Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sierra Century Training-Norris-Redwood-Mt Diablo While Knackered Metric + & Sutter Creek-Volcano-Rams Horn-Share Ridge Recovery Ride

****************1 week to the Great Sierra Century Double Metric****************
****************1 week to the Great Sierra Century Double Metric****************
***************1 week to the Great Sierra Century Double Metric*****************

Memorial Day Weekend
May 24, Norris & Redwood Road w/ Mt Diablo Bonus--Diablo Cyclist ride with Dr Dave and Ward on the bonus miles  80 miles, 6,720' climbing

May 25, Sutter Creek-Volcano-Rams Horn-Shake Ridge Recovery ride-solo, 47 miles, 3,870', (80% of climbing on first half of ride)

I was excited.  Weather promised to actually be 'don't need to take a vest or arm warmers HOT' and our club was going to do an always popular,  relatively flat ride in Solano towards Lake Berryessa--and I need to get some speed work in.    That is we were going to do it until Ward figured out that crazy Memorial weekend drivers towing boats towards Lake Berryessa and bikes may not be the greatest mix.   All of a sudden everyone on the email tree opted for the local Club ride.  I think this is the first out of town ride the bonus mile group ever blew off in unison.

The local Club ride was nothing special, a metric loop with the Norris Canyon climb (1.8 miles, 4% with a 7% kick near the top), the ugly Crow Canyon Road leading into the Redwood Road climb (2 miles, consistent 5%.)  Only item of note was that a club member who never pulls latches onto Dr. Dave's and my wheel at the start of the Norris climb.  I wanted to open it up but didn't want Dave to think I was attacking.  Soon Dave sensed the passenger so he picked it up gradually, we traded blocking the wind on the climb, and dropped our passenger.   Dr. Dave is really riding strong---resulting from hard training for the Sierra Century in case he has to drop  Gustavo (his unwanted buddy from two years ago.)
Dr Dave flying by on his way to Redwood Road and chasing down someone

Going into Redwood Road some guy whizzed by on a hill leading into Redwood Rd (1/2 mile, 6%) and I tried staying with him but failed miserably--hill too long and too gradual for my liking.    Dave jumped out of the group and eventually caught up to the guy.   I pulled over to take photos of our group and then rode hard to get back near the front--I was leading Christine up Redwood when she yelled the warning "Postal."  Oh crap--a 120 lb young guy with no saddle bag, I already got clocked moments before.  But about 5 second back his normal sized friend came along and I jumped on his wheel and rode hard with him back to his friend until we crested the top.  Then it was Dave, Ward, Christine and I back down for our acktavulgers--a new lady was amazed that we come back down hills to ride up with the slowest rider.  Why not--Bonus miles.

Our group then went to shit during the hard ride down Redwood (sudden uphills and headwind.)  Brian flatted so when we waited at the regroup point for 10 minutes and with a quarter of our group missing some of us rode back up Redwood and some split to go home.  Brian had double flatted.  Later he and Don skipped the Moraga Park while Ward, Dave, Jack and I pulled in to get liquored up--it was definitely getting warm.

Next week on the Sierra Century the big climb of the day, Slug Gulch, comes at @mile 70 during the heat of the day. What better way to get ready for it than to go up Mt. Diablo after 50 miles during the heat of the day--even though Slug Gulch will be shorter--steeper and hotter (very dry in the Gold Country.)   Ward and Dave hate hot weather but they were game and we started up at what was supposed to be a friendly pace.   Until the first guy (unbeknownst to us doing intervals)  roared past.
Dave and I at the Ranger Station (WI)

Dave and Ward channeling the happy riders on the Tour of California (Dave insert)

The three troublemakers at the Junction.

 Now in the past I was the competitive maniac and we depended on Dr. Dave to calm the waters, but now he just throws gasoline on the fire--so we both start chasing the guy doing intervals.  This was good as I could no longer hear Ward laugh at my lousy pedal stroke.  We briefly caught back to the guy between his interval set until he took off again but Dave and I rode hard chasing which meant we paid little attention that we were dead tired.   Dave was much more consistent, and above the ranches he pulled away from me.   When I got to the Junction I yelled we should go back down for an unhappy Ward, who was doing his first bonus miles since injury.  So double bonus climbing miles for Dave and I.

Dave in the remodeled lower parking lot.

Dave and I at the top of Mt Diablo--the Pittsburg-Antioch-Brentwood megaplex behind us.
After a rest at the Junction--where we chatted with the interval racer and a guy we had passed ironically wearing an old Sierra Century jersey, Dave and I took off to the top.  This time we were really dead and didn't do much to keep up with another guy who passed us--though we rode hard enough to stay 500' behind at all times.   Downhill was great in jersey only.

My original plan was to do a hard ride on the Sierra Century course after such an ez/ flat Saturday ride.   A great ride is the 24 mile climb from Sutter Creek (elevation 1200') to Hwy 88 elevation 4,000') where the pine forest gets thicker and thicker the higher you go. I was going to start in Ione which would add about two dozen miles of serious rollers to each end of the ride, but after getting knackered on Satuarday I talked myself out of the "bonus rollers" and started in Sutter Creek.

The first 12 miles is along the fairly shaded Volcano Road (12 miles, 1%, though picks up with some 6% rollers for the last mile or so.)  The first and last few miles of pavement is good but the middle section has terrible and uneven patch jobs (it would still be the BEST road surface in Sonoma County.)  At the end of the road is the tiny town of Volcano. I've been in Volcano dozens of times but never checked out the ancient cemeteries until today after a tip off from Dave.
Sutter Creek

While the Sierra Century is the greatest organized ride--I tell folks not to expect any "oh wow" views.  But when I did the Metric for the first time, circa 2000, I was amazed when we made the right turn and saw the quintessential western town, Sutter Creek, for the first time.   Early morning, not covered with cars yet, kind of like this photo.

I'm in Sutter Creek

After Volcano is a signature Sierra Century climb, Rams Horn Grade (2 1/2miles, 6%) which is actually longer as it leads into  a bunch of 6% rollers for another few miles.   Eventually the 6% rollers give way to 9-10% rollers.  In any event the ride to Hwy 88 is slow--and not a consistent grade--which I like.   Shake Ridge Road is lightly populated, beautifully forested, nicely paved and had very light traffic--along with NO traffic stops.
At 3,000' its cooler than Sutter Creek and smells great from teh densly packed trees..
Volcano is also a Kodak Moment on the Sierra Century. Though the "Greek Theatre" has all the integrity of a Hollywood Set, it still is always impressive to look at.   Unfortunately, a rest stop is no longer in Volcano Park.

As a recovery ride I was trying to keep my power down and spin alot--until some guy comes by without saying a word.   Jesus--we'll see a half dozen cyclists today--everyone calling out greetings/ warnings they are passing except for this unfriendly douche.  So I get my dander up and go over what I wanted to do until I drop the guy on the next sharp roller.
Look back down Rams Horn shaded climb.

Shake Ridge climb to Highway 88--on the Sierra Century we'll go down the Fiddletown expressway twice--coming in from both ends of Shake Ridge Road

Film short of riding along Shake Ride Road --which is constantly lined by tall trees.

There is one general store on Shake Ridge that looks like a museum/ junk yard and I get another bottle of water now so I can picnic when I reach Hwy 88 and don't have to stop on the fast return trip.

A few steeper rollers near the end (last mile averages 5%)  and a few cars actually pass as close to Hwy 88.   There were actually two people hiking up Shake Ridge Road--I'd see them 20 minutes later when I was picnicking.

Though not scorching hot it is dry.  You can feel the moisture being sucked out of you. When I got to the point where Shake Ridge Road meets Highway 88 I walked down an embankment into the pine forest and ate my peanut butter/ pumpkin butter sandwich in the shade.

Picnic at the end of Shake Ridge Road/ @Hwy 88

Daffodil Hill covered with squawking peacocks
Return trip was uneventful.   Instead of a pure out and back instead of going into Volcano I deviate near the top of Rams Horn and take Shake Ride almost all the way back to Sutter Creek.  There is more traffic.  I was probably passed by 12 cars all day--about half on Shake Ridge as I approached Sutter Creek.    The Shake Ridge road surface is much better than Sutter Creek-Volcano Road's midsection, much better for the usual high speed downhill punctuated by sharp uphill rollers.

Sutter Creek in both directions early in the day--later lots of people will be in the water in the bottom photo., 

Back in Sutter Creek I saw what its like when its hot--many families were playing in the creek.  I picnicked on another peanut/ pumpkin butter sandwich at the creeks edge.

May 26, Mt Sutro Walk, 7 miles.

In 2003 before my first double metric Sierra Century, I took the week off and rode every day needing "more prep--more prep" until the witch ordered me off the bike on Thursday. Now, after two days of climbing rides on warm (hmmm, maybe hot) weather--I figured I'd change up and take a hike around San Francisco where it will be 20 degrees cooler.
SMART cars look so stupid on the highway, but parked in a tight space between SF Driveways they finally look good.

The Painted Ladies--tour buses and paint company vans prohibited.

The easy to miss entrance to the Mt Sutro Forest

Rare view from the forest.

On a typical trail.

Not much to see at the top--if there was a souvenir shop I'd get this sign for Ward.

Walking back through the Haight

Destination was the Mt Sutro forest, but instead of taking mass transit over I walked over from downtown, outward via the picturesque Alamo Square area with the "7 Painted Ladies."  Back I went through the interesting Haight Ashbury.

Nothing much happening in the Mt Sutro forest except birds chirping and eucalyptus swaying--real relaxing.

The real surprise was the Mt Sutro forest.  Though a holiday there were not that many fellow hikers and no deadbeats.  For much of the hike you have no clue you are in a city, save the small part you are right behind UC Hospital's air conditioning plant, and the few times you can make out the Golden Gate Bridge through the giant eucalyptus.

If the idea was to rest my legs I sorely screwed up--my "well developed cycling legs" always get a bad case of shin splints whenever I do something as intense as taking a long walk.

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