*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)
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|
|Mark and Jack leaving Lake Hennessey rest stop towards Napa (PC)|
|Jack and Mark on Howell Mountain Climb. Mark has the kit on you can see well in the fog (PC)|
|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)|
|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 and Mark climbing through the Knoxville Nature Preserve--preserving weeds for future generations (pC)|
|Guy sets up a water stop for us in his driveway--thank you-thank you (PC)|
|(top) Joni -- next double is her 50th (below) Doug is so nice he prepares iced shots for Grizzly Mark|
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)|
|Luckily course is well marked--gentle rollers ahead when I am trying to pick up some steam (PC)|
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)|
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.