|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.|
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
|For whom the bell tolls on this 97 degree ride--Sutter Creek Cemetery (PC)|
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)|
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)
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)|
|(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)|
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)|
|Finally slow in Ione right before 1st rest stop (PC)|
|The secret rest stop in Ione (WI)|
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)|
|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)|
|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)|
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 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.)
|(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)|
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|
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)|
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 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)|
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)|