neighborhood streets, following the DMD markings, for 3 miles.  It is now nice and warm.  We stop of at a 7-11 to rehydrate as there will be no water en route ON the Sierra Road climb and after Sierra Road for 25 miles.  Here Frederik cements 'man of the match' status by downing a 7-11 Hotdog before the warm climb.  Shades of Kitty and Collen.  While enjoying the sunshine Jack pulls in and stokes up on a muffin.  (Plenty of places to get 'stuff' on this ride but for some stupid reason I again decided to have a handlebar bag stuffed with 2 lbs of food and drink mix--on DMD I'll instantly lose a couple of lbs--great!!)

We go a few blocks, suddenly the wall in front of us appears--its Sierra Road.  Dave had a nice recovery from his Mt. Hammy and went up well.  I was smart and didn't chase on this climb that I HATE.***   Hot on the climb and my back didn't give out; I was pleased as I had same time as a couple of months ago when we rode up it only after a leisurely Calaveras Road climb. 

***Why I Hate Sierra Road.  I'm not a pure climber and can power over short steep climbs well--that's why the Mt Tam Double or Gold Country rides are my favorite.   Extending this--a climb that has steep sections followed by recovery sections is great.  I love Mt. Tam from Alpine Lake--steep hairpins between gradual uphill recovery sections.    If I'm riding well Mt. Hammy from the steep side isn't bad.  But I can't sit and spin at 100000 RPM.   Sierra Road has no recovery sections and instead of attack-relax-attack its just a constant grind.   F-me.

Jack arrived and we started the long super fast road back to Calavaras.  I still am a slow downhiller so can't take advantage of the speedway--but can now hang in there.  After "the Wall" (short but steep climb) that starts Calavaras we had to wait for Jack--and as Dave and Fredrick were parked in the other direction after Sunol they took off and  I waited for the Captain.  Funny comment from Fredrick though--he wanted to detour around Sunol so wouldn't have to take the short noticeable climb out of town--what--ducking a pissy Sunol Climb after you just flew up Mines Road--Mt Hamilton and Sierra Road?? 

Jack pulled in and we two manned to Sunol where they had a GREAT frozen rice pudding pop.  Then Jack added on a mini bonus loop before on to Pleasanton and then Livermore--where the most dangerous part of the ride was trying to get to the bathrooms at the sports park where a tournament was going on and the parents were driving all which ways.

The 10 Year Anniversary

Felt much better than the week before.  So now its time to register for Devil Mountain Double.  As the great Johan Museeuw said "I trained well, tomorrow (during the race) I'm gonna do the maximum, but more I can't do."  Going into DMD I don't think I can do any nuttier training rides than the ones I've done this spring.

Note--bad week for cyclists--Nancy Y who writes a positive cycling blog (counterbalances my cynical blog) and makes movies of doubles rides was injured in a bike accident on an organized ride.    And the news gets much worse--the ultimate tragedy--a family on a leisurely bike ride near where we start our club from, when dad and daughter were killed by a wayward SUV while on the sidewalk.  And of course week before cyclist plows into and kills a pedestrian in San Francisco.  Of course soon a bunch of lawyers will proclaim their clienst the greatest guys since Abe Lincoln--just ignore prior DUI's, hit & runs etc.    Click here re brother of SF Giant who drove into cyclists last year.

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