Monday, October 1, 2012

Knoxville Double (2012)

September 29, 2012 Knoxville Double, 201 miles, 12,600' climbing*.  w/ Jack (first and last third) and Grizzly Mark (first and second third).14.8mph  @5:15-9:15.

*This is CA Triple Crown reported climbing.  Curtis C. blog had 15,753'; Joan O Strava has 13,281'; Bill H Strava has 13,022'

#31 Century or more done this year

This is supposed to be a FUN ride, a non timed double put on by the Quackcyclists who earlier put on Devil Mountain Double.  It has -6,000 less climbing that Devil Mountain.  Hell, it has -2,000 less climbing than the Mt Tam Double that I can zoom through.  I almost finished DMD in the daylight and easily always finish Mt Tam with daylight to spare, but on this one I always come in well after dark--and the dark part is getting longer.  One year I DNF'd.  For some reason there is a disconnect between the course and how difficult it is.

The Quackcyclist provide fantastic support, and as it is untimed, I view this as the "end of year party" for all the hard doubles that came before.  With no mass start, goofing around at rest stops, the slowness of the course (featuring four climbs that are not hard but time consuming), and the earlier setting sun it no longer surprised me that always end this ride well after nightfall.  After going balls out in the mass start timed events I just wanted to enjoy this one-take in the scenery, and goof around.  Though much of this course is Davis backwards, it avoids the skanky sections of Davis and is much nicer--so its an end of season reward. 

Anyway, after great finish at Mt. Tam Double but stupidass fall to avoid car--I had basically stopped cycling for two weeks while eggplant on my thigh made everything painful--and then after I stopped watching calories as I had done before the holy triad-Devil Mountain-Alta Alpina-Mt Tam Double.  So soon it wasn't only my thigh that was swollen--a week before Knoxville I was the heaviest I had been in a few years.  Luckily I managed to kick that evil word "diet" back into gear a week before Knoxville so I lost a few of the excess pounds. 

Below--what we wouldn't see on Pleasant Valley Road before sunrise and after sundown. (PC)

One nice change this year--we'd be going out the same road we always return on, Pleasant Valley Road, instead of screwing around through neighborhoods in the AM.  Pleasant Valley Road is one of the great 'day before easy spin' rides--good pavement, peppered by little organic farms.  Though about 1/2 mile from the highway and outlet mall hell (that 1/2 mile gap expands the longer you are on the road) you are a world away with very light traffic.  And for those people who hate being on the same road on a ride, for all but the fastest of us we ain't gonna see anything but our headlight beams (the "joy" of riding at night) in the AM and PM.
Weather forecast is spiking up to mid 90 highs so I told Jack I plan to start at 5:00 instead of 5:30.  I'm well aware that when I DNF's on this ride it was a hot day, the pace was slow, and I freaked that we were "well behind where we should be" so I kept motoring until I burnt out.   Starting earlier would give us a half hour of cooler weather but more importantly we could keep a slow pace if need be.  Jack was noncommittal to the 5:00 start--as it turned out he said he'd try, we met Grizzly Mark at the start who also needed to check in, so we finally started at 5:15.  Unlike Davis which we use as a training ride for the harder doubles and Mark had us going in a balls out rotating paceline, we just started BS'ing from the start--something both Mark and I are good at.  We also get our dander up quickly; we met while trying to kill each other on the stretch drive on Pleasant Valley Road years ago.  We've mellowed out with age.

Well we did get serious soon.  People can start anytime , so what are our chances of starting with the two doubles goofballs who annoyed me this year?   Well, after we do a preliminary loop of a pond we get onto the dead straight, flat or short roller Pleasant Valley Road--and who passes.   One is the guy who quietly passed me on the right at the beginning of DMD and took umbrage that I though he should have said something, and the other is his sidekick who thought it was so funny that you should warn people when you pass on the right.    On DMD Cisco Dave and I rode away from these goofballs.    The sidekick introduced himself to my friends on the Sierra Century, when resplendent in a Triple Crown Jersey he just latched on to my friends back wheel  and when asked to take a pull he said "I don't want to and I don't have to."  (After that I had a hard time convincing my century riding friends that Triple Crown Doubles riders are generally good folks.)     For ease of story telling lets call these guys (not their real names) Timmy and Gustav.

So today Timmy again comes in silently from the right, trailed by Gustav.  I great Gustav right away, "hey--you're the guy who is in all the photos with my friends on the Sierra Century"--as he was at the tail end of every group photo.  Didn't have time to talk to Timmy after he passed on the right but I shot by him on the next two roller--even though he loudly complained "hey" every time I did.   But Jack also shot by Timmy on the left a little later; Timmy whined "hey" again, and Jack is one of those nice Canadian guys so I don't think it was our problem.    I then just marked Gustav so he could do some pulling, which he did, while I filled Mark in on background and why we were revving the speed up.  Later, in the lead in to the Lake Berryessa rest stop, and up Knoxville Road (after Timmy dove in from the right in front of Mark); Mark worked with me to shed these guys on any climb or series of steep rollers.

Apart from this it was take it relatively easy ride until mile 135 when I fell apart at same spot I DNF'd on a few years back, and then it was take it very very easy until mile @150, when I recovered and fixated on Jack's wheel from then on in.   This was the first ride I fell apart the same way which lead to 3 prior DNF's (hot weather, loss of appetite, loss of energy), and successfully recovered from it and finished the ride.  Small victory.
After Pleasant Valley we went up the Cardiac Climb.  Mark does almost everything better than me on a bike but I'm a better climber which is a great equalizer--so I let him set the pace up the climb and he took alot off on the downhill so I could stay with him.  It was nice and cool but sunny and not cold.  We lost Jack after Cardiac so Mark and I BS'd toward Pope Valley so we didn't hammer the flats like Mark can--and Jack was brought back up to us in another group.  Once back together we got a little more serious and had a good group out to Lake Hennessey at mile 43.  With the first rest stop at mile 43 I had two Cliff-Z Bars in my jersey and downed a Perpetuem to stay hydrated and stoked up on carbs--I didn't want to touch the Shot Blocks until it turned warm.   And it was far from warm--plans to get rid of t-shirt, arm warmers and vest went down the toilet as it got foggier and damper the closer we got to Lake Hennessey.

I'm with Grizzly Mark at foggy Lake Hennessey
I'm trying to shed my image as the club's cold wuzz, so out of our trio I was the only person to shed my vest here--which I mildly regretted when we started out again.  As this would also be our penultimate rest stop lights were left here so we could pick them up at mile 160.  I used to bitch that we couldn't send out lights to the last rest stop at mile 188 as I used to pull in there just at dusk when I was faster--but the last few times dusk was settling in shortly after mile 160.

Mark and Jack leaving Lake Hennessey rest stop towards Napa (PC)
We had a nice paceline through the Napa Valley fog to Howell Mountain.  Almost each year its been cold in Napa Valley and then it gets nice and sunny on Howell Mountain.  It didn't disappoint.  Howell Mountain has a steep hairpin laden descent (the type I "love") so again I climbed Mark's pace and he descended slower than usual.   I also contend I climbed slower as super sag driver Lee Mitchell came by and was playing godawful waltz music.   I don't know what Mark does but he must be a scientist; he'd pull out a thermometer ("see, its in the shade") to take a temperature reading and then a dictaphone to record ride notes. 

Jack and Mark on Howell Mountain Climb.  Mark has the kit on you can see well in the fog (PC)
We waited at the bottom for Jack to join us, and then were joined by Gustav for the run in to the next rest stop.  He did again took some pulls, but Mark and I still put in some digs until we were off the front.

Knoxville Road Rest stop--at the beginning of the 25 mile climb.    A little sunnier than in Napa Valley.  Timmy & Gustav (not their real names) talking about surprising people by suddenly passing on the right--what a good idea (PC) 
Jack (his real name) at Knoxville Rest stop -- he'd later save the day (PC)
Rest stop #2 is at mile 71 at the foot of Knoxville Road.   Only misstep of Quackcyclists all day is that this rest stop is always crowded and there is only 1 outhouse.  But they had plenty of ice, plenty of cold drink--and which would be needed for the next 25 mile climb which is pretty unshaded.   The Knoxville climb first  goes through a hunting preserve with a few trees and lots of guys carrying rifles in orange vests--then it morphs into a nature preserve san trees and lots of scotch broom and other goathead producing weeds.  The climb is gentle in the hunting area albeit  short kicks in grade through occasional rough patches of culverts.  In the weed reserve there are two-three double digit sections--maybe 1/4 mile or less each one but in full sun.

Mark starting up Knoxville Road--that yellow kit that is great when it was foggy now it's too damn bright so photo exposure is off (PC)
Jack, Mark and I started again at a leisurely pace--I was BS'ing with a guy from the Stockton Bike Club who knows Joni, and another nice guy who biked in Italy.  We're passing people and calling out greetings when we do--how fn hard is it to be nice on the road.  We picked the pace up when Timmy and Gustav came by--surprise surprise--Timmy shot by on the right on a culvert cutting off Mark.   Mark and I kept them within sight until I passed them on the final grade kick on Knoxville Road.

Jack and Mark climbing through the Knoxville Nature Preserve--preserving weeds for future generations (pC)
I also sped up as Quaks have a water stop and Mark rides with a Camelback and first said he wasn't going to stop (he did, for ice.)   Knoxville Road had been cooler than I thought, a thought which would have been met by derision by the handful of fatigued cyclists sitting around the rest stop.  Only 15 miles to lunch--and in my mind all downhill but in reality a series of climbs to go--so stupid me I only had one water bottle filled.   So I ran out of water with 7 miles to go and was chewing on ice on the series of climbs. Mark offered me some of his but I though the downhill started on the very next crest--wrong again.  Luckily, at the top of one climb a good samaritan set up a water jug in their driveway, but I was behind in my liquid intake.  Big mistake today.

Guy sets up a water stop for us in his driveway--thank you-thank you (PC)
Finally the downhill into lunch, mile 108, where Doug & Joni are working the stop--wonderful people.  Well, except for Doug pushing burritos and chili while I can only eat bread and a slice of deli meat--nuttin else on it.  I think I'm catching up on my hydration by downing an iced Perpetuem, an iced soda,  and an iced juice squeeze--but am still a little thirsty when we leave.  Besides loads of ice Quackcyclists have loads of suntan lotion, tums, Hammar products--and I get all lubed and liquored up and think I'm ready for the rest of the day.

(top) Joni -- next double is her 50th (below) Doug is so nice he prepares iced shots for Grizzly Mark
Bad thing we immediately start climbing Cobb Mountain for about 10 miles.  We start by going up Siegler Canyon Road--a backroad--so we are not on the "freeway climb" as we do it in the other direction on the Davis Double.  (Mark has 98 at the base of the climb)   This climb isn't super steep but is much steeper than Knoxville.  Jack has left lunch early to do this climb--saying we'd catch him.   Mark tells me to climb at my own pace; I tell him I'll wait for him on the other side after the steep descent.  I pick it up a little but aware that its getting hot and no reason to chase/ catch up with anyone, just trying to go steady.

The mixes I made at lunch are too fn strong--the Perpetuem/ Hammergel is thick and the Heed wants to make me barf--and I think each bottle just had two scoops.  Pass Jack who is changing a flat, figure he'll get back to me when I'm waiting for Mark.  Near the top of Cobb is another Quackcyclist I know, Jesse, who had cold water and ice.   Perfect.  It dilutes the bottles to good drinkable amounts, and the cold drink will be perfect for wherever I wait.   While I'm getting filled up who comes by but Gustav.  So after bs'ing with Jessie I set out a little harder so I can pass and crest Cobb Mountain before our Sierra Century pal does.  (92 degrees here surrounded by tall trees)

On the downhill take it slow as looking for a driveway off in the shade to pull over in, near the bottom find one with a guard rail to sit on--and I feel great--sipping away on ice cold drink while waiting for Mark and Jack.  Mark arrives in about 10 minutes--its about a flat 5 miles to the next rest stop at mile 135, so we figure Jack will meet us there.

Did I mention that Mark is faster than me on the flats?  He is.  And while he wasn't going nuts--it was now 102 degrees and I may have put in too much effort to keep up.  Or maybe it was earlier insufficient hydration.  Whatever it was--my heart was racing at the Deter Reservoir rest stop and it wouldn't slow down.  Only a soda tasted good--everything else tasted like crap as I forced myself to eat 3 pretzels.  This is usually the sudden death knell for me on long rides--my stomach shuts down and then I lose most of my energy.  A few years back this is where I DNF's--in fact leaving this rest stop Mark was on a tandem and I figured I could ride to keep near the tandem so I could be close when the uphill rollers started, and I just fell apart.

Sitting around wasn't helping, the bottle of water and bottle of diluted HEED wasn't working.  For once I remembered to bring Fizz Tabs on the ride so I dumped on in the water-- that just made it worse.  (Later I found out that one of Mark's clubmates fell apart in the same spot.)   So I told Mark I was going to start up the road, when he caught up 2 minutes later I told him to press on without me--at that point I didn't even want to be tempted to try to keep up with him even if he scaled the pace back.  I just rolled on at half speed--rollers suddenly became like the Monitor Climb on Alta Alpina--and dreamed of reaching the general store in Pope Valley before I blew up.

View from Pope Valley patio (PC)
Scenes from hubcap ranch--there were some better photos to take but I didn't want to stop every 20 feet in the name of art to delay my already slooooo arrival at the Pope Valley General Store (PC)
Slowly crept by the lunch spot on the Napa Century.  Slowly crept by Hubcap Ranch.  Oh crap, another uphill roller.  Finally the descent into Pope Valley--I pull into the general store and get a huge container of Gatoraid G and a Frozen Coconut Bar for carbs.  Gatoraid G is sweet unlike "salty" Heed, Cliff etc. so it went down really well.  Meanwhile I'm just enjoying life sitting on the patio while about a dozen riders come by--including Jack.

Luckily course is well marked--gentle rollers ahead when I am trying to pick up some steam (PC)
When I start to go while not feeling close to 100% feel much better already.   I start off gingerly not wanting to push it and a few riders go by including someone wearing the Alta Alpina 8 jersey--when I know I'm not going down the toilet I catch up to the guy and we reminisce about the torture that day.  I'm setting a nice but moderate pace when I come across a sag wagon next to.....Jack--fixing his 2nd flat tire of the day. 

I wait around for Jack to finish changing his tire, and ride with him for the rest of the ride.  Actually behind him.  Jack doesn't go super fast but keeps a real businesslike constant pace, and I just focused on his back wheel (I learned this from Gustav.)  

Lake Hennessey rest stop the second time--much clearer than in the morning.  Clearer that we are about to lose the sun. (PC)
Note I can't believe I forgot on first draft--Napa County actually spent some money on the roads this year and MAJOR improvements on parts that used to be pothole strewn.

We reached the Lake Hennesey rest stop at mile 160 just when the sun was starting to set.  I had 3 drop bags with lights, vest, t-shirt, arm warmers, Z-Bar/ Chomps/ Cliff drink mix/ Tums--basically my food emergency kit if my stomach shuts down.   (Passed on my drink mix--also too salty.)  We wouldn't need to put on ANY of the clothes for the rest of the ride-even on the long downhill on Cardiac in the dark.   We hit a few cold spots and I'd play a game--in my mind I'd think that I need to pull sweats and a vest out for the outdoor end of ride meal , but then we'd hit a warm spot and shorts and t-shirt became the planned attire.

Cars were uniformly nice all day except for two fat pigs in a pickup truck who disliked that Jack and I having so much fun, so exchanged greeting with them.   Shortly before the left turn on 128 we had to stop and turn on our taillights--about 30 miles to go.  Huge FULL MOON appeared over the Cardiac hill in front of us.  Mostly uphill to the Cardiac climb though a long long fast downhill run that I remembered as it is so recumbent friendly.  Jack and I both have great Exposure Lights, I have 3 lights totaling @2200 lumens, Jack has 2 lights-@1200.  Keep them on 1/3rd power on the climbs, which you couldn't see the crest of,  then suddenly you're at the top and kick the lights onto full power for the downhill. 

Last rest stop at the start of Pleasant Valley Road, mile 188, Doug, Joni and Jesse all working there.  Joni makes me another bread/ ham NOTHING ELSE sandwich--she's ready to do her 50th double in a few weeks.   They are passing around some roasted potatoes that Jesse made--they have a great reputation but I'm afraid of eating anything out of the norm now. 

Funny--the first time I did this ride I asked hopefully if Pleasant Valley Road was a suburban tract streetlamp lit road and was a little despondent when told no, its totally dark.  Now I enjoy the thirteen miles in the middle of nowhere--at one point a deer started running out but did a U-Turn when our light beams hit it.  Jack still setting a businesslike pace--we passed a few riders including one guy who had 3-4 red lights on each seat stay setting off a disco pattern that could be seen from far away.  With about 2 miles to go Jack finally (after 40 miles of pulling) slacked off a little so I went to the front, we passed some guys who I yelled out to so they could hop on--and we had a nice train into the park.  Shit, why didn't I feel this way 40 miles ago.

Like Davis this is an untimed event so I go to the car, had a drink and changed my clothes (changing clothes after a double is sooooo good) before checking in--which seemed to confuse the person when I finally checked in --"so when did you come in??--ok I'll put down xxx--does that sound right?"  Its untimed, put down anything you want!  Nice outside meal where it was still very warm--Mark knows lots of doubles riders he introduces me to.  One guy has a GPS with a tracer so he knows where his wife is on the course.  I'm kinda blue though--this dinner always signals to me the end of the cycling season--and even if you go kicking and screaming (Jack and Mark doing the Bass Lake Double in 2 weeks)--winter and the cold holiday season are just around the corner.


Curtis Corlew said...

Even screwing around you killed me. I felt lucky to live through this ride. I was on the road 19 hours, and at leat 3 of them were fun.

Pumpkincycle said...

You hung in and finished which is all you had to do--good deal. The long rides are tremendous when you're feeling well--and suck when you don't. As Uncle Steve (old Diablo Cyclist Club member) once said-"on every double there is a point that hurts and you wonder why you are doing it--then at the end you can't wait to sign up for the next one." He finished one Knoxville getting a flat in the last 1/2 hour, his lights went out, and still had a big smile on his face.