|Ward's Strava Point was changing Todd's flat at lower Siberia==he's #1 for tire changing time at that spot|
In short, finally did this ride and may be the biggest disappointing organized ride ever. It will be remembered for food shortages and long rest stop lines.
-Lots and lots of sag support
-Very unique food at some of the rest stops
-At Old La Honda lunch stop fresh strawberry shakes
-At Pescadero rest stop fresh artichoke bread samples and goat cheese
-Nice rustic climbs
-China Grade climb, 3.4 miles, 970', with most of the climbing in the last mile (9.7%)
-Tunitas Creek climb, 9.5 miles, 1780', with most of the climbing between miles 5-8
-Long bathroom lines at first rest stop
-Long food lines at most rest stops
-Long drink lines at a few rest stops
-After waiting on long food lines no food (albeit leftover Halloween candy and animal crackers)
-NO BANANAS anywhere
-Lots of hot plates with tostada filling at lunch--unfortunately all the hot plates empty
-Freshly made deli sandwiches post ride--only problem NO deli meat
-Traffic on the road--heavy or speeding motorcycles going for their Strava time
-Long stop light after long stop light at the beginning of the ride
-Long, steep, twisty descents on narrow, mediocre surfaced roads
-Highway 9/ Big Basin, 10.6 miles
-Alpine Road 7.3 miles
-King Mountain Road 5 miles
Newsreel of the Long Lines & Food Shortage of the Soviet Sequoia Century
We came across some people we know who were trying to change a flat tire--bike upside down--wheel out of bike--skewer out of wheel--spring out of skewer-co2 cartridge out of air- spare tube not holding any air. They'd already been there 15+ minutes. Ward stopped to save the day, change the tire/ clean up the mess. His reward--a long long food, water, bathroom line at the rest stop just 1 mile away.Preride
Ward, Christine and I carpooled down to the ride. Day started out ominously as when I got to Ward Industries Worldwide Headquarters at some ungodly hour in the morning and I forgot I had the bike on the roof rack. Almost pulled into one of the employee parking structures. Parking problems continued when the Ward Shuttle Express arrived at the Palo Alto VA Center and ride/ parking attendants were waiving us in all different directions, through departing cyclists and we wound up parking far away from the start. In the East Bay it had been a very pleasant 65 degrees but on the Peninsula, much closer to the ocean, it was at least 10 degrees less with a thin bank of fog. The temperature drop and damp air made it much cooler. Around 6:55 we found Jack who had been waiting for us, then upon leaving Jack had a minor mechanical so it was an immediate 5 minute break for us to get real cold.
Segment 1-(0-28 miles) to Boulder Creek-Long Lines, Little Food Rest Stop
Ride started slightly uphill, which would have been a great way to get and stay warm--but every block there was a major intersection where we caught a long red light. Christine warned me of an upcoming steep climb--REDWOOD GULCH ROAD--and it appeared at mile 13 and it was great--for the next 4-5 miles easy to stay warm. Ward and Jack started talking about old TV shows--Bozo in particular. As in guy who suddenly veered left and came within 1" of Jack's front wheel--Bozo. As in guy who we slowly passed and then tried to cut into our paceline--or actually cycle through Ward--saying "I was here." Bozo. This caused Ward to put in a dig and our paceline fell apart with Christine, Ward and I quickly up the road. Funniest Bozo l,ine--guy in SF Randonneurs jersey who was weaving all over on the climb and when Ward said "on your left" he didn't move and kept weaving. To be fair Ward didn't say "on your left" loud enough as guy had ear buds on (lots of people on this ride wearing earbuds.)--which caused Ward to quip "I didn't know SF Randonneurs now allow this."
|(1p & 2w) How not to change a flat tire. Frozen DMC Girls had supervised Todd changing tire for 15+ minutes by the time we arrived and Ward saved the day.|
|(1p & 3w) Long long line at the 1st rest stop outhouses. Also long lines for food and drink. (2p) Jack telling Ward that support much much better in years past--Ward wondering what the F happened.|
Segment 2-(28-51 miles) to Saratoga Gap--Where More Animal Crackers and No Bananas Await Us
We continued downhill a little and then hit one of the two best climbs of the day--China Grade. Its a backroad through Big Basin Redwood Forest. Half is a shallow grade, and the second half is 1 1/2 miles close to 10%.
On the shallow portion I pulled our paceline along. We dodged around two guys riding all over the road--and unbeknown to me they hooked onto the back of our line, which was OK if they just stayed there. When we hit the start of the steep part they jumped off our line and put in a dig to get well in front of us. These freeloaders brought forth Ward's ire, already irked about their earlier weaving. I don't need much encouragement to get my dander up so I took off after these guys--catching one immediately. The other guy was about 200-300' ahead and kept looking back--I wasn't making rapid progress closing the gap but was making steady progress. I liked the climb, calling out to any rider I was passing and offering encouragement to anyone who looked like they were stalling (few riders walking up this.) Finally got close to my target with about 1/2 mile to go and he was breathing heavily so when I pulled alongside I bs'd a little and then took off. All this concentration on the freeloader ahead made me ignore how steep the climb was.
When Christine arrived near the top she was riding pace with a guy who had a ponytail almost as nice as Christine's--so I yelled for her to sprint which she did while guy chuckled. Man of the match was a recumbent rider on China Grade.
Our trio regrouped at the top and a mile of rollers on Skyline to the Fire Station Rest Stop. Crap food again. One guy was yelling "there goes that orange Litespeed"--unlike DMD when I was so focused I had no idea who he was, this time realized it was Mick who I finished the Terrible Two with a few years back. He was wearing his resplendent Alta Alpina 8 jersey, the ride I crapped out on last year and will try again in a few weeks. For the rest of the day when I saw him I'd yell "I want that jersey."
|(1-Unknown Raider fan) We all stop for a Kodak moment (2p) Ward & Johnna at the Saratoga Gap rest stop|
Ward likes to quip that climbing rides are easy as 1/2 the mileage is downhill--of course this purposely overlooks that it takes 3-5x to go the same distance uphill than downhill. Well, on this ride it seemed like it took me 3-5x longer to go down Alpine Road than UP any of the steep climbs. Not much traffic, but around a hairpin a car would suddenly appear in the middle of the road--usually on a segment so narrow that the center line had disappeared. The Western Wheelmen should give out complementary brake pads.
Later I found out that one rider went off the side of Alpine Road and broke his collarbone (Heard of three accidents on this ride.)
|(1p) I want Mick's Alta Alpina 8 jersey (2p & 3w) Long line for the great food (4w) Doesn't the food in those trays look yummy|
Segment 4-(mile 66-81) Pescadero. No bananas but best rest stop and riding of the day.
Now I was suddenly familiar with the course as this is part of the Tunitas Creek loop--but we were going to come into Pescadero backwards. On this segment we'd lose the 100 milers as we'd be beginning the bonus 20 miles for teh double metric. This stretch almost felt like a Double as we saw only a handful of other riders.
Fast run in on La Honda Road--again with a good amount of traffic and motorcycles trying to get their best Strava time. Once we hit San Gregorio we went on the hilly Stage Road that is off the beaten path and paved decently--except for the drop in temperature (now 1/2 mile from the ocean) this was wonderful.
|(1w) Stage Road on bonus 20 mile loop--nicest part of the ride (2w, 3w) Christine and I Riding up Stage Road and then slacking off|
|(1p) Pescadero rest stop--speciality bread samples and local goat cheese. (2p) Ward wants a time trial wheel for the climbs|
Bonus mile segment continued to be the best section of the day. Small climb out of Pescadero put up on Highway 1 overlooking the Pacific. Pacific beautiful as usual--but much traffic passing us on the narrow shoulder. Riding Highway 1 in Marin-Sonoma much better as much much less traffic--here we had a steady stream. On the other side of the road was a steady stream of AID's riders--many neophytes not pacelining so struggling along with decorated helmets. Kudos to them. We saw them strung out for the 8 miles we were on Highway 1, with Ward, Christine and I taking turns at the front and blocking the cool breeze. I'm happy to report I wasn't my usual cold wimp self and didn't put back on the vest or knee warmers. But I thought about it.
|(1p) Ward and Christine rolling down Highway 1 (2p) Ward on a coastal roller. Yes I know I said there was a steady stream of cars on Hwy 1--I took about 8 photos on Hwy 1 and these are the 2 that didn't have a bunch of vehicles nearby.|
|(1p) Christine in front of an Gregorio General Store--along with lots of cyclists looking for food other than animal crackers (2p) Ward telling another cyclist that the ride climbing is all over|
|(1p, 2p) Ward and Christine climb out of San Gregorio back to Highway 1.|
After 2 more miles South on Highway 1 we turned East on Tunitas Creek. Great great--with wind coming off the ocean we'd have a mini tailwind for awhile and it would finally warm up. Small rest stop at base of Tunitas Creek Climb so refilled bottled and ate---no skipped the candy and taco chips and animal crackers; luckily has some of the Arcangeli bread with me.
Segment 6 aka Tunitas Creek (mile 96-105)
Tunitas Creek is a great climb. Initial miles are barely uphill. But road slowly hikes up. Mile 3-4 from the end has some serious hairpins. The last two miles flatten out and are uphill fast. The serious climbing portion is densely tree lined. Sparse traffic.
Ward set the tempo and we rode with the better climbers of the Asian group I had talked to earlier. Until about half way up. I spotted a far away car's headlights coming down and yelled 'car up." Then......no car. As soon as Ward asked if I was sure I had seen one we came around a turn and car was stopped--lying on the road was a cyclist knocked to the ground by a neighborhood dog. Owner was now running to get their dog back in their tree lined cabin. We stopped for awhile to make sure cyclist was OK.
|(1j) Ward arrives at the top of Tunitas Creek|
Segment 7-(mile 105-119) King Mountain Plunge Back to Finish on Traffic Light Blvd for no deli Deli Sandwiches.
We hadn't gone down a twisty descent in awhile so our last shot was King Mountain Road--wider than Alpine Road and surfaced better but with much more traffic. I suggested to Christine that I start down early so she/ Ward wouldn't have to wait for me but she liked the idea of our starting out of rest stops together even though I knew I'd lose the group in 25'.
On King Mountain I got behind a group of mediocre descenders--mediocre as we did pass a few slower riders and many other riders rocketed past us. Christine and Ward probably finished the NY Times by the time I arrived, but with all the accident stories heard today I wasn't taking any chances.
After our regroup still 9 miles to the finish and an energetic group came along including a guy with a full fairing wheel we saw in Pescadero so we kept alternatively attacking off the front--this fun came to an end when we hit the first in a series of red lights.
Unlike most events where we change and then go and eat--we were parked so far away we went to eat in our bike clothes. As Ward would say--the rest stop worker slogan on this ride was "oh, we've run out of that." They had a table with an assortment of sliced bread and a platter of cheese and peanut butter (and the nearby bowl of mini Almond Joy's--Cisco Dave would LOVE these rest stops.) I asked if there was anything else--"oh, we had deli but we ran out of that." Shit--it wasn't like we stumbled in 2 hours after the ride ended--the Courtyard was packed and, as at the barren rest stops, many more cyclists were arriving after us. Jack said in past years the support/ rest stops were much better.
I heard the route is always tinkered with and I'm sure there were better roads to descend. And as this ride has been put on for awhile, there is no excuse to keep running out of basic cycling food. Breakfast bars and bananas. Our Club's Tunitas Creek-Alpine Road Self Supported Century a much better option. Now if I could think of a way to incorporate China Grade into our ride.