Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mt. Tam without the Seven Sisters Loop (2014)

(7/26/2014) Mt Tam without the Kardashian Sisters Loop, 75 miles (inc 8 mile bonus at the beginning), 5,200' climbing.  With Dr. Dave, Cisco Dave, Grasshopper Matt, Christine the 1st, Southern California Kris, Penguin Don, Captain Jack.   (I'm Mickey--mixing the 'Rocky' and 'Karate Kid' movies together)
Climbs and Towns

Significant climbs

Big Rock Westbound

.9 miles, 8%

Mt Tam

White's Hill-                      .7 mile, 187', 5% (steady grade)
Drop Down into Fairfax-2.1 miles, -4% (straight drop down)
First Climb-                    3.2 miles, 945 feet, 5% (steady grade)
Drop Down-                   4  miles, -4% (downhill rollers)
Reclimb-                         2   miles, 919 feet, 8% (with .4 mile 17% section)
Seven Sisters-                         3.7 miles, 558 feet of rollers, 2%

100 degrees inland had us thinking about the Coast--where temperatures can be 30 degrees less in Northern California.  Actually thinking about a lot of things, none of them good.  I was going to ride solo in Marin but Dr. Dave proposed a Marin ride in lieu of the inland Diablo Cyclist club ride.   I helped spread the word and we had a nice turnout 1 week before the Mt Tam Double--even without a route finalized.   Matt is going to do the Mt. Tam Double, he's never done ANY part of the course, so it was fortuitous timing.  Dr. Dave and I are doing the Mt. Shasta Super Century next week, a ride we both never finished.

I didn't sleep well so woke up early, which was more fortuitous timing.   My minor problem is that for two years I thought I had arthritis, as my hand under the thumb joint continually hurts.  The last few weeks it’s gotten worse so I looked extensively online and found (good news) it’s not arthritis, (bad news) its carpal tunnel, which I had thought only affected the wrist.  So I've taken sleeping and working with heavy duty wrist wraps, and a medium duty one when riding.  The good news is that most medical articles indicate that wraps might resolve the problem without surgery--but between a partially torn ACL that I have to wrap when cycling, and varicose veins under control with compression calf guards--I look like I'm doing a commercial for ACE Bandage Wraps.

The major problem is that I am going back to the homeland for a wedding in a month and started sending out emails to see if I can get many from my old ball team together.   Growing up we had a dozen guys basically inseparable for 8 years--I've seen a few of the group 2-3x at most in 35 years.
My lame excuse is that I live so far away, but out of the people who stayed in the area almost no one has seen anyone else.  A more socially delinquent group may never have existed.   So I get one email back that one of our childhood friends was just send home for hospice care--he had less than a week to live.   This will be the 3rd person of 12 from our old ball team that is now gone.   We wanted to be like the Pittsburg Steelers but not like this. 

Grizzly Mark--tapering on a 120 mile ride
In any event got to the start of the ride a hour before our club was going to meet, and figured I'd ride over and take some photos of Marin Civic Center while brooding about.   Instead I find the Grizzly Peak Cyclists preparing for a tapering ride, and a good cycling friend Grizzly Mark.   When we first met on Doubles we tried to ride each other into the ground, later we'd usually found each other on the course near the end, and we'd run a strong two man at the end of the race.  He's also slowed down a lot but is still doing doubles and his group was going to do a tapering ride on the Mt. Tam Course--120 miles!  He invited me to ride with his group, at least until the first hill shows up, which was perfect as I could then double back for my Diablo Cyclist ride.  Dr. Dave showed up right before we left as he would never believe that someone (apart from me) was doing a 120 mile tapering ride the week before an event.


Nice turnout for an impromptu ride-good choice as it would top out at 100 degrees back in Walnut Creek, while inland Marin reached 83 and the coast would even be cooler.  Problem was that there was no consensus on the route we were going to do.  Some people wanted to do the Marshall Wall loop, I wanted to do the whole of Mt. Tam via Fairfax, others said that Mt. Tam was OK if we didn't do the four miles of "Seven Sister Rollers" at the top.  So it was up Mt. Tam but cutting it short, a little disappointed but I could live with it.  Hell, when we got to the "Seven Sister Rollers" I could take off and solo that part.

The route we were doing was the start of the Mt. Tam Double and I'm always psyched for it--but today planned to ride sanely with the group.  Matt and Cisco Dave are light years ahead of me now, and when only one of them is with our group they'll do a lot of pulling and help keep our group together.  I figured, correctly, that with both of them together they'd push each other all day and constantly be ahead of the pack.   When we'd start a segment or regroup I'd give Matt lots of pointers for the Mt. Tam Double, as there are lots of places to paceline between climbs.   Case in point was when Matt & Cisco were ahead of the group and a strong rider came along on the flats hammering and I'd jump on their wheel and coast by Matt & Cisco; of course this revved them up and they soon shoot by.

Diablo Cyclists go down Sir Francis Drake towards Fairfax and Mt. Tam
All notions of riding sanely with the group ended when we hit the first climb--Big Rock Hill.  Matt and Cisco shot on ahead, I'm taking it easy and passed two guys with Mike's Bikes jerseys standing off the road.   Get about a quarter way up the climb and one Mike's Bike guy--earbuds in both ears (smart thing to do when cars pass closely by) shoots by without saying anything.  He's going so fast he looks like he'll catch Matt and Cisco Dave.  I don't care, I rev up ignoring that it suddenly gets nice and warm and my heart is racing.   Soon I'm closing in on the guy , he hears me coming and starts standing.   Now standing is a real inefficient way to climb, and I can still stand on many short climbs so I know I got him.  I pass by while he is weaving--telltale sign that his climb is over.  Matt and Cisco waiting at the top of Big Rock but I don't want to stop as I'm not a good descended, we now have a fast @6 miles, and I don't want to see Mike's Bikes Guy again.  In any event it was decided that whoever got to Nicasio first would pick the route we were going to do, and I wanted to make sure we were headed to Mt. Tam.

The Dave's talking about the benefit of pink cable housing
Christine in a special rainbow world champion jersey
Dr. Dave pulled in and he indicates that he discovered a frayed cable which he'll want a bike shop in Fairfax to look at.    Over a few more hills to Fairfax where our group splits getting into town.  We spot a convenient bike shop we never went into (a few years ago another bike shop in town had to replace my derailleur when it exploded on Mt. Tam.)   Dr. & Cisco Dave Matt, Christine and I stopped at the bike shop while the other part of the group pressed on--maybe figuring it was a quick fix.  Well, problem is that this was seemingly a mountain bike shop, the mechanic slowly started changing Dave's cable while roofers were going THUMP THUMP BANG THUMP right over our head for a half hour.  When we left we thought the other half of our group would be at the Fairfax 7-11 but they weren't.   (Where the F are those guys)

La Gazzetta Delo Sport guy checking to see if he should call out when passing other cyclists and what side of the road he should ride on.  Everyone regrouping at Alpine Lake.
Climb up Mt. Tam was great.  With apologies to Diablo Scott, it’s much more interesting than climbing Mt. Diablo.  The first part is Diablolike, with a steady grade.  Then a long, rolling, twisty downhill to Alpine Lake.  Then you have to reclimb much of what you already did on a road with a mild grade interrupted by steep hairpins.  On the Mt. Tam Double I was always passed going down to Alpine Lake and then would repass on the fun climb out of it.  Today some turkey shoots by on the downhill on the narrow road without saying a word, and then takes the WRONG side of the road into a blind turn.  Again kumbaya out the window and I'd flash by the guy on the short uphill sections and he'd come around on the longer downhill ones--again going into a turn ON THE WRONG SIDE of the road on a curve.  Figured I'd drop him for good on the climb out of Alpine Dam but both my group and his group had a regrouping on Alpine Dam--in the shade.   (It was almost hot)

Matt and Cisco Dave start the Mt Tam climb from Alpine Lake.

Both parts of the club come together at the top of Fairfax-Bolinas Road.
Matt asks Cisco for a section of the cycling newspaper for the downhill.  Why is Lance pissed off and pointing at Cisco Dave??
Nice climb up through the redwoods with the twisty steep hairpins.  I used to know this road down to every detail--today I forgot where the last hairpin before the ridgeline was.  Nice guy came along and passed me, spotted my jersey,  and asked if I was doing the Mt. Tam Double next week.  Told him I was retired from doubles but I do wish I could still ride them like I did a few years ago.

Big surprise at the top--the other half of our club had been waiting for us in the densely shaded redwood grove.    At least that is what they told us--I'm sure they had gone out and back on the Seven Sisters Mt Tam ridgeline.  Any thought I had of doing the ridgeline was gone after the 1/2 hr delay at the bike shop, and F it, my hand was hurting on the climb.

Which was nothing compared to my hand HURTING on the twisty downhill on Bolinas-Fairfax Road every time I touched the brake.  Many cyclists coming up, luckily no cars.  Where are those sudden, unmarked hairpins again?   Fog was rolling in on this side of Tam; was glad I took a small headlight with me. 

Fog broke when we got down to Highway 1.  BIG PLUS--lots of fun rollers on this section among great smelling stands of eucalyptus trees.   Example of one such roller (if you can stand the whole way it’s a roller)

Dogtown Fun Roller
.9 miles, 281, 6%


 BIG MINUS--lots of cars, with no shoulder.  Wish I would have brought a rear blinking light. 


Big break at Pt Reyes Station---one guy from the hippie fest followed us and thinks he hears the Grateful Dead


Don at the Coach Toby Training compound practicing his climbing and descending
This wasn't flat so couldn't paceline.  Matt and Cisco Dave zoomed on ahead.   Dr. Dave, I, Christine and Don form another group and Jack and Kris rode together shortly behind.   On the first roller (derision for using that term from the group who felt it was an Fn hill.) I stood the whole way, on the next one I sat and spun like crazy while Dr. Dave stood.   Christine, wearing the florescent world champions rainbow jersey had enough of our goofing around, and she hammered the next few miles while Dr. Dave and I hung on.  That got me psyched so when I went to the front I continued to keep the pace high.

Regroup when we turn off Highway 1 for the run in to Pt Reyes Station but first Jack detoured us into the Pt Reyes Visitors Center, which was great as I just ran out of water.  Then we passed the Pt Reyes Station Far West Hippie Fest--sundress city.  I wanted to go but wasn't dressed properly.  Kris was in an all black kit that collected heat all day, and she definitely wasn't dressed for the Far West Hippie Fest--Christine with her multicolor rainbow jersey would have fit in. 

Then into town for the great Vegan Whole-wheat Scone.  Numerous people followed my lead and ordered it--I think that they liked it isn't overly sweet and that they could save half for both dinner and tomorrows breakfast.  Actually I wish Cisco and Matt had eaten a whole whipped cream cake so I could keep up with them. 


Grasshopper Matt zooming by the Nicasio School---he'll be zooming by it next week close to the finish of the Mt. Tam Double.
Leaving Pt Reyes Station one cyclist with a homemade sign on his back, one that looked like it was ripped off a bum on the side of the highway entrance ramp, came by our whole group on the hill out of town.   The sign said something like "....2 feet, stay away"   Couldn't read the whole thing--surely a passing  motorist couldn't make anything out.  Was it meant for other cyclists?  Soon Matt and Cisco were chasing back to the guy--meanwhile someone big and fast came by when the road flatted out, I went hitchhiking again, got into the guys draft, and was soon by Matt and Cisco.   That has Cisco Dave start chirping about I am Mr. Myagi with all the tips I was giving Grasshopper Matt.  Either all of Dave’s chirping or that we were now within 2 feet from him, has the cyclist sign guy quickly pull off the road.  Then Cisco and Matt took off and the big guy continued to pull me closely behind.   Dr. Dave, Christine and I regrouped and then Dr. Dave made a great bridge up to Cisco and Matt for the fast ride back to Nicasio.

We all all came together before Nicasio, and did a few crit laps so the other half of the club could hook on.   Matt and Cisco shot up Lucas Valley Road--a great slight uphill with a tailwind.  Dr. Dave and Don dropped back to watch for Jack and Kris.  Christine and I tried to slam Lucas Valley--at least ride to the point of exhaustion.

Big Rock Eastbound
.2 miles 595 feet 6%

The Big Rock Eastbound momentum killing roller is a climb I love, and for the month Christine and I were in the top 78% of all Strava riders on this segment.  But we were pikers compared to  Cisco Dave and Matt who were ahead of  98% of the other Strava riders who had done the same climb in the last month. 

Christine and I slow to regroup with the rest of our squad coming off Big Rock, and then a great paceline back to the start.  Damn--this ride is always over too quickly.  

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