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)

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