Monday, June 25, 2012

Stupid Injuries and Pre Alta Alpina

Sierra Century last week was a big party--but Alta Alpina is the one ride I'm nervous about as I didn't finish it last year.  I really can't do more training this year than I've done--though if I would have kept my big mouth shut--mostly while pushing papers at work--I should have been about 5 lbs less.

Idea was to go to the top of Mt. Diablo after work Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday night and Patterson Pass self supported century this Saturday--and then taper.  Plan went down the toilet for two reasons..

Strange arch-calf strain injury
Beautiful hot weather morphed into Wizard of Oz (high wind) weather.

Day after weather station confirmed 97 (though Ward and Dr. Dave Garmin Confirm 107) dry Sierra Century, took a long walk with Mrs. Pumpkincycle around San Francisco.  Not sure how far we walked but did a nice chunk of the Northeast section--and hitting every hill.  Plan was to go to the Golden Gate Bridge--as US Open watchers saw on Sierra Century day, it was 80 degrees and sunny in the fog belt of San Francisco.   Next day the weather was warm and sunny where we live so we decided on shorts and short sleeve shirts--never a good bet in San Francisco outside September.  Instead of usual walking shoes figured I may as well wear my sneakers, which have never been outside (use on ski machine trainer.)

(1) Modern art in front of classic San Francisco (2) Painted ladies by Alamo Square--supposedly area is inundated with tour buses  (3) Next century ride I'm signing up for--check out the size of the wheels on the skates (4) I'm trying to figure out what SF Giant staue I'm leaning against (5) Donnie by Buena Vista Park--downtown is somewhere in the cloud in the background. 
When we got to San Francisco it was sunny, cool and breezy--for about an hour.  Then the sun went away and it got cold and breezy.  Golden Gate Bride was scrapped so we did a Civic Center-Noe Valley-Alamo Square-Clement Street-Golden Gate Park-Buena Vista Heights-Civic Center walk.  We did see a great cheep (sic) dating move--some guy was walking down the street and stopping in front of any house with a flower bed and adding to a self created bouquet.

 Don't know how we kept warm--probably still burning up after yesterday.  Except for usual shin splints when we do our bonzai walks wasn't feeling bad.  THE NEXT DAY couldn't step down on my arch, it was killing me.

Especially bad when I wore my summer hippie shoes-Birkenstock--to work, so stopped.  Not to bad when cycling after I got going but standing and clipping in hurt so only went to the Junction on Monday & Tuesday--where met with the arriving cold headwind.  By Wednesday pain had disappeared from arch but had moved to my calf???  What the F--but I'm on Kaiser and they know nothing about sports medicine.  (Don't me tell the story about the goofball Kaiser physical therapist)  On Wednesday went straight up the mountain with a heavily taped calf--and then its been Aleve, ice and calf wrap every day. 

This brings us to the Diablo Cyclists Saturday ride which was a metric century over Morgan Territory--where Patterson Pass would have been a perfect bonus add on.  But after two days of doing nothing but rest the first 20 miles of the ride was grueling--my left leg--usually my good one, felt like dead weight as my bad right leg did all the work.  Luckily decided ride pace and not try to contest any climbs which would have been ridiculous.

Then, while concerned about my leg I slowed for a light and the guy behind plowed into the back of my bike.  Of course he went down, I almost went down also but did a quick save--but not before I visualized an accident which would put me out of the Alta Alpina.  He also managed to hook his handlebars into my spokes--so one came out looking like a Pablo Picasso.  Wheel still rideable after opening the brake and just kept going at pace to settle down--blowing off our first rest stop.

Morgan climb was painful but nice through the shelter of the trees--gusty other side on the descent.   When we regrouped to decide bonus miles--someone said 'today Patterson Pass would be the WORST choice to do' --no doubt the windmills were churning around like eggbeaters denoting a stiff headwind.   So we decided on Del Valle Reservoir, which has a nice medium type climb to get both in and out of--and Ward, Dr. Dave, Christine, Jack, bonus mile alumni Super Joe and bonus mile perpetual motion machine rookie Rebecca set out.

No long ride report as we didn' do a self supported Century--just coming in around 90 miles.  Good riding group as we all stayed together until Jack decided he wanted to check out the night life in Sunol and turned off.  Each way into and out of Del Valle we were met with a strong head/ crosswind--perfect Carson Pass training.  Christine got her wish from a few months ago, finally  another woman in the group so they could talk about shoe shopping etc...except either Christine or Rebecca were taking solo flyers off the front, so they weren't talking much while Ward-Dave and I were  bs'ing.

Del Valle campground was crowded but didn't look appealing.  The good news is on the Del Valle Climbs my leg finally STOPPED feeling weird and climbing wasn't uncomfortable.  Maybe I needed to get loose, maybe the Aleve I took earlier kicked in.

(above) (1) Early on its a Super Joe sighting--rumor is he voted 10x for our club to have a white kit (2) Ward starting the Mogan Territory plunge.  (below) (1) Rebecca, (2) Christine & Joe, (3) Dr Dave and Ward, climbing out of the Del Valle beachfront

Ride back on Collier was into a stiff wind and the group did a nice job keeping the paceline together.  Felt the best I did all day at mile 75 so when we reached the turnoff I departed to do Mt. Diablo from the easy (South) side.  Mt Diablo isn't as nice on the weekend with the auto traffic (that likes to pass on blind curves)as is is after work, but it wasn't as windy as I expected (except by the heliport) and had a nice ride up.  I stopped at the Junction, I should have gone the Juniper overlook a few miles further--and then I could consider this ride a "Chico Self Supported Century."--but it would be windy above so I didn't.  

Then next day, with winter training wheel while spoke is fixed on other one, Ward, I and club member Todd (see Sequoia video) started with the Club to the "midwest" town of Crockett.  Miss Crockett was running around outside the bar area sticking out of her shirt--Ward was thankful that we didn't bring cameras. 

Instead of coming back with the cub on a dirt road that is falling into the sea, where I pictured my flying off it right before Alta Alpina, we toured other old factory town, Pinole, and then continued onto the Three Bears--nice rustic hills (guess how many) in the middle of Contra Costa County.    Leg a little sore but nothing bad. 

Was going to ride up Mt Diablo Monday and Tuesday at an ez pace, and shut it down for Wednesday and Thursday before doing the great Blue Lakes Road preride on Friday, but with an eye toward resting my calf more I'll stay off the bike on Monday also. 

Now time to get menu together for two days in cabin prior to Alta Alpina.  After cool windy bounce this weekend early forecast looks like temperature takes a strong hikes back up for next weekend but not nearly the heat wave of last--with NO sudden mountain storms predicted.   Good.  Toby signed up for it also and though he's never done a double, he's done a number of national triathlon events and he's sure we'll finish.  He practiced pacing a 60+ guy at Western States this past weekend, so plenty of practice for pacing me next week.  But that is what Dr. Dave tried last year when my ride went to crap on pass #6 after we took it soooo easy.   I just have to keep reminding myself I trained well--and forget I'm 5 lbs to heavy.   Should get alot of sleep this week--so what the F am I doing up at midnight writing this?

Monday--5 days to go--I was a good boy and stayed off the bike.  Calf sore when I woke up but under wrap and one dose of Aleve felt ok the rest of the day.  Resumed weighed backward knee curls which I stopped doing last week--I've faithfully done these on non-ride days since 2002 when an orthopedist recommended them so the rest of my right leg could compensate for a partially torn ACL.

 Weighed all my wheels and interesting how much a tricked out clincher can save in the rear.  All weights given below INCLUDE VREDESTEIN tyre, usually Ultergra 12-25 or 12-27 cassette, and non-Performance basic tube, skewer (and valve nut and cap which I keep on, and BRASS nipples instead of alloy crap that fails--see, I'm not a total weight weenie)

Front wheel
Stan Rim--King (race) Hub-1000 grams
American Classic 420-------1020g (too stiff for long rides, I use this on my fixie)
Open Pro Rim--King (classic) Hub-1110g
Open Pro Rim--NON butted spokes-Ultegra Hub-1160g

Rear Wheel
Stan Rim--King Hub--1420 grams
American Classic 420-1470g (as bad as the front wheel is, this is my favorite rear wheel)
Open Pro Rim--NON butted spokes-Ultegra Hub-1620g
CXP 33 Rim-NON butted spokes-Ultegra Hub-1700g

Tuesday-4 days to go.  Unique ride today, Ward, Toby and I went up Mt. Diablo, 3/4 to the top.  EZ pace--at least for Ward and I--Toby doing intervals.  OK--nothing unique about riding Diablo but this time we actually enjoyed Diablo withOUT riding.  I said we were going to picnic at Juniper but I was the only person who brought picnic food--a Protein Power Waffle and Coconut Water.  Next time to slow Toby down we have him carry the bag of charcoal and hibatchi.  (Unfortunately he is going back to England soon so we wouldn't have this chance.)

Climb up was OK.  Left leg "dead" again at beginning--today area behind knee hurt and wrapped calf was sore.  But loosened up by the time we were doing a brisk pace on the flats.   Not too sore after the ride but I'll take tomorrow and Thursday (the normal rest day) off so I can self obsess about packing where I KNOW I must be forgetting something.

Was warm in the sun but cool on the climb when the wind gusted--we found a table at Juiper that was effectively blocked from the wind.   We split the Protein Power Waffle and wound up bs'ing for 3 hours.  Eventually Ward said he was hungry and someone looked at their watch and good god--we were there almost to 5pm.

(1) Ward, (2) Toby arrive at a near empty Junction
 (3) We're all at Juniper
Overlook (4) Power Waffle Picnic
Long talk about PED's in the competative triathlete field that Toby is in.   We didn't get it.  All of us understand why a professional athlete would take PEDS.  Bigger contract--increased fame.  We don't condone it but we can understand it.  But some amature taking PED's so they can have boasting rights on message boards, where being the best triatelete or best Doubles rider is like being the best accordion player.  Why?

Then talk about bike equiptment, evolution of Diablo Cyclists in the past few years, and the upcoming Alta Alpina Double.  Afternoon went by much too quickly.

Wednesday-3 Days to Go  Saw the goddess of massage in the AM, Janelle, who I've now known for 14 years.  Great when you know a massage therapist, as they know you and how much pain you can endure.  When I leave her I feel so loose its as if I can tie myself into a pretzel.  First thing she said "how did you get the bruise on the back of your knee?"--the place that hurt me yesterday.  I didn't know a had a bruise on the back of my knee.

Good news is that a combination of hot weather and not mindlessly eating at work had me drop a few pounds since last Friday.  When I first started doing crazy rides, I'd carbo load (starve myself for a week before an event, and then eat 80% carbs the day before.)  I don't carbo load now, and I'm sure my eating will pick up tomorrow when we hit the cool mountain air.  Taking lots of waffle mix and pasta with me.

Alta Alpina folks sent out the route sheet today, and I see where I freaked out for no reason last year.  Was climbing Ebbets @2:30 last year and got scared that I'd miss the 3:00 cutoff.   In my delerious state I thought the cutoff to get to the 13 miles to the top was 3:00, not the actual 5:30.    After a lousy climb made it to the top at 3:50.

Rest stop miles taped to top tube.   Running down long checklist to make sure I don't forget anything--a little thing may be critical.  Thought I was done with bike equiptment prep NOT using the checklist and then saw I forgot "Mount Helmet Light Holder."  Disaster if I forgot that.

OK--now nitetime sitting on the porch--remembered to take the Lebanese Couscous for the preride dinner, remembered to look print out the cutoff times and the times I reached the peaks of the climbs last year before I died on Pass #5.   Now thinking back to how many times I did the Death Ride (5 passes on same course as Alta Alpina--though in a different order.)  2003-just learning to climb and scared shitless when I did a self supported 4 pass ride.  2004-year of depression, but best climbing year, when I did the first official Death Ride, with a 6th bonus pass thrown in. 2005-2009, did the 5 pass Death Ride 4 of the 5 years (one year did the tougher Climb to Kaiser instead.), all easy except for one when I came in with back and foot problems.   2010-lightest weight ever, didn't do Alta Alpina as broke shoulderblade a month prior.   2011-Felt great on pass 1-4 then suddenly like shit on pass 5, and pulled over to watch the sunset on pass 6.   Had ridden longer than on any previous Death Ride, but disappointed/ puzzled as to what happened.  Of course, except for Mt. Tam I'm continually surprised when a hard Double is incredibly easy--as this years Devil Mountain Double or the first time I did the Terrible Two Special 'Versary edition with 11 bonus miles added.  Conversely, I'm also suprised when I feel like crap at the end of almost every "easy" Davis Double, or when I DNF's on two other relatively easy doubles previously.

So not scared--just apprehensive.  A little pressure as I ain't training for the Alta Alpina 8 again, so I need to finish the course this year.   I love doubles as each ride is "epic" and a mental challenge (hmmm...feel like shit at mile 90--only 110 miles to go), and the fun century rides are over too quickly with too many clueless Lance wanabees--but I just see doing the easier Doubles and double metrics (my favorite distance) in the future.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The World's Greatest SIERRA CENTURY Double Metric (2012)

Century #20 (June 16, 2012) Sierra Century Double Metric out of Plymouth, returned after a 7 year absence   (plus bonus Steiner Loop), w/ Ward, Dr. Dave***, Toby, 124 miles, 10,000' climbing, 15.6 mph avg. (***only person to do 124 miles after staying in a haunted hotel the day before, though one of many people haunted by the weather the next day)
Now everyone in the group has a Garmin except me so I'm dependant on them for highly reliable information--like climbing 9,928' (Dr Dave) and 10,997' (Ward)--we have to wait for Toby to settle this.
Good things about the ride
Very little auto traffic
Almost no traffic controls
Decent to well paved roads
Interesting small western towns
Ride in dense stands of pine trees at the higher elevation, fields of oak at lower elevation
Great start/ finish in wild west county fairgrounds staged by Sacramento Wheelmen
Great rest stop food/ facilities provided by Sacramento Wheelmen
Many unannounced water stops by the Sacramento Wheelmen
Bad things about the ride
It's only held once a year
(from Ward) After promising Gatorade throughout some rest stops switched to Cytomax

2012 Sierra Century page featured a 2004 photo of the huge Diablo Cyclist peloton.  I saw them come in that day and needed to join a Club that did century rides en masse.  Unfortunately our Club membership has gotten old and does less and less hard rides.  An older  local club I also saw en mass in 2004, Erma's Diner, who always did great ride reports, and showed me some routes on practice rides, was unfortunately absent from  the 2012 Sierra Century.
*******This is the #1 century--by far--in Northern California.******

After a 7 year absence, somehow that Sacramento Wheelmen finally got a permit from El Dorado County (the highland county this ride is run in--the lowland country is Amador) so they ran the traditional route with one minor change--a rest stop was moved out of the tiny tiny picturesque stop of Volcano and put somewhat before.   I was certain that the Century wouldn't live up to my idealized remembrance of the 2003-04-05 events--but I was wrong.  The 2012 Sierra Century was "spot on."

For whom the bell tolls on this 97 degree ride--Sutter Creek Cemetery (PC)
Forecast for weather was 97 highs in the oak covered lowlands (Jackson, ele 1397) and 90 in the pine covered highlands (Shake Ridge, ele 3739.)  We'd be up in the highlands for the hottest part of the day.  Only trouble is after doing a ride filled with baby roller after serious roller after super serious roller (repeat and repeat), the hardest sustained climb--Slug Gulch--is done at mile 78 in the afternoon.  It would also be very very dry--about 15% humidity. 
I love hot weather but really haven't acclimated and knew I wasn't going to take it easy for this ride returning to its seminal roots after a 7 year absence.  Borrowed lots of great ideas friends had done over the years.  To prepare I took extra fizz tabs (Nuun-Dr Dave's idea) and carried the drink mix, endurolytes, suntan lotion, lip balm, both in a jersey bag and a camera bag that ties around the stem (Christine's idea.)    Dumped loads of powder down my shorts and jersey (Mountain Bike Racer Jerry's idea from 2004.)   Also took extra drink mix of what I like (Cliff Electrolyte) to fortify my drink mix at rest stop 1--where we skip the official rest stop for the secret bathrooms in Ione.  Additionally, though we'd be well fed one bottle had a frozen Perpetuem solution so my calories would come with hydration.   Extra Chomps packed as well, which are easy to digest when its hot.
Sutter Creek--on the Sierra Century we'll see it early morning without all the parked cars (PC)
Got to Sutter Creek the day before for an easy preride and to visit some old haunts.  After 7 years things change.  Italian Restaurant that I ate at in Jackson in 2003-06 out of business.  Gone is bakery that served smoothies in Sutter Creek, it's now a pizzeria. 

Sutter Creek is the most picturesque gold country town and kicked around it for awhile before Toby and Ward arrived.  Toby had all his stuff packed in a tiny triathlete backpack while it looked like I was packed for going on a round the world cruise.  We then took an ez (small chainring) spin ride to Volcano, the quaintest gold country town.  It's stuck in the middle of nowhere with a Greek amphitheatre in the middle of town.  Twelve mile ride from Sutter Creek to Volcano is slightly uphill (it kicks at the end), heavily shaded, almost no traffic, and a stream runs nearby.   Great.   In the old days Volcano was a rest stop but somewhere it was decided that 2000 cyclists overrun a town with 103 people is not a good thing so we saw that the rest stop was moved about 4 miles short of Volcano.   This was the only appreciable change between the 2012 route and the one done 7 years earlier.

(above) on day before ez spin Ward and Toby arrive in Volcano (PC) , i'm resting on Mayor Rosie's bench (WI) (below) we're shooting the shit in an empty Volcano (PC)

Ward/ Toby/ I got to Volcano and it was quieter than usual--no one else was on the street for about 15 minutes.   Bakery in town only opens on the weekend and general store later had one visitor about every 5 minutes.   Nice ride back on the slight downhill--though Toby's idea of a small chainring is not the same as mine and I had to madly spin in order to keep up with him and Ward.

Meeting Dr. Dave for an EARLY dinner was shot--more so when we drove to Plymouth to check in.  Plymouth is kinda nondescript but the Amador Fairgrounds where the ride starts is awesome--made up to look like a town from the wild west.   There was a ton of food being stockpiled here for the next day, and lots of friendly staff worker.   It never took me long to tell them that our Club annually did a self supported century ride tracing the highland portion of the old Sierra Century Double Metric route backwards--while the Sierra Century had been in exile.
Toby, Ward and I at the Amador County Fair check in--our route profile is in the red on the map (PC)
We're finally ready for dinner and Dr. Dave suggests eating at a restaurant in his hotel in the big megalopolis--Amador City.  Amador City may be the most realistic gold country town--a bunch of rundown old buildings with an uneven wooden sidewalk.   The Imperial Hotel is in the middle of town, it would disappear in Sutter Creek but istately in Amadort's  City considering the surroundings.  Good pasta dinner there--and there may be a connection between suffering the next day because Chairman Ward chose the "gem salad" instead of the "IMPERIAL SALAD."  Ward just got a power meter so Toby, who long trained with one, was giving out tips.

(above) The boys at dinner (PC) (Below) Ward & Toby's Power Meter Measuring Watts & The haunted hotel that Dr. Dave stayed at --I think I got a ghost in the picture(PC)

We arrive in plenty of time for the planned 6:30 start.  Inside is coffee, bananas, bagels and other food--grab some extra for the Ione rest stop we'll skip.  Already nice outside but ride starts downhill so Mr. Cold Wuzz takes a vest--which I'd get rid of for good at mile 5.  Wonderful, no arm warmers needed, and can ride with mesh gloves.   Knee has been a little sore when I crashed two weeks ago and open scrapes still open--so I am a little worried about that, so besides the permanent ace bandage on my bad right knee I have some bandages under minimal wrap on my left.  The knee tightness has been the only damper on my unbound enthusiasm leading up to this ride.  We see Sacto Doug I who became a Doubles Triple Crown Rookie with me in 2005--the day before he thought he might ride with us, but changed his mind as work has gotten in the way of training, and set out with some other friends to do the 100 mile course.

Plymouth to Ione
The first 20 miles starts off downhill, flattens out, leads into some baby rollers and some minimal serious rollers--serious rollers are ones you can't use your momentum to fly over and have to do some work to crest.   These are my favorite.  Then the road flattens out as you ride through the edge of Ione to the first rest stop.

Knowing that we'd be doing 120 miles and that it would be close to 100, the wise thing to do would be to take it easy and spin gently.   That's a great plan--with minimal effort we could do 18 mph on this section (I think this is what Sacto Doug I told me he registered.) 

Solid plan quickly went down the toilet as soon as our group was passed by some swerving riders who didn't call out that they were passing.   Our group upped the pace to stay with the folks who passed, and then as soon as the rollers started it was "hit it" --attack on every roller that appeared.    More important than beating someone to the top was our calling out to let slower riders know we were passing--we were thanked alot for that.

I'm on the edge of Ione (WI)
When we neutralized going into Ione (about 6 blocks in a row did have an intersection we had to stop/ slow at) I talked to one of the people that started the festivities and he turned out to be a nice guy.  Not NICER than Dr. Dave (Stanford) though, as when route turned right to go up to the first rest stop and we turned left to go to secret bathrooms, a guy in a CAL kit followed us and Dr. Dave (Stanford) was nice enough to tell the CAL guy that we were going the wrong way and not to follow us. 

Finally slow in Ione right before 1st rest stop (PC)

The secret rest stop in Ione (WI)
 21.6 mph average speed and relaxing, quiet time at the locomotive park.

Ione via Sutter Creek to Volcano
Leaving Ione is a 2 mile ez climb.   Its not steep--its long.  Lots of folks on it, lots of folks I pass at tempo--friendly greetings exchanged or folks glad I called out "on your left."  On it I passed a guy in a Triple Crown Jersey--looked familiar, but didn't acknowledge when I called out I was passing.  Strange.  Later he'd be known as the Triple Crown Wheelsucker.  (Actually Dr. Dave and Toby would call him a "limpet" and "dingleberry," as one of them is from England and the other a professor of English I'll defer to their judgement.)

Funny how people are--I was just maintaining a rational pace so I could stand most of the whole--and slowed near the top so our club could do the next segment together.  Like a bat out of hell some guy streaks by me about 10 feet before the turn into the back road that would take us to Sutter Creek.  He was now dead and after the turn I could have passed him walking backwards.  So either:
1) This was a Strava Segment for him,  or
2) He HAD TO beat me to the top of the gentle climb even though he'd promptly blow up.

We turned onto the next segment which featured more difficult rollers, and some that actually became hills.   Recumbent friendly hills that Dr. Dave loves when he's on the 'bent--10-12% for 300'.    Toby displayed an utter lack of skill riding with a group, when the Photocrazy robot appeared Dr. Dave, Ward and I slowed to cue up for a group photo but Toby upped the pace.  Those triathletes.

On Sutter Creek Road, (1) me, and (2) Dave followed by his Triple Crown Wheelsucker friend (WI)
I get ahead of the group after a series of rollers and stop off to the side to take a photo.  Here comes Dr. Dave with a new friend, Triple Crown Wheelsuckers is almost on his butt.  In the next 20 miles I'd take a few photos of our group and Triple Crown Wheelsucker is always in them--but NEVER in the front..

The gang going up Highway 124 out of Ione (PC)

Dr. Dave makes friends on Sutter Creek Ione Road with Triple Crown Wheelsucker (PC)

Ward on Sutter Creek Ione Road (PC)
 At one point we got rid of Triple Crown Wheelsucker but as series of rollers end and we have to cross a main road on the outskirts of Sutter Creek--police have traffic control set up and they keep us from crossing for a minute or two--so loads of people now cue up behind our group.  EZ ride through Sutter Creek-admiring the town, and then we are on Volcano Road.  This is the road we took it easy on the day before.  Now we form a paceline--Ward--Toby--me--Dr. Dave-----Triple Crown Wheelsucker.  I'm pulling and miss the festivities in the back.  At one point Ward tells him to move up to take a pull and the wheelsucker says:

"I don't want to..I can ride where I want to" 

Our trio arrives in Volcano rest stop, hmmm, who is that fourth guy in the photo--its the Triple Crown Wheelsucker (PC)

Lots of "Stuff" at the rest stops (PC)
So I go to the back and do a "2001" on him (watch Paris Roubaix 2001.)  I'm 4th, Triple Crown Wheelsucker is 5th.  I start to soft pedal and the rest of the gang soon is 200' up the road.    Idea is now Triple Crown Wheelsucker has to go around me and take a pull or I sprint up the  road.    First mistake-I should have waited longer and let the gang go further up the road.  I sprinted back to the group to soon  and dropped Triple Crown   Wheelsucker and I kept going solo to the rest stop before Volcano.  Second mistake--with him off the back we should have organized a 4 man paceline.  Instead the guys in our group slowed to let me go and if TCW wanted to catch he'd have to ride solo.  Instead TCW latched on to the back of our slowing group and there he stayed till the rest stop.

Rest stop good except guy in tux who used to serve fruit on platters to arriving riders in Volcano no longer part of the event.  I miss him.

Volcano to Fiddletown
We now continued on to Volcano--now mostly on the part of the road that kicks up--after the FABIO road lettering that has been there since 1999.  How did they know about FABIO CANCELLERA back then???

Quick ride through quirky Volcano that Ward, Toby and I lingered at the day before.  Too bad no longer rest stop there--I'm sure more riders would have noticed the general store with the porch and bakery, and would come back another day.

Right after Volcano started the first serious climb of the day--Rams Horn Grade.  Though sun is now out the road is mostly in the shade cast by the tall pine trees off to the right.  Not steep but a constant grade for a few miles where you need a better aerobic that I have.  I was passed here by one young guy and Toby, I tried to hang with them but no dice unless I wanted to instantly blow up.

False summit as a series of long uphill rollers.  At the end of the first, Daffodil Hill, a water stop with a water mister was set up, nice.  We all regroup and head off to the next roller--eventually we'll be on the "E" Ticket-Fiddletown Expressway.  As I'm the slowest rider in our group in a downhill course I tell Ward I'll push on the rollers to start the Expressway before the group.

Even when I hated going downhill (I'm now slow but most downhills don't bother me,) I liked the Fiddletown Expressway--a downhill run of 12 miles to Fiddletown.  It starts off semi steep and twisty--and this is where I wanted to come off before the rest of the gang joined me.  After a few miles the rollers start--most ones that you can fly offer at speed, with a few minor attention getting momentum losing ones.  When I get here I wait for our group, take a photo,  and then we're off.  We're even off faster when two guys jump ahead of us just when we regroup and we take turns chasing and attacking on successive rollers.   We then all start working together when we go into Fiddletown.

Toby leading the charge on the Fiddletown Expressway (PC)
Fiddletown is like Amador City minus the hotel but with a tennis court/ park, and here the rest stop is jammed.  Not jammed like the Sequoia with long lines, but cyclists everywhere enjoying the food.   For the 60 milers their ride is almost over--Plymouth is just up the road.  I don't think the 100 milers come back here later.  For the 120 milers, we'd do the Fiddlertown Expressway again later and roll in to a much quieter ghost town park/ tennis court.

Fiddletown to Omo Ranch via Slug Gulch 
OK-now I'd be willing to use that three letter word--HOT.  There were an immediate series of short but significant climbs with some rollers thrown in, we go through a tree lined but poorly paved back road (still might be the best pavement in Sonoma County) which would eventually get us on the main road with a few gentle rollers towards Perry Creek Road/Slug Gulch.

This part was like being on a Double--there were no riders in sight ahead of behind us.  Maybe it was for this reason we took it easy, maybe because we had been going balls out for 60 miles, maybe because Slug Gulch was coming up.  A rider came up before we hit the main road, which may have gotten us out of our lethargy and we picked up the pace a bit.  Past the alpaca farm-would have made a great photo but going to fast to stop right here.  Toby said he was going straight up Slug Gulch without stopping for water at emergency water stop I was sure they'd soon have--I was stopping as only had 1/4 bottles filled in each.  About 5 miles before the start of the 4 mile Slug Gulch climb there was the emergency water stop in Pioneer Park and everyone in our group stopped long time.

Then we then hit Perry Creek Road--a tree lined backwater road.  Oh yeah--you start off looking at a mini wall you have to climb, and then what follow is a series of mostly gentle rollers--most but not all.  In 2004 I was so wanked out I thought this was Slug Gulch and put in all my effort here.

I warned Toby we'd have a downhill kick, a sudden left turn and we'd be facing a wall-the Start of Slug Gulch.  I actually like the climb--I characterize it as a  stair climb--super steep segments followed by short recovery segments that are almost flat.  Then there are a few more serious climbs--all in full sun.   Then past a "Watch for Snow" warning, a downhill, another right hand kickass section and into the second half which is mostly a gentle 2-3%.

It certainly is a fun climb on my self supported century when we hit it at mile 25 in the morning light--but now it was mile 80 in full sun a little after high noon.  Disregarding advice I got in 2003 NOT to attack the climb, I did attack it and felt good through the first 3 stairs.  Two people on the side of the road dousing riders with water.  Then I fell apart.  Rider coming up quickly and I called out "Hope you're Toby"--but he wasn't.  Toby was by shortly chasing the guy (who unexpectedly turned around half way up the climb.)
Toby pulls away, I'm still passing riders basically crawling (or walking) up the Slug, not passed by anyone else, but my ez climb went down the toilet until I got to the half way mark and the road leveled out.

(above) Ward and Dave on Perry Creek shaded rollers--the warm up to Slug Gulch--much steeper and in full sun (below) Good Samartain ready to cool of a passing cyclist

End of Slug Gulch--the walking wounded (WI)
After the road leveled out and it became cooler I got energy back and picked up the pace. Soon at the top of Slug Gulch and one of the great rest stops, the schoolyard at Omo Ranch that is densely shaded by tall pine trees.  Doubly great as doubles riders and ace rest stop workers  Doug and Joni are up there and we spend lots of time bsing between their filling riders bottles with ice, etc.  Get the "I Made it Up Slug Gulch" Pin" to add to the collection--yippie.  Don't need a map of the "secret 20 mile bonus loop" though Joni keeps asking if I'm sure.   Heat is not Dr Dave or Chairman Ward's best friend--the Doctor is half dead and in the wading pool (he wants to be a triathlete like Toby) and the Chairman is looking worse after getting stung by a bee earlier.   Dr. Dave keeps threatening a course shortening revolution if anyone will join him, but unless he recruited the DMC girls Ward was on board for the 120--even if we had to carry him.

(above) At one of the great rest stops of all rides--Dr. Dave wants to be a triathelete likeToby so he is now in the swimming portion of the ride (there was a chance for Frisbee golf at Pioneer Park rest stop or Horsehoes in Fiddletown) (PC) (below) Our group mugging for the camera at the rest stop (Joni)

Eldorado National Forest-Fiddletown
Next 12 miles may normally be the best portion of the ride--a road through the El Dorado National Forest.  Mostly a gentle climb but unlike the Sutter Creek-Volcano section which you can take at speed, here you know you are climbing.  3-4% with 6-7% kicks are my unofficial estimate.   If feeling good lots of fun.

(above) Dr Dave not complaining in the Eldorado National Forest, about 4.500'.  A little cooler than therest of the ride and very serene.   Movie short below
Trouble is that Ward's heart rate already elevated and though the temperature down --losing 5 degrees when its 97 out ain't much.  Toby-Dave and I slowed a little on this section to keep the group together but I didn't realize how much Ward was already out of it as he dug in and stayed right behind us.

Meanwhile, while this ride has lots of unique views, no "oh wow" views--until now.  From the gaps in the trees lining the roadway you can see the rolling valley of pine trees off to the side.

I remembered in 2003 when mountain bike racer Jerry filled his jersey pockets with free crap at an emergency water stop right before the end of the road, and I was hoping they'd have it this year.  They did.  Ward sank down in a chair in the shade and was out of it for 15 minutes.  Then half way back to earth after another 15 minutes.  If we were gonna sit around a rest stop--this was a great place to sit around, surround by pine forest.  

I felt good and I took the time here to catch up on my fluid intake--I was thirsty no matter how many bottles I drained while riding.    Workers at this rest stop-like at all rest stops-- were fantastic.  At this one they were cheering the arriving riders.

Sitting around in the El Dorado National Forest (TS)
 The good thing for Ward was that the next section was mostly downhill, so he could recover a little while riding.  We had a short uphill stretch out of the forest then we turned on Highway 88-a major highway with little traffic.  We screamed down Highway 88 for a few miles until making a sudden right turn onto Shake Ridge Road.  Earlier we had to grind uphill to the Fiddletown turnoff, now, after two significant uphill rollers, we were flying downhill to the turnoff. 

Everyone together on the Fiddletown Expressway , now deserted of any other cyclists.  Toby and I still feeling good so we hammered the roller section--now familiar with the nuances I probably rode it faster this time than earlier when Toby/I raced the other guys.  Had been hot in the highland forest but temperature here was much hotter.  Ward/ Dave not far behind us and I thought Ward might take the shortcut back to Plymouth.

The Fiddletown rest stop, Toby with his Winston Churchill Victory Cigar (Rest Stop Worker)
Fiddletown rest stop almost deserted.  A worker interested in the self supported century route for the Sacramento Wheelment to use as an intro to Slug Gulch ride.  Ward indicated he was ready to go and was going to complete the 124 mile course with us.  Great.  He was even ready to go when DMC girls rolled in--I thought we'd be there for another 10 minutes.

Fiddletown to End
Out of Fiddletown are three-four annoying climbs--not real long and not real steep but long and steep enough that I used to refer to this part as the Sierra Century karma  revenge on Big Mike--who used to put the hammer down on the Fiddletown Expressway and fly away from everyone.   What is nice about this is that the sun is in a nice place to the left, and rolling vineyards are behind the riders to the right--great Kodak moment for the end of the day.

Scenes from Ostrum Road. (PC)
Last few miles keep us on a main road, Shenandoah Road,  where there is noticeable traffic for the first time all day.  We bypassed much of this by first turning on a loop the Erma's Diner folks showed me long ago--and flew mostly downhill a few extra miles around the Steiner Loop which is well shaded and surrounded by wineries.  Dr. Dave had no complaints about the bonus loop--as he had #1 Strava time on the Steiner Loop for everyone on the ride.   When we came out we continued on Shenandoah SCHOOL Road; not as direct as the official route but with almost no traffic.  I claimed that it was 90% downhill, but Dave used a correction factor whereas when I say that something is 90% downhill it might only be 60% downhill. 

Finally we were in Plymouth.  Getting close I was actually a little chocked up.  Never had 124 miles gone so quickly.   Great dinner venue in the fairgrounds where we joined Sacramento Doug I, even if one of his friends asked Doug "oh, is this your church group."    Our reward for doing the extra miles--the lady in front of me got the last pulled pork sandwich.

DMC girls getting their picture taken (PC, under WI direction)
Parking lot almost empty when we finished bsing and went back to the cars.  Toby has to circle the fairgrounds a few times to get 200k to register.    Downed two protein shakes, a coconut water, and a smoothie on the way home while sky high happy, blasting music, and holding my hand outside the sun roof for an air massage.  Only 365 days to go until the next Sierra Century.