Monday, July 30, 2012

Marin Century (2012)

Baseball aside:  At the trade deadline Dodgers get former all star Hanely Ramirez while hitting challenged Giants get utility infielder Marco Scutaro.  Why does this smack like the death kneel for the Giants; deja vu of the Fred McGriff Atlanta deal in 1993.  (OK--at last minute Giants add Hunter Pence, thank you Giants)

While I'm complaining, can we see any more of the same fn commercials over and over during the Giants telecast ("winnnnnnnnneeeeeer," "who's bob?," "winnnnnnneeeeeeeer")-torture

Century #

(July 27, 2012) Marin Century (Self Supported), w/ Ward and Rebecca. 101 miles, 7,500' climbing 17.2 avg speed.

Elevation profile--no long climbs but up and down all day.  I think Garmin climbing is a little high, last year it registered 600 feet less.   (WI)
 1 week to go before the Mt. Tam Double and I needed to get this Century in.  Really need to.  First reason--3 years ago they changed the direction of Course I loved and knew very well.  Instead of staying on or near the Coast and ending by going inland to Petaluma, they changed the route and have us go to Petaluma early in the day after doing the Mt. Tam Loop.  Traffic wise Petaluma is the most congested area of the Course and I'm sure it helps the organizers getting us (and the rest stop) out of there early in the day but I hate their decision.  I love a slow course when its slow because of  roller and roller and mini-hills, in fact doing rollers with tailwind is great.  But I'm a crappy headwind rider and as the wind usually blows west to east, the 30 miles from Petaluma to Valley Ford/ Tomales are hard.  Besides, I'm not THAT sure of the new course route--last year they didn't mark key intersections, and it really helps when you are NOT worried about if you went in the right direction.

The other reason is that my long rides have sucked since Alta Alpina.  The Mt Tam loop a few weeks ago was hard, the Tunitas-Alpine loop last week was MUCH to hard.   The leg injury/ few extra pounds/ not super motivated after Alta Alpina--who knows, but I best figure it out and fast.

Ward and I did this loop last year (the day after Tunitas-Alpine) where we were delusional and said we'd ride easy and then raced some guys to Petaluma.    At least today we'd do this ride "fresh" on Saturday.  We'd be joined by Rebecca who loves the areas she's seeing on a bike but she tries to slam through every ride going as fast as she can as perhaps a faster route toward getting back to running (and winning) marathons. My friend and training buddy Ward also feigns wanting to ride easy--but he's faster than me on the flats, downhills and momentum rollers (aka flyover or Eddie Stanky rollers) so he'll keep the pace going when I want to take it easy.  Of course I'll be like a kid in the candy store when the short momentum killing rollers (aka Italian rollers) appear over and over.

Once again I expected us to be in a fog bank all day--a few weeks ago East County was solidly in a heat wave but now every morning the car is covered with dew and there is a damp chill in the air--it smells like summer is over and football season is about to begin.  Crap.

We start a half hour early than usual on Lucas Valley Road--signs are already covering the road warning drivers about the Marin Century-Mt Tam Century-Mt Tam Double next week.   No goofing off--Rebecca immediately is pushing the pace and we go up hard on the long Big Rock Climb (long from the East side, much shorter on the West side that we'll see on the return trip.)    We pass a group hanging out at the top of the climb--first of two times that someone today will leave their group and pass us.

Slight downhill to Nicasio and I'm pulling when a woman from the group we had passed zooms by.  I put in a dig to get back to her wheel, and my lazyass quality would have me take to the kindness of strangers and sit on her wheel.  Hell, we're going 100 miles and only have 3 riders to share the workload.  But soon Rebecca is having none of this and she jumps to the front, so then Ward and I "have to" join in on the workload.  No surprise when woman again jumps and tries to sprint into Nicasio but we all stay with her.

Most of the rest of the day was uneventful except for our three riders keeping a strong 3 man going.  Ward and I already know when one of us is dropping the speed at the front and almost automatically will come to the front without being waved up.   Rebecca got into the spirit to, she'd usually take the longest pulls except for when there was a block headwind --as she rides upright and has to use the drops to her advantage more.  At one point some guys we flew by were egging Ward and I on that we were letting Rebecca pull us along.   Yep-life is good.  The great thing is we all watched out for each other and usually kept a constant pace.

Now there is a reason to go to New Jersey.  Seen at the Cheese Factory rest stop (PC)
We stopped at the famous Cheese Factory picnic area, then rollers out to Petaluma (where the road turns to crap as soon as you are in the City limits.)   We slowed just enough to pass the park that will be next weeks rest stop.  Then its out of town through a subdivision and 10 miles on Chileno Valley Road  road which is in the middle of cow country.  Yellow fields of straw everywhere with groves of the hated eualyptus trees,  and an occasional one room schoolhouse that is 100 years old.  Rebecca from the desert commented that it was so GREEN compared to Nevada--I just saw 90% yellow straw.

Along Chileno Valley Road--lots of cows and some great 1 room school buildings (PC)
We zig zag Northwest--Ward and I surprisingly remembered alot of the turns from last year.  Saw many cyclists going in the other direction--about every 30 minutes we'd pass a group on the road going our way.  No traffic in the booming City of Fallon, which consists of a house with a funky yard of all old farm equipment and gas pumps.  I pulled out the route sheet at the same place I pulled it out last year.  Pace was always high and a guitar tune by Rodriguo y Gaberiela kept dancing in my head which seemingly matched the cadence. 

This is Fallon--population 3? (WI & PC)

Rebecca and Jay haven't seen a cow all day (WI & PC)

I love this photo.  Rebecca and I going up another short but steep climb--this looks like a Tour of Flanders climb (WI)
Nice thing was that occasionally we were passed by a pickup truck--and unlike the Deliverance pickups in the Bay Area that try to get close and personal--the drivers in western Marin were very nice and gave us lots of room..

Valley Ford rest stop--and the Hammer Nutrition options (WI Cartoon Studio)
Second big stop is at the general store at Valley Ford--last year I was turned around sideways trying to figure out the way to go.  Some lady asked Ward where Highway 1 was--we didn't know--as it turns out it was 10' away from us--main street is Highway 1.

I'm on Middle Road, in between hills.  Look at that fog hanging out to the West.   (WI)
 On the double we'll continue Northeast to loop Coleman Valley, but today we head Southwest to Tomales--6 miles on Middle Road that has some funky turns to make it seem like 3 different roads--filled with steep roller after steep roller.  Maybe it should be called Flemish Middle Road.   The good news is that I could stay with Rebecca today--even when her heart rate monitor hit 180-as the climbs are hard but short.

Tomales Bakery shots-If Ward is in it (PC) took the photo, if I'm in (WI) took the photo.  If CA Mike was on the ride and he had a camera he would have taken the top photo (PC) 
Tomales has a funky little bakery and this was the one spot that was overcast--but not drenched in fog.   Tourists keep pulling up and jumping out in t-shirts and shorts saying how cold it was but the weather had been great.

Rebecca and me by Tomales Bay--fog hanging to the West (WI)
Now it was down the Coast along Tomales Bay on Highway 1.  There was heavy fog hanging over the hills on the ocean side but just overcast over the Bay.  A little tailwind/crosswind with the cool ocean air being sucked toward the San Joaquin Valley--though it will heat up 40 degrees by the time it gets there.   We came off an uphill roller going 30mph, as registered on a CALTRANS speed sign--Rebecca and I were so stoked that we overshot the left turn onto the Marshall Wall climb.

View of Tomales Bay from the Peace Bell (wide angle-PC)(close up-WI)
Time to get undressed for peace (WI)
I knew from 2 weeks earlier, when the weather was much worse, that the sun would be out as we headed inland and the temperature would quickly go up. So it was a stop at the Peace Bell to get rid of the arm/knee warmers.  Then its up the Marshall Wall climb--maybe the longest of the day but easier from the side we were coming in at (tailwind assisted?)

Then strange deal.  We pass a couple-a Taleo guy (amature race group that seemingly everyone is a member of) and woman walking her bike up the hill.  Rebecca and I shout out a pleasant "on your left" as we pass.  We're about 25% up the climb.  About a minute later racer guy comes flying by us with nary a word.  I did yell out that I hoped he was signed up for the Mt Tam race.   He got about 200' in front of us--half the climb to go, did a U-turn and came back down.   Soon Jonathan's Richman-I Was Dancing In A Lesbian Bar popped in my head and I tried fitting in new lyrics...

"I was passed by a racer boy--la la, la la.  I was passed by a racer boy--la la, la la.  He went flying by me--so he could say he passed me, but then did a u-turn, and went away.  I was passed by a race boy--la la, la la."  I know, I should keep my day job.

Rebecca and Ward at the top of the Marshall Wall (PC)
 Get to the top of the Marshall Wall and watch the fog collect to the West.   We regroup and now head East in our rotating paceline and soon it is very sunny for the 11 mile run in to Hicks Valley and another stop at the Cheese Factory picnic area.  There a Ward hired shill came up to talk to us how great Ward's Pegoretti is--"the BEST steel bike made."  I would have given more creedence to the guy we met here in the morning from 'Jersey wearing the Jays Bicycle jersey.

Ward and Rebecca along the Marshall-Hicks Valley run in (PC)
 The Marin ride is very strange.  However long the ride seems the last 20 miles flies by.    The climb between the Cheese Factory and the road to Nicasio is easier in this direction.  After the ensuing downhill the 3 miles to Nicasio is tailwind assisted.  Then its 11 miles back to the car, a little more than half a gentle uphill on Lucas Valley Road--also tailwind assisted.  The grade does pick up a bit right before the Big Rock climb which is much much easier in this direction.  In the hopes of passing a couple of folks on the Mt Tam Double race next week (last year no one in sight--one year Don and I caught and zoomed past a 3 man way ahead of us on the road) I picked up the pace leading into the Big Rock climb and then Rebecca and I slugged it out to the top.  More practice on the ensuing twisty, 23 turn downhill, where lots of people in last years Century crashed out on--regroup with Ward--and a speedy 3-4 miles back to the car. 

Oh crap--Ward got Rebecca mad--now we are in trouble the next ride (PC)
I had that we had a smidgen over 100 miles, Ward's Garmin had that we were at 99.   Now last year Ward's Garmin had that we did 500 less feet of climbing on this ride--so how accurate can it be?  But just to make sure we took a loop around the neighborhood back to the car.  I'm stoked--felt better on this ride than on the last two self supported century rides and we were riding hard all day.  Rebecca stoked as this was the first time she finished a century in less than 6 hours riding time.   Ward stoked as it was cool enough that he didn't lose 10 lbs in water weight. 

Last year Ward and I did this prep ride with a 16.6 average speed so we definately picked up the pace this time.  Perhaps it was losing some climbing.  Last year this ride only had 6,666' feet of climbing but the Church sent Ward's Garmin a cease and desist letter so he had to change the amount of climbing on the ride. In any event I hope next week goes as well as this ride.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tunitas-Alpine Road Century (Improved Sequoia Century) 2012

Century #23  (July 21, 2012) Tunitas Creek-Alpine Road Century-w/ Ward, Jack, Dr. Dave#*, Rebecca#*, Andy#, Norm#, 99.5 miles, 10,000' climbing.  14.0 avg (pathetic but includes waking around Pigeon Point Lighthouse w/ bikes)  #Only did the 60 mile Tunitas Loop.   *First up Tunitas Creek after chugging down a Chocolate Coconut Water at lunch.

Route maps thanks to Dr. Dave.  I think he is giving us a clue that he may not want to do the Alpine climb after Tunitas Creek.  Just a guess. (DrD)

Two weeks before the Mt. Tam Double and I'm in lousy condition.   After Alta Alpina depressed with calf/ vein problem so gained weight--fast.   Not hurting anymore but have to push 5 extra pound with a left leg that cramps up easily--especially at the beginning of a ride.   I hoping our Tunitas Creek-Alpine Road Century will be a break out ride.  Woodside-Pescadero-Tunitas Creek itself is a seminal climbing metric loop, (50 miles, 5'500' climbing per Chain Reaction Web Site--and we add the Pigeon Point Lighthouse Loop.)   Tunitas Creek is the feature climb near the end of the ride.  Adding on Alpine Road is like doing Tunitas Creek a second time--though with less trees half way up and thus warmer.

I really misjudged the weather--though the East Bay was heating up the temperature on the Coast didn't move all week.   After last weeks foggy Sherlock Holmes weather around Mt. Tam--I expected dense fog accompanying the 61 degree forecast for Pescadero.   I was bundled up as I drove to Woodside where it was sunny and warm--at 9:00.

Lots of first timers today--new club member PMM (perpetual motion machine) Rebecca and oldtimers Andy/ Norm who just did a big ride down the Coast.   For the Tunitas segment we'd usually break into two groups with Ward, Dr. Dave, Rebecca and I riding ahead of the field and then regrouping at turns.

Luckily I left knee warmers in the car (after a few people gave me that "are you crazy" look.)  My contribution to the route was to advocate actually ride into the Pigeon Point Lighthouse area, which includes a hostel.   Normally we just see it in the distance as we motor by on Highway 1.

My game plan was try to stay with Rebecca and her very visible constant 174 heart rate monitor.  As Dr. Dave said "I can't ride at 174."   Neither can I.  On the shorter climbs--Pescadero/ Memorial Park Climb, Bean Hollow Road, Pescadero/Stage Road, and San Gregorio/ Stage Road I did well.   On the longer climbs--Old La Honda and Tunitas Creek I failed miserably.

My favorite segment was the Gazos Creek Rd run in to the Coast.  It reminded me of the back road coming off of Mt. Tam on the Double, and I rode it hard.   But later I had my worse Tunitas Creek climb--blowing up half way up.

The loop was great, as usual (though we miss the house with the 1000 pink flamingos and the house with the giant rebar machine gun toting skeleton.)   The Old LaHonda Climb comes up almost immediately and usually it is cool and foggy--today it was nice and dry.   Passed a guy who does the Mt. Tam Double--I stopped to take photos.  I repassed Mt. Tam guy but near the top I could hear him chugging hard so I also picked up the speed.   I stayed ahead but felt like shit at the top--great, feeling like crap 10 miles into the ride--how the hell am I going to contend with the balls out Mt Tam Double mass start?

Dr. Dave and Rebecca on top of Old La Honda (PC)
Luckily this was a regroup spot and our 2nd group took awhile to get to the top which allowed me to recover.  Then the twisty downhill, speedy run into La Honda, a tree lined climb towards Pescadero/ Memorial Park, wide open downhill, and the regroup at redwood covered (and today tinge of smoke filled) Memorial Park.   For once we didn't lose anyone flying by Memorial Park--perhaps it was Ward reminding everyone "Memorial Park is after the YMCA Camp." 

(above) Don't wake me up (below) Andy and Norm play tourist (PC)

Rebecca doesn't look older than Jack (WI)
Then rollers towards Pescadero and just when we're within a mile we make a sharp left so we first do a southern loop.  More rollers in the middle of nowhere, still nice and sunny, when all of a sudden the temperature drops a bit, a tinge of fog appears (just a tinge) and boom we are on the Coast. 

(above) Ward, Rebecca and Dave on Gazos Creek Road.
While I take photo of Ward (all the way at the top), Ward returns the favor while I eat another Hammer product (WI)

(above) The gang at end of Gazos Creek Road--Eureka!, we found the Pacific. (below) Dave and Ward only eat "Bonk Breakers" that match their jersey (PC)

We remind everyone that some of us are going to pull into the Pigeon Point Rec area--I didn't know who was going to do it but the lunch spot is in Pescadero 10 miles away so we can regroup there.  Started pulling down the Coast which reminded me of our clubmate Big Jim--who we all usually ducked behind on this stretch--unfortunately he is now terribly ill. 

To my surprise everyone pulled into the Pigeon Point Lighthouse area.   Lighthouse is one of those tall tower types.  The tallest one on the West Coast.  Built with corroding wrought iron instead of steel so teh tower is off limits.   When we pass by it is sometimes totally covered in fog, sometimes it looks like a cloud just sitting on the top.  Today crystal clear-loads of Kodak moments.  Ward trying to perfect his photo technique--any time anyone pulls out a camera/ cell phone to take a photo--if you don't have Ward in front of you there is a guarantee that he's take a photo of you taking a photo with your LED screen (subject to his editing) readily apparent.

Scenes from Pigeon Point Lighthouse--luckily no real pigeons (PC)

(above) Our group photo (below) some of Ward's lighthouse photos (WI)

Continue down the Coast and then short climb inland toward Pescadero--don't know if Rebecca was more disappointed not seeing the pink flamingo house or the machine gun man skeleton house--or the Brussels sprouts on the vine we'd see later in the year.

Rebecca disappointed she hasn't seen Brussels Sprouts on the run in to Pescadero (PC)
Lunch at Pescadero and THE Artichoke Bread (WI)
Pescadero was crowed--but not with cyclists.  The dozens of cyclists we saw on Old La Honda didn't do the Pigeon Point Loop and F around the lighthouse compound as we did--so they were long gone.  I had my pockets stuffed with power bars as I didn't think the great Arcangeli Grocery had small loaves of Artichoke Bread (only nice surprise on Sequoia Century were the samples of bread here at the bonus mile rest stop.)  They didn't but F it, bought a huge loaf--enough to enjoy for lunch--duck away two chunks away for later, and then split with everyone else.    Dr Dave and Rebecca had chocolate coconut water--and then they were the first two up Tunitas Creek.  Is there a connection?  Does WADA have to be contacted?

I'm #1 on Strava through the Pescadero Graveyard (WI)
Out of Pescadero 3 medium climbs--2 before San Gregorio and 1 after (we never stop at the commercial famous Country and Western Store), the last getting up back up to Highway 1 before a few mile drop down to the start of Tunitas Creek.  Incident which proves that Ward and I border on normalcy.   At the top of the climb--sunny but 61 with a slight breeze.  I'm digging out my vest (at least t-shirt came off at lunch) for the downhill--its cool.  Ward arrives and he is dripping with sweat.

Ward and Dave at the end of stage road.
Ward, Rebecca, Dr. Dave and I fly down the shoulder on Highway 1--traffic constantly next to us.  A land bridge right before the Tunitas turn, which unfortunately doesn't have a shoulder.  We make the turn and stop at a "bike hut" where I get to try out an Adirondack chair.   I'm ready to take a nap--hope the second group takes their time getting here.

Regroup at the Bike Hut at the beginning of Tunitas Creek.  Ward threatens to turn this into Kitty who will again accuse me of goofing off (WI) 
Due to our late arrival not the usual crowd of cyclists on Tunitas Creek.  Long climb--around 10 miles--but the first few miles at the beginning and the last couple at the end are gentle.  In between dense stands of redwoods in the middle but with a series of steep hairpins. 

Dr Dave and Rebecca--the St Mary's Team--at the start of Tunitas Creek (WI)
I try to stay with Rebecca--keeping a steady 174 heart rate, and Dr. Dave.  But by the time we hit the steep part I'm drained and fall off.  I'm in the x27 much more than I usually am--and its even too damn hard.    Near the top I'm joined by a guy I talked to earlier and he had alot of questions about seminal rides.  Usually I try to slam this portion but today happy to slow and BS with someone.  My worst Tunitas Climb in years. 

Regroup at the top. Ward pulls in--he still looks like he could be the centerpiece of a desalination plant.   Dr. Dave reminds everyone he's not in for the bonus miles,  neither is Rebecca.   Jack rolls in and wonders who is doing it--I raise my hand meekly, after today's crappy riding I'm not "thrilled" about doing extra miles and its real tempting to ride the downhill to the finish.  So after Dave says he'll wait for Andy/ Norm I just take off--no clue who is going to join me--but if I don't take off then I ain't doing it.

Rollers on Skyline back to La Honda Road.  Intersection has Alice's Restaurant (is that Woody Guthrie, or Woody Hayes or Woody Allen??)  Half way there finally turn around and glad that Jack and Ward joined me.  Alices' and the grocery across the street stuffed with motorcycle riders.  Very hot at the rest stop--top bottles and down loads of drink, a banana and frozen fruit pop.

Time to get hydrated (WI)
"Do what you should, not what you can"--Coach Toby 

We are now on fast road back to La Honda--where with some hard work you can hit 30 and feel like a great cyclist.  But we'll be hitting Alpine Road right after--and it will be brutal today--so we just keep it around 24-26 mph and "rest up."

Pass the right turn Pescadero/ Memorial Park climb--now follow the road around to the left--Alpine Road.  Alpine Road is narrower than Tunitas Creek, and the beginning is heavily tree lined and gentle.  
Then its tree lined and the grade kicks up.  It is so narrow that many times it has no center line--and when it does some cars coming down think they need to place their muffler over it and ride in the middle of the road.

Gradually the trees disappear, the grade is still stiff and it gets markedly hotter.  Too bad we couldn't bank the cool air on the coast for here. Can see the fog sitting to the West--over the coast--but that ain't helping us now.  I'm downing water/ sports drink like crazy, Ward has also almost drained his bottles and doing his imitation of a Rome Fountain.

Going up the climb steady but slow, and guarding what water I have left.  Maybe we should have stopped at Portola Park which is half way up the climb though a couple of miles to get in.  But we didn't--we'd get water at the top of the climb at Russian Ridge Open Space Staging area.   But as we found out open space staging areas have no water--the $50 million dollars hidden in the State Park budget was found too late to help us on this ride.

View of San Jose Basin from Alpine Road, with Dr. Dave's 2nd favorite athlete jogging by.  To bad he missed it.
  Long downhill on Page Mill Road--with some nice views of the San Jose area.   Luckily we pass a park with real grass, real bathrooms and REAL WATER-- Palo Altos' Foothill Park.  Ward and I couldn't drink enough. 

We're in 'GOD's Country', so Ward and I are in trouble (WI)
Then a few baby rollers and a few miles back to Woodside.  Saw alot of cyclists going the other way.  Finally finished--the ride had more climbing than most organized century rides.   Ward's hi-tech Garmin cut out on Tunitas Creek and didn't record 5 miles, luckily Jack's low tech odomoter matched mine--that we were a shade under 100 miles.  Long day--kind a brutal at times--but needed to suffer a little today so hopefully will suffer less on the Mt. Tam Double.