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.

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