Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Triple Hell-Pt. Reyes Lighthouse Redux w Marshall Wall (2013)

(April 13, 2013) Pt Reyes Lighthouse with Marshall Wall, w/ Ward, Dr. Dave, Cisco Dave, Christine, Rebecca, 102 miles, 9,000'

Midweek it was nice, warm and sunny.  I thought it would have been nice to do the Pt Reyes ride in the sun and without the rain Ward and I went through last Sunday.  Meanwhile Dr. Dave and Rebecca were miffed that they missed the dancing whale show so they suggested we do the ride again.  I was amenable as long as we added something to make it into a century.  Cisco Dave is so fast he had to be back in a few hours but said he'd do the ride and push everyone up the hills.

So we planned to do the Pt. Reyes Lighthouse ride again.  Hell, my old club, the Delta Pedalers, do the same ride every weekend.   And it was sunny--and there was no rain.

OK--read last weeks blog to find out about the ride course.
                                                                THE END

Oh, sorry, I forgot something.  There was a little crosswind.  Like 50 miles an hour for 10 miles along the ocean.

Last week Weatherunderground had predicted 18-20mph wind which had Ward throw up a caution flag that I tore down, especially when National Weather Service forecast only 8-10mph.  This weekend, however, Weatherunderground and National Weather Service agreed on 30 mph wind forecast.  But Ward went on strike re weather alerts, everyone else was just giddy to do this ride, and there was no caution flag at all.  After all we were going to the Pt. Reyes Lighthouse--home of the dancing migrating whales--and the windiest place on the West Coast.  Hell, if the headwind reached 30mph we'd just paceline into it with our good group.

Orange line curling west (towards the ocean) our route toward the Lighthouse and then part of our route back on the return trip.  Green arrows hills, black arrows flats or rollers.  Red arrows direction if 20-50mph wind coming off the ocean.  We were protected on flat/ roller portion inland--felt a taste of the wind on the high portions, and the full wrath when riding the stretch along the ocean.

Blue section is when we were in the Pt Reyes Rec area with gust highs measured every 10 minutes.  Gusts were frequent--at least 2-4 a minute.  Funny--high wind speed is @58 but instrument at Lighthouse had 67 as the high.

Ride started off peacefully, for about 100'. Its always a kick ass start on this ride with so many cyclists on Lucas Valley Road, and tons were out today. We pacelined past a club that old club member Beth now rides with, hit the Big Rock Climb, regrouped, and then started the fast run in to Nicasio when a guy in (I think Rebecca said) a funny zebra costume with a tri setup went past. He was actually in the Acqua & Sapone – Zebra Suit, of of the ugliest cycling kits ever. Cisco Dave went with him, and these days not to many people are gonna get away from Cisco Dave. The rest of us organized a paceline and we caught up, then took a few fliers off the front. Was waiting for a sprint into Nicasio but guy was dead so we just rode behind him with Cisco Dave next to the zebra. It was nice, and warm. I was happy I wasn't a cold wuzz today and had left my knee warmers in the car.

Christine and Dr. Dave get to the top of Big rock Climb (Cisco D)

Cisco Dave taking photos at top of Big Rock climb (PC)

We then pacelined to the foot of the Cheese Factory climb where Cisco and Rebecca zoomed up, and we all regrouped on the downhill. We were heading towards the Marshall Wall from the "great" direction--the way the Mt Tam Double used to go. Short stop at the Cheese Factory, where soon Beth's club and another bike club or two pulled in--we never saw it so crowded. Nice paceline for the dozen or so miles of the Marshall Wall rural run in--good surface, not much traffic, nice and warm in a secluded trench . At the end is a significant climb--Cisco and Rebecca took off again, just like the Cheese Factory climb. Oh no--not like the Cheese Factory Climb, the Marshall Wall had block wind coming right over the top. The wind was so strong at the top that I couldn't put on my vest properly (sleeve wrapped around armhole) for the long gnarly downhill.
Group on Cheese Factory Climb (Cisco D)

Dr Dave hiding Christine with Ward following on Cheese Factory Climb (PC)

Dr Dave enjoying the warm, sunny, almost windless day at the Cheese Factory (PC)
Now good paceline down Tomales Bay, with Cisco and Rebecca doing most of the pulling.  Tomales Bay had loads of whitecaps.   Coast is on side of Tomales Bay, we'd circle around to the other side to go to the Lighthouse.  Wind was negligible here.  Lots of sudden, steep, short rollers down Highway 1. 
Right before Hicks Valley turn (PC)

Peloton right after Hicks Valley School (PC)

Marshall Wall run in (Cisco D)
Very very slow past the Oyster Restaurant where cars are driving every which way diving in for close parking.   Soon get to Pt Reyes Station, still warm, lots of cyclists--unfortunately the vegan whole wheat scones a causality for us adding an early 20 mile loop and getting to the bakery after breakfast time.  To burn off steam we went to the playground.

Cisco Dave on East side of Tomales Bay-Highway 1 (WI)

Paceline down Highway 1 (WI)
Rebecca in paceline (probably pulling it) down Highway 1 (WI)

Cross training at Coach Toby's Northern California Triathlon training academy (WI)
Back up North on the other side of Tomales Bay, but protected by hills to the west.    Paceline past where a cyclist was hit by a pickup and killed last week.  Paceline by the Russian turreted cabin we saw last week--Ward and I took enough photos there last week to last till the czar returns so we didn't stop.   Road soon turns West where 2nd significant climb of the day occurs--nice and warm climbing to the top, and then off the downhill the road soon goes right to the ocean and we were hit by a nasty cold breeze.

Our group soon became unhooked in the Pt Reyes Recreation area, the 10 mile run in to the lighthouse.  Crosstailwind coming off the ocean from the side and slightly behind our right shoulder.  It was about 1:00 and average wind speed was 16-20mph, with gusts of 35-50.  We knew we'd be against the wind on the return, what we didn't know was that the wind speed would climb. 

Christine and I enjoy the start of the ride toward the Lighthouse -- that will soon change (WI)
About half the road is well paved, but halfway down Pt Reyes National Rec area the road surface turns to shit, and with light traffic passing you couldn't pick your lane.  (There would be no car for 2 minutes then 3-4 would pass at the same time.)   A gust would pick up and all you'd hear were the electric wires humming.
Cisco Dave starts last Lighthouse Roller (WI)

OK--its a climb for everyone else (WI)
I rode with Christine--better for me to pester her for her talking me into NOT taking knee warmers.   The wind was cold. Oh crap--another sudden downhill to an antique farm, with the road having a 3 level patch job before the monster cattle guard at the bottom--oh, watch that sinkhole.   Then soon a recumbent unfriendly roller (steep) would appear, but no way to keep warm even with full sun.  Ward and I had better weather last week after the rain.
Ward close to the Pt Reyes Lighthouse parking area (Cisco D)

Christine airing out her Roman Vainstein's world championship ponytail (PC)

Some clips by Ward and I, mostly by Cisco Dave.  Great cinematography but crap sound from I-mike.   From now on Cisco Dave has to ride with a full microphone with a baffle cover.

Significant climb #3 & #4 for the day guard the, and the higher we got the colder and windier it became.   Nice view of the ocean full of whitecaps--WAKE UP AND PAY ATTENTION, I was almost blown across the center line.  Don't even thing of taking a photo while riding.  At a Kodak spot on the climb I got off the bike and took a photo of Christine, her ponytail is straight out as if part of a weather vane.  Now 2:00--recorded gusts 46-54.

Now road filled with cars looking for parking and pedestrians bundled in hooded sweat shirts and jackets walking up the the lighthouse.  Christine gets off her bike and starts walking, I get to the same spot and almost blown into the rocks off to the slide.  We walk up the last 1/8? mile to the lighthouse visitors center.  Everyone else had ridden up.  I didn't want to go around the corner and be battered by the wind.  I tucked into a sunny corner outside the visitor's center sheltered from the Northwest Wind and stared at a rock formation in full sun across the road.   The wind was getting worse.
Pt Reyes Lighthouse rock formation (PC)
Group shot with puffy vests and flying ponytails (Tourist Photo)

Cisco Dave wondering how he'll tell Rebecca that all the animal shows were cancelled (WI)

Last week overcast but water calm--today water surrounding Lighthouse is choppy as hell (PC/WI)
Start walking the downhill and pushed all over the place by the wind with pedestrians around--Ward said it was ridable and he was right.  But back down what had been climb #3 & #4 was terrifying, being slammed by both a head & cross wind.  We came off the downhill with everyone ahead of me except Dr. Dave and Christine behind.  I looked for a sheltered place to stop and wait but there was none.  I started out riding 2' from the roads edge, but after almost going into the bent grass (constantly bent from the wind) a few times I just took the middle of the lane and cars would have to go around.  Sorry.

Rebecca captured the return this way: Maybe it's because I've been swimming more, but the wind didn't knock me around much-- aside from tilting the bike at an alarming 65-degree angle to the road. Downhills were the most scary by far-- that extra speed made the gusts come at unpredictable moments. Thanks heavens I didn't fall or have to unclip. I just kept on with a steady pace, talking to myself like a crazy person to make sure I didn't panic.

At one point a guard shack like structure on the right and I had a fleeting thought of waiting there for Dr. Dave/ Christine, behind it so to be protected from the wind.  But then another gust hit and I imagined the guard shack toppling over on me if I did this--so I rode on in solitude constantly correcting the handlebars from the 49-52 mph gusts.

Got scary on the downhill rollers.  At least on the flat section going slow enough into the cross-headwind that if pushed off the road you had time to unclip and recover--which happened a few times to our group.  But on a sudden downhill roller going fast enough where that jolt of wind blowing you 4' over would do serious damage.  Legs cold while arms and back straining to keep handlebars straight.  Patterson Pass with its block headwind but light crosswind had not prepared us for this.

Dr. Dave finally sheltered from the wind wouldn't leave the Inverness Bus Stop while trying to guess the secret word of the day.   I light a cigar as that usually makes the bus appear--if it does I'm getting on it.  (WI)
Eventually road turns back East, Ward was waiting for our group, and then was Rebecca and Cisco Dave.    After 10 miles of hell from the lighthouse we now had a tailwind and pacelined back to Pt Reyes Station while exchanging "oh shit" stories.  Pt Reyes Station was sunny and breezy, wind not close to what had been on the Coast, but amazing that it did not warm up from this morning while we enjoyed another cup of HOT coffee and the orphan pastries that no one wanted.    That kept us going through a nice paceline thru Nicasio and the  amazing miracle Lucas Valley Road uphill that is never windy in the morning and a nice tailwind later in the day.
Cisco Dave has too much sugar from the bakery and has to burn off some energy.  Either Dr Dave is  praying or the wind is still pushing him around.  (PC)

So this ride established that Rebecca is a weather jinx--the windiest Patterson Pass a month ago had Rebecca in the group, and now the windiest Pt. Reyes Lighthouse.   I was surprised when Ward-Dr Dave consensus said 9,000' climbing--didn't feel like that much.  Cisco surprised when wind only reported at 20-50 mph, said it felt like much more. 

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