4 Pass, to Mt Shasta Old Ski Bowl, 138 miles, 16,100' climbing, Cisco Dave & Jack
4 Pass to Mt Shasta Bunny Flats, 132 miles, 15,290' climbing, Dr. Dave and I
Climb #1-Park Creek, 13.3 Miles, 3838' climbing
Climb #2-Mumbo Summit, 14.9 miles, 3270' climbing
Climb #3-Castle Lake, 7.1 miles, 2,200' climbing
Climb #4-Mt Shasta, 12.9 miles, 4,300' climbing
After years of wanting to do the official version of this ride, it quietly snuck up. It seemed like months away when I started talking about the ride and there was almost no interest among club members. Then Flanders trip planning and the trip took precedence, an airplane from hell head cold, and boom--The Shasta Double metric was here. Very different from all the planning for the Death Ride, Alta Alpina and assorted Doubles. I figured I'd pack up on Friday before the ride and go up real early to read about the Course and relax--but my kids came home for the weekend so we spent Friday nite bs'ing and going to sleep at midnight. So next morning--between waking up a little after I wanted to, and doing Friday's packing on Saturday, and then hitting traffic, I was out of the Bay Area 3 hours after I wanted to be and forgot a few minor things at home.
|In 2010 when i did this ride self supported in July there was LOTS of snow on |
Mt. Shasta (top) --this year, not as much. (bottom) (PC)
Any plan to "make time" to Mt Shasta City at the base of the mountain, 270 miles away, was ruined when my car tire started leaking air in the middle of nowhere, I couldn't find a gas station. Driving aimlessly around while worried that tire would go totally flat, and then after inflating tire it proceeded to do deflate 30 miles later. I u-turned back to Redding where I found the tire chain store I use. Tire was unfixable--and they replaced it in 15 minutes. That was 15 minutes after a 2 hour wait.. So I finally got up to Mt. Shasta City frazzled and 5 hours after I unintended.
Mt Shasta City is a new age town at the BASE of Mt. Shasta. It's at 3500'! Mt Shasta itself is 14,179' making it about 3x higher than Mt. Diablo. Though a dry year snow still very visible on Mt. Shasta from far away. The ride wouldn't go all the way up Mt. Shasta--as there are no paved roads after 7,730'--the Old Ski Bowl.
As I was MIA Dr. Dave set dinner reservations back a few hours, and I met Dr./Ms. Dave, Cisco Dave and Jack for dinner. Well, right before dinner I quickly pulled my bike off the roof rack and put it in the room I was sharing with Cisco Dave, drove over with him to checkin where I promptly ignored all rules/ regulations/ support descriptions in my rush to get to dinner, and then finally a late dinner . I was still wound up and not very hungry, and discovered I forgot a top shirt to fight off the usually air conditioning restaurant chill.
Back at the Lodge being wound up caught up with me. I went to the car to unpack, open the trunk, and front wheel bag was all crumpled up. OH SHIT--I FORGOT TO GRAB A FRONT WHEEL. I freak out and just kept staring at the empty bag as if a wheel would magically appear. This day was fucked beyond belief. Front wheel is 300 miles away and all local bike stores are now closed. Wondered if I should just start the long drive home, or start out tomorrow morning. Went to find Cisco to tell him I'd be leaving, an he shockingly got me back to reality--"you put the wheel on your bike when you brought it upstairs before." Relief but I'm in a daze.
The only levity all day was when we went to dinner and Cisco gave commands to his bluetooth-multi directional-Garmin-speaking-navigation system to find the restaurant. The computer said there were two dozen restaurants by that name--all further than 50 miles away. So much for technology.
I was so fn tired I could have gone to sleep on the spot, but still had to unpack the car. Oh yeah, first go to the office to tell them the refrigerator and key didn't work at antique lodge. When they sent someone over they commented that our lamp shades were missing--no they weren't, Cisco had pulled them off as there was just a 20 watt bulb in each of the two lamps and we couldn't see anything.
Cisco filled me in on the "Chico Bag" they gave us at checkin which I thought was just a giveaway--they were drop bags for us to get rid of excess clothes after the first descent. He also told me that my plan to duck a frozen Perpetuem in my car wouldn't work as even though we pass near town after all the climbs--the start of the ride is not need the lunch spot we'd keep passing. Now if I studied the route I would have known that before the 4th pass we pass close to the antique Lodge --but I didn't study the route so I didn't know.
Instead of getting a number to fill with stickers, al la the Death Ride and Alta Alpina (a placard covered with 10 cent stickers is a memorable souvenir--its all in the marketing), on this ride they punch a hole in your wristband. Didn't help that nice worker at start put mine on real tight and later all the rest stop punchers at the top of the climb would have difficulty punching my wristband. Maybe this is why I never finished the 4th climb.
Luckily I had done much of this ride self supported a few years back, doing the passes out of order and skipping the shortest one. It was a wet, snow pack year with snow banks of 10' next to the roads in July. So at least I kind of remembered the climbs. All long on narrow semi smooth roads but very constant grades of 4-6%.
When I finally tried to go to sleep I couldn't--reflecting on the tire problem and wasted day, until I rationalized that the tire only cost me $25 as I'd need a new one in 10,000 miles anyway, and I only lost 2 hours of my life. Of course I could have spent that $25 at the Mt Shasta Crystal Faire.
I didn't think we'd be riding together much. On the Death Ride the group always split up dependant on climbing ability. Cisco is much faster than the rest of us and Jack is slower though he has the ability to skip rest stops and isn't distracted by fn around. Dr. Dave and I climb about the same though he likes the constant grade climbs he can spin up that we'd see today (I like the ones with steeper pitches and then recovery sections.) He also likes cool weather while I get happy when it warms up. But Cisco Dave, Dr. Dave and I stayed together for much of the day, that combined with good support made it a real nice though painful day.
|Yesterday was worried that couldn't get a tire in Mt Shasta so u-turned to Redding. So first thing we pass|
out of town is Les Schwab tires. Of course (PC)
|Early morning to Black Butte. Air is cool and a little damp so I'll play ticket collector until it wars up (Cisco)|
|Paceline out to climb 1 (Cisco)|
The climbs were are narrow roads unstriped but as 3 cars passed in each direction on the entire climb and subsequent downhill, this was inconsequential. I brought along my smallest headlight to blink when going downhill as a warning to ascending cyclists. Otherwise the two Daves were about 300' of me--setting a target, and occasionally one would ride back and we'd ride together. Jack was somewhere behind me. Lots of people from Portland on this ride--Portland only about 100 more miles further than the Bay area is.
|Cisco at the start of the 1st climb to Park Creek. The center line would soon disappear and the road would narrow (PC)|
|Dr. on the 1st climb (PC)|
|Dr & I on the first climb (Cisco)|
|Now everyone is trying to be like Lance -- at rest stop 1 (PC)|
|The Two Daves at rest stop 1--not much of a view for 6868' (PC)|
We then hit some rollers and pacelined towards the town of Weed. We dropped Jack somewhere and he didn't catch up when we took some photos of the Weed arch so we figured we'd meet up at the next rest stop--which was close by. The mile 48 rest stop is where we turned in our "Chico Bags" stuffed with arm and knee warmers and t-shirt. Luckily I kept my vest.
|The two Daves on the rollers from Climb #1 to Weed (PC)|
|Showing great restraint no one photoshopped under the Weed arch. (PC).|
|Dr. Dave goes grocery shopping with his Chico Bag (actually its the drop bag for excess clothes.) (PC)|
We now have uphill rollers for 20 miles in the warm valley and I love this riding. Cisco and I took off, Dr. held on, and Jack was off the back again. The air was clearing and we could see Mt Shasta so the two Daves and I stopped for a bunch of photos so Jack could catch up. A few minutes later Jack comes by--hooked onto the wheel of a strong woman rider who is pulling him along. Cisco pulled us most of the day but on this segment I announced we were going to catch Jack and I pulled the group back to him. When we got close he quickly went in front of the woman, I shouted out when we caught up "Jack, you let HER do all the work." Lots of strong woman cyclists on the ride.
|Stop to wait for Jack and take photos with Mt. Shasta in the background (Photo taken by person not in the picture--duh)|
Climb #2 was my favorite--the longest of the day and again a constant 4-6% grade. Cisco later declared that much of the ride was MONOTONOUS, as all the climbs were the same--and he was right. But when I rode this three years ago with the high snow pack there were mini-waterfalls all along the side of the road. Not this year. Just lots of pine and cedar and rocks. It was also warm, so as i got happy Dr. wasn't. Sometimes Cisco and I would keep up with a rider who had passed, but then we'd drop back to set a target for Dr. Dave.
|I'm on climb #2 (Cisco)|
|Cisco is on climb #2 (PC)|
When we got to the top Cisco and I slowed to stop and looked back expecting to see Dr. Dave about 200' in back of us, which is where he was last time we checked. Dr. was where he was expected to be, but rushing past him, elbows out, was Jack.
|Dr is either getting a massage at rest stop #2 or new age faith healing is going on (PC)|
Dr. was fried, luckily there was a massage therapist up at the top, who worked on Dr. Dave for a long time. Jack took off while Dr. was getting worked on, then we took the long descent which was smoother and warmer than the first one. Unlike our long ride to and back from the 1st climb, climb #3 would start immediately at the base of #2.
Some rollers at the bottom and we pass a woman who rode like me 8-9 years ago. Real fast on the uphills and very slow on the downhill. Her group was all spread out over the course, they had RACED up Mt. Shasta the day before. To be young--I remember doing crazy crap like that on long rides years ago. We pulled her to the base of climb #3 where she promptly took off. Someone said to me "don't you hate doing all the work and then people can do that." Nah not really, its not a race. I just wish I could still climb fast.
|Jack going up climb #3 (Cisco)|
|Photo time on Climb #3 with Mt Shasta in background (Dr.)|
|A few minutes later-another turn--Dr. climbing with Mt. Shasta in the background (PC)|
|Downhill on #3, going towards Mt. Shasta (Cisco)|
|Cisco in front of Mt Shasta on #3 downhill--I think some snow melted in the warm weather from the earlier climb photo with Dr. (PC)|
Very warm now in the valley. We had skipped lunch stop on the way to #2 & #3, now we all stopped and guessed that Jack has skipped it. Dr. Dave is fried and plans to call it a day. I felt OK at lunch--maybe should have drank more. A young guy who had talked earlier to Cisco Dave about the Everest Challenge said he was also calling it a day. Luckily we were real close to Mt. Shasta City--which we would have to pass through on the way to #4, the Mt Shasta Climb.
Gradual uphill though town and I suddenly have no energy. Cisco comes up to BS but now I'm just concentrating on my pedal stroke. He's just riding pace but suddenly he's down the road.
The road up Mt. Shasta is well paved, wide, and with the only substantial auto traffic all day (maybe 1 passing car a minute.) Nice shoulder to ride up. It is still very warm, and now every time I stand my heart starts racing. Luckily 3 rest stops for the 13 mile climb--which should be a piece of cake, but 110 miles already put in, and I feel every previous mile. Lots of people going up--and lots already going down. I hate to stop on a climb, but after about 2 miles slow seated spinning I decide to take 5 in a shaded driveway so I can get more energy and stop my imitation of the dawn of the living dead. About half way into my 5 minutes Dr. Dave suddenly comes by--I don't know if he was more surprised to see me or I to see him.
|A few miles up Mt. Shasta (Mountain) looking down at Mt Shasta (City) and climbs we already did behind it (Dr. Dave)|
|Actual summit is looks like its in another Country (PC)|
|We're riding up the Shasta-Trinity National Forest but road is wide open so don't feel like deep in forest when on narrow Omo Ranch Road-El Dorado National Forest on the Sierra Century (PC)|
I took my full 5 minutes then solo'd to the water stop at mile 117. Dr. Dave was waiting for me as I quickly grabbed a chair--another rest stop ride no no unless you feel like crap. Dr. pointed out a woman who drove up and went over to a cyclist--saying he saw her all day as she was running a private sag for one of the riders--usually illegal on most rides. . Some people pulled into the stop also looking dead--but some were sprinting up.
|Where do we sign up for the private sag (PC)|
|Dr. lying to me and telling me the summit is right around the corner (PC)|
I continued with Dr. and just focused on getting to the next rest stop at mile 122--at Bunny Flat. Three years ago some moron made faces in the background when I shot up to Bunny Flat and took some self timer photos--but this has been my 1st climb on my self supported ride, not my 4th. I stood about 2-3x for a few easy pedal strokes and then my heart would race and I'd have to stop. It even started to race when I was seated. WTF, the grade was gradual and it had cooled off significantly--we were now about 6000'
A few cyclists came passed and yelled out encouragement--nice group of riders today. I alternatively thought about no fn way I wasn't making it to the "top"--then we'd pass a mile marker and I thought how great it would be to just turn around and coast downhill. Dr. Dave then said "if we make it to Bunny Flat" well have as much climbing as the Death Ride."
OK--I'll drag my ass up to to Bunny Flat.
|Dr. Dave and I--not quite the the end of the road but 6,950' (Japanese Tourist)|
Pulled in about 5:55, lots of riders still coming up but rest stop was getting torn down at 5:55. Laying out on the floor for awhile seemed like a good idea. Asked the rest stop workers how many miles up to the top--Old Ski Bowl. They started arguing if it was 2.7 miles or 3 miles; they agreed that it was mostly gradual with a kick at the end. My heart was still racing, the rest stop workers started packing it in, and I told Dr. Dave I'd call it a day. In past years this would have bugged me like when I stopped short on my first attempt of the Alta Alpina 8, but now I don't care as I'm not killing myself to get ready for a tougher ride.
Bit of frivolity--I took my camera out to get Dr. Dave's photo when a van of Japanese Tourists pulled up. I asked if they could take our picture and one lady grabbed the camera and sweetly started ordering us around--stand over there, smile, ok move over, smile....
Long cold downhill back to the car--how was it so warm on the uphill and now so fn cold. Luckily I kept my vest. The things go wrong ride continued, my cell phone was out of juice, so had to call Ms. Pumpkin on Cisco's phone. When she saw a strange number she immediately thought I had crashed. Dr. Dave split to meet up with Ms. Dr.. Nice post ride meal of make your own burritos. It was 6:30--read later that last rider who did the whole course came in at 9:30. Maybe I'll try the ride again next year and this time pay attention to it before it comes up.
They had last years jersey for sale which was orange. Did I mention that the ride jersey's are very nice? Did I mention that they were out of my size for last year's? Of course. By not finishing the 4th pass I missed out on beer glass filled with beer but that's OK--I only drink in Belgium.
Postscript-two days later and it rained in the area for a few days with snow coming down at certain elevations. That would have been the icing on the cake. We really did have perfect weather.
|A Bear of a ride--as seem at the Lodge. (PC)|
|If you stay here bring a headlamp or two. (PC)|
|Stop off at the Sunshine Bridge in Redding on the way back (PC)|
|Bike shop in Davis has Stuart O'Grady's Paris Roubaix 2007 winning bike on display (PC)|
Cisco took some nice movies during the ride but his Apple format was fighting with my Microsoft Computer....things continue to go wrong with ordinary things connected to this ride. If I do this ride next year I'm carrying a crystal--I'm taking no chances..