Sunday, August 26, 2012

Santa Cruz-Aptos Ramble Century (2012)

What a week--its seems the volcano regarding sports doping erupted.   First the Giants leading hitter and fan favorite Melky Cabrera caught and suspended--and any goodwill he had left when it was disclosed "his camp" created a phony web site for an alleged supplement that Melky could say was tainted.  Man,  the A's and Mets fans I know gloated like crazy.  So--within a week A's ace pitcher Bartolo Colon was caught on PEDs.  And I got to answer all the A's fans emails about Melky.

Then two stories came out to bolster my contention that the lords of baseball didn't give a crap about steroids in the Bonds era until Congress put down the hammer.  National sportswriter Bob Nightengale told a story about talking to ex-GM Steve Phillips (ex GM of the Mets so this shut up my Mets friends.)  Steve Phillips basically said, after signing a player--"I told the player I don't know if you are on steroids or not--but I just spent alot of money on you so if you are on steroids stay on them."

Then a story relating to Bartolo came out--in 2001 his personal trainer was caught with a bag of steroids.  Bartolo was on the Indians and the Indians, to their credit, turned the information over to Commissioner Bud Seligs office to investigate.  And what did the Commissioners office do?--NOTHING

(Interesting that many people came out this week that the 50 ganes suspension for Melky and Bartolo too lenient.  See if you know your baseball--how many days was someone suspended on the strict drug policy baseball enacted in 2004 when they became "serious" about fighting PEDS??? (until a bemused Congress ridiculed them to change it the following year.)    Hint--Tony LaRussa's uniform number.)

Which leads us to the coup de grace. 

The American athlete who has gotten the biggest pass of any major star is Lance Armstrong.  While sports show callers and sports reporters will blast a .300 hitter for only hitting .240 on Tuesday nights of even months, or pray tell ducking any matchup or event--Lance has skated.   If Tiger Woods never played the British Open because he couldn't hit out of Pot Bunkers or Barry Bonds always got a cold when the team was up against a tough lefty like Randy Johnson--they would be skewered.  But year after year the American press told us Lance was the greatest as he won the most Tour de France's--as if no other events existed.   Never a word while he ducked seminal races that multiple Tour de France champions did 20 years ago.  Annually US Postal/ Discovery would be dusted at Paris Roubaix, the hardest and most dangerous one day race,  and the commentators would decry that US Postal  lost because other teams could gang up on their one contender (usually George Hincapie.)  Never mind that "the greatest cyclist" was ducking the race, again.

Despite yelping that he never failed a drug test (who did, most cyclist caught when they trainer stopped at the border with a car full of drugs or their veterinarian wiretapped??) loads of evidence that Lance was doping.  A few years back I blogged about the many old stories about Lance's teammates talking about Lance Armstrong's drug use.  click here

So last week a surprise announcement--Lance isn't appealing the US Anti Doping Agency finding that he doped.   Of course sanctimonious Lance says he's not appealing the USADA decision as he can't win.  Maybe he is not contesting the USADA decision so his sycophants aren't in continually shock while 10 of his old cycling/ teammates publicly testify about his doping.   Two good articles about the latest turn

The Australian

The Daily News

I do disagree with one ruling--stripping Lance of his Tour de France victories.   Isn't there a statute of limitations?   And its not like the rest of the field was clean--most of the folks on the podium were caught in a drug scandal years ago.  Lance won these races--dirty and all--and like it or not his winning is the reality.  Otherwise let USADA rule that the 1989 Oakland A's forfeit their 1989 Championship because of all the dopers on the team and the 1989 World Champs are the SF Giants!!!..

(August 25, 2012)   Santa Cruz Ramble with Mike's 300k Brevet Reality Tour added on.  101 miles.
14.9 mph--w/ CA Mike, Christine, Jack.

 The banana peel group, Ward, Dr. Dave, Toby, Leo of Sears, Rusty, Sara, Susan did 74 miles

Century #27

This is a nice out of area metric ride that involves alot of climbing.  We start in Los Gatos. Northwest of San Jose, and immediately begin a 10+ mile climb towards the Coast on the Old Santa Cruz Highway.   When we get to the ridgeline we have an equally long shaded drop into Soquel, just south of Santa Cruz.  We head south meander around suburbia (Aptos area) until turning inland and hitting a series of rollers in the inland agricultural town of Corralitos.   This is the main stop of the ride and a small loop of the agricultural area full of rollers is added on.   Back in Corralitos we then leave by climbing 15+ miles along backwater Eureka Canyon Road.  Not the greatest pavement on the climb and sometimes the summit has been covered with mudslides/ fallen rocks.

The eggplant on my thigh and the swollen baseball finally disappeared so looking forward to doing this ride--but wanted to do a 100 miler and this is only a natural 74 miler.   Back at the start it would hard to add on unless I wanted to do the initial 10 mile climb again.  Also Toby back from sabotaging the London Olympic Games, and first time in a long while I'd ride with fellow 2005 Triple Crown Rookie CA Mike.  Toby reported that his favorite Olympic event was the women's road cycling.

My Alta Alpina 8 Jersey finally came in and the rumors of me sleeping in it every night for a week are not true--but I have lobbied work to change the dress code and allow Alta Alpina 8 Bike Jersey's in the office.

Our bike club doesn't over organize and there are usually no ride leaders--and most of the time the rides go off very well.   Today was not one of those days.  When we were set to leave Rusty and Sara pulled in--rumor that Sara hit the discos last nite.  They urged us to go and they'd catch up--which would almost be impossible--so out 9:00 ride didn't start until 9:30.

The front of the peloton arrives at the SUMMIT (PC) the sign below indicates (WI)

We regrouped at the top of the first climb--with Ward and I running camera tests when the peloton arrived.   I'm not nearly as well versed to take photos on the bike as Ward and I just got a new tiny camera, which I envision me dropping--so only photos I took were from dead stops.

Toby pointing out the blue sky hidden behind 57 grey cloud layers (WI)
Top of ridgeline had fog rolling in and dripped trees--shades of Mt Tam.  Luckily I put my vest back for the long downhill we'd hit after a series of rollers.  I forgot to put on my buff (and was shamed at the car NOT to wear knee warmers--which I really didn't need except for the upcoming descent.)  On descent I got shelled by the group and I was the last person to pull into Blue Balls Park--mile 22 (see the photos) in Soquel for a long photo shoot and demonstration of teleconferencing by Mike.  While this was all going on Rusty-Sara and Susan split.

Mike hits on a great idea for interior design for his new hospital--"think blue" (PC)
Ward and Dave listen to Mike put in an order for "blue balls" for the new hospital (PC)
"I WANT the blue balls put in the hospital lobby--NO, I don't care what it costs" (WI photo)
Meanwhile I imagine that I am surrounded by pumpkins (WI)
We then began the meandering around an area that is part suburbia--part rustic.  I didn't know the route but remembered passing a Junior College--and then a Safeway where a leaving car always seems to menace us.  Soon we at the turn off to go back inland--about 100' before Mike asked me if I was up for bonus miles he had emailed about--part of the 300k brevet route he had done a few weeks before.  Shit yeah.

Clusterfuck #2--I think everyone thought was Mike was joking when he emailed about the add on--or it got lost among the emails about me getting lost and winding up in Bakersfield.  In any event no one had told him they wanted to do the bonus route and on his sudden call out at the turn only Jack and Christine joined us while everyone else continued on the regular route.  So now our group was split into 3--a little short of 30 miles into the ride.

Initial part of the bonus route was crappy--a long gentle hill in a pock marked bike lane with loads of traffic on the main drag.  Eventually the traffic thinned out and we were suddenly in strawberry-artichoke land.  We almost tackled Jack to get him to stop for one group shot.  As Mike was the only one who knew the route--he did most of the pulling.   Some fields filled with workers picking crops--some with a tarp covering the ground--other just with crops--all along a grey sky and grey ocean surrounding.  A few times the road became Paris Roibaixesque, but always light of traffic.  All along there were signs in the weirdest spot saying "bicycle route."  Mike thought he could get us to Sunset State beach but the last road we turned on dead ended so it was time to turn back.  The familiar return trip seemingly took much quicker than the one out when only Mike knew where we were going.  (All looked very familiar from the Strawberry Fields ride I did with Big Mike 8 years ago.)

The bonus mile group in Strawberry Fields Forever (PC)

Artichokes (PC)

Christine's favorite ride outhouse with a vanity mirror (PC)
After @26 mile out and back we continued on the regular route--mostly gentle rollers and a couple of short but steep climbs to Corallitos, nice rest stop under an overhang in a small traffic island park across from the general store.   Here we debated on whether to do the Rusty bonus Corallitos loop, @10 miles, and whether we'd see our compatriots finishing the Rusty bonus loop while we were there (no way, 26 miles vs. 10 miles, they were long gone.)  Christine had carpooled with Dr. Dave so she left a cell message to leave her change-o-clothes by my or Mike's car.

Rusty bonus loop is a roller filled excursion--and Jack and Chistine did a nice job remembering which way to go, as someone seemingly always makes a wrong turn in the past.  Eventually back in Corallitos but no long stop this time--just long enough for me to get rid of undershirt.  The sun was out now and our long climb of the day would begin immediately.

Climb is on rustic Eureka Canyon Road--potholes on the uphill--always full of surprises--not always nice.  Once a good solo doubles rider was near us and he flipped over a rock in the road.  Once road closed at the top ("THIS MEANS BIKES") because of construction--another time road almost impassible because of mud slides.  One year a pickemup truck made an effort to cross the road and head straight towards me.  Today did not disappoint--a goober in a lawnmower engine motorcycle was speeding down the wrong side of the road towards us, and Mike and I had a screaming contest  at the goober.   Otherwise nice tranquil 15 miles of dodging cracks (and crackhead on motorcycle) while bsing with Christine and Mike.

A political advertisement--and I give it a Facebook like. (PC)

Mike gets to the top of the Eureka Canyon climb (PC)

Fairness doctrine and equal time so another political advertisement (PC)
LUCKGRL goober of the day--thought cyclists shouldn't be on the road so he tried to run Toby off (WI)
Regroup at the Summit Store-about 90 miles, so we are assured of getting a century ride in. Two guys loaded with panniers off of each wheel also roll in--now riding those bikes looks hard.  Out of the store is acouple of uphill rollers and a long downhill back to Lexington Reservoir complex.

On long downhill with traffic I get shelled again--no worries as once in Reservoir complex there is a series of steep rollers that I can see if I can catch the group on.  First I go by Jack and expect to see Mike/ Christine around every turn--but no.  So I start thinking they are either faster than I thought (and I already know Christine can motor on climbs), my weight (heaviest I've been in a few years) is really bogging me down.....or they missed the turn!   Sure enough, get back to the car and there is no Mike/ Christine--they had missed the turn and needed to back track.

The banana peel boys leave one piece of Christines' clothes for her to change into.(PC) 

Hell with protein shakes, after a ride Mike drinks peanut butter (PC)

Lexington Reservoir (PC)
Only one item of clothes left behind for Christine by the banana peel boys--though she swears that the Frederick's of Hollywood item is not hers.  If true one of the banana peel boys is a cross dresser.

Long but fun day--it seemed that the ride home was even longer.  And colder.  Stopped for gas well inland where temperature should have gone up 20 degrees and it seemingly had plunged 20 degrees with a stiff breeze--fall is knocking.

For the long drive home flipped on "the Giants" station but they were bs'ing about football, so changed to "the A's" station--just when a national sports guy began a 15+ minute wild rant about Lance Armstrong and cyclists and drugs.  Ironic, the Armstrong drug mess got cycling at the forefront of sorts talk--finally.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

SF Giants Road Trip to San Diego (2012)

(August 18-19, 2012)

Just as an aside its about a year since we subscribed to a newspaper.  My wife misses the ads.  I miss that I have nothing to start the BBQ coals with.

When getting the newspaper it was strange reading the news on the web 2 days before seeing it in the paper--though as my friend Gary says with a newspaper you'd read stories in the paper that wouldn't open to read on the web.  I bookmarked the comics I want to read every day--though the deadline for the next days strip varies for each.  The only thing I really miss is the baseball box scores all in one place--where I can A.D.D. around the page checking on certain players that pop in my mind.   Opening up each box score, game by game, ain't the same.

A real box score--quickly--what did "The More Deserving*" David Wright do??
(*as nicknamed by New York media when he didn't start the all-star game--the fans rather see THE PANDA!)
Sometimes it ain't the same from minute to minute.  Last Monday, in anticipation for a cycling weekend around Mt. Lassen at Dr. Dave's hideaway, I went (for the first time) to Bev Mo to select a 6-pack.  A sacred process as I hadn't had a beer this year and two years ago the first time I had beer for the year was also at Dr. Dave's cabin.   After studying and spending more time making my choice for beer than primary candidates, I came away with 'Mendocino 8 Ball Stout.'   When I got home and checked my email first one from Dave indicating weekend cancelled--wildfires all around Lake Almanor.   Fuck.

On Tuesday after the usual Mt Diablo after work training ride, came home and caught the Giants with the Panda back off the disabled list.  So now after some good table setters batting 3rd-Milkman Melky Cabrera (.346), 4th-Buster Posey (.331), 5th-Pablo Sandoval (.295), 6th-newly acquired Hunter Pence .(.260)--I'm jazzed, this is the best middle of the lineup the Giants have had since Kent-Bonds.  Things change from minute to minute.  Next day Cabrera suspended for 50 games for failing a drug test.  Fuck.

Editorial note--I don't care that Bonds was taking an illegal substance--basically he was just carrying on an ignored baseball tradition of taking performance enhancing drugs and the owners encouraged this, looking the other way,  after the strike season alienated the fans.  But with the resulting backlash and a firm drug suspension policy in place, what the hell was Melky thinking??  (Seemed strange that Kansas City traded a guy with 200 hits in a season for a mediocre pitcher--wonder if their management knew something was up???)   Luckily the Giants didn't sign him to a 5 year 15 million per year before this revelation.  Now I have to put up with the aforementioned Gary emailing how he had told me Melky sucked in New York.

With all this going on my West Hollywood baby daughter started emailing that I should take her to the Giants games in San Diego for the weekend.  Good idea--I already had Friday off for the cancelled bike trip.   San Diego's downtown stadium is a nice venue, the ushers and other stadium folks are, BY FAR, the friendliest of any stadium I've been to, and lately there have been as many Giants fans making the trip to the stadium as Padre fans.    Mrs. Pumpkin had never seen San Diego and decided to go also, so at the last minute bought tickets for Friday and Saturday's games.  As both games evening affairs didn't bother to get a motel to stay over in San Diego--after all ONLY a 2 1/2 drive from Los Angeles per Mapquest--and I never had a problem zipping down there.  But I got payback karma from once telling Mrs Pumpkin as we were leaving a Dodger game--that the Padres were only an hour away and we could catch that game that night.  (Which we did and where I then caught my first baseball.)

With Donnie by Tony Gwynn statue

With Jessie--obviously not in the Bay Area re the clothes we can wear to a night game
Good photo of the family by Tony Gwynn statue.
So, we learned on this trip that:

-Maybe because traveling Giants fans have grown in number--but the ticket deals on StubHub are nonexistent.  Variable pricing from the Padres had these tickets costing almost twice as much as the midweek Pirates games.  Last time I used StubHub I could get tickets at 80% face value and with parking thrown in--now, with 38,000 & 32,000 in attendance for the two days ticket prices were no bargains for good seats.

-THERE IS ALMOST ALWAYS HEAVY TRAFFIC IN LOS ANGELES.  After picking up my daughter in late afternoon but well before the "rush hour"--the 2 1/2 hour trip to San Diego took a miserable 4 hours in stop and stop traffic.  The segregated car pool lanes were a parking lot--the places where the highway had 7 lanes were a parking lot.   We made it for the 2nd inning.  (When the game ended at 11pm I was able to make it back to Los Angeles in 2 hours)

Last photo with Jessie at Petco park before looooooong traffic heavy drive back to Los Angeles--freeway even crowded at 10pm
OK, next day is Saturday so it can't be nearly as bad as we left late morning for San Diego.  We only left real early as we wanted to walk around the Gaslamp district.  So..............4 1/2 hours later we were in San Diego.    Luckily we had time enough to eat at a good sports bar/ restaurant--the BarleyMash, which was cheaper (and better) than the "emergency" ballpark food the night before.

This guy who might have been a Padre employee ignoring the baseball game so we can start the wave.

Fireworks after the game--the Western Supply Building (not a real building anymore--ballpark seating put in the shell of the building) lit up
 Giants won 2 games.  Padre fans nice hosts--and slightly outnumbered by those wearing orange and black.  Sometimes stadiums goes minor league (stupid promotions between innings--PAD Squad trying to start the wave), and scoreboard operator gets confused.  Thin Joaquin Arias up and at first scoreboard shows rotund Pablo Sandoval as the batter, then they realize mistake and put up traded Nate Schierholtz??)  Announcers they pipe in all over the stadium sound like any 2 senior citizens rambling on where my mom lives.  Seats we got for 2nd game right in line with the setting sun so everyone in our section looked like Johnny Carson's Carnac holding cards to their forehead for 3 innings.  But stadium personnel is very very friendly and except for two commutes from hell--had a great time.

I'm glad my daughter is doing well and likes Los Angeles--I hate it.  Ironically in the mid 1970's Los Angeles was viewed as the city of the future and New York was the cesspool.  In the last decade New York has been revitalized and Los Angeles is a nightmare with crime, and racial strife and gridlock.  City of the future with cars whizzing around freeways--where??   Apart from Monopoly's Atlantic City, there may not be any place more sleazy with a famous name than Hollywood.

***Ticket Notes***
On first level Row 25 is last row before a mini wall, then Row 26 is the first row raised about an extra 2' than usual.  Row 25 has an extra foot of leg room, as such it is used as a mini aisle during the game.  So Row 26 has an optimal view and probably at a lower price point.

On second level sit on the thirdbase side if sun is going to set during the game.  Row 13 is also last row between a larger wall than on the first deck--in fact you can stand in row 13 and not obscure the view of the person in row 14.  Here row 14 is raised 4' more than usual.  As large wall behind row 13 you broil if setting sun is hitting you.  So thirdbase side and row 14.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mt Tam Farewell Double (2012)

Century # 26 (August 4, 2012) Mt Tam Double, 198 miles, 14,500' climbing, 15.4 mph, 5:00-6:14

Preliminary Results 13:14 riding time tied for 16th of 204 finishers and 239 starters (so top 94%).  Now--truth be told the tandem given the same time as me and they were way ahead on Lucas Valley Road-did they get lost? and if Ish didn't have to true his wheel after our crash he would have finished the NY Times Crossword Puzzle before I came in.  But if I didn't lose 10-15 minutes at the crash site and finished the ride slower with big painful hematoma on my hip, I would have finished sub 13 hours--@12:55.  Damn.

-My Fastest Time Ever
-21 Minutes Faster than last year when they  reversed route
-Longest Rest Stop was when I laid me and the bike down to avoid hitting a fucking car U-turning on Hwy 1
-Started Solo but rode long stretches with (behind) Ish (RAAM rider), Kimberly & Roehl (RAAM tandem). Also with Toshi (coolest Death Ride Jersey) and Chuck from Vegas--in great paceline across Marin.

Mt. Tam--Day before the Double (PC)

The Mt Tam Double (with it series of short climbs) is my favorite Double but I've been thinking awhile about this being my last one.   At least my last racing-timed Double.   I'm not that excited about a timed Double where I am psyched to ride balls out.  No one from my club does this, or most timed Doubles anymore.  Seems like a decade ago since Mike and I had dinner before the first time we did this ride--we were so excited.   I think the big thing is the whole getting older thing, which I ignored, until the vein problem popped up. 
 Had redoubled my training in prep for the Alta Alpina this year but workouts have become harder.  Long climbs have become harder--whatever cardiac conditioning I ever had is now F'd.  But I ignored all this until the vein/ calf problem.  Physician said it was a temporary thing--which it is until I cycle--inflamed and hurting after the Marin Century I did a week ago, the Sacramento Century during the week--and even during the training warmup the day before the Mt. Tam Double.    Compression socks & heating pads--wonderful.    On the Mt Tam Double calf vein inflamed and was bothering me on some of the mid ride climbs--at least until I fell on my butt so I wouldn't fly over Ish or taco into a car and the grapefruit lump on my side hurt me more.

Pictures of Frank Lloyd Wright Marin Civic Center near the ride start--East Marin is developed--West Marin ain't (PC)
So on the great 50 mile (small chainring)warmup ride to the Pt Reyes Bovine Bakery--which traces much of the beginning of the Course--I was thinking alot about this being my last hard/ timed Double.  On my ride to Pt Reyes I took a detour to the Olema Campgrounds which was a seminal event for my old bike club in 2001--when I couldn't ride and could barely walk after my knee was ripped up.  The hardest thing I had ever done to that point was the totally flat Lodi Century--my annual grueling ride.  Never dreamed I'd do a Double, let alone a hilly century ride.   Started doing doubles in 2004 and first earned the Triple Crown in 2005--after 8 years maybe it is time to stop.

(top) Day before I am at Big Rock (middle) Look at those pair of....scones...Vegan Whole Wheat Scones at Bovine Bakery--I now have nighttime snack and breakfast (bottom) Mt Tam Routes marked with mileage to rest stops and top of climbs on my top tube--I forgot to put in Pt Reyes Station rest stop (PC)

Lucas Valley Road blocked when I came back by an armored car going off the side of the road.  If I was younger and rode faster I might have been able to get free samples (PC)
This was spooky after thinking about aging all day--watching the Giants game before going to bed--one of the players slid wrong and announcers predict he'll get a rasberry on his ass.  Giants announcers are about 5 years older than me.

Mike Krukow--"I've got a strawberry on my cheek when snowboarding"
Duane Kuiper--"Your days of snowboarding are over"
Krukow-"You're right"
Kuiper--"It was a sad day in my house yesterday.  I gave away my skis, and kept the tv and couch.
Krukow-"That's why you got to take alot of pictures."

Wake up at 3- for the 5- mass start.  I always hated waking up at @3- for a Double (sometimes earlier), I always hated starting in the dark.   Today I hate it more than usual.  Game plan is to get near the front of the mass start, just like last years Mt Tam and this years DMD so wouldn't have to ride in a large group, though will be hard to keep close to all the fast riders near the front.     Luckily the short but steep Big Rock climb is just a few miles in, and then there are a series of steep rollers out to Fairfax--perfect for breaking up the field.     Other game plan is to try and skip #1 & #2 rest stop--one right before and right after climbing Mt. Tam--I've traditionally skipped #2.  I'd wind up skipping #1, #2, #4, #7 & #9--I must have read Jack's guide to riding Doubles.

Last minute decision to throw knee warmers on--this ride is usually real cool/ moist in the AM but it gets warm and sunny later.   This was a good move, but I forgot his bag of drugs (suntan lotion, enduolytes, Tums.)  Cuing up for mass start and a few people are joking around with friends--I'm just ancie and want to get going.  Nice Japanese guy with a strange Death Ride Jersey (is this the one Cisco Dave said he didn't like??) next to me asks about the course, would turn out we'd ride together along long

One stupidass got my dander up right away--some guy clad in black spinning 150rpm with legs and bike all over the place (think Jerry Lewis) came flying up the road shoulder and then cut off the two people in front of me.  I yelled out "nice move buddy, how about saying something" which caused the cyclists around me to also grumble at Jerry.  I moved to the outside and got past Jerry as he seemed like an accident waiting to happen--10 seconds later is sounded like Jerry unclipped and hit a cyclist behind me--drawing lots more yelling.

Got over the short climbs nicely and when peloton formed on straightway to Fairfax, I got behind the
riders who just beat me off the downhill.  First morning light--yippie.  But downhill into Fairfax is longer and many riders shot by-when we hit the flats one strong guy in the flats hammered past and pulled me back to the group right before Fairfax--the Mt Tam climb.  I was dependant on the kindness of strangers all day.

Mt. Tam climb was nice--weather was clear.  Japanese guy with strange Death Ride Jersey (isn't that a cartoon character where the skeleton should go?) and I kept passing each other.   Guy we met on Old La Honda a few weeks ago (he remembered Rebecca zooming past that day) was also on the climb.

Seemed very fast to mile 24--the first rest stop.  Traditionally I just stop here for 3 minutes (piss--reload on drink, grab a banana and cookie) but was always amazed how many riders just go past--so I decided to do that today.  Luckily I loaded up at the start with a couple of Cliff Z Bars and GU Chomps--plus a 6 shot of Perpetuem.

Quick twisty downhill to Lake Alpine where a rider and tandem passed--no big deal--I'll catch them on the climb up to Ridgecrest, one of my favorite climbs with the short steep hairpins.  But it was a big deal, the tandem was about 200' ahead of me and stayed about 200' in front of me for most of the climb.  When I finally caught up to them turned out they had done Race Across America.    This was the best climbing tandem I had ever seen.

Rollers on Mt. Tam were clear--with heavy fog hanging a few hundred feet below.  I used to be able to zoom over the "Seven Sisters" but I can't anymore.  Tandem zoomed by on the rollers and I repassed on the uphill after the intersection we'd return to to go down to Muir Woods/ Highway 1.  I think I counted 22 riders coming down (hence ahed of me) while I was going up to turnaround checkpoint.

(top) Rollers on Mt. Tam (bottom) Beautiful view off to the Coast, that is what we are going to descend into (Toshi photo)
Top of Mt Tam at 7:34, +7 minutes faster than last year.  This year no water at turnaround so I go over to picnic area.  Open 2nd Z Bar and start rolling after a few minutes.  Spot Grizzly Mark coming up--tandem passed me again before downhill that plunges into fog.

Very foggy and dreary--glad I kept small light on the bike and have it blinking.   (Though I had it blinking when car made sudden U-turn in front of us so it may just provide a false sense of security.)    On curvy downhill no cars pass on the narrow road--but near the bottom about a half dozen cyclists shoot by.  No big deal as I plan to skip, as I always had done, the rest stop coming up.  I get to some uphill rollers on Highway 1 and a few cyclists 1000' ahead of me.  I can't make any progress catching up to anyone anymore and the 1000' stays constant.  Right after Stinson Beach the road flattens and now the folks in front will probably put more distance on me--when the climbing tandem comes by and I jump on.  Soon they are picking up all the cyclists who are in front of us.

I'm on Hwy 1 before Stinson Beach in the morning (Marin Cyclists)

Ish, same place (Marin Cyclists)

La Honda Guy-same place (Marin Cyclists)

 Roehl/ Kimberly tandem on Cheese Factory climb. La Honda guy and I got lucky--we got  to follow the tandem and then Ish down the Coast from Mt Tam to Pt Reyes Station. (Marin Cyclists)
 Just when I'm getting tired pounding the flats, the rollers start.  Wonderful-I have a much easier time riding hard on uphill rollers than the flats..  The tandem drops off and La Honda guy and I are riding with a tall guy who is in tri bars and headphones.  He is keeping a steady pace but slower over the rollers than my liking so I'd go over the roller first, but in the subsequent flat the tall guy would steadily move past.  Hell, if he wants to pull the next dozen miles to Pt. Reyes Station at his fast but steady pace I'll sit in.  Guy looks familiar and he has a Quackcyclist Bike and Quackcyclist socks.

I pull up to talk to him--but he recognizes me first. Rider is Ish who is one of the great long distance cyclists.  He used to live near me and a member of my old bike club, and 15 years ago he'd do crazy rides like Doubles, the 508 and eventually RAAM.  But unlike a self promoting 508 rider in the old club who had far less success in Doubles and 508, you'd never know from Ish that he did any of this stuff.  He was more interested that I finished a real easy century, and very encouraging.  Years later he saw me after my first double and excitingly ran up and asked me "well how did you like it?"--where I exclaimed "I'm never doing another Double again"  That was about 30 Doubles ago.    

This was Ish's first double after knee surgery, and this was to my benefit as I could barely keep up with him as he steadily pulled down Hwy 1.   I'd rest on the rollers.  He'd see someone down the road and didn't need to accelerate--at his steady pace eventually we'd catch up and pass them.

Get into Pt Reyes Station and I stop at mini rest stop--mile 73.   I Know I need to take some food, tums and endurolytes--luckily rest stop worker who I've seen on Mt. Diablo gives me some of his.  Take some food (raisin oat bar) in pockets though I think I'll be stopping at big rest stop in Petaluma--20 miles later.  I also intend to get rid of knee warmers there.

Now we are going cross Marin to the East.   Lots of flats and slow rollers interrupted by "Cheese Factory Climb."   Here the guy from La Honda and I get into a nice paceline where everyone was working--and then past turn off to Nicasio which I rode yesterday and where we'd go 100 miles from now.  But now we are going straight over the "Cheese Factory Hill."

Tashi, on Cheese Factory Hill where we merged with Century riders and blocked by stalled auto traffic (Marin Cyclists)

Chuck, at the same place. (Marin Cyclists)

I'm at same place.  Soon  we'd go cross Marin back into a headwind with Toshi and Chuck. (Marin Cyclists).
What a clusterfuck--one lane of traffic is closed for returning century riders.  The slower century riders are now all over and blocking the lane we're in--and traffic is backed up near the top as traffic is snarled going back and forth on one lane.  Almost come to a dead stop at the top where cars are blocking cyclists--or cyclists are blocking cars. 

Go off the long downhill and Ish and I are again at the same point.  Ish pulls for awhile but comments he feels tired and will stop in Petaluma, so I go to the front until downhill into Petaluma.  What an honor--its like pulling Johan Museeuw.  Guy from Old La Honda was with us and said I pushed the pace nicely.

Following Ish into Petaluma (Marin Cyclists)
Weave around the streets of Petaluma and spot the rest stop park at mile 93.  Pull in at 10:40 just +8 minutes ahead of last year, which is almost all rest stop saving time.  Rest stop is a jammed with cyclists from all Century and Doubles route.  Spot clubmember Craig who comes over to say hello and then I just jump on bike to get out of there.  Not bad--93 miles and just 9 minutes of rest stop time, though I wish I would have ducked a few more oat bars in my pocket. 

Next segment goes 31 miles Northwest back towards the ocean--which is what the Mt Tam folks reversed a few years ago to get everyone in Petaluma early.  I dislike the new route--I like lots of rollers, but rollers (or flats) into a headwind sucks.  When leaving Petaluma there are 3 other Doubles riders, one being the Japanese guy from the start.  We get to a red light and one turkey runs it and cuts off a car.  We all comment what an ass that guy is--which bonds us into doing a three man across Marin.  One guy from Vegas wearing red dot shoes doesn't look like a climber but he is.  The Japanese guy, Toshi, had done DMD and Alta Alpina--for the Death Ride his club made personalized jersey's and that is why his has his avatar on it instead of a skeleton.  Cool.  Toshi is strong--on some pulls he quickly is 100' ahead of everyone but then slows so we can regroup.  Also cool is we pass a century rider who wants to race our group, but once he realizes we are on the Double he joins and helps us out.  

(Top) Chuck guy from Vegas--check out those shoes.  With shoes like that he best be a strong climber--and he is (Bottom)  I'm in group heading west on baby rollers but headwind (Toshi Photo)
 Besides wind whipping into us, it ain't getting any sunnier.   Get into Valley Ford rest stop, mile 124, at 12:24--+20 sooner than last year.  I figure to get nourishment I make a Perpetuem at the special table only open for Doubles Riders, but when its not iced cold Perpetuem doesn't taste good.  Also grabbed some more whole wheat/ oat bars that always go down well.

Now its the 30 mile Coleman loop--that feature 3 climbs before getting to the very steep Coleman Valley climb.  I start off with Chuck from Vegas, but my calf vein and bottom of foot are starting to bug me and I soon fall way.  La Honda guy then passes me.  I can't pick up the climbing without hurting so I sit more than usual on the two climbs along the busy Highway 1.  Finally we turn onto rustic Bay Hill Road, which is usually cool.   Today its frigid. Fog is back.  In fact near the top I got into someones farm driveway--and just when I'm puzzled that the paved road is about to turn to gravel, an old lady comes out of the house and points me to the right direction.

Long bumpy cold downhill to Highway 1.  I'm so pissed with my climbing, calf issues, that I don't stop to put on my vest or put back the arm warmers that I tied around my bars.  At least my tee-shirt and knee warmers were still on.  Nice ride down the foggy Coast, lights back on, Toshi catches up with me but I tell him to go ahead as I anticipate (and do) ride up Coleman very slowly.

Coleman is surreal.  Usually a hard climb but where the fog evaporates and morphs into the sun.  Today it just gets foggier and foggier.  Cows are on the road.  Sheep are on the road.  I yell out warnings to cyclists going downhill.  On the top roller after roller and I keep looking for water spot and eventually think I missed it.   Suddenly it appears, mile 136, its 2:09, lead from last year down to +13 minutes.  I am stoked when bundled up rest stop workers say I'm about 18th or 19th.

When water stop worker says return to Valley Ford rest stop is only 17 miles away, I tell her that I already saw Valley Ford.  Its depressing when you return and its almost empty, and I don't plan to stop.  I had taken a few oat bars-cheery rest stop worker said that wasn't enough food and proceed to stuff (squish) a stack of Fig Newtons in my pocket.

Toshi had hung out and we ride together down another crappily paved downhill--Joy Road.  After all we are now in Sonoma County which doesn't believe in paving roads.  Then a few rollers but mostly downhill or good flat sections with tailwind.  Back in Valley Ford, mile 153, at 3:00, which is 20 minutes up from last year.

I skip the rest stop (though dedicate the crap pavement shortly down the rustic road.)  Have a short steep climb back to Highway 1, where another doubles rider shoots past me--I'm still climbing like crap.  Swing down to Tomales and then now heading south on Highway 1.

Still incredible head/cross wind going down Highway 1.  I'm down to 13mph when Ish comes by--yells hop on--and I get to hang on the ride.  Lots of short steep rollers punctuate this portion of Highway 1 which is good for me, as I can recover on the roller from the tough job of hanging on Ish's wheel on the flats.  Then disaster strikes.

Right after a sharp downhill is Nick's Cove Oyster Bar with a big parking lot on the right and auxiliary parking lot on the left.  I remember this from last year when a car leaving a lot cut Ward off.  Today a car passes us right before the downhill--then dead stops on the Highway, pointing to the right parking lot.  Two pedestrians walking on the right side--blocking the car. (Driver later said they spotted a "no parking" sign in the right side parking lot.")  Ish goes to pass on the left, where there is plenty of room as car is 1/4 pointed on the right shoulder.  Car doesn't have any turn signal on--then suddenly turns left and clips Ish.  I'm either going to fly over a downed Ish and or slam into car, or do what I do, lean and fall to the left--hanging tight onto the bars so I don't break a collarbone.

Hip got about 80% of the blow--head 15% (helmet broke in the back) and elbow 5% (just some scrapes.)  Hip is locking up and I'm screaming at driver.  After a few minutes I try and  can get up--bike is OK.  Ish says his bike is wrecked. and with adrenaline rush I tell Ish I have to get out of there before hip locks up.   There is an uphill roller right after oyster bar and I can't get started until I walk up the hill so I can start on a downhill.  I had a headache over every bump but I knew my name and address so I figured head came out unscathed.   For the rest of the day my hip hurt with every pedal revolution--later I saw where my hip had swelled--it looked like someone stuck 1/3rd of  grapefuit on my side.  Wouldn't take Advil as not a good idea even with mild concussion .  (Ish told me later that some witness said my head bounced on the pavement)

(Note: Old route went on Highway 1 past  Nick's Cove much earlier in the day, quiet and autos not cuing up for dinner clusterfuck.   Old route also came back from Petaluma late in the day--a lane of traffic (and po'd drivers) NOT closed--but it didn't need to be as a handful of doubles riders around --not the large group of Century riders.  NEW ROUTE IS DANGEROUS IN THE CHEESE FACTORY HILL, NICK'S COVE SPOTS)

Tire missing some rubber and helmet missing a back end after crash (PC)
 Now painfully going towards Marshall Wall.  A few miles from turn caught up to Toshi--he was hurting now.  I tried to pull but he was soon off.  Then up the Marshall Wall--thankfully easy from this side--and then--finally--a tailwind.

At Walker Creek rest stop, mile 172, 4:37, up +20 from last year even with accident.  I report accident and make sure someone went out to get Ish.  Load up on more oat bars.  Fuck--I looked at my rear tyre and there is a huge gash in--something to think about on every remaining downhill.  Can't pedal as fast as I want anyway.

I'm not planning to stop for the rest of the day again.  9 minutes of rest stop before mile 100, post mile 100 19 minutes of rest stops PLUS about 15 minutes at the crash.

Now on Hicks Valley flats and super tandem comes by followed by another guy who is kind of erratic. Tandem gives me great news--they saw Ish (with hole in shorts) on the road. I duck behind them.  When another Doubles rider zooms by the erratic guy tries to get on his wheel but soon he is in no mans land.  I'm content hanging behind the tandem. 

But the tandem has to stop for some reason, so I catch up to erratic guy.  I'd love to have run a 2 man with him but he just trying to get away, so I stuck behind him.  Guy did a nice job on Cheese Factory climb into the wind--I could have gone up faster but "Do what you should--not what you can"--Coach Toby  if this guy wanted to beat himself up and I could rest so be it.  Then I stayed with him on the downhill and we then turned into the Nicasio flats with tailwind.  I figured I'd do some work now--but when I turned around before the Nicasio rest stop he had dropped off. 

Now about 13 miles back to the finish and I was going to ignore calf & hip pain and ride balls out not too get passed.  And I didn't by any single rider.  But on the fast uphill the tandem roared past and I had nothing left to try to catch them.  Even when they stalled a little when it got steep before Big Rock, I closed a little but couldn't catch up--and I wouldn't see them after the downhill and the really fast segment back to the start.

(top) Start of Redwood lined (10 mile) Lucas Valley Road (middle) With about 5 miles to go short Big Rock Climb (bottom) After Big Rock it is 22 zig zags downward.  All photos from the day before (PC)
Want to make sure no one else catches up--but worried about tyre so keep looking to avoid any rough patch on the road.  Big Rock downhill of 22 turns done well--loads of signs warning riders after number of century crashes last year. 

Soon 5 miles of fast flats done and last @8 block up and downhill through subdivision needs to be done--I look back and no one there.  Of course there is a major intersection 2 blocks from finish--I get caught at the light--as soon as it changes one rider that had the downhill momentum comes along and zooms by me.  Things even out as I know where they duck the check in table--all they way to the back--so we came in together (after doing my best Joe Peschi "pardon me, excuse me." to the century cyclists walking every which way with their bikes.)

My watch says 6:14--I wanted to come in 15 minutes before last year--and this was 21! By far my fastest finish and I think it was a slow course today with the headwind, but results will be posted in about a week.
I've always placed here real well so looking forward to the results.  But without that fn car I could have come in before 6:00 for a sub 13 hour ride and could walk without pain that was now killing me.
Ish pulls in right behind--he had to true his wheel which took over 20 minutes.  Turns out he's parked about 5 spaces away from me and I can hear him when he calls his wife and gives her the bad news--I'm not that brave so I text message my wife that we finished but had a small mishap along the way.

(top) Cooking at post ride BBQ (PC)  (middle1) Ish & I at post ride meal--I don't always look this happy after a Double (Toshi Photo) (middle 2) Grizzly Mark--I think he had 1 of everything served (PC) (bottom) Toshi with his Club's self made Death Ride jersey (PC)
Good post ride dinner, though workers are taking the place apart though some Doubles riders will be coming in 3-4 hours later.  Catching up a little with Ish, and soon joined by Grizzly Mark and some people he knows from the big Santa Rosa Bike Club.   So what is topic (I didn't bring it up), why do some people stop riding doubles?  Mark suggests they should have 150 mile Doubles for us old folks--I like that idea.  One guy mentioned a rider who stopped doing Doubles and soon he died from a freak accident in his backyard.  Eventually I clued Mark in that this may have been my last one--I'm still thinking about Knoxville which is an untimed "fun" event--but the days of thrashing myself on the brutal doubles are over.  This ride used to be easy--now it too fucking hard.
PS--Heard from Recumbent Brian--first 'bent to do Alta Alpina.  He found the long steady climbs on Alta Alpina easier than the repeated short, sometimes steep, climbs on Mt. Tam Double.   Mt Tam had a 15% DNF rate on a cool day.  Maybe this ride is harder than I give it credit for--or maybe if I stayed in mid pack and didn't try to stay near the front it would be easier.  All I know its a week later and I still have a (reduced) swollen thigh and it looks like someone squished an eggplant on it.