Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Self Supported Sierra Century--Reverse Redux (2012)

The World's Greatest Self Supported Century
very light traffic*good roads*almost no traffic controls*oak covered meadows or pine forests*quirky western towns
Century #30

Sutter Creek Welcomes Us(WI)
(September 15, 2012)  Sierra Century-Reverse Redux, w/ Ward, Jack, Cisco Dave?, Toby? & Rachel, Long?, 101 miles, 10,000' climbing  first century ride--they picked a good one

? denotes question of sanity (I'm included) by doing the Charleston Road climb--largest group we ever had doing it

14 mph today instead of the 15.7 from the Sierra Century, much more laid back today

10,000' seems high as Ward has only 500' more for 20 more miles in official edition and last year (with last climb we didn't do this  year) we had 8,700' climbing.  Gotta love those Garmin's.

Will just write briefly about the ride as route
description in detail in older blogs--the photos of this
great area sezs it all.
Ride profile--instead of rainbows and unicorns on this ride there are rainbows and alpaca--what could be more fun? (graph & map from WI--drug flashback from PC)
As blog readers know, the Sierra Century out of Plymouth is the greatest Century in the free world (of course not counting places where religious fanatics rule.)   In 2005 the official Sierra Century ended when El Dorado County wouldn't give it a permit, but was revived in 2012.  In the years between 2006-2011 I always organized a  Diablo Cyclist ride on the old course; at first the hardest 60 miles, and eventually on the the hardest 100 miles the classic 120 mile route. Even though the official ride was done this year, the Gold Country is such a great area to ride through we still scheduled an encore performance.  If you don't mind a few hills you are in cycling heaven here. 

Photos from Plymouth, Shenandoah Wine Valley, Steiner Loop, Mt Aukum

Diablo Cyclist peloton at the start of the ride, on rollers through the Amador Valley Wine Country (PC) 

(above) Rachel (below) Toby near Ostrum Road turn off where we intended to come back on--but a rapidly setting sun had us come back a more direct and flatter way (PC)

(above) Jack (below) Rachel & Toby on the oak lined rollers in the Mt Aukum area

Rachel, Toby, Ward (DD)

Self Portrait of Cisco Dave cracking Toby and me up (DD)
Cisc Dave in Shenandoah area (WI)

Rachel (WI)

Me--I look very content (WI)

The peloton-Steiner Road loop (WI)

Rachel and Toby past the River Pines store (WI)
 The signature section of the Sierra Century is brutal Slug Gulch which comes around mile 70.  Long ago I  found out that if we go out of Plymouth in the reverse direction we can hit Slug Gulch earlier when it is cooler and there are 50 less miles are in ones legs.    Over the years we cobbled together a course where we bypass the flatter areas with constant rollers in the lowlands by Ione and add the El Dorado National Forest on the "bonus" portion of the 120 mile course--and eat lunch at nearby Cook Station.

Photos of the population of Fairplay

This alpaca trained by Toby (PC)

(above) Who knew that alpacas all look different (PC)
This alpaca looks like Harpo Marx (DD)

(above) Even more alpaca photos (DD)

Clint Eastwood alpaca (WI)

Ward thinks you need more alpaca photos (WI)

Ooooooh--do we have to leave the alpacas (WI)

Photos from Perry Creek Road

(above) Perry Creek Road--rustic approach to Slug Gulch (DD)
Rachel, Toby and me on Perry Creek Road (WI)
 For those who know this area, we go from Plymouth (elevation 1046')> Mt Aukum (1940')> Fairplay (2320')> up Slug Gulch to Omo Ranch (3480')> through El Dorado National Forest to Cooks Station (5000')> down Shake Ridge Road to Sutter Creek (1198')> Volcano (2053')>up Rams Horn or crazy people take Charleston before going down to Fiddletown (1687') to Plymouth.    Two big climbs and a few more modest climbs and lots and lots of roller.   The other significant change is that instead of flying down the Fiddletown Freeway 2x we only do it once near the end of the ride, but we go the full length of Shake Ridge Road from Highway 88 to Sutter Creek, which is almost as much fun as Fiddletown Road.

Photos from fun on Slug Gulch climb

Movie of riding on Slug Gulch--the 2nd hardest climb we'd do today.  Interviewer-Cinematographer-Producer-Director Cisco Dave
Cisco Dave at the beginning of Slug Gulch (PC)

For all Slug Gulch finishers (PC)

Jack near the end of Slug Gulch (PC)

 Luckily Ward has done this ride enough and also gone up with me for "secret training"--so while I play ride leader and watch the back of the group, Ward zips all around the group, taking photos and gets to the front before a turn.   I love when we have new folks on the Sierra Century ride as they can discover how incredible cycling is in the Gold Country, so I take my responsibility seriously.  Luckily two new riders who have never done a century are both strong athletes--Long is a speedy climber and Rachel (aka Mrs Toby) is a triathlete.  Long will probably enjoy the course but triathletes usually ride much flatter routes, so don't know if Rachel will fade.  Toby paced her for most of the day and Ward and I made sure most of the group stayed together better than our usual weekly in town rides, which are often free for alls.  Jack is the oldest person in the group--and while he is still the remaining "oldtimer" who does doubles he falls off when we push the pace on climbs--but no need to worry about him, he set his good constant pace all day.  If Dave or Long got to far ahead they either rode back or pulled out their cameras and took photos while waiting.

I had so much fun on this ride.  On the official Sierra Century it was hammer all day and I was super aware of other riders. On this ride I could really take in and enjoy the surrounding area.  Air was warm and super dry as usual--but at least 15 degrees cooler than the official Sierra Century, so weather was perfect.  No vest or arm warmers needed when starting out but never turned into an inferno--nice.

Photos from Indian Diggins School, Omo Ranch, El Dorado National Forest, Cook Station

Coach Toby demonstrating his secret training technique--I rather cross train on frisbee golf with a cart) (WI)

Group at Indian Diggins School Rest Stop surrounded by tall pines (PC)

Through the El Dorado National Forest.  Real quiet.  Only cyclist we saw not with our group was when Lance with the yellow jersey (it even said Yellow Jersey on the jersey if you didn't know your colors) rode by. (PC)

Jack in El Dorado National Forest-Omo Ranch Road (WI)

Toby and I on Omo Ranch Road (WI)

Rachel on Omo Ranch Road (WI)

(above) Long (below) Toby & Rachel exiting the El Dorado National Forest (PC)

(above) Long (below) Rachel riding up to Cook Station--now at 5000' (WI)

Our training table at Cooks Station @ 5,000' (PC)

Toby gets fueled up with the burrito special (PC)

Cisco Dave wondering if he should leave over the farm frites (WI)
The following are just some highlights of this edition:

-There is a speedy downhill roller stretch where we pass an alpaca farm about a mile short of our first rest stop in Fairplay.  We always hammer past NEVER stop; at the start I announced I would be checking it out today.  Today we all stopped (OK, except for Jack who thought we'd try to find an alpaca that looked like him) and had an incredible time looking at two groups of the funniest animals I had ever seen.
-Frisbee golf action at Fairplay rest stop, I'm gonna start playing that so I can break out my tie-dye shirts.  The guys playing frisbee golf even had carts.

-Slug Gulch has lots of barking dogs but all well locked up.   Long shot on ahead.   Dave posed by a "warning snow removal sign" where I thought I took his photo but I must have not had enough energy to press the shutter button.  When we reached the top Dave and I turned around to go back to our achtervulgers--hoping they cleared the first half of Slug Gulch which is much much harder than the second part.  They did--by alot.

Photos from Shake Ridge Road
Sign on Shake Ridge Road (PC)

Bike Friday mailbox on Shake Ridge Road (WI)

(above) Part of the group riding through the pines along the Shake Ridge Road ridgeline (below) Further down I regroup with Dave and Long before we head into Sutter Creek (WI)

-At Indian Diggins School, Omo Ranch, there was an assortment of balls and Dave managed to hit everyone. He later thought he was an 1970's NBA players so he rolled up his bike shorts.

-Up for the Frederic Sierra Road 7-11 Hot Dog Award, Cisco Dave had a cheeseburger and Rachel/ Toby each had a giant burrito at Cook Station.   Luckily most of the remaining ride was downhill.

Photos from Sutter Creek-Volacano Road & Volcano

Dave finds a rest area in Sutter Creek (PC)

Tree lined Sutter-Volcano Road, fun-gentle climb (PC)  

Ward, Toby, Rachel entering Volcano (PC)

Volcano Greek Theatre renovation project (PC)
Long, Toby and Jack on Mayor Rosie's memorial bench (WI)

Jack ready to leave with the sane people and get out of Volcano on the Rams Horn climb (WI)

Toby ready to leave with the insane people who are leaving Volcano via the Charleston Grade which is steeper than Slug Gulch.  He first talks Rachel into carrying his 2nd water bottle. (WI)
-3 young deer ran across the road about 20' in front of us on Shake Ridge Road.  Shake Ridge Road is very well paved and a good alternative to take downhill to Sutter Creek rather than the fair paved at best Volcano Road. 

-Out of Volcano the Sierra Century goes up Rams Horn Grade, which is a long and moderate (5-6%) climb.  Part of me wanted to make this ride extra special and do Charleston Road out of Volcano--which no one has done in 3 years.  It has the steepest section of any climb I've been on--the first 1/4 mile is steeper than the 18% Mt Diablo ramp, and after recovery sections there are 1/4 mile & and 1/8 mile sections just as steep as the Diablo ramp.  The saner party of me didn't want to do it--so I didn't push it.  Cisco Dave kinda wanted to do it--maybe.  Long was game, then Toby (upon Rachel's urging), so Dave and I jumped aboard.     Long and Toby took off, Dave and I rode up together but it is so steep Dave didn't dare pull out the camera like he had done earlier on easier Slug Gulch.  This was the first time Dave did Charleston and he opined that Sierra Road is tougher--I think I agree.  Charleston is steeper  but Sierra is much longer with no recovery sections.  Then again we did Charleston in late afternoon--usually we do Sierra Road during the heat of the day.

-No massive sprint down the Fiddletown Freeway.  No way I could get sky high psyched like I did on the official Century a few months back.  Long and Dave went on ahead--I think they got into town just in time to dance (see below)  

-It was getting dark rapidly when we pulled into Fiddletown at 6:15--just missing their town fest, though I think we saw the same crazy bonnet wearing lady who wanted to dance with anyone in our group in a previous edition of the ride.  Consensus was we go back the metric route which would cut a few miles and one last significant climb--so Plymouth just 6 miles away.  Relatively flat with a few rollers in the middle--a speed roller and then an inertia roller.   Group nicely together, where Ward near the front told Dave and Long that we had to hammer the rollers, and then he preceded to.  I shot up from the back and ahead on the inertia roller where Dave joined me and we proceeded to kill each other.  OK--bad behavior once for 100 miles, not bad.

Photo from Fiddletown

Toby in Fiddletown --sun real bright in spots and around a corner--semi darkness where trees block out the low setting sunn (PC)
Everyone thought the ride/ route was great.  Long & Rachel stoked about their first century.  Tremendous day.

Life is so fn strange.  When away from the house all day Saturday, on Sunday I take the fixed gear out locally where I do a 40 mile loop to the local reservoir where there is a nice little climb up the dam.   So the next day., in the watershed at the top of the dam there is a huge group from my old bike club.  Everyone is new and I don't know them.  When I go by I  wave and was ready to leave when some guy quizzically called out my name.  It's Mountain Bike Racer Jerry!!!  He accompanied my on my first Sierra Century in 2003 when I was scared shitless.  Then when I bonked on Slug Gulch in 2004 after my dad died, and I was ready to give up doing my first Death Ride, Jerry accompanied me back to Slug Gulch a week later and we did the self supported metric edition.  Jerry hung mostly with the friendly mountain bike group of my old club, but the road riders were a dysfunctional lot so I soon joined the Diablo Cyclists--and I hadn't seen Jerry for 8 years.   Until today, a day after another another great Sierra Century. 

2003 with Jerry at the Fiddletown Rest stop on the Sierra Century--taken with a portable cardboard camera with
real film (PC)

2012 run into Jerry near the top of Los Vaquaros Dam for the first time since 2004 when we did the self supported Sierra Metric Century (PC)

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