Saturday, June 29, 2013

Flanders-Brussel(s)-Ghent (Gent)-Brugge (Bruge)-Oudengarde-Gerrardsbergen-Amsterdam (2013)

No cycling planned but cycling related.

Last vacation I took with Mrs. Pumpkin was 9 years ago on a cycling trip to Italy.  Actually I got froze out of the planning, went at the last minute, cycled rural Italy solo while my wife and friends couldn't get their stuff together, and had the best time of anyone.   We took a few long weekend  vacations since--usually staying up to do the Death Ride.  Last year on our 34th Mrs. Pumpkin said we best go on vacation together for our 35th and I could pick the place.  What a deal.  So I picked Belgium, specifically Flanders--the half of Belgium that is cycling crazy and dislikes the French.  Unlike our trip to Italy, I was assigned to plan out the trip.

Why Flanders?  My favorite (dry) bike race is the Tour of Flanders, and it was seeing the Lion of Flanders, Johan Museeuw, a decade ago that got me through my first Death Ride.   I had been to England and Italy, and not many other foreign countries on my list.      All I really knew about Flanders is that they are cycling crazy, its real cold in the winter, and they have lots of beer, chocolate and waffles, and their national icon is a young kid peeing. 
Some day I'm going to get this made into a cycling jersey

 I didn't do any of the trip prep in 2012--my last hurrah for long cycling epics.  I started in 2013 and worked feverishly on planning for two weeks, stop for a few weeks when I got utterly confused, and then start back in.  I think I got everything together, but could have used more time.  

Mrs. Pumpkin hasn't been cycling so we decided to make this a walk around exploring trip with no cycling.  This led to we don't really need to rent a car--we can take the train everywhere.   This led to why should we take suitcases and have to wheel them over cobblestones--I always wanted to backpack Europe so why don't we get backpacks.    Mrs Pumpkin looked at me like I was crazy but I soon enlisted my oldest daughter who had backpacked in Czechoslovakia (yeah, I know, the old names) and see came down on my side.  If anything goes wrong with this backpack idea I'll fully blame oldest daughter.

Then was the train schedule nightmare.  We just booked our hotel in Ghent.  So went to Belgium train site, nice English option (in Flanders they say of you can't speak Dutch/ Flemish, then English is OK.  Just don't speak French.)    I looked for main train station in Ghent and possible connections--can't find it listed.  AAAAAAh.  Finally put in Gent, no h.  Bingo.    Seems like every town is spelled different ways.
(1) Brussels ->  (2) Ghent  -> (3) Gerrardsbergen  -> (4) Oudengarde  -> (5)Brugge -> (6) Amsterdam

Thought Brussels is in Flanders it is an international city where French is allowed.  Actually French dominates.  Street signs of streets that are all crooked and suddenly end, and rename themselves after every loop, are in French & Dutch.  The KIEKEWMARKT become the GRASMARKT though the same street, which is also named the RUE du MARCHIE aux HERBES.   Trying to plan out walking tours in Brussels is "not the best."

Ghent and Brugge are supposed to be two nice medieval cities with as many canals as Venice.  Ghent is in the middle of Flanders so convenient for some train ride excursions.  One planned to small town of Oudengarde, so we can see the Tour of Flanders Museum.  Another to Gerrardsbergen, so we can walk up what used to be the seminal climb in the Tour of Flanders.  watch lady who is ex-Olympian do it in street clothes on a cruiser bike here   Unfortunately the Muur was taken out of the current Tour of Flanders to accommodate more spectators, which ruins the race a little.  Then Mrs. Pumpkin said we'd be soooo close to Amsterdam we have to see that, so we added a few days at the end of the trip.  Since that I overplanned but I have to keep reminding myself that in Italy I had no clue where we were going and everything worked out very very well.

I was trying to learn some Flemish which is a derivation of Dutch, until one guy I rode with from the Netherlands told me "I'm ashamed to say the Flemish beat the Dutch in every spelling bee.  But they can't speak properly"  Supposedly Flemish Dutch is akin to Deep South English. 

The thrill of backpacking thru Europe--18 + 10 lbs of minimal "stuff"  Empty small dufel bag needed to carry back swag.  Maybe should have taken rolling suitcase for bicycle. 
Finally got nylon everything so can have light clothes that dry in a day.  F dropping pounds--a 28 lb backpack feels heavy when I only weight 145--now wish I was heavier.   (Have 6 days of clothes--large "suitcase" pack is 18 lbs, small daypack that attaches is 10 lbs)Bought a Nook so can read on the looooong airplane flight without taking 2 five pound history narratives; its loaded with Rick Steven's interesting travel guide, a few history and cycling books and saved maps of areas we'll go to.   As I am firmly from the last non electronic century also have paper Lonely Planet Guide, spreadsheets with cue sheet type directions, train schedules, and lots of paper maps.   Planned out walks that hit most non religious sites.   I was going to say that only indoor sight  I want to see is the Rene Magritte museum and only site Mrs Pumpkin wants to see is Anne Frank House, but I also want to see the National Beer Museum and the aforementioned Tour of Flanders Museum.  

Real "thrill" of traveling is not as much seeing the sights as getting immersed in the local culture.  Sure, in Italy seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa was nice, but was more memorable were the amount of laid back, overly friendly people living in towns that actually didn't meld into each other like interconnected surburbia here.

So this is written in June 28th with no expectations except to have a good time.  Who the hell knows what I'll experience.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Homage to ride ratings (2013)

Homage to Diablo Scott; Ward is about to go 8-0 in his pass you/ pass me rating.

Homage to California Mike when he became Hawaii Mike for a few years and would send us incomprehensible ride reports with pineapple and coconut ratings
California Mike's explanation of his ride rating (it helps if you are playing bongos and read this like beat poetry)
The rating is based on the coconuts encountered (vague) and to help, with other factors, develop your pineapple rating. For instance you and I only saw two coconuts on our ride up Haleakala but I rated it at the max 4 Pineapples. (The figures coming down Haleakala only count as hallucinatory points since they looked like imperial storm troopers or condoms on wheels hence we couldn't see coconuts so no points in that category)
Why, you ask, can I rate a ride that only has two coconuts as a 4 Pineapple ride? Because it was an epic ride from the warm sunny beach to the frickin cold windy top of a volcano. Throw in a Nene bird siting and a woman in her sari from the India Intelligence Agency that had followed me back from India and somehow knew we be at the top of the mountain you get 4 Pineapples. If you'll excuse me now I'm going to watch the Grateful Dead on you tube.  Peace out man
All seen during a lazy ride on Skyline in the Oakland Hills where the only excitement was yelling at two idiots on "the Bears" who never moved when hearing (nice at first) "on your left"

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sierra Century--BEST Supported Bike Ride (2013)

(June 15, 2013) (Sacramento Wheelmen's) SIERRA CENTURY (Plymouth) ***BEST SUPPORTED BIKE RIDE*** w/ Cisco Dave, 124 miles, 10,000' climbing, 15.4 mph, 6:30-4:00
This must be the GOLD COUNTRY !! (PC)

Second year that the classic Plymouth (via Slug Gulch climb) route was back after an 8 year hiatus, with some tinkering with rest stops all for the better:

-Ione (mile 20 after mostly downhill) went from a REST STOP to WATER STOP, which was fine as we continue to bypass this and use the secret bathrooms in Ione anyway.
-Sutter Creek (mile 30 after some serious, warm rollers) now had a full REST STOP.
-No rest stop in the tiny tiny town of VOLCANO (mile 42) like the good old days, or on a dirt lot on VOLCANO Road (@mile 34).  Now, instead of a WATER STOP at the top of Rams Horn Grade (mile 46) there is a full REST STOP on Daffodil Hill.

Greek Theatre in Volcano (PC)
For those that don't know the ride--the above is meaningless.  All you have to know is:

 1) great start-finish venue, great support
 2) mostly well paved roads
 3) little to no traffic
 4) only about 8 stop signs for 124 miles, with half being in Ione.
 5) surrounded by fields of oak at the lower elevations, pine forest at the upper elevations.
 6) riding through "old west" towns

And I didn't even mention passing the alpaca ranch.

Shades of 2004, I thought I was going to be doing this ride solo.  I've now done a double metric with most of my riding group--Ward, Dr. Dave, Cisco Dave and Christine--trouble is that we haven't been together on the same ride.   Either people are going on the injury list, already on the injury list, or in the case of Ward also trying to purchase the see through yoga pants division of  Lululemon (inspired by CA Mike.)

Video of ride the day before from Sutter Creek to Volcano, one of the great preride routes of all time, 24 miles out and back and gentle climbing along Sutter Creek.   Riding solo so lots of thinking about past Sierra Century rides in 2000 & 2002 (metric) and 2003, 2004, 2005, (2006-2011 self supported centurys) 2012 double metrics.  Famous cinematographer Cisco Dave  joined me for the ride the next day and got some good action shots on the double metric.  When I having a great time a song usually repeats in my head, both days  Siouxsie and the Banshees' Switch and Rhapsody (music in video) kept appearing at opportune moments.,
Great to have large group on a ride to BS with, but riding solo is cathartic also.  You get to think about alot of things, sometimes to the point of driving yourself crazy.   On day before the event took a small chain preride from Sutter Creek to Volcano.  I thought I'd be riding solo and this blog entry would be about the past seminal Sierra Century rides in 2003-2004-2005*(bastardized version)-2012, and the self supported versions our Club did while the Sacramento Wheelmen's was "out of town," so thought alot about the past events up here.   Also spent to much time trying to figure out if the Sutter Creek-Volcano 24 mile preride on a mostly gentle climb is the BEST day before preride--or is Blue Lakes Road before the Death Ride/ Alta Alpina better?

 (Blue Lakes Road wins--though its a little steeper.  Blue Lakes pavement is very good--Volcano Roads is fair to poor in places.  Blue Lakes pine forest and snow capped mountains beats Volcano's trickling stream and California buckeye.  Both roads have almost no traffic.   Conversely, Volcano Rd does have a better destination--the unique tiny town of Volcano at the end--including hotel and Greek theatre, while Blue Lakes has a campground/ staging area and the lake is nothing special.)
I'm  relaxing on Mayor Rosie's Memorial bench in Volcano--in the old days she'd be sitting on the (former) bench yelling encouragement to the riders as they came into town (PC)

To my surprise Cisco Dave texted me (actually about 4 times and called twice) to tell me he might come up.  When I finally called back my full disclosure of my snoring didn't dissuade him--he'd arrive at the motel later at night.   Great that I'd have a good Clubmate to ride with--bad news is that he's the fastest person in our club (30th on Devil Mountain) and I'd be in for a workout.  But as he's gotten faster he's also gotten better ameliorating the pace so our group can stay together. 

Walking around Sutter Creek I ran into a guy who knew the tractor driver who had a cyclist fall under his wheel in 2005 (no one ever blamed the driver--cyclist fell while trying to pass the tractor and slipped under the wheel.)   Guy told me that his tractor driver friend was "seriously messed up" for years.  I remember when word starting going around the course about a death in the ride, and days latter the ire of the locals who had to put up with cyclists tying up the road after one key country pulled their ride permit and the route had to be screwed around with.   All of a sudden 2005 didn't seem too far in the distant past.

Dinner at the antique Amador City Imperial Hotel, where Ward, Toby and Dr. Dave and I ate last year.  The  maitre'd had a cute phonetic trick.  He'd introduce the waitresses with phonetic nicknames--the knowledgeable Kathy will tell you about the wine list and the Lovely Lucy will then take your order.  I was off to the corner reading my Nook in the mostly empty restaurant when a party of two noisy couples (a little older) came in--decided that the window next to me was the place they needed to sit, and they were placed at the next close table.  I should revise and extend--most of the party was quite--except for Costa Rican Bed and Breakfast owner Gordon who quickly tapped me on the shoulder--apologized if they were going to disturb me--and then preceded to do so.  Normally I don't like talking to people I don't know but partially as no one had been around to talk to all day, and partially as Gordon was as full of humor as he was loud ("you need to east more pasta before your bike ride," "I like your haircut-where do you get it cut," "how many RIB EYES did we eat in China?, "before I order the lamb, where was it raised," while Mrs Gordon would sssssh him constantly) it was a welcome distraction from too much introspection for the day.

Cute Amador County fairgrounds where ride starts with faux western town (PC)

Plymouth, one of the many real Western towns (PC)
Went back to Plymouth--biggest town in the Gold Country, and window shopped in the historic business district--now closed.  Seemed like all the same stores that were here in 2003 were still around--except the bike shop and cookware store had moved a few doors down.  Cisco Dave showed up later and alleged he could have woken up at home at 4:30, the same time I set the clock for our 6:30 start.

In the morning air was cool but much dryer than in the Bay Area.   The ride starts at the Amador Country Fairgrounds--a cute tiny fairground with an old west theme.  See some other guy in an Alta Alpina 8 jersey and yell out Brian--taking a guess who it was.  Sure enough, it is "the other Brian" who did the Alta Alpina on a recumbent.  He was planning to do it again but this time on a regular bike with mountain bike gearing (which is what I had on my bike in 2003.) and the Sierra Century would be his test ride.  Dave and I would see Brian all day--seems we'd be ready to pull out of a rest stop and he'd pull in, we'd BS awhile and check on how he was doing.

Disclaimer--Only bad thing about the Sierra Century is that on the coldest part of the day it starts downhill for 6 miles on a rough road,  (Bad roads in the Gold Country means bad patch jobs, uneven surface--not the ruts and potholes  in Sonoma,)   with baby rollers interspersed, and a line of cars first coming to the ride on the other side of the road.  Usually a crowd of riders take off at the same time all trying to hammer each other.   Today there weren't that many people who cued up for the start at the same time and only one guy who put in a dig and then was easily caught once the baby rollers started, he turned out to be a good guy we'd see all day.  It was cold in this section and took my arm warmers and stuffed a ride poster down my vest.
I'm on early morning rollers towards Ione--soon can get rid of arm warmers, vest, and poster stuffed in my jersey (DD)

Cisco Dave on same part of course (PC)

We then cross Highway 16 where the Sheriff/ CHP waved us through a stop sign, and more serious rollers on nicely paved Carbondale Road.    Ride poster in vest and arm warmers no longer needed.      I like attacking steep rollers and Dave and I had fun on the series of them.   A few times people we were about to pass put in a dig and Dave was off to the races while I'd just settle in until the next roller  Dave had dropped whoever he was racing and slowed for me to catch up after I passed the exhausted rider.

When we got to the flats of Ione we had a large group of riders were were pulling along which was fine.  I was going to uphold the tradition of skipping the official Ione stop and going to the secret bathrooms.  This used to save 10-15 minutes when there was a real rest stop 1/4 mile away, but now the water stop was right on the route and seemingly people got out of it fast--we'd catch up to alot of people we had passed earlier on the next segment.   Time to leave the ride poster in the secret bathroom and pull off arm warmers and buff.  Another bike group was cuing up here for their weekly ride.
Dave liked this waste water treatment plant at the edge of Ione with the plants growing in the water so he got a photo of me in front of it. (PC)

Big group of riders with us as we go into Ione.  Only place with multiple stop signs on ride.   (PC)

Dave and I at the secret Ione bathrooms instead of the water stop.  (--)

The next segment is serious rollers in full sun between Ione and Sutter Creek.  Here is where Dr. Dave made friends with Gustavo last year.  Like last year it got warm in a hurry  At one point I yelled for Cisco Dave to slow down--some woman thought I had yelled at her for going to slow, so I slowed to explain the misunderstanding.    Soon we came across someone wearing a Cisco jersey, which was great as Cisco Dave slowed down so that Cisco Dave could try to sell him on a new product.  Dave also started giving me some breathing techniques that he uses as I don't have the same aerobic capacity as in past years.

I'm on the rollers towards Sutter Creek (DD)
We are soon on the outskirts of Sutter Creek and the new rest stop an local high school.  (seems familiar--used at Party Pardee?  no sure--when I did Party Pardee I had no idea where Sutter Creek was but damn--it looked familiar.)    Now a few blocks through the classic western town of Sutter Creek and onto the great Volcano Road. 

I'm with "the other Brian" who still owes me an ice cream from Alta Alpina (DD)

Cisco Dave with a happy Cisco customer (PC)

Early morning riding through another great old west town, Sutter Creek (PC)
Yesterday for the preride I kept the bike in the small chainring and took an easy spin to Volcano.  Today I was riding well--damn the calf vein problems and other assorted ailments, I was passing most people on the road.  On the ez preride yesterday I was able to dodge around the rough pavement patches on the road, but today holding a line there was hitting lots of bumps in the pavement. (That's why Volcano Road is OK for going up but not the best at a higher speed when coming down)   Just when I got all pleased with myself, at about mile 4 of the 12 mile long road, a paceline of a dozen guys shoots by and Dave and I hook on--and I'm holding on for dear life.  At mile 8 on a short downhill I get unhooked, and ride in with two other people who got sawed off.  Cisco Dave stays with the group and then takes out the sprint that was actively contested..

Next is Rams Horn Climb--a serious climb of 2-3 miles that is well shaded by the tall pine trees blocking the rising sun.    The hard part of the climb is that when you summit there are still a series of 4-5 long uphill rollers but today the new Daffodil Hill rest stop is close by and breaks up the slow route.   As at all rest stops The Sacto Wheelmen have all drinks on ice, plenty of food to choose from, and tums and good sunscreen.

Dave on Ram's Horn Grade climb.  Tall pines keep the road nice and shaded (PC)
We start up the series of long uphill rollers on Shake Ridge Road and for some reason we are surrounded by loads of cyclists who all have white with black trim jerseys.  As we sometimes think that Dave owns one white/ black trim Capo jersey, a funny coincidence--especially when the guy in front of him has a new style white/ black trim Capo jersey on.

Oh no--Dave and someone else wearing white and black Capo jerseys on rollers from Rams Horn Grade to Fiddletown Expressway (PC)
Soon get to the "E ticket" 6 mile Fiddletown downhill--my favorite downhill anywhere.  Its starts off fast but transforms into a series of short downhill rollers.  I usually get sawed off on the downhill but can make an effort to pick up ground on the uphill, and today is the same.  Dave and a white jersey guy start to race, two big guys pass me on the downhill, I claw my way back to the fastest one when the rollers start, and then we wind up about 500' behind Dave and his "friend."

Fiddletown rest stop is nice--we'll be here later but with 80% of the folks and food gone.  Was getting warmer and I had my favorite hot weather food--a bread sandwich with a diet coke.  The next part of the route would be new to Cisco Dave as we never did it on my self supported Sierra Century--we'd now be going through the woods between Fiddletown and Mt Aukum on Bridgehead School Road (I have still not seen the school.)

Riders at Fiddletown checking the map to see where the serious hills are (PC).

Leaving Fiddletown an immediate serious roller with 'the other Brian' and Cisco Dave.  I'll be like Photocrazy and blame "the other Brian" for not riding closer to Dave so as to not get into the photo (PC)
We left with "the other Brian" who was having a good ride.  There is a climb up Tyler Road and this is where Brian told us about his bike gearing--ironically some turkey laughed at my 11x34 on exactly the same climb ("you have a pieplate" in 2003 whereas I proceeded to leave his butt in the dust.)   Dave and I told Brian about what we like about compact gearing and then we took off to tackle the rollers in the woods.  This section has the worst pavement on the ride (still better than Santa Rosa), probably just as bad as Volcano Rd but here you come off and down rollers which exacerbates the rough road.   Funny, almost no cyclists on this stretch--I think we passed 2--and the only other person we saw was a ride worker out in the wilderness warning us about an uneven bridge we had to cross.  Here Dave and I were talking about photography and camping--real mellow atmosphere.

Cisco Dave thinks that the sign needs to be 55 miles up the road instead of in the Bridgeport School Rd forest (PC)
When we came out on Mt. Aukum Road Dave instantly knew where we were.  His two "races" earlier and the rough road had tweaked his back, but the Mt Aukum Road surface is very nice.  Some traffic but a nice shoulder.  Past the Mt Aukum General Store--past the alpaca ranch.   Two guys came along and passed without saying anything which got my dander up--luckily a series of rollers were coming up so I got back to them and put on the gas over the next few to shoot ahead.  For once I had to slow for Dave to regroup with me.

Dave and I liquoring up before the warm Slug Gulch climb--Pioneer water stop (PC)

"the other Brian" (his orange bike looks much nicer than his recumbent) ready to attack Slug Gulch (PC)
We were at Pioneer Water stop for awhile so Dave could stretch and we could get well hydrated for the next part of the ride--The infamous Slug Gulch climb.  We saw some of the same riders we had seen all day--some were hard not to notice.    Memo from HR--do NOT add to this paragraph.   

From the water stop we first hit Perry Creek Road--a nicely shaded road with lots of short/ steep rollers.  Here we pass a coed climbing tandem whose riders are wearing Victory Velo Jerseys in Auburn.  The Auburn area is like where we are riding now but on steroids--all the rollers are steeper.  I congratulate the tandem for doing this ride.  They never did Slug Gulch before so I try to describe it to them.  It four miles with the first half wickedly steep--but it has four tiers with the first tier the worst and a a 5% recovery section between the double digit tiers.  Then the road twists to the right for the last climb and the second half is a gradual uphill to the end.  I think Sierra Road is harder--later I saw the tandem couple and they said Slug Gulch was a "Piece of Cake"--they considered their local Iowa Hill  harder.

Dave on Perry Creek roller--Auburn climbing tandem up ahead (PC)
We hit the sudden left hand turn and see the wall that is Slug Gulch.  Two three guys in front of us are zig zagging up and someone yells from behind us to stop zig zagging and to ride straight up.  Dave stops after the first tier for a good Samaritan doling out water and to stretch, I continue on until the tiers are finished.  I ride with a guy who did DMD two years ago, and after the last tier I pull over in some shade  to wait for Dave.  Soon a woman comes by and yells that I should get on my bike and keep going--DO NOT STOP.   She wasn't being mean--just "coaching" excited.   A few people nearby, some also waiting for someone, some gassed and needing a rest.   Dave comes by and we start up the last steep section which soon transitions into a fun section among the pines.   We catch up to one rider ahead who doesn't want us to pass us so he starts a few digs; when he realizes he isn't dropping us we begin to talk.  Spanish guy from Brooklyn who remembers all the 1969 New York Mets--he was miffed that his significant other was ahead of him on the climb.

I'm at the start of Slug Gulch--the steepest section comes first and its in full sun this time of day (DD)

Dave at the beginning of Slug Gulch (PC)

Dave half way up Slug Gulch, but now it will start leveling off (PC)

I'm on the much easier final section of Slug Gulch (PC)

Senor Brooklyn comes by and we go through the 1969 Mets lineup as he tries to chase down his significant other up ahead (PC)
We ride in to the BEST rest stop in the world--the OMO RANCH (grass) SCHOOLYARD in the dense shade cast by the tall pines.  There we see Doug and Joanie, great doubles riders who frequently captain rest stops.  Unfortunately Joanie just had a serious bike accident and can barely get out of a chair, but her compatriot Cathy fills our bottles with ice drinks and give us the sacred "We Made It Up Slug Gulch" pins."  Doug is busy chopping up ice for drinks or making ice sculptures.  If there was a lounge chair here I think I'd call it a day and just nap for the rest of the day.

Cisco Dave getting ready for the soccer game (PC)

Joanie injured--so Cathy fills in supervising Doug's ice sculpture of Lance Armstrong at Omo Ranch rest stop (PC)
The cutoff to do the secret bonus 20 miles is 2:00 and after a long stay at this rest stop Dave and I push off 40 minutes early--at 1:20.  The next 12 miles is incredible--a ride though the tall pines in the El Dorado National Forest.  Some climbing involved but all gentle, which would be a piece of cake if we weren't already at mile 82.

The start of the beautiful El Dorado National Forest--this is great (PC)

"Get back on your bike Mr. Cisco Dave before your leg seizes up"--Phil Liggett (PC)

Dave in El Dorado National Forest (PC)
This may be the best part of the ride--it would be if we weren't so damn tired.   We passed one cyclist along the way--otherwise we didn't see anyone else.  No cars in either direction.  Just surrounded by pine trees and lots of quiet with the sound of the gentle wind rustling the trees.  In pockets of shade it must have still been high 70's but compared to the high 80's in the valley below it almost felt cold.  We got to the water stop right before we merge onto Highway 88 for the continual downhill for the rest of the ride.  More ice--and a few things to eat, the fresh air had made me surprisingly hungry.   

We don't know if Clint Eastwood is scolding the empty chair reserved for Diablo Cyclists who didn't do this ride, or Cisco Dave for not using a crystal glass for water (PC)
Now down Highway 88--a few cars pass by but never a problem, quick right turn onto beautiful Shake Ridge Road where houses suddenly appear in the tall pines.  Real smooth road but minimal traffic.  A few long uphill rollers and then a continual downhill to the Fiddletown cutoff again--and once again the great Fiddletown Expressway.  On this whole stretch no other cyclists seen on the road except for 1)  tandem from Auburn flashing by and 2) big accident at the bottom of the road with fire trucks and paramedics catering to injured cyclist.  When we stopped to slowly get around we were joined by other riders for the final mile which suddenly was a downer.  

Portrait of Cisco Dave and I on Shake Ridge Road (DD)
Fiddletown rest stop--brimming with energy 5 hours ago, now almost desolate, as only open for 124 mile riders.    I had worried about 'the other Brian" as I didn't see him at Omo Ranch but he came in shortly after us now and was having a great ride.  Brooklyn homeboy was there as was Auburn tandem.  I was kinda sad as ride almost over   Great century rides are over way to fast.

One more real climb coming up, Ostrum Road,  and I felt good.  I was pleased how I was riding, then just when the Ostrum Climb started a half dozen riders shot by and I had NO CHANCE IN HELL to get on there wheel.  Any speed I once had is now gone.   Its a two tier climb with a sudden descent in the middle and Cisco Dave is ready to take one more dig and he charges up to the group that passed and I soon lose sight of them. 

I summit and start the downhill, get to the bottom and there is Dave off his bike--waiting for me like he did a half dozen times today.  I yell "good to go" and he yells "OK" and I start the 2nd climb, get to the top and surprisingly not passed by Dave so I wait for him before the next descent.  Dave straggles up and he told me that he lost the bike on the downhill turn, the wheel slid out and he was headed for barbed wire.  Luckily he crash landed into a bush before the barbed wire.  Oh crap.

Cisco Dave ready to catch riders who are ahead of us (PC)

Cisco Dave at top of last climb--he caught something on the chase but it wasn't the other rides--luckily he came out unscathed (PC)
We ride the downhill ready to merge back into the main road which is what the 100 mile riders come back on.  Sure enough as we are ready to make the turn a trio flash by us on the main road which is slightly downhill.  After we make the turn the trio is far up the road--which is OK, no more chasing, until Dave says "you want to ride behind those guys," and then Dave pulls us up to them.  OK, now I'm tired, lets just sit behind them, so Dave gets anise and goes to the front, ups the speed, and two of the three guys drop off.  He signals me through and I keep the pace high but steady and we lose the third guy even though we weren't trying to drop him.  We're going mid 20's after 120 miles--and then suddenly back in Plymouth.

Parking still has about 20% of the cars.  Plenty of food options, pulled pork with fruit salad is what I picked  and plenty of cold drinks.  IF SACRAMENTO WHEELMEN CAN FIGURE OUT HOW TO HAVE ENOUGH FOOD FOR PEOPLE DOING THE LONG COURSE AND FINISHING AFTER THE METRIC AND CENTURY RIDES, COME OTHER CENTURY RIDES HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THIS???.    Joined by "the other Brian" for a nice end o ride meal.

Hope to see the 76th year poster next year (PC)
Great ride--glad Cisco Dave joined me and he saw how the ride I rant about on our self supported of the Sierra Century course is actually run.  Maybe some turn arrows should have been doubled up on some fast or sudden turns, with one set placed well before the turn.  Otherwise everything was perfect for this great edition of the Sacramento Wheelmen Sierra Century. Just wish we were 10 years younger, whereas could be joined by more of our riding buddies, ride faster, and medical aliments were unknown unless caused by injury, not old age overuse stress injuries.

Postscript-I knew I'm getting slower but got real depressed on how much the dropoff has been.  In 2005 I had a great ride with a face paced group, and I figured after 15.4 mph this year that I probably rode 2005 at 16.  I looked back and found out I almost hit 17!  F, lost 1 1/2 mphs in 9 years.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Tunitas Creek with Gazos Creek Rd and Lobitos Creek Road (2013)

(June 1, 2013)   Tunitas Creek with Gazos Creek Rd and Lobitos Creek Road, 82 miles w/ Ward, Mike, Dr. Dave, Christine, Jack

This is a seminal metric century loop in San Mateo County with lots and lots of climbing that seemingly is far from civilization.  Some of the luster is gone with the Thousand Pink Flamingo House and 10' Machine Gun Toting Skeleton now a distant memory.   

As we didn't ride 100 miles no ride report except that it was a great ride--a little warmer and clearer (yippie) inland and cooler on the Coast.  Here is a link to the route with a nice write up by Chain Reaction Bike Shop.  (When I started serious riding a decade ago I'd have some dumb question at 1am and email Mike at Chain Reaction--hoping for an answer in a week, and usually a reply would come in at 1:45 am)

We added a loop south of Pescadero (Gazos Creek) to come up the Coast and past the Pigeon Point Lighthouse.    At lunch Mike proposed a loop north of the Tunitas Creek Climb that would add more miles, Lobitos Creek.   When we got to the Tunitas turnoff and the group continued North, Mike made a sudden right turn and yelled he was getting a head start on the long Tunitas climb.    He's forgiven as  he's recovering from serious illness.  I didn't like the Lobitos Creek addition--usually the Tunitas climb has a few miles of gentle climbing before the "rough stuff" begins--on Lobitos you hit a steep uphill right away (which leads into a steep downhill so you are back at ground zero.)

Ward and I got a few more feet than the rest of the group by looping back for the achtervolgers on the climbs, and we made sure Mike knew his way home.   We had a really good group--Jack didn't go off on his own and even encouraged photographs when we got to the holy pumpkin site.  OK--enough writing--time for photos (PC)
Nothing like starting off a ride with Christine whipping up fresh waffle mix in Woodside

Christine and Dr. Dave on Old La Honda climb just a few miles into the ride.  NICE repaving job on narrow, twisty road.   

Ward and Mike near the finish of Old La Honda climb.  Usually this road is full of cyclists but lots of riders doing Sequoia Century tomorrow so at home eating alot in anticipation of starving on the Sequoia Century. 

View west from Old La Honda downhill.

Oh crap, I'm just in a jersey and Mike is in a vest--Ward amused..

Dr. Dave looks sooo happy since retiring.  Either happy we are not doing Alpine Road or trying to get golf tips on the Pescadero Road lead in.   

Peloton on Pescadero Road.

Ward at start of Gazos Creek cutoff.  

Jack on the lead in to Gazos Creek Road.
Ward and Mike on Gazos Creek.

Christine wants to go surfing on Pacific. 

This was Big Jim's job--pulling us North into the Highway 1 Headwind.  Now we all try to be inadequate replacements.

Our peloton towards the Pigeon Point Lighthouse.

Fresco of the group at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse.

Mike and Christine pretending they are not freezing.

Ward has trained for this moment for years--when everyone in another group wants their picture taken with another camera or cell phone.

Dr. Dave on Bean Hollow Road.

Nearing Pescadero, in a few months that field should be filled with relatives (pumpkins!)

Main Street Pescadero.

MY STRAVA SEGMENT--1st PLACE on dash down Arcangelis Grocery Alley!!.

Local makes sure that Jack uses the pastry tongs.
Christine is the water carrier for the day.
Mike was going to sneak out early--but for some reason changed his mind.

Dr. Dave and Christine arrive at the top of Stage Road.

Continuing North, View of the Coast

Dave thinks too many photos of Christine as we continue towards Lobitos Creek.

Ward and I are in the Holy land.

Pumpkin Heaven

RATAS-where pumpkins are a way of life!!
Ward rates the Tunitas Creek climb a two banana ride--which is two more bananas than they had on last year's Sequoia Century.

Ward about to make the capture on Tunitas Creek of early breakaway leader Mike.

Back in Woodside, Ward asks Mike about a pool party back at his complex.

OK, no pool party but Mike told us about Manzanita Road which was a nice way to return to Woodside.