Monday, May 28, 2012

Mt Hamilton From the Fun Side Century & Sierra Century Metric Flat (Ha) Course (2012)

Memorial Day weekend
May 26, 2012 Century #17 Mt Hamilton Counterclockwise loop, via Calaveras and Mt Hamilton on long (20 miles) but shallow (consistent 4-5% grade) climb from San Jose side, and down Mines Road.  106 miles, 8,600' climbing, with Ward and Cisco Dave

May 27, 2012  Sierra Century Metric Route with Tyler Road portion added.  80 miles, 6,000 climbing, with Ward. 

A few of the bonus mile group were supposed to go up to Mt. Lassen area for some cycling, but plans fell through with forecast of light rain with highs of 50.  Was it really touching 90 degrees at Davis last weekend??  So with a three day weekend I wanted to do special rides the first two days.  Trouble was that most of  our cast-o-bonus-mile-characters were out of town or otherwise occupied.  Ward did his usual masterful job of sending out an email to many with multiple options and there was--dead silence.  No takers.

Weather forecast for the Bay Area wasn't the greatest, Saturday 65 degrees with 10-20 mph winds, with a gradual warming.  So riding near the coast was out as it would even be cooler.  Tinkering of some seminal inland rides seemed like a good idea. 

On Saturday our bike Club was doing an metric out and back along Calaveras Road.   Usually this meant that the bonus mile group tortures itself by riding out with teh Club and then continuing on to and then climbing the shear hell of Sierra Road.  No more DMD training, no need to do it.  So why don't we ride out with the Club, and bonus mile group would bypass Sierra Road and go up the long Western Side of Mt. Hamilton--a long haul of 18.5 miles but never very steep as it was built for horse driven carts to bring up supplies.  Cisco Dave was in, after all on DMD and killer training loop he went up Mt. Hamilton the hard way and then Sierra Road.    

Plan was our trio would start at the base of the road we'd eventually come down, so we wouldn't have to ride 15 suburban ugly miles in late afternoon to get back to our cars from where the Diablo Cyclists were starting.  Then we'd intersect the Club in Sunol--8 miles away from them--12 miles away from us.  Who did the math??--this part of the plan stunk.

Well maybe it would have worked if Cisco Dave, Ward and I started at 8:45 instead of bathroom hunting until 9:15.  Or maybe it would have worked if our club has the large group of riders who were bs'ing at the start and they'd have left late.  But as it turned out they only had a small group so they didn't F around at the start, and no matter how hard Dave, Ward and I rode, we only caught up to the slowest rider in the Club  on Calevaras right before their turn around point.  CA Mike was with them and knowing how hard he works he probably turned himself inside out pulling the group to the turn around point and we never had a chance making up the 4 miles.   
Meet up with Mike at the end of Calaveras.  He's freezing--shit, I'm f'd. (PC)
Bad news was that it was windy and sunny when we started out, but on Calevaras it was now overcast.  When we reached the Club they were under a tree in solid shade--as it really didn't matter as out from under the tree it was just as dark.  CA Mike said he was cold--so I was screwed as I am a cold wuzz and just had on a light vest.  This was more than Cisco Dave had--he was being creative with a Safeway newspaper insert.   And now Dave, Ward and I had a long downhill where we'd start our climb to 4,000' Mt. Hamilton--shit, who knew how cold and windy it would be on the climb.

Actually the downhill wasn't bad and it was actually warm riding through the flatland subdivisions that were blocking the wind.  We passed Sierra Road turn off and I felt great not having to do that shit of a climb.  We weaved in and out of a few more neighborhoods and started the Mt. Hamilton Climb. 

Start of Mt. Hamilton 20 mile gradual climb (PC)
Cisco Dave on Mt Hamilton climb from the ez side (PC)

Ward on the Mt. Hamilton climb from the ez side (PC)

Ward and I bs'ing up the easy side of Mt Hamilton.  On the other side we'd just be cursing away (CD)
Weather was much better than I thought--mild wind, sun peaking through.  No imminent events so pace could be easy so we all stayed together--with just scrambles back if stopping for a photo (me) or looking at snakes (Ward/ Dave.)  Our pace must have been OK--no one passed us and we went by 3-4 unhappy riders and 1 guy with a tri setup on the widest mountain bike handlebars I had ever seen.  We were all just bs'ing and suddenly we were near the top--and just as suddenly the temperature seemed to drop with bank of thick clouds filling the western sky. 

Near the top of Mt Hamilton (WI)

After a group photo we ducked into the patio--protected from the wind.  It was WARM--for about 2 minutes, then a thick bank of clouds would fly over the area and it would get cold for a few minutes--then warm again--repeat--repeat.  Cisco Dave was playing with his supermarket ad--trying to origami it into a thermal jacket.  When I started eating my peanut and butter sandwich he got a forelorn expression and asked 'are you going to eat the whole thing'--he was like a cross between the bum on the Bowery and a goat at the petting zoo--so I did my good deed for the year and shared with a starving cyclist.  When we started out it wasn't so bad until we swung away from the planetarium and turned into the corner with a few from the west and the cold cold wind almost knocked us all on our asses. 
Ward, Dave and I before frostbite/ windburn sets in at the top of Mt. hamilton.

Sign entering the Mt. Hamilton observatory.  They should sell souvenir slippers for cyclists (PC)

In the space of 6 minutes--looking at the stars (PC)

Getting water in the observatory (WI)

Don't know if I'm trying to get a photo of the sky or really just trying to stay warm (WI)

Dave and Ward were freezing on the 5 mile steep descent.  I don't know if I was freezing as I was white knuckled avoiding the center reflectors in cutouts, the silt, the shallow potholes, the crap patch jobs that suddenly appeared on the hairpins.  Nice warm regroup at the San Antonio Bridge--the cows Cisco Dave was hamming it up with last time weren't out so he started hitching when a car passed.

Was it really cold 5 miles ago--bank of fog and Mt Hamilton in the background--Ward and Dave now enjoying the sun(PC) 
We were lucky--thick clouds over Mt. Hamilton to the West and thick clouds to the far east by Patterson.  But it stayed sunny over us for the rest of the day.  Cisco Dave did his usually great job of leading the paceline, with Ward and I giving him short breaks.  We did notice that most cars were cool, as we rode single file and not all over the road, but some deliverance pickup drivers were dicks as they shaved past us on an open road. 

Junction Cafe was uncrowded--one table filled with Harley riders--a table far away was filled with more brightly clad road cyclists.  We hung out outside witha guy on a mountain bike who repeatedly told us that he started out late--and once rode over the Sonora Pass to Death Valley in 8 days.   Then it was up the two  immediate hills out of the Junction and the rest of the 28 miles down back to Livermore.  Our trio pacelined well through the swirling wind-sometimes getting hit by a stiff crosswind and then suddenly having a bonus tailwind.
The Junction Cafe, Mines Road (PC)

Guy who rode to Death Valley via Sonora Pass, offers Dave a supply of peanut butter if Dave signs up for his next Death Valley tour.  (PC)

Scene going down Mines Road (PC)

We'll, our trio may have failed the earlier math test when trying to joining up to our Club, but the route was a great success.  Let's see--what would we rather do.  The usual: 28 mile Mines Road uphill, the uphill rollers to the base of Mt Hamilton, the 5 miles of torture climbing Mt. Hamilton, and the 3 1/2 mile torture climb of Sierra Road.  OR!   18 mile gentle Mt. Hamilton climb.  End-o-story.  (We had thought of adding on Del Valle if we still wanted 12 climbing miles--but it was so cool outside I was glad the ride ended when it did.)

Good ride-we had a great group and great route but weather was too FN cold--I wouldn't get out of the hot shower when I got home.

Next day planned to go to my cycling ancestral homeland solo--but Ward joined me literally at the last minute.   I'll bore people with more historic details in a few weeks when the GREAT Sierra Century returns to its Plymouth route after a 7 year absence--but after the Sierra Century was kicked out of El Dorado County I led my club each year on a self supported century of the highland 120 mile route including the two seminal pine tree covered climbs--Slug Gulch and El Dorado National Forest.    The portion we left out to keep it at 100 miles was the lowland portion among the Oak trees around Ione.    So while I know the hilly portion well I hadn't ridden the flatter portion since 2005, so it seemed like a good idea to reconnaissance for the upcoming century ride and after all the climb yesterday a flat course would be great.

As I tell anyone that will listen the greatest riding is in the Gold Country.  Few traffic controls, little traffic, roads as smooth as a babies butt, interesting little towns.    Well, we found out that Ward and I had a few misconceptions about this ride.  First lowlands didn't mean a flat ride, it often meant steep roller after steep roller.  And while the high country portion is paved well, there are many sections--especially the initial 5 mile fast downhill from Plymouth towards Ione, which are as well paved as Sonoma's finest roads (the shits.)

Anyway Ward and I started out on a little warmer day than the one before, but sun was solidly out and no wind.  We were armed with my 2003 Sierra Century route sheet which proudly hangs in my office--I thought it would be the hardest ride I'd ever do, and it was the scariest  I had ever been training for a ride.

Scenes and sample roller en route from Plymouth to Ione (PC & WI)
 I did remember freezing on the initial downhill in @1999, 2000 and 2002 when I did the metric century and 2003, 2004 and 2005 when I did the Double metric course, but I didn't remember the road surface being so crappy.  The smoothest part was towards the centerline, which was doable today with no traffic on the road--but then I suddenly remembered that on Century day tons of car traffic going the other way--the late arrives for the start of the Century.  (See Ward's recap of this route at the end of this blog)
Sore from the day before Ward and I just riding an ez temp for 10-15 miles.  Rollers here are more of the baby variety--momentum carries you over which Ward likes.  Saw some cyclists going the other way on an Erma's Diner ride.   Beautiful outside--fields of wild flowers in between stands of oaks.  No cars on a smoothly paved back road.  We were quickly in Ione at mile 20--the first rest stop on the century.  We rode out to the secret bathrooms in Ione, which we'll use on Sierra Century day skipping crowded rest stop 1.

(above) Ward enters Ione and heads towards secret bathrooms (below) Castle seen from Ione--tuns out to be now closed Preston Youth Correctional Facility.  This would be the GREATEST clubhouse ever if I could get 20 cyclists from club to buy this place.  (PC & WI)

Now spotted the huge Gothic structure on a hill--did I remember correctly that it was a woman's prision?  (Ward  couldn't wait and he 'I-Phoned' that it was now closed Preston Youth Correctional Facility.)  Now on another well paved, little traffic back road to Sutter Creek, filled with a series of momentum halting rollers--the kind that I usually like, but today my knees were protesting.  The ten miles to Sutter Creek seemed longer that than the first 20 miles, and we stopped at the secret bathrooms there--again a rehearsal for the Sierra Century.

On top of one roller on Sutter-Ione road (PC)
In Sutter Creek knee warmers and warmers permanently came off.  Picturesque movie set western town was crowded with holiday travelers.  But in a few minutes we were on the gentle uphill toward Volcano--fair but not paved as well as I like to recall, very occasional car passing, tree lined--brook running alongside.  Most of the 12 mile climb could be done very fast if you didn't ride Mt. Hamilton the day before--today Ward and I were very very lazy.

I'm enjoying one of the great 12 mile uphills on Volcano Road (WI)
Short video of a great ride up shaded, tree lined Volcano Road, with a creek running off to the side, and then entering the small jewel of Volcano.  One of the great uphills--very gradual 12 miles (until the end) and little traffic.  Road is a little rough so going down to Sutter Creek better to use Shake Ridge Road.  (PC & WI)
 Tiny Volcano with a Greek Theatre as awesome as always--nice and quiet once the Harley's left.  Just sitting on the porch of the general store eating PBJ sandwiches while watching the world go by.   We'd now have a 3 mile climb--Ram's Horn's Grade--which back in 2000 I thought would be the toughest I'd ever do (what are those crazy 100 milers talking about --a tougher climb called Slug Gulch later on) and a few more miles of annoying uphill rollers.  Suddenly engulfed in solid pine forest, great smell--except when asshole diesel pickup truck passed us and we got a faceful of black exhaust.    We were again real real lazy on the climb.

Sign for the bathrooms and mines and other area attractions in front of the Greek Theatre in Volcano (PC)
 At mile 49 one of the great 11 miles of road anywhere--the Fiddletown expressway.  When I hated and was afraid of downhills I loved this one--as downhill sections are punctuated by fast uphill rollers.  Ward and I were rejuvenated here and we took turns leading out and slamming into the next roller. 

Ward on Shake Ridge Road, @3,000', the earlier Oak trees have now given way to dense stands of  Pine trees. (PC)
Mile 60 Fiddletown rest stop, in the middle of an old Chinese mining town that is now desolate.  On the official metric route it is 6 miles, fairly flat, back to the start.  Ward suggested we go back a little longer way, another part of the 100 mile course we hadn't done on the self supported Sierra Century rides.  We'd do Tyler Road that led into a fairly flat shewed up road through a forest--at least fairly flat is what we remembered.  Glad Ward suggested this as he might have killed me if it had been my idea.

(above) Ward arrives in Fiddletown (below) Hurry up and get your Gold Country real estate.

It must be senility--Tyler Road had steeper rollers than anything that came before.  Oh yeah, I recalled dropping that ass in 2003 who made fun of my pie plate on the back--but soon we'd be in the pancake flat forest--but it wasn't pancake flat but filled with baby rollers.  At least our memory wasn't totally gone, we did correctly remember the road being chewed up.

Upon return, one of many winerys close to Plymouth (PC)
 We knew where we were when we came out on the major road near Mt. Aukum.  Main road did have lots of traffic so we took a detour--the Steiner Loop (not part of the Century route) and then the winery area on Shenandoah School Road.  Hell, if anyone came to visit and wanted to go to wineries I'd take them here instead of Napa--less crowded and just as picturesque.  Two miles back on main road with traffic and no shoulder and Ward has enough in him to pick up the speed to get us the hell out of there.

Great ride--great route--but to hard a course for a 2nd day to fully enjoy it.  

White Paper on the Sierra Century Route--emphasis on the lowland portion--by Ward Industry Travel Services (We did Leg 1-4.1 today)
Musings on the first bit of the Sierra Century.
Pumpkincycle Version-Section 1-Good Place to Attack
Section 2-Good Place to Attack
Section 3-Good Place to Attack, etc etc...
Ward Industries Version--See Below

Leg 1, Plymouth to Ione.
The first couple of miles outside of Plymouth are downhill on a semi twisty road with poor pavement and lots of potholes. At the start of the ride I expect there to be a lot of bike traffic going downhill with a lot of car traffic heading up towards Plymouth for later starting riders. The pavement tends to be better (smoother) near the centerline. This, in combination with lots of relatively inexperienced riders and significant differences in preferred speeds, could result in dangerous conditions. Be scared and watch out for riders going left of center to pass and for riders making unexpected swerves to avoid problem pavement.

After the road straightens there are a couple of rollers before the turn onto Hwy 16.

On Irish Hill Road, there are also some attention getting rollers with bad pavement.

Once again, crowded conditions and large variations in speed could cause problems.  Beware of folks who come to an almost stop on the way up the rollers.

Skipping the Ione Rest Stop (get some food at the start) and using the public toilet/water in “downtown” Ione is a great way to save 20, or more, minutes of messing about.

Leg 2, Ione to Sutter Creek to Volcano

The first stretch out of Ione is a gradual uphill on Hwy 124. This is not a difficult climb, but the shoulder is very bumpy so once again the temptation will be to ride on the traffic side of the fog line. Passing slower riders on this section could be problematic (w/o getting run over).

Sutter Ione Road, I forgot how much climbing was on this stretch. Only steep for a few short stretches but pretty unrelenting. Best to ride this at a steadyish pace and go steady on the false flats.

Sutter Creek - Volcano Road. Gradual uphill along Sutter Creek. The gradient kicks around 8 miles after leaving Sutter Creek (watch for the “Road Narrows” sign followed by “Fabio” painted across the road). After a short descent there is another, more significant, kick followed by a short descent into Volcano (cool little town).

Leg 3, Volcano to Fiddletown

The climb up Rams Horn is the hardest climb on the ride so far but the grade is pretty steady so find a comfortable pace. The main part of the climb is approximately 2 miles long and ends where there is a picnic area on the right side and Shake Ridge Road Tee’s in from the left (this is Daffodil Hill). Don’t be too happy because there is another kick just around the corner. Afterwards, it’s a gradual uphill to the Fiddletown Road turnoff (there used to be a water only stop up here someplace but I’d only stop if I was
very low on water).

The descending starts after turning onto Fiddletown road. Some of the corners are sharper than you might expect so watch your speed near the top of the hill. There are also a couple of oh’ shit rollers on the way down.

The rest stop is at the bottom of the hill.

Leg 4, Fiddletown to Fairplay (Tyler Road)
The stretch to Mt Aukum Road has more climbing in it than I remembered. A few steepish bits but more memorable because whenever you turn a corner it looks like the road goes up (that may be my tired legs talking). Lots of bad road surface back here along with narrow roads require care when passing other riders and especially if there is oncoming traffic (we saw 2 or 3 cars back there).

Leg 4.1, Fairplay to Omo Ranch Road / Indian Diggings School (top of Slug Gulch)

There used to be a water stop at the park by the turn onto Perry Creek Road. If you are low, fill up here since the next couple of miles will be strenuous. It might be time to eat a gel for some quick energy.

After leaving (or passing) the water stop, Perry Creek Road has some steep rollers.

When I first rode this section I thought to myself, “This slug gulch business is pretty easy”. Well after the steep rollers on Perry Creek, you turn left and find out what steep really is. Slug Gulch is kind of stair steppy (steep, then flattens, repeat). To me, the real climbing is over and the hammer can go down after the big S turn in the pine trees (after about 3 miles of climbing). Jay says that it gets easier as it goes up, but since fatigue sets in I’m not sure how much that helps (mentally maybe more than physically?).

If you’re doing the century, this is the end of the serious climbing (my best recollection) .

Leg 5

If you’re doing the 200k, you’ll do a mostly gradual climb through the pines, followed by a fast descent which takes you back to the top of the Fiddletown Freeway where you repeat the descent to the Fiddletown (tennis courts) rest stop.

Leg 6

Repeat the exit from Fiddletown but take the first left onto Ostrom Road. There are 3 or 4 steep little pitches on the way to Mt Aukum Road that will give your legs a few last chances to complain.

Depending on how they route this, there are a couple of ways to get off the main road for parts of this leg.

If you’re totally trashed, then follow the Metric route out of Fiddletown for a much flatter return to Plymouth

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Davis Double (2012)

Century (or more) #16 of 2012
(May 19, 2012) Davis Double, 202 miles, 17.1 avg, @8,000' climbing, start with Jack, Grizzly Mark, Grizzly Chris and Grizzly Eric--in two hours we'd be scattered along the course.  5:20-6:33. 

Pleasant sign greats riders at registration--not crabby do's and don'ts--this sets a great tone for the ride
Lots of cyclists ready to try a Double begin with the Davis Double as they heard 1) its an easier route and 2) its better supported than most other 200 mile rides.  #1 really isn't true-there are a few Doubles with less climbing, and the real climbing at Davis is unshaded the heat of the day.  It is certainly harder than Solvang.  But regarding #2, support is unique and first rate.  While there are other doubles offering great support for experienced Doubles riders, Davis has the most rest stops--about 1 each 20 miles, frequent sag wagons, the most riders on the course so you rarely feel that you are along, and a route that is easy to follow.  It's almost run like an extended Century ride.  Its not timed--start when you want.  NO Hammer Sustained Energy at the rest stop but pretzels and fig newtons and Nutella spread between vanilla wafers and plenty of soda varieties. 

Day before take a nice 40 mile roundtrip ez spin between Davis and Winters--here you can see the excitement  of the beginning and end of the Davis Double (though we don't pass the bicycle sculpture.)    Kinda like a Soviet Union Progress film from the 1950's if it was in B&W.

I never finish Davis feeling well, reaching my own level of incompetence jumping on faster and faster pacelines in the pancake flat final 30 miles that is very familiar from the first 30 miles.  Its just hotter--much hotter.  Sometimes its 100+.   So this year I swore off doing paceline jumping at the end of the ride.
This would be a good place to talk about the nature of the Course.  The good parts of the blue, neutral greenthe parts that suck are in red.

35 miles--pancake flat around the ag fields of Davis, which eventually gets toWinters
20 miles--After Winters rollers and climb and descent of Cardiac Hill into the next valley, challenging but not a killer, passed often by boats pulling trailers
20 miles-Pope Valley Napa--flat, tree shaded crappy road punctuated by some baby rollers and 3 miles of a back road with recumbent friendly (NOT) rollers.  Very light traffic
20 miles-Lake County--rollers become serious, road becomes well paved, traffic stays light.
10 miles-slightly uphill goes into a steep climb up Cobb Mountain, in full sun during the heat of the day on a road with heavy traffic
12 miles of steep descent of Cobb Mountain punctuated by rollers leading to a fast backroad into Lower Lake lunch spot.
30 miles where wind seemingly picks up on a flat run in to Resurrection, like Cobb also wide open, like Cobb heavy traffic, but not nearly as steep.
3 mile downhill off Resurrection on a major road with an iffy shoulder and pissed off drivers
20 miles in Upper Cache Creek, suddenly warm in the valley but road is good and light traffic, fast roller run in to Guidna rest stop
15 miles continue past Cache Creek Casino, will warm but now with a crosswind.  Traffic rapidly picks up on a boring, mostly flat road with no shoulder.
25 miles back in farm country--similar to the initial portion of the day.  But now crosswind has picked up, its hot and few riders in view until a paceline comes roaring by.  At least traffic has lessen from the godawful area around Cache Creek.

I'm sure someone will add the above up and find out I'm off 3 miles or so, but you can get an idea of the Course from the above.  Almost as many crap miles as good miles, and the crap miles are packed at the end of the ride.

 Meanwhile--surely a signposting of our aging Club, the whole turnout for Davis was a grand.....2.   A few years back we had the four newbies trying to get Triple Crown status on this ride joined by Jack, the grizzled cycling veteran, on regular bicycles; while another handful of Diablo Cyclists, the doubles veterans, we're on the course on fixed gear.   So it was kind of a shock when we had our lowest turnout, by far, on this.    But maybe a sign of the times--Erma's Diner, who I got the ride report idea from years ago, hasn't updated their ride reports in a half year.  Meanwhile, on the Davis Double, a younger rider from the Capitol City area blanched when I asked him if he was the Sacramento Wheelmen.."no, they're an older club, they've had a big falling off of people who do rides like this."  

I emailed Grizzly Mark of the Grizzly Peak Cyclists, who I always seem to ride with at some point on Doubles, and he suggested that Jack and I start with his group which would hopefully be 10.  There we could ride in a good paceline to at least the 1st rest stop, and then people could figure out what they wanted to do once the hills started.  This sounded good as figured Jack & I wouldn't stay together for most of the day--he skips every other rest stop, and while I skip a few, after blasting in and out of DMD stops, I wanted to enjoy the rest stops and dawdle if need by--especially the LUNCH stop which Jack always skips.

Met up with Grizzly Mark and his gang, who only had 2 other riders with him--Mark has a great tactical sense and plan was to just go at our speed, so we'd do a 5 man paceline with 1 minute pulls; and we wouldn't mind pulling other folks but we'd insist on staying on the front.   One problem was that Jack and I had our Diablo Cyclist kits an Mark's friends wore off the shelf kits, so Mark was only person with a Bright Yellow Grizzly Peak kit---much easier to stay together when everyone is wearing same Club jersey.

With no mass start there would be new Doubles riders taking off at 4:00-4:30.  We'd take off at 5:20.  So no matter how fast you are going at the beginning you'd be coming upon many people on the road.  And tandems fly through the initial part of the course, so there would also be long pacelines flying past--usually camped behind a tandem.
Me being a cold wuzz, and it being 50 and damp during the initial 30 miles around the ag fields of Davis, I brought arm warmers/ knee warmers/ sock liners/ tree shirt and vest--and the handlebar bag to stuff it all in later.  I didn't want to ride with the handlebar bag but figured it would be good practice for Alta Alpina.  As Davis has a potpourri of sports drink mix at their rest stops, luck of the drawer at any specific stop, I loaded up Cliff Electrolyte powder and extra Chomps for when it got hot--and I'm glad I did.  (I sent Cliff Electrolyte power up ahead in my drop bag--in retrospect I should have sent Perpetuem ahead also so I could have had a nice cold shake at mile 163.  Always learning something in each Double.)

Just when I though no "action" photos of me taken--saw a video on U-Tube by rider who latched onto my wheel around Cache Creek late in the day--watch the video, especially 4:40-5:00 ((above) peloton towards Cardiac) and 14:02-14:12 ((below) Cache Creek area, where my cadence down to 27 rpm)  CLICK HERE

Our gang of five started off at 20 mph and Mark was planning to get us to extend, when one of the group dropped a water bottle.  We all ducked behind a larger group while the water bottle was retrieved and we could regroup while rolling.  Once we did Mark signaled us to go to the front and pick up the speed--and then it was a steady 21-24 for endless after endless flat mile.  Only time we slowed was when passing up the first rest stop at mile 23--to safely get around the numerous early morning starters standing around all over the road. 

Cardiac Climb--nicest climb of the day before it heats up.  Some traffic but not the crazy madhouse on the road as in the afternoon.
All of a sudden I'm in the front, pulling at about 22 when a huge paceline came roaring past--I picked up the speed to get on the train--so did Mark, but was hard to figure out where our other 3 guys were.  Slowed a little when we roared into Winters past a house with great statuary where I dare not dig out the camera.  Then still a fast pace up the gentle uphill out of town and towards the Cardiac Climb.  Its now about mile 40, still very damp and cool, and I had to whizz 10 miles ago.  I'm also downing my bottles quickly.  At the first staging area with outhouse we pass I tell Mark I'm pulling off.  Already large line by bathroom, and no water, I just should have pulled off closer to Cardiac near the side of the road and I would have a chance to rejoin the tail end.  But I didn't and paceline long gone up gentle rollers by the time I got back on the road.  At that point average speed close to 21mph for first 41 miles. 

Rest of first 90 miles uneventful--as noted above course is quite good and rode with alot of really nice folks.
-Rode up Cardiac with guy who knew me (ridden infrequently with our Club on Wednesday nite) who was leaving the next day for some mountain riding in Colorado.  We shared high altitude sickness information.
--Down to Pope Valley rode with a couple of Double vets from Orange County, guy was on a retro bike with a retro water bottle.  We slammed some rollers until guy said he best wait for his wife.
--Joined by Mark's clubmate as we rode toward Pope Valley rest stop #3 at mile 76.
--Drafted behind a recumbent right before the Pope Valley rest stop who had done part of Alta Alpina last year. 
Hubcap Ranch--the start of great riding North of Pope Valley. Who knew there is so much folk art from the Bronx.
So far I had bypassed rest stop #1 and stayed awhile at rest stop #2 peeling off all the extra clothes I had taken, so I figured I'd pass rest stop #3.

Two 508 riders--one planning to do 508 with a mixed team on fixed gear.  Riding with them on best part of the course made this section go by to fast. 
Next section, from Pope Valley to Middletown--mile 76 to 95--easily best part of ride.  Soon at the country line where poor Lake County does great job paving roads, virtually no traffic and rollers become longer but not killer steep.  Joined up with Mad Cow--a friendly 508 rider and we just bs'd about long distance riding and the next 10 miles vanished quickly.  We then caught up to Pudu, another 508 rider who is crazy enough to ride it on his FIXED GEAR.  Another good guy and I listened in while they talked about the 508.  Near Middletown a paceline caught us, and then we all scrambled into town with them after f'ing up the first turn in 40 miles--we had all forgotten how to read course markings.

Still life of rest stop food.
Stopped at Middletown and downed a soda, refilled bottles, plastered on the latex paint also known as sun tan lotion 50.  It was now gonna get HOT.  Funny story--though kinda inside joke.  In a series of satirical emails, Dr. Dave suggested he'd tell his recumbent buddy to yell out George Hincapie--as that would slow me down as this would lead me into a discussion of Paris Roubaix 2001 & 2002.  Well, at the rest stop a guy who climbed Sierra Road with me on DMD said "you remind me of George Hincpie--with those bulging veins in your leg."   Guy wasn't on a 'bent or I'd blame Dr. Dave for instigating.

Ride thinned out going up Cobb Mountain--annoying as there is a narrow shoulder with a car/ truck racing up in close proximity.  I just settled into a nice rhythm.  Passed through mile 100 without notice which is a good sign--as when you watch the odometer slowly turn over you're in trouble with 100 miles to go.  Soon at the top and I just rolled into the rest stop, never getting off the bike, to refill with water and grab a banana to eat while eating.  Shades of DMD.

Grizzly Mark ready to leave lunch. 
Twisty-steep downhill that leads into a secluded road.  Past the old route climb--Siegler Canyon--that was scenic, not as steep with hardly any traffic--unfortunately the road now looks like its from post-WW II bombed out Belgium and has never been repaired.  The road I was on was fast, warning signs AND a great Davis Double volunteer warned of a sudden gravel patch.  A girl with a 2004 Death Ride jersey and I played cat and mouse--she'd zoom past on the downhill, fast sections and I'd catch and pull on the flat sections.  Both happy when lunch appeared at Lower Lake High School, mile 118, with the nice shaded lawn area.

Ward didn't do this ride but I think he made these signs at the lunch stop.

The Doug Special sandwich--look at all those veggies and condiments.

...or maybe Ward made this sign...
When I pulled in Grizzly Mark was just pulling out.  He had no clue what happened to his compatriots.  Then when I was pulling out the last person I ever expected to see roll in was Jack--the 3-4 times I've ridden the Davis Double with him he has ALWAYS skipped lunch.  Sitting on the shaded parklike campus--I would have been happy to call it a day and camp out here for the rest of the weekend,  At lunch I had my hungry man's special huge plate--one slice of bread--two slices of cold cuts.  Diet soda and a banana.  More latex paint suntan lotion and it was time to go.

Now on Part 1 of the dog miles.  We're near Clearlake but lake is hidden from view by lots of strip malls.  Shoulder riding with lots of traffic around.   Killed time bs'ing with a rider from Folsom who had done DMD 4x--twice high finishes--twice DNF'd.    When we got to Ressurection he said he was going to slow for a friend to catch up.  A little headwind so mid climb another guy and I started trading pulls.  We passed one guy wearing cleated sandles and I tossed out a joke ("my Bierkenstocks go on AFTER the ride.")  no response.  Another guy was in full leggings and long sleeves in the heat of the day.  He looked as happy as the Bierkenstock guy.

Short stop at the top of Ressurection in order to fill bottles and down another soda.  Downhill off Resurection not pretty--an alluring wide shoulder suddenly gets too narrow or has two much crap to ride in, while pick em up trucks are bombing down the road and cursing if you have to get into the lane.  I got behind two guys and a girl and work to stay with them on the fast downhill as they afre both picking out good lines and there is safety in numbers.

We finally turned into rustic Upper Cache Creek--the final good section of the ride.  Two guys were from Monta Vista Velo Cycling Race Club and woman was from a race team in Livermore.  One guy wanted to pull, was strong, asked for no help, and never slowed down--and unlike earlier in the day I wasn't about to offer any unsolicited help.     I remembered back to my first Davis Double 2004 where I tried my hardest to hang barely on the back of a hsuband-wife racing team paceline--today has to extend some effort but was a real enjoyable ride.  Only thing was teh bottom of my feet weren't quite hurting but were "buzzing.  And, as usual, I was downing my drink like crazy in this hot valley and drained both my bottles just before we reached the 8th rest stop (rest stop #7+ Lunch) in Guinda. mile 163. 

If I didn't want to leave Lower Lake earlier I really didn't want to leave the Guinda rest stop.  Rest of route is generally unpleasant.   But this rest stop is nice and shaded with a great rest stop worker who shouted out encouragement in 2004 when I was ready to quit.  Took shoes off  for the first time all day.  Another soda.  Got drop bag just filled with more Chomps and Cliff Endurolyte drink mix.  Maybe should have packed some Perpetuem and mixed a cold shake as leaving stop was real real thirsty--a bad sign as thirst is usually the first sign that my body is shutting down and I wouldn't be able to eat.

We passed a general store and I SHOULD HAVE stopped and gone inside for a frozen fruit bar--I then kicked myself a half dozen times in the next few miles after I didn't.  Was still thirsty, suddenly lots of traffic with crosswind didn't help my mood.  One guy latched onto my wheel and took short pulls to keep semi-honest.  Arrive past Cache Creek Casino with this multi level garage in the middle of nowhere.  Moe traffic.  No shoulder.  Some rollers come up and I keep a steady pace and my shadow drops back.   More cars zoom by..  This sucks.  Eventually we'll get to a town called Capay, unique that it has a bricked in shoulder, and vow that I'm going to stop at the first grocery I see for the frozen fruit bat I should have bought 15 miles back.

About 3 miles from town a lage peloton cames roaring by--shit, it would have been nice if they arrived 20 minutes ago.  Ask someone with an Alta Alpina bike club jersey what weather conditions are there now and what he expects for the Alta Alpina Double (little snow-most roads now open.)    When we get to Capay I drop out of the group and make a beeline for the first market--who among tons of ice cream have one flavor of frozen fuit bars--coconut--my favorite--SCORE. Lady in market is amazed at how many miles ridden on the Davis Double.

Life goes by as I eat my frozen fruit bar,
Coconut frozen fruit bars taste 5x as good at mile 177 than at most other times and was kind of surreal standing in the shade of the grocery muching on the frozen fruit bar while every two minutes 2-3 cyclists would hammer by. 

Shortly after Copay is the turn off towards the farmland of Davis-Winters, and another big paceline came hammering up.  Only 4 miles from next rest stop and a young guy with a UC Davis kit was having trouble hanging on, so when he dropped off so did I and we just bs'd to the rest stop--he was cramping and I introduced him to a standard of most endurance rides--Mr. Tums.

Oh my god---a giant hill coming up towards the end of Davis.  Think it goes up 2500'.
More hydration at rest stop #9 at mile 181--same rest stop as #1 which we passed up earlier in the day.  In the morning crowded as hell, now just a few riders--half looking beat.  There is one more rest stop after this but planned on skipping it so this was it.  Had another slice of bread/ slice of deli meat sandwich made.   Good--still have an appetite.

Now crosswinds/ headwinds  and similar roads going 21-27 mphs on earlier with peloton now going at 15.  Now my feet are noticed how rough the farm roads are.  If there were cobblestones this would be a perfect Paris Roubaix setting.  Only redeeming feature is that sparse traffic and Davis area drivers the greatest--pass by giving you 6-8'.    I was debating whether to keep my promise or jump on any fast moving paceline and fry myself--when a moderate small group came by with one guy doing all of the pulling.   Hell, I was miserable riding by myself in the wind so I jumped on.  Most of the group bailed at the last rest stop, which is only 8 miles from the finish--so I continued on with  the guy who had pulled.  Now running just a two man I shared some of the work and we hoped for no more turns to the East, where the wind was coming from.  Soon near Davis proper where three guys came by wearing "if you can read this take a pull" shorts, and we joined them and all joked that all clubs have a wheel sucker who will suddenly sprint off, and each club then names "wheel sucking" with that person's name.
Suddenly back at the start where most riders go straight to checkin. But as custom I went to my car, changed my clothes, call my wife, put away the bike, downed a coconut water, and......felt like shit.
So, like all Davis Doubles where I feel worse than at the end of Devil Mountain or Mt Tam Double or other much harder ones (OK, my legs more sore on the climbing doubles but I don't feel as beaten up with my heart racing as I do in Davis), I went to the lawn nearby and just laid out for a half hour.

Guys that came by who took us into Davis had a tag line on their shorts we may add to our Club's.
Eventually I went in to check in, and nibbled on some pasta.  No one in that I knew. Hung out a little while longer and Jack arrived--taking his customary HUGE plate of foot.  I grabbed 4-5 deserts--frozen fruit bars, and bs'd with Jack a while longer.  Found out that Grizzly Mark finished an hour earlier and then rode back to the last rest stop for their customary chili--but this year they had NONE.  Another Davis Double down the toilet--a ride run by a GREAT club, with great support,  but it is either 30 miles too long or 1,000' climbing with little traffic has to be added somewhere at the end.  Along with a few members of my bike club.  I'll only do this one again if we ride it as a group.  Otherwise the 300k Davis Brevet--that does an out and back on the first half of the course, the good section, will be a good alternative.

Postscript--annoying problem on Davis Double.  About 4x an hour my chain would briefly skip over the cassette, or so it feeled.  Jolt and then sudden slowdown.  Real pain when in the morning paceline and sat up more than I like up Cobb/ Resurrection, as jolt standing on climbs shocks the legs.  Thought it was just mismatched old chain and new cassette on new Stan/ King wheel.  Had checked chain with tool and it did supposedly have 1/2 life left.  So took it to Robinson Wheel Works, they replaced the chain though indicating by their measure old chain wasn't dead......and then they discovered that King Hub had a helix problem, machined incorrectly, so there was a dead spot in the hub.    Glad it was found before Alta Alpina.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tour of California-Amgen Race-On Mt Diablo (2012)

I used to like the pro race in SF---where they'd go around a half dozen times and do some short but steep hills--it was like a moving fest as we'd kick around SF until the riders came by again.  I don't know about being in a crowd, waiting for 2 hours, and see the peloton go by in 20 seconds.   So hours after the TOC went over Mt. Diablo, I went up on bicycle, and except for the two helicoptors still buzzing around it was dead quiet.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Palomares-Patterson Pass Double Metric (2012)

Century #15  Redwood Road (Club Ride) + Palomares (Bonus Mile Group) + Patterson Pass (Double Secret Probation Bonus Mile Group.  122 miles, 16.1 MPH avg.  w/ Toby (Double Bonus Mile Group,)  Ward, Christine, Dr. Dave, California Mike (Bonus Mile Group)

I was in heaven today.  Very warm forecast.*  No carrying a shitload of clothes, knee warmers etc needed in the morning.   Flexible and could stay in the drops for a long time.  Breathing good--no sign of EIA.  I was ready to ride all day.  (*Warm but not oppressive--high for Livermore Airport was 89)  Lighter Domo Farm Freites socks replace heavier Lion of Flanders socks.  Sleeveless jersey.  Pearl Isumi In-R-Cool shorts--regularly not the most comfortable pad but they really do a nice job in very warm weather.

It was also nice waking up at 6:30 for a 9:00 ride--as the last 3 rides necessitated a 2:15, 3:15 and 4:15 wakeup.

Toby at St. George Ironman--water cold and choppy so Toby abandon freestyle and took up the Jesus stroke. 
Some long absent bonus mile teammates on the ride today.  Mike is off building a hospital on the other side of the bay, though he probably has more job stress than everyone else combined he was in his usual good humor.  Toby back from a major tri event--St George Ironman--where he placed in the top 25%.  He was disappointed today that he couldn't swim in freezing water before our ride.

Jeanne ready to play tennis after the bike ride (Christine)
I wanted to do 100 miles and hoped for 125.  Also hoped for a frozen fruit bar.  So this meant we had to abandon the Club Ride in Castro Valley--climb Palomares from the hard side, and then wind up in Sunol--a great rest stop that allows for assorted bonus mile routes.  I'm no longer surprised when my WORST miles of the day are my first 5-10, whereas I never expect to do long miles at the beginning of our rides and often wonder how I'll even do 40 miles. 

Christine zooms by the Castro Valley golf course.
Loads of riders out on the road today.  Saw some long lost Club members doing their own thing going the opposite way on Redwood Road/ Palomares Road.   After getting a little sweaty on the Palomares climb the air conditioned descent was worth $1,000,000.   Then nice paceline UP Niles Canyon Road to Sunol--it is easier riding up the gentle grade than down as always have a Westerly wind.  Cyclists weren't the only people out en masse.  Seemed that there were more cars on this busy road than usual.

In Sunol the international man of mystery, Rusty, made a brief appearance.  We admired Dr. Dave's new Gold Bike Chain, and enjoyed frozen fruit bars.   Gold chain aside, Dr. Dave running Stan No Tube Rims--same as me though I run a tube in them and he doesn't.  Found out that if running them with no tubes, and you get a flat, you still have to put in a tube as almost impossible to pump up with a hand pump.  But the rims are lighter than Mavic Open Pros and offer the same nice soft ride.    Mike has a carbon wheelset which makes a 'wosh-wosh' noise, but he seems to like them though he's not sure he'd do a brevet with them yet.  Ward, our 'failure analysis' expert, has carbon rims on order.  If both Mike and Ward give the thumbs up to doing long rides with them then I'll also consider them and start saving for them with my next bike (ETA 2014.)

One cycling group was out running an organized ride and one of their rest stop workers welcomed me to dig in to their stash of Cliff Bars and Shot Blocks--as a warm day took a handful of Shot Blocks which came in handy on the ride.  I was definitely enjoying the warm day more than most--when I suggested Patterson Pass there were no takers--I think off his revolt in Santa Rosa last week Dr. Dave led another one.  Only Toby was game.

(above) While Dr. Dave says "NO" to Patterson Pass he does say "YES" to frozen fruit bars (below) ..and "YES" to disco bling on his bike

Mike and Dave relaxing in Sunol (Christine)
We still had to transverse Pleasanton and most of Livermore together--and nice group ride.  We pulled another group up Sunol-Pleasanton Blvd and they were unhappy when we turned off to do the Happy Valley Road loop.  It was more like the Hectoring Valley Road Loop as Christine, Mike and I started in about SF vs Oakland sports teams (maybe Dr. Dave's gold chain came from JaMarcus Russell.)  More riding through Pleasanton-Livermore followed and finally the turnoff where Toby and I parted ways with the rest of he gang.

We took the Greenville Cutoff road that Christine chose a few weeks back where we found one general store--today we needed water and the store was closed for remodeling but guy was luckily selling some drinks out of a shed off to the side.  As described in other posts the run in to Patterson Pass is one of the great 12 miles in the Bay area--smooth road--almost no traffic--gentle wind aided climb.  Though Toby had ridden this route often before his tri event-he didn't know about the sorted history of Altamont Speedway and the Rolling Stones.  Maybe because it was warm, or maybe because my DMD and his St George was over and didn't need to train hard, we just rode pace bs'ing about kids, bike riding in Italy, the great Sierra Century coming up, and training for events.  We both never expected to do the events we've done this year--if anyone had told us 10 years ago we'd be doing Devil Mountain Double or St George Ironman we would have told the person they were nuts.

Got to Patterson Pass at our mile 80 today and planned for a 45 minute climb--as though very light headwind I figured the warmth and the miles would have us chugging a little.  I was wrong; climb was closer to 30 minutes--cooled off by the strong breeze every time passed by the MF motorcycling doing time trials up and down Patterson Pass.
(above) Toby on Patterson Pass (below) Toby and I unfurl the traditional banner when Dr. Dave is absent from his favorite recumbent friendly climb--Patterson Pass.

  Rest of ride was beautiful but uneventful.  Practically all downhill into Livermore--must have been warm as I drained my water bottles 4 miles short of the downtown library which would be our last rest stop.  Along route we were on were frequent signs alerting whatever drivers existed (hope the nut in the motorcycle can read) about the pro bike race taking place in a few days.

I like riding the Amgen race course more than waiting around for 2 hours in a crowd and then seeing the riders for 2 minutes.  So was jazzed that we pre rode part of a stage today
It couldn't have been that hot--as Toby had a HOT coffee at the Livermore Library.  Both he and I have no clue about the zig zag route smarter people in our club take to leave Livermore so we went through heavy traffic in downtown to get out of town.  Then backroads back to Blackhawk/ Danville where we were  too soon back in suburbia.   Now at mile 120 and felt real good.  Great group and great day of cycling.