Sunday, April 20, 2014

Marshall Wall Metric Loop (2014)

(August 19, 2014) Marshall Wall Loop, w/ Dr. Nunzio, Christine, Jack, Mark & Amy, 62 miles, 3,632' elevation, 16.2mph

We went short today but the Marshall Wall Loop is as special a metric as Tunitas Creek.  Short doesn't include ex-regional cyclocross champ Mark who said it was his longest ride of the year.  It was a unique ride as either we slowed to wait for Amy who has bad asthma and the high winds and the lines of vintage lead burning cars didn't help, or we went balls out when Mark or Nunzio or Christine caused trouble.

I love the loop as it brings back fond memories of the Mt Tam Double race, when it was run in a safe direction (early morning past the deserted oyster bars, and not late afternoon when the Oyster Bars are clogged with drivers parking all over the place, making sudden turns and leaving after having a few beers with their oysters.)

Today we ran into another local group at the start, the Duros, who many of our mid week riders knew.  We kept passing them all day, helped pull a few times, but they'd repass us when we goofed off at rest stops, so we'd see them again on the road.

My old teammate Beth rides with the Duros--she's dressed for summer and I'm dressed for winter.
Ride started with a cold, harsh headwind blowing from the West.  Also started with two-three vintage car rallies going along Lucas Valley Road.   Marin roads have no shoulder so 20-30 cars would  closely pass at a time, all smelling like lawn mowers.   Most were watchful when they passed--though a new car cut Nunzio and I off when we were near the first climb of the day--Big Rock (westbound) causing us to stop and yell.  (On this climb, even with the car blockage, Nunzio and I had the 2nd fastest time of all Strava posters of the day.)

Our pacline early morning in Lucas Valley Road

Mark, Dr. Nunzio and Jack at our regroup at the top of the Big Rock Climb, I always wonder why they call this the Big Rock climb
There is then a dozen mile fast route to Nicasio, a slight downhill with redwoods blocking much of the wind, and I figured if we moderated our pace Amy and Jack could catch on.  Almost immediately a big young guy shot by and Nunzio jumped on his wheel with Christine and I in tow.  Then it was a hammer fest to Nicasio where we all stayed on the guys wheel.  

As Nunzio and Christine did all the work to stay with the guy, when we regrouped I pulled much of the next segment where the headwind picked up.  We caught up to the Duros and our group pulled into the Cheese Factory Hill.   Mark shot up the hill with Nunzio and I in the 2nd group.   After the downhill Nunzio and I were joined by two Duros and we rode in together to  the Cheese Factory.

Jack and Nunzio at Nicasio regroup

Early morning paceline to Cheese Factory Hill

Nunzio on Cheese Factory climb
Nice and windless at the Cheese Factory, but mass headwind on the dozen plus miles out to the Marshall Wall.  When we turned onto the secluded road another car rally materialized and was stretched out along the road as far as the eye could see.   At first we tried to keep the Club together but two Duors took off so soon Mark, Nunzio, and I were hammering up to and past them.  This was a section I loved in the Mt. Tam Double race--it came at about mile 110 and I used to know when to take it easy and where the attack points were.

Bathroom humor--my portrait with Nunzio

Maybe more scenic--Nunzio and Christine
Christine put in a great time trial back to us.  Eventually we hit the long Marshall Wall climb and she was pooped and I'm a terrible headwind climber.  Mark, of sub 30 minute Mt Diablo Junction time again took off (on the heaviest bike of the day), and I rode with Dr. Nunzio.  For a little bit.   Nunzio soon started spinning up the climb, zoomed away from me, and I had a great seat seeing him catch up to Mark.  (On this climb Nunzio has 2nd fastest Strava posted time for the day.)  Nunzio musyt have paid attention to Durianriders Training Video, and let Mark's and my legs sizzle-elllllllllll on the climb.

Hicks Valley beginning to the Marshall Wall--lots of poppies and car clubs

Amy camera shy on Hicks Valley Road

Nunzio followed by a large group of Enduros where the Marshall run in begins

Mark ready to motor up the Marshall Wall.

Nunzio saying goodbye before he goes to catch Mark
We hung out on Hwy 1 for Jack and Amy--who had been killed by the wind and climb.  The Duros regrouped at the same spot and left first for the nice baby roller section of Highway 1 to Pt Reyes Station.  Sun was out and crosswind not that bad but it was cool.  We had a nice paceline going along Pt Reyes Station--except when we passed an oyster house with cars parked on all sides of the road with the sudden opening of doors and occasional backing up. Mark knew of an alternate route that got us off the main road for a few miles; and it was a nice backdoor entrance to Pt. Reyes Station.

The traditional Peace Bell ringing at the Church up the hill from Highway 1

Christine can't find a parking spot as the Easter crowd arrives a day early

Amy coming down from the "Bates Motel" Church

Jack leading the group down Highway 1
Pt. Reyes Station looked as crowded and calamitous at the oyster bar area--but this time with cyclists instead of cars.  The park at the corner was closed--being rehabilitated for Earth Day, so dozens of cyclists were covering the sidewalk.  We squatted across the street from the hordes.  Luckily I had called in my order at the start of the ride to the great Bovine Bakery.  Christine made fun of me when I did but she wound up with a scone that looked like a bike saddle.

Homage to Coach Toby who has to tell us how riding Paris Roubaix amateur was
Christine's scone, which she'll later use as a bike saddle

We'll cycle for food (Christine)
From here Nunzio and I talked about bonus miles--but in the cool air I wasn't too keen on adding on.  On a warmer day Mt Tam would have been good.   One proposal to Fairfax sounded good but it would only add 10 miles and we'd miss the great run in from the Nicasio Reservoir back to the cars.   We kept talking about bonus miles but lack of anyone's enthusiasm had us riding back with the group.

Jersey of the Day
At the park we saw a cyclists supporting a good cause and wearing a killer jersey "Bikes for Boobs"

Our group stayed together out of Pt Reyes Station towards the Nicasio Reservoir with some short easy rollers.  On one uphill roller there was a group of a half dozen young guys.  I was content to stay behind them so we could stay together but soon Christine was calling out "on your left" while passing.  Shit--I knew what was going to happen as a result of guys getting passed by a girl.  So I went to the front so we could speed away from the group of guys and soon Nunzio, Christine and I had a rotating paceline into a fierce crosswind.

We soon hit the Nicasio Reservoir and the right turn which always means a great tail wind.  But when I lead our group around the turn Nunzio yells out from the back "Postal," which is our code word for someone about to pass our group.  I try to keep the pace high but I got crappy 5 second power, and the best rider from the half dozen guys Christine passed was soon drafting behind us.

I'm just keeping the pace high--at least high for me--and ready to rotate off the front when the interloper pulls a Niki Terpstra and shoots off our paceline and is quickly down the road.  Now no one goofs around more on a ride than me--but I love when I get my dander up and I get really great focus, and do something that surprises me.  Fuck this guy; I hit my max 5 second power for the year and claw my way back to the guy and get on his wheel.  Glance back and hope Nunzio and Christine are there--but they are not.    Guy puts in a few digs, I stay with him, and when he knows I'm not falling off he rides more consistently and points out crap on the road.  So when he pulls off the front I do go by and pull for the last mile of the three mile run in.     (2nd best time of anyone on this Strava segment for the day, which surprises me as I have trouble keeping power levels up on the flats.)

Christine getting serious on the Big Rock run in when I threaten to take selfies if she falls off my wheel

Christine fell off once
We regroup again at Nicasio for the great dozen mile run in up to the Big Rock climb, the climb is gentle and in the afternoon we get a nice tailwind through the redwoods and the steep part of the Big Rock climb eastbound is very short--just like a long roller.   One of my favorites.  Only kicker is now Mark is cramping up so Nunzio rides with him.  I start up the long shallow climb, using the power meter to ameliorate the pace so Christine stays on my wheel.  If she started to fall off I'd threaten to take selfies like I did last week solo on Patterson Pass so she'd scramble back to my wheel.  When we got to the steep section I took off (3rd best time of the day for any posted Strava time for the final Big Rock kick) 

Nunzio and Amy at the top of Big Rock eastbound

Mark at the top of Big Rock
After a regroup at the top I started down the hill that used to terrify me--23 curves where people on the Marin Century fly off the hairpins.   This was also the finish to the Mt Tam Double road race and my "coping" mechanism would be to count the curves as I went through so I wouldn't pay attention to how frightened I was.   I had snuck off to get a headstart and when I get to the bottom Nunzio and Christine join me.   We roll easy for a regroup with everyone but a guy comes by which has Nunzio jumping and chasing with Christine and me following.  Redux of the morning but this morning the guy was fast--this guy is a ham and egger.  I jump off the front--figuring the guy will chase and Nunzio and Christine will get a free ride--but soon Nunzio and Christine hammer past saying they dropped the guy.  That Dr. Nunzio--he is becoming a real troublemaker.
Jeeze, my day starts off getting a hug from Duro Beth, now I'm getting a hug from some Duro guy in crazy shorts.

Even with the weather and the stream of early morning cars, everyone had a good time.  Back at the finish some of the Duros were trying to find a brewpub--and with one person's accent the voice recognition software thought he was trying to find oral sex.   Most of our group went over to a mall taquareia Nunzio recommended--Sonoma Taco Shop which had a big menu and the food was good.   A nice post ride meal as opposed to killer bonus miles was a good choice.

Old Time Diablo Cyclist photo (Courtesy of Dr. Dave)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Patterson Pass 2x on Paris Roubaix Day (2014)

(April 13, 2014)  Patterson Pass 2x, solo (first 25 miles with Diablo Cyclists), 113 miles, 5,300' climbing, 15 mph

Another Saturday (long) ride done on a Sunday (short ride day.)  The day before the family and Ward went to AT&T Lousy Internet, Pac Bell Park--the Disneyland of the north, to catch a Giants game.  It was tote bag giveaway day--which the Giants only give to half their fans, so loads of folks including us were there hours before the game.  The Giants hitters must have also had to line up to get their tote bags early, as during the game they were half asleep.  Game so-so but lots of fun at the ball yard


So the next day needed to put in miles, legs were fresh, and I wanted to do something special.  Today is Paris Roubaix--the hardest cycling race.    Last weeks Tour of Flanders over short semi smooth cobbled hills may be a better race when its dry--but Paris Roubaix over little used flat farm roads, where the (as one cyclist put it) the cobbles look like they were dropped in by helicopter, is the greatest race when its wet.  Paris Roubaix is the race I watched when I got hooked doing hard cycling rides.  So today I had to do something grueling.
Day started off like the shits.   Tried to watch a live stream feed of Paris Roubaix over the computer (only the Masters program show, Master commentary, Masters green jack fashion show, Insurance Commercials brought to you by the Masters are on TV)  which usually got me a frustrating 40 seconds of action before the computer grinded to a halt for 20 seconds rebuffering.    I thought it was my computers faulty computer which is a pretty good laptop, so I hit too many keys while downloading programs it said I needed---resulting in my computer shutting down.   The computer died with 20km to go with a large group in the lead and when my computer finally rebooted  there was one surprise winner on the finishing velodrome himself.  How did he get there???
Even when streaming I'm getting popup ads and update reminders galore.
Later I found out from Ward who has a state of the art computer that the same stuff happens to him--its AT&T net's crappy streaming.   (At the end of the day I had to delete all the crap phishing programs I downloaded.)
Nice weather and group at the start,  Jack's inaugural ride on a new Volagi, which caught everyones interest.  Our club certainly has a collection of interesting bikes--in my old club seemingly everyone had Treks and you best buy from the "in" dealer or half the Club didn't talk to you.
Captain Jack and his new Volagi
Trouble is that Ward is still recovering from injury and months of inactivity, can't get Don off his fixed gear, and Christine, Dr. Dave and Mike all did metric+'s yesterday.  So when I said I was going to do the great Patterson Pass loop twice there were no takers.   Christine, resplendent in her Pink Floyd jersey thought about it, then regained here senses.  I should have convinced her that the rainbows on the sleeve meant she was the world champion.
Two years ago I did Patterson Pass 2x with Toby and Ward and I fell apart on the second climb.  It was at the end of my great 2012 cycling year--I was trying out high compression socks for a developing calf problem, and on the final 11%+ of the second loop my legs just gave out.  I always blamed it on the compression socks but today we'd find out. 
The first 25 miles was our Club's fast Sunday ride to the trees.   Lots of talk about Pink Floyd, which I really know nothing about except that I didn't much care for the ubiquitous "The Wall" growing up.  Conversation got me curious so will borrow some CD's.  (update--not enough rhythm, just melody and weirdness, I'll pass)    Last week I put on some Howlin Wolf CD that I rarely listened too and amazed how good he was and how many of his songs were covered by early Fleetwood Mac, Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Doors.... 



My usual partners in crime
When we got off the main road and onto secluded Collier Canyon, the music bsing stopped and  everyone turned it up a notch.  We soon had a nice long paceline of all the old timers off the front.  Ward reminded me that I should take it easy as I was going long, but it was too much fun.
We had to tell Mike it was Paris Roubaix day and he should put his SF Giants flag away.  I'm celebrating by wearing the jersey of the greatest Paris Roubaix team ever--Domo Farm Frites
Regroup at the trees and the Diablo Cyclists headed South towards Livermore--at the first split I took the road going East toward Livermore .   The rest of the day was a solo Century ride.
Windmills on the hills weren't turning much--which is a good sign for the Patterson Pass climb.   Before the climb would be the great Altamont run in--a dozen miles of great road surface, virtually no traffic, windmills and other strange man made objects, and usually a tailwind.
Start of the wonderful Altamont to Patterson Pass--great road--virtually no traffic--strange scenery--tailwind pushing you up a gentle climb

My 1st and 2nd time going by the Summit Garage
Today not much of a tailwind at the start--more of a crosswind from the North.  This dampened the speed of the Altamont run in but would be beneficial on the Patterson Pass climb as any tailwind now becomes a fierce headwind on the climb.   In any event I wasn't trying to go fast--as no clubmates from the Diablo Cyclists Ansel Adam's Division I had to perfect the art of taking selfies.   If you find the selfies real crappy--blame Dr. Dave, Christine and Mike for leaving me alone with a camera.

Altamont Run In--The Valley of the Windmills
By the time I reached the end of the Altamont run in--the right turn off Altamont to Midway and its short rollers, the weather was beautiful.  No need for arm warmers or t-shirt.  I only had a 1/4 bottle left.  So instead of going right onto Patterson Pass, I went 2 miles past the start and to the stores around the highway that suddenly materializes in the middle of nowhere.  Want to be fully liquored up for the 5 1/2 mile climb.

Past the Altamont Speedway the first time I noticed a Pink Floyd sign--second time around I pulled in to check out what was going on.  Christine missed the concert.
So it was past the Altamont Speedway (is that a sign for a Pink Floyd concert?), a series of rollers among windmills, and down to the 7-11 for water, ice pop and to shed some clothes.

(above) Start of the 1st Patterson Pass climb goes by the electric grid (below) 2nd time around grid is still there to greet

The climbing is about to begin.  Hmmm-always a headwind here; today just hot with a slight breeze coming in from the right.
Back up to the start of Patterson Pass and a constant head wind coming in from the North at the start.   But as soon as the road turns West and the climbing starts the hills killed most of the crosswind--it was very breezeless and very warm.   Near the top the normal headwind picked up slightly; it was very gentle and helped cool things off on the series of 11%+ sections.   Patterson Pass was deserted--maybe two cyclists came down while I was climbing and one vehicle passed me.  
False flat with about a mile to go.  A 11% grade ends in a short downhill and then two-three more 11% sections where the headwind usually picks up.

Yep--11% grade.  I should have the speed in Kh, I would seemingly be going faster

Near the top of Patterson Pass 1st time around

The real finishing climb
Patterson Pass #1 is in the bag
Christine ("don't take kneewarmers") would be proud as I didn't put on the vest for the downhill.    Instead of taking the "shortcut" back to Altamont that Ward/ Toby and I did two years ago (some shortcut--its a series of sharp rollers), I went all the way back downhill.  This way I  could hit a gas station for more water so I wouldn't have to cycle past the Patterson Pass turnoff to stock up again.  Gas station 7-11 was empty but counter lady gave me a hard time for bringing my bike in the store--if there was an alternative nearby I just would have dumped the water and banana on the spot but unfortunately no other choices.  Feasted on the rest of my biscotti.
Start of the Altamont run in is right around the corner.   Motocross Park--huge trestle--climb up to elevated bridge for highway that is REALLY elevated and then disappears.  About 1/4 mile ahead was a cyclist so from here on in (except for another selfie or two) my photos had been taken on the 1st loop and I tried to catch him .   After the highway bridge the road becomes fast and cyclist would put some distance on me on the fast parts. I'd make up lots of ground on the fast rollers past the Summit Garage when we hit windmill-land.   I was only about 200' behind when we hit the Midway turnoff but he went straight back to the farm belt and I turned for the climb.  May have not been the wisest thing to ride so hard here but the Altamont section was seemingly over in no time.
Near the top of Patterson Pass #2--hey taking all those selfies strained my arm--hard to keep the camera straight

Climb #2 is done

Oh--you want to see another selfie from loop #2

The last climb looking down from the top of Patterson Pass.
Rollers past the speedway (yeah, I do hear "the Wall"), pass two guys in cowboy duds riding horses, two rollers and then its the right turn in to the Patterson Pass climb.  Same cross breeze at the beginning.  Just a touch more wind that in the morning, also warmer, but NO complaints.   I was only a minute slower than my morning effort and same power output (173 watts) for the half hour effort.  Surprisingly (as I'm worried about elevate cardiac creep)  my average heart rate actually was DOWN a bit.    I'm trying to sit and spin (or something akin to spinning) more on climbs--and I think I was more consistent by keeping my butt in the saddle except for brief reprieves and on the steep finishing sections.    With my moderating power at the beginning and just a gentle headwind, the final 11% sections were no problem at all. 
Of course I was not sure how to get back to Walnut Creek from the bottom of Patterson Pass.  Most of Livermore's East-West streets dead end so I weaved in and out of many of them.  Long ride on East Street--a main street I had never been on.  I wound up in downtown so eventually I was reversing the morning route.
Another 7-11 stop for iced fruit bar and water.  When I left the Garmin wasn't registering power data--oh crap, I just changed the battery a few weeks ago in the power hub.  Then I noticed my cadence was continually 50---now I have a much better spin and have been known to break 60 on occasion.  For some reason it was not reading the power meter or cadence sensor???  At least the satellite connection for speed and distance still worked, and my heart rate monitor didn't crap out.
Nice ride back to Blackhawk--road was deserted.  Usually a popular cycling route-late in the day saw no one.   As a holy day I started singing the opening lines of Patti Smith's rendition of Alan Ginberg's Holy...  "Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy, The bike is holy, the powertap is holy, the helmet is holy.  Everything is holy-Paris Roubaix is holy.  Museeuw is holy....."
Hey--if I'm by myself I automatically win the sprint for the County Line
When I get back to Blackhawk and the numerous red lights a tri guy passes me on a light change.  I get on his wheel and he isn't happy--he just goes through the next solid red light.
I meet up with nicer cyclists later on--I join a couple where I get a pull from the guy for a few minutes--just enough to recharge my batteries.  Its around 5:30 and I've been riding solo for about 6 hours.   His wife starts talking with me about all the good rides in the area but they have small kids so they have a hard time getting out to ride.  She wants to do the Death Ride for the cool jersey.  I remember when I wanted to do that.
Its been a long day and maybe I should have driven to Livermore to start the ride.  Then I could have tried Patterson pass 3x and then driven home when done.   Hmmm, idea for future ride and the best dozen miles in the Bay Area, which is then followed by a wonderful climb.
Congrats to Niki Terpstra for winning Paris Roubaix--the first Dutchman since.....Servis!!!  Kudos to Bradley Wiggings for being the first tour de France champ since Greg LeMond for showing up!