Thursday, May 1, 2014

Return to Sierra Road Metric (2014)

******35 days to the GREATEST Century Ride--The Sierra Double Metric out of Plymouth*****

(April 26)  Calaveras-Sierra Road Metric, 64 miles, 4,810' climbing, 14mph, me**, Christine^, Jack^, Dr. Dave^#, Ward^%, Stephen^?, Andy^?, Sharon^?, Don^@, Brian^@

Footnotes run amuck
**didn't start from Heather Farms at 7:30 as a cold wuzz, didn't do Palomares
^ didn't do Sierra Road
#didn't start at Heather Farms at 7:30 as rained on all day when hiking
%didn't start at Heather Farms as has a note from chief nurse practitioner at Kaiser
?didn't start at Heather Farms
@didn't do all of Calaveras as on a "funny" (fixed gear or recumbent) bike, or Sierra Rd or Palomares

Strange ride, strange weather, special weekend.   Taking these one at a time

Strange Ride--A ride along along the gentle slopes rustic Calaveras.  The out and back from our typical starting spot at Heather Farms would have made it an 80 mile ride, but Jack moved the 9 o'clock start to a Dublin Hotel cutting this ride to 40 miles.   There was still an option to start at 7:30 at Heather Farms, which most in the bonus mile group forgot about last year and started the longer route at 9:00.  Jack didn't forget about this miscue from last year and kept reminding us of the special starting times.

Strange weather--It got cloudier and cooler as the week progresses.   Hopefully those whining that we need the rain will now shut up.   It rained Thursday night, it rained Friday night.  It rained everywhere Dr. Dave was hiking.   Promised to be dry but breezy, overcast and in the 40's at 7:30 on Saturday.   I have a great idea--I'll start at 9:00 and add on when its warmer.

Special weekend.   Chico Wildflower is run this weekend.  A long time ago when I first got into cycling and struggled through the metric I hoped that one of my toddlers would go to Chico State--the only university town in California.  Now my oldest graduated 7 years ago.   I've done the century with bonus miles a half dozen times with a big group from our bike club--fun times.

Devil Mountain Double, tied for the 2nd hardest double is also run this weekend.   A long time ago I remember when an member of my old bike club became a legend by being the last person to finish the 200 mile, 18,000' climbing course at 2am.   I've since done this ride 4 times, the first time a few months after being in intensive care and with my baby going in, and my dying out in Sunol (@ mile 170), the last time finishing 32nd, almost in daylight and finishing with Cisco Dave.   Best memories were finishing with Don, Jack, Grizzly Mark and Cisco Dave in different years and Christine, Ward and Dr. Dave popping up on the course to take photos.

DMD goes over Sierra Road.   The last time I did DMD I had a great ride--except for the 5 mile super steep Mt Hamilton Climb.  I was out of energy on it and fading fast--but wasn't worried about it.  I was worried about the next climb--Sierra Road, which I never every did well in training.   Starts with the road going straight up and then is relentless for 3.5 miles with killer hairpins where my back is sure to give out.     But, you never know.  After the long Mt. Hamilton downhill I recovered and had my best Sierra Road climb ever.  It was also my last for awhile; after DMD in April 2012 I didn't do Sierra Road in 2012 and vowed not to do it again in 2013. 

So if I wasn't going to start at some godawful hour, it felt like I should add Sierra Road after Calaveras--which is a natural continuation and has the Devil Mountain Double tie-in.

So ride was really disjointed.  Fun portion was the club ride over gentle Calavaras where Dr. Dave, Christine and I bs'd along the whole route.  BS'ing is ok if you don't start slowing when you talk, or ride side by side and block the road.   It was even fun when I repeated something stupid that I did a few years ago.  When it is cold outside (cold = under 75 degrees) I wear woolen gloves with the fingertips cut off.   My wife calls them, "garbageman gloves."   I found that the evil empire (W##mart) has plain yoga gloves with a grippy palm--good for driving-- and of course finger tips already cut off.  So after we set up and started rolling I noticed I wasn't wearing cycling gloves but still had on my Walmart yoga garbageman gloves.  Christine offered to ride back with me to the car and then help pace me back but what the hell, it was my dumb mistake so I figured I'd leave them on and maybe I wouldn't do the same stupid thing for another decade.

Andy took off fast for Sunol and I got on his wheel--usually our group races this part but maybe that the ride just began and the cold had everyone laid back.  Andy and I slowed and took it easy on the Sunol climb but no one was coming up fast.

Big paceline to the start of Calaveras climb--at one point I begged to go to the front and pull to get my heart rate up--as even with vest and t-shirt I was freezing.   I got lucky the four times I did DMD, the weather was very good.  Today DMD would be slow as the riders battled a cool breeze for 200 miles along with the consistent climbs.    

When the climb went uphill Christine, Dr. Dave and I took off though we didn't really take off.  I don't think we upped the speed--we kept a steady pace but no one followed.   There were a few times the sun broke through and it was wonderful.  Dr. Dave thought of joining me on Sierra Road, but by the time we were at the end of Calaveras the cool breeze picked up, some clouds moved in, and Dr. Dave was suffering from post rainy hiking/ camping damp chill syndrome.

I love when a good tune gets into my head--and on the drive over I listened to a few renditions of Patti Smith doing William Blake's Contemplation with minimal instrumental accompaniment.  For the rest of the day, sans anyone around, this went through my head over and over.

At the start of the downhill is Ed Levin Park where I stopped for water and a renaissance actors group was recreating. The long downhill to Milpitas was--freezing.       Still chilled when I hit the bottom--hell, its high noon and not warm  at all.  I look across the street and laugh, remembering when doing the Mt Hamilton Challenge before I ever did DMD and falling asleep on a lawn here when pooped.

Long ride through nondescript suburbia brings back some uneasiness--as suddenly this route that I haven't done in 2 years is very familiar and I know what's coming up--Sierra Road.  Even when I was a much faster climber the 3.5 mile, 10% grade Sierra Road always beat me up.   I usually do well in steep climbs with relief points--give me climb that has a nice -2% between 18% sections.  Sierra Road had NO relief points.  Ward says there are but I think he delusional--I have the Garmin that reads grades so we'll find out today.

Usually I'm warm on a climb and any t-shirt, vest, knee warmers, arm warmers would come off.  Today I kept them all on--only accommodation to the climb was to pull off the buff from around my neck.  

All of a sudden the left turn by the Shell Station and Egg Farm--apartment houses for a few blocks and Sierra Road climbing to the sky straight up.  Felt like I did this climb last week.  As I've been trying to do more of lately, I put my ass in the saddle, and throw the bike in an easier gear so I'll spin more instead of trying to stand and mash.   Too bad my power meter is out--would have been interesting trying to control the tempo with it.

Instead being in an x27 and spinning controlled the tempo.  The straight up part is a constant 11-12%  No notable relief along the way.  Then you make a sharp left turn, and the road starts snaking high above the Santa Clara Valley.   Many sudden 12-15% points followed by 7-8% portions that are gifts from the great Buddha.  I think my friend Ward suffered form heat stroke on this climb--as I was ever vigilant for the mythical downhill section.  There is one shady spot for about @200'  that is 4%.  Later on, near the top, there are two 100' sections that are 2% and 1%.   Otherwise I never saw anything lower than 7% and I saw 15% as much as 7%.

I actually enjoyed Sierra Road except for the nagging strain on my lower back.  At least it was just a nagging strain and I didn't need to get off the bike and stretch as I usually had to do.  It was warm.  The second half is in full sun and I was sweating, which is better than freezing.  The road was deserted--two cars passed early on but for the next half hour there was only one more car passing, and two cyclists descending.  The road surface is nice and smooth.  Nice view of the San Jose basin.  Near the top a cool breeze picked up and now with sweat filled t-shirt it was suddenly too cool.

Jack had opined that I'd see the fast DMD riders and the rest stops would be open-but I was still a few hours before the DMD ride would go by here and the famous "I ain't petting no sticking goat" rest stop was not set up.   Luckily sun was out for the speedtrack back to Calaveras--don't miss the turn that the locals black out or you wind up back in Milpitas.   Meanwhile the instrumentals with about every third word of Patti's voice rang in my head:

WHO is this, that with unerring step dares tempt the wilds, where only Nature’s foot hath trod? ’Tis Contemplation, daughter of the grey Morning! Majestical she steppeth, and with her pure quill on every flower writeth Wisdom’s name; now lowly bending, whispers in mine ear, ‘O man, how great, how little, thou! O man, slave of each moment, lord of eternity! seest thou where Mirth sits on the painted cheek? doth it not seem ashamed of such a place, and grow immoderate to brave it out? O what an humble garb true Joy puts on! Those who want Happiness must stoop to find it; it is a flower that grows in every vale...

Calaveras is a much faster course on the return trip.  Coming up were waves of large groups of riders.  I thought they were on the Mt Hamilton Challenge but later passed a Team in training rest stop.    Only "what the fuck" moment was when someone was having a hard time going up the 2% grade so they decided to ride back and forth across the road to lessen the grade--damn the people coming down the other way.

Run in from Sunol back to suburban Dublin was uneventful--except that much of the Diablo Cyclist group was still in the parking lot.  They decided to add on the Palomares Climb, special kudos to Christine who did the climb and then had to ride back to Walnut Creek.

Funny, I've now done the Patterson Pass 2x solo and now Sierra Road.   Hard rides but no large group pushing the pace, or agitating like a group of turkeys on a Century ride.  I feel like its mid March and not the end of April with the hard Century/ Double Metric rides right around the corner. 


Congrats to the riders who started Devil Mountain Double--conditions must have been brutal.  One fast rider posted the ride on Strava but he needs work on his "Ride me me  me  Description"

"DMD #6. First place for the 3rd year in a row. Cold and windy all day.  First person to win 3 times." a little over the top.  Fredrik indicating he ate a 7-11 Hot Dog before Sierra Road is allowed.

Reaffirming My Faith In Humanity Story
Last year when in Flanders #1 "souvenir" (apart from cobbles from the Mur of Geraardsbergen) was a local cycling jersey.   Weekend trips to Tour of Flanders cycling meccas Geraardsbergen and Oudenaarde were planned to hit the larger town-Geraardsbergen, on Saturday as in Europe stores are generally closed on Sunday.  So of course in Geraardsbergen the bike shops were all out of town (we took the train in) and Oudenaarde  had a great bike shop in the center of town--but it was closed on Sunday.
Dr. Dave's New Zealand cycling jersey was the impetus for me to email the bike shop in Oudenaarde to see of I could buy a jersey.   I got back an email that basically said 'wire me money--I gave a jersey to a guy from San Francisco to deliver to you."  What--this smelled like a con job.  Either the bike shop didn't give a jersey to anyone or some guy in San Francisco got a free jersey.
Two days later I got the first of a string or emails from Stu--he was in Paris and watching Paris Roubaix and he had a jersey for me.  When he came back he was actually more eager for me to get the jersey than I was anxious to get it.  He came out for a ride up Mt Diablo on a cold windy day (the day after Sierra Road)  bringing a nice looking jersey and a cap that the bike shop threw in.   He had ridden in Flanders and had nice descriptions of the short, steep, cobbled, climbs.
We rode two days of casual riding in Brugge which was awesome, and then we rode a serious day with Ronnie's bikes in Oudenaarde. We tried to ride the last 60km of the Tour of Flanders, but got kind of lost and ended up riding 60km "around" Oudenaarde - maybe the last 30km of the Tour of Flanders. I did ride many of the "hellingens" in the area, including the Achterberg, Laduze, Eikenberg (my first cobbled berg), Taainenberg, Oude Kwaremont, Paterberg and Koppenberg. The Paterberg was freaking nuts and the Koppenberg was plain insane. It was the hardest climb I have ever done in my entire life. I took a spill on Steenbeekdries (part of Mariaborrestrat on the way to the Taainenberg), but thankfully was only bruised. It was the ride of a lifetime and I had a smile on my face all day long
He told me the bike shop just gave him a jersey for me, well before I wired any money.  Stu must be an honorary Flanderan--on the cold downhill I had on a jacket, vest and long sleeve t-shirt but Stu just had on the jersey.
Who knew that two days later it would suddenly hit 90, which is the weather I love going to the top of Mt. Diablo--its worth $1,000,000 to go downhill in just a sleeveless jersey.  In any event I am a little worried that haven't been "pushed" this year--the old Diablo Cyclists used to beat each other up but now we are pretty cooperative or injured.  So on the second hot day of going up Diablo after work, and with the power meter back "online," I tried to keep my power in a zone at the beginning.  I did go to hard approaching the Junction and had to cut back right after.
So, suddenly the impetus appeared.  Lots of riders are faster than me and I appreciate when someone passes and shouts out, like I try to do when I pass someone .  Well, a young guy too cool for school with headphone in both ears comes spinning by without saying anything, which got my dander up.  Suddenly he was 300' in front of me.  Instead of trying to get back to him right away and burn out I just get into a manageable 20 minute power zone.  After another mile I am right behind him, slow to snap a photo, and once I pass him I don't want to get repassed so I  try to keep power in the zone I know I can sustain.   I never look back; if I get repassed I get repassed but I imagine that he is always right on my wheel which is motivation.

I get to the top about 5 minutes before he does, where two girls and I trade taking photos--they wanted me to do "something fun."   WWWoMD (What would Ward or Mike do?--but they'd probably get slapped  I was stoked when I saw my time up Diablo--after a pedestrian time to the Junction--it was my fastest time since 2012. 

Back to back hot nights to the top of Diablo--worth $1,000,000 when you can descend in just a jersey.

As I'm from South Flanders (where it is warm) I went downhill in just a jersey.  I can do that--when it's 90 degrees.

1 comment:

Curtis Corlew said...

Jersey lust. Yep. I have it. Nice one!