Thursday, August 7, 2014

Mt. Shasta Summit Super Century (2014)

(August 3, 2014)  Mt. Shasta Summit Super Century, w/ Dr. Dave and Jack, 140 miles, 16,000' climbing.


Mt Shasta from the same spot, Summer 2010 and Summer 2014.
This is the ride I went into last year with minimal training after vacation, two week cold, and car trouble and I had to stop 2 1/2 miles from the end of the last climb.  This was the impetus for riding with a heart rate monitor and power meter this year.  With training, and -7 lbs the ride is still  damn hard.  The quick summary is:

-Dr. Dave spun away from me up the 1st & 2nd climbs (so did most other people)
-Dave & I  regrouped at the summit
-Dr. Dave zoomed away from me on the descents
-Dave & I  regrouped at the base of the climb
-Both of us zoomed away from Jack, he regrouped with us when we were getting a 30 minute
massage at the top of the 2nd climb.
-I plodded up the 3rd climb ahead of Dr. Dave and Jack when the temperature hit the high 90's
-Dave and I regrouped at the summit
-Dave, Jack and I all arrived together for lunch.  I split early to take a 3 mile detour to my car at the motel to get:
     1) a rain jacket & tshirt so I wouldn't freeze on the Mt Shasta downhill like last year
     2) down a bottle of cold Perpetuem so I'd be liquored up unlike last year when  I was dehydrated on the Mt. Shasta climb
     3) carrying on a Death Ride tradition, as I was already at the car changed my sweat soaked jersey & shorts
     4) took the bike stereo for the 14 mile climb up Mt. Shasta

 -At the place I finally died at last year, Bunny Flat, 2 1/2 miles from the end, I was convinced that Dr. Dave and Jack were behind me so I hung out for 15 minutes.  Turns out they were about 5 minutes in front of me.  Instead I got the honor of starting the last section with a 12 year old, turned off the stereo, and the last 2 1/2 miles were eerily quiet with no one on the road.  Last 2 1/2 miles were the easiest on the ride and finally made it to the "beautiful" Old Ski Bowl (2010-road closed with snow, 2013-I died out.)  Jack was starting the downhill when I was near the top and Dr. Dave was waiting for me.

OK, now you know the end of the story.  Now some  details and pictures.

The Mt. Shasta Summit Super Century is misnamed as there is no paved road that goes to the top of Mt Shasta.  Instead the ride loops around Mt. Shasta City and climbs 4 long hills--with giant Mt. Shasta that dominates the area as the last climb; which goes 1/2 way up.   Its distance and climbs are compatible to the more famous Death Ride/ Alta Alpina 5 Pass, and the Climb to Kaiser; actually it has a little more climbing than either.   I think altitude is much more of a problem on the Death Ride/ Alta Alpina --with Mt. Shasta climbing altitude about 2000' less.   (Death Ride/ Alta Alpina goes from around 5500' to 8300' elevation, while the Mt Shasta ride goes between 3600' and 6800'.)  Severe grades are more of a problem on Climb to Kaiser.  What makes the Mt. Shasta Summit Super Century harder than these other climbing rides is that the climbing is BACK ENDED.  After 60 miles you still have 3 of 4 climbs remaining.

Per Strava segments
(1) Parks Road--13 miles, 6%,  tree lined, narrow, winding, rough road
(2) Mumbo Summit--12 miles, 5%, tree & creek lined, narrow, winding, rough road, gets steeper near the top
(3) Castle Lake--7 miles, 5%, wide open, sunny, well paved for auto traffic.  Steepest & warm at the start of climb.
(4) Mt. Shasta--14 miles, 6%, wide open but trees to side blocking low sunny late in the day.  Well paved for auto traffic with nice shoulder.  End of paved road is only 1/2 way up Mt. Shasta.

Mt. Shasta is 4 hours away from the Bay Area toward Oregon, and it's NOT part of a mountain range, so its incredible when you see it standing alone from miles away.  It dominates the area.  Usually covered in snow, because of THE drought only glacier ribbons on Mt. Shasta.  Oh, it did snow--ash, from numerous forest fires near the Oregon border. 
Bicycle in Mt. Shasta City fits the New Age town perfectly; Mt. Shasta looming in background..
Impressive archway to Weed, CA but main street is mostly vacant with some nice statues around City Hall.

I wanted to go into the Mt. Shasta Brewing company in Weed (their slogan "try legal Weed") but never made it inside.

Jack looks a lot like Mr, Weed.   The nude female archer statute look a lot like Diablo Cyclist female cyclist----WAIT, this will get me in trouble, I am leaving this alone....

Got up to Mt. Shasta one day early so I could relax for a whole day before the ride (the ride up Hwy 5 through hot farming communities nothing to write home about.)  Worked out well as Mt. Shasta City is Berkeley North, populated by crystal and new age shops.   Many people believe Mt. Shasta has special spiritual power.  Some streams in town are the headwater for the Sacramento River--and despite signs warning about bathing and drinking the water, many "hippies" bring large jugs to fill up with the magic Mt. Shasta runoff.     Temperatures touched 100 degrees.
Filling up big jug of water or wading through the headwater in Diablo Cyclist fixed gear socks--both popular activities.

The next day I got an early start for my pre ride ez spin.  I picked a beautiful route between Mt. Shasta City and Weed--whose industry is making tee shirts with playful banter about the towns name.  Not wanting a serious climb I took Old Stage Road which is tree lines and full of rollers.  In Weed I went past the corny souvenir shops and the dead main street and discovered two great statues by City Hall--Mr. Week, the founder of the City, looks a lot like Jack.  Temperature a few degrees cooler than the day before but the haze from the smoke and ash more apparent.    My bike had a problem during trip with the front derailleur at first hesitating to shift and eventually refusing to shift into the small ring.   Cable problem? oh crap, I'll need to shit a lot tomorrow.   Go to "5th Season" Sports store who are running a time trial up Mt. Shasta. Their mechanic quickly takes my bike and dx's that my derailleur is gunked up by sports drink and does a great job cleaning and lubing it so it shifts perfectly. 

Dr. Dave took over the jute box at Mike & Tony's

In late afternoon Dr. & Mrs. Dave & Jack arrived and we all met for dinner.  Dave didn't think Poncho & Lefkowitz would have authentic Italian food or authentic Italian Music so we went to Mike & Tonys after checkin at the park with the Sacramento River headwater.  For some unknown reason I had "Venus In Furs" stuck in my head--a song I didn't even remembering having on my car stereo, or ever hearing, and Dr. Dave did his best to see if I could get stuck on some other song.   (**Finally figured out why stuck in my head--reason at end of blog**) 
(above) Dr. Dave and I in front of checkin venue (below) Dr. Dave and Jack checking in (further below) What stupid person chose that we'd do the long ORANGE route?, Road markings I can't even miss.

As our motel was only 1 1/2 miles away from the start, we decided to bike over at 5:45am.  Dark out but it wasn't that cold--comfortable with tshirt, vest and arm warmers--all that could be sent back to the start at any rest stop in a "Chico Bag."   

There are 4 different route options on the ride and we saw very few riders over Old Stage Road which I had done the day before.   No tiny arrows here, large turn arrows nicely painted on the road.  The first climb, Stewart Springs/ Parks Road, is 13 miles NW of town--and many 3 pass Century riders go to the foot of the climb and then turn around before doing any of the climb.
Jack and Dave lead out as we leave Mt. Shasta City heading north.  We're heading toward the Black Butte lava dome--luckily we don't get to climb it.

Jack in the early morning on his Volagi--we joked that he had a cushy ride down the first two lumpy/ bumpy hills.  No wonder he didn't need a massage at the top of climb #2

Parks Road climb is somewhere up there
We started up and I was wondering where everyone was--as no one besides Dave, Jack and I at the start of the climb.  That question was soon answered in the next 13 miles when about 50 cyclists passed me and I may have passed 5.   I've really gotten slow--though Dr. Dave pointed out that many were on a local club ride that were just doing our summit, while I was trying to complete the course and generally tried to hold my power down under 200w.    Still when some DFL (Dead Fuckin Last) riders passed on the right I was ready to counterattack--but in reality most were also Too Fuckin Fast.   Some were Too Fuckin Dangerous, as a later paceline would attest to.)   On the climb Dave spun on ahead while I got far ahead of Jack.  Dave and I would regroup on all the summits and base of the downhills and ride together on the rollers.  When moving we are much faster than Jack.   As when we were not moving, taking photos, whizzing, in rest stops, getting massages, we are much slower than Jack who doesn't F around--so eventually we'd all regroup.
Dave and I at the start of Parks Road climb.
Scenes from 13 mile Parks Road climb-the last photo is as we approaching the summit where we'll turn around.  Road continues downhill towards Highway 3--towards some of the forest fires.

A thirteen mile climb is serious and I downed most of my sports drink bottle and a thawing out frozen Perpetuem bottle by the top.  I drank like a fiend but couldn't keep up with drinking.  The rest stops were NOT well stocked--I wanted to duck something in my jersey "for emergency" but the only thing they had wrapped were Shot Blocks, otherwise it was cookies, mini muffins, pound cake.   (Rest stops were very good with plenty of ice and organic sun block.  Good big directional arrows on the road.  Negitives--apart from lack of "wrapped to eat while riding" items at rest stops--didn't see any mobile sags on the road.) 

Climbing UP narrow, nicely shaded, twisty, somewhat bumpy roads is great--downhill is a disaster.  My right hand wrapped up re carpal tunnel/ so is Dr. Dave's and I couldn't open a lip balm by the end of the downhill.  I was glad I took a blinking headlight to serve notice on the cyclists still coming up (I counted 50+) and the very occasional car.    

OK--enough with the Weed jokes
The 20+ miles of rollers via Weed and back on Old Stage Road to get to climb #2 in the SW corner of the area was my favorite part of the day.  Again Dr. Dave and I were riding solo for most of it, in the last few miles two paceline came by.  One was the DFL gang riding all over the road, another was a faster paceline keeping a nice straight line but a few DFL guys hooked on--a few rode on each side--a few were all over the place.  Almost a clusterfuck when Dave and I were going straight to start climb #2 and most of the DFL guys hooked a left turn from the right side of the road to grab an early lunch.

Climb #2 to Mumbo Summit a lot like climb #1--except a lot warmer.  Also lots of trickling creeks whereas Dave noticed that the road kicks up after we pass "scenic water crossings."   (In 2010 there were 10' snow banks in the summer on the side of the road.)  Dave and I were cursing half way up as almost out of water--damn, we should have detoured and refilled at the lunch stop. 

First we passed a person wearing a SAG vest and I yelled if she had water--"no."   I couldn't figure out why a stationary useless sag was there.  Then we heard some rhythmic drums and wind instruments--climbing to their repeated beat was great.  Even better was a rest stop shortly after where we could get liquored up.  Dave zoomed on ahead so he'd be first on the massage table at the Mumbo Summit Rest Stop.  The massage therapists are dedicated ice skaters who are Friends of the Rink--the fundraising arm to keep the Mt Shasta Siskiyou Community Ice Rink open.
After a half hour Jack arrived--in time for another lumpy, bumpy descent.  At least cars were diverted on half the descent so didn't have to worry about cars passing still climbing cyclists on our side of the narrow road.
This was great--rhythmic music suddenly heard while climbing through the forest (I would have fallen over if they were playing the "Venus in Furs" intro)
Scenes from Mumbo Summit climb--maybe the nicest climb of the day. 
Punching the wristband at the top, which is how they keep track of what climbs you did. 
This little piggy went to market.
Don't tell Kitty I'm sleeping.  They're seeing if they can stretch me out and get me to 6' tall.  Then the L orange Mt Shasta Century Jersey from the event a few years back, that I just picked up on the 'cheep' will fit--of course they had no Mediums)

Climb #3 to Castle Lake starts immediately at the bottom of Mumbo Summit.  It is the shortest climb, but the road is wide open so its in the sun, and now by midday the temperature takes a great leap forward.   The real high for the day (not sun baked Garmin high) was 92 at the base of Mt. Shasta and it was probably a few degrees warmer here.    Dr. Dave and Jack has started up before me--after a mile they were both standing in the shade on the side of the road.   Dave said he wanted to do Mt. Shasta so instead of frying himself now he was going to turn around to climb #4.   Both were OK so I started up again--now on the steepest part of the climb.  For the third time today a guy on a mountain bike called out hello as he zipped by me.   Otherwise not to many people on this climb and unlike earlier no great numbers came by me.     Near the top I caught up to a guy from Colorado State and we finished the climb together.  Near the top were lots of parked cars--with many people making use of Castle Lake in the heat.
Castle Lake climb nothing special and hot.  At least downhill will be wide open over nice pavement.
Dave and I resting at the end of the road by Castle Lake.

At the rest stop I chuckle that Dave is NOT going to believe me when I tell him that the grade of the climb slacked off shortly after he turned around and a breeze had soon picked up whereas it definitely got cooler than the inferno at the base.  About 5 minutes later, I'm putting final touches on leaving when I hear "surprised to see me," --its Dave coming in looking like he just was in a boxing match.   He also stopped short of the finish last year and knows we gotta finish this fn ride so we NEVER have to do it again.   I wait around for him to cool down, downed a whole bottle of iced tea as I did at every mountain summit to no hydration avail. Jack arrived and we all started down together.   Its very hazy so no great sight of Mt. Shasta off to the side like in past years.    Nice to go downhill on smooth pavement--this downhill was far to short.

Lunch stop at the Mt. Shasta resort, to the SW of Mt. Shasta City.
Just a few miles from the lunch stop we skipped coming out here and we get rehydrated and have a real sandwich.  We now have to ride a few miles NE through town to get to Mt. Shasta, and my car with needed supplies is directly N.     Dave had left a few supplies in my car but he said he'd go straight to Mt. Shasta.  I left lunch before Jack and Dave as I'd be adding 3-4 miles which involved a few blocks of relatively annoying climbing. (Summary at beginning describes what is in my car.)   When I left lunch two Benicia Cyclists were right in front of me--I'd later pass them on Mt. Shasta, one of the two reasons I thought Dr. Dave and Jack were behind me on Mt. Shasta.

Going back to Mt. Shasta City with Mt. Shasta looming in the background
New sleeveless jersey was great when hitting the base of Mt. Shasta, climb #4,  where it almost as warm as the base of the Castle Lake climb.  Ok--a 14 mile climb, never a real steep grade but I remembered very well my heart racing when I started the climb last year.  I feel much much much better now--hand hurts, bottom of my feet hurt a little, but I have lots of energy and just downed a cold Perpetuem so not worried about losing appetite.  Two rest stops on this wide open climb.  Late in the day-@4pm, and the tall trees on the side of the road are soon blocking the full force of the sun.  Even though some traffic on the main road--there isn't much--and the shoulder is nice and wide and smooth and cool.  
Selfie at the start of the climb up Mt. Shasta--Mt Shasta City is only about 4 blocks back.


Selfie approaching first rest stop on the Mt. Shasta climb.
 Only thing wrong was my FN Garmin.   I got it so I could monitor my heart rate on this climb.  So while going from car to climb, @ mile 110-the power/ cadence/ heart rate reading crapped out (as it sometimes does at mile @75, but I had recently updated firmware and hoped that solved the problem.)  As I really wanted the locked up data I "ended" my ride at mile 110 as the Garmin congratulated me for my most climbing miles ever.  You stupid shit, it ain't my most climbing miles on a ride and I'm just resetting your ass.  So I started a new ride up Mt. Shasta--luckily the Garmin worked or it would now be in 37 pieces.   (Dr. Dave wasn't as lucky--his wouldn't register power from the start of the ride.)

Turned on bike stereo and enjoyed the music now riding solo.  Passed the two Benicia Cyclists I had seen leaving lunch and a few other guys but didn't see much anyone else on the road.  Except for the guy on the mountain bike who passed me again.   All day long I would just chug along until I got 2 miles from a rest stop and then I'd get excited and my pace would pick up.   Same thing happened here.  Rest stop workers now ringing cow bells when you'd arrive--nice touch.  Still crappy selection of food--I'd love a breakfast bar right now.   I half heartedly asked if anyone had seen two guys with Diablo Cyclist jerseys, figuring no one would know BUT one rest stop worker energetically responded and asked what bikes they ride.  When I told him he started describing other riders on Dave's bike but no Diablo Cyclist.  Jack has a unique bike that he would have noticed so "NO-they hadn't come by."  So now I was convinced that they were behind me and Dave would soon pass me.

I'm at Bunny Flat--much much happier than last year.  Only 2 1/2 miles to go.
Leaving Bunny Flat with a 12 year old kid who is on the Century route and is doing great.

Leaving 6 mile rest stop--next rest stop at mile 11 at Bunny Flat, where last year I gave up the ghost looking half dead with  Dr. Dave telling me "we have as much climbing as the Death Ride--lets go back down." I was pissed at myself for a year.  Today feeling good--hand is actually getting better not being knocked around on descents and I'm able to keep changing hand position.  Bottom of foot is hurting which is unusual, but not hurting bad enough to prevent me from standing every so often for 50 pedal strokes to break up the monotony.  Appetite is gone, I have to force myself to have a Chomp or Shot Block.  Glimps of Mt. Shasta around a bend are cool, but otherwise its been a whole day of grinding uphill and I'm starting to feel it.

About a mile from Bunny Flat a strange sight--I'm gaining on two cyclists and one is real real short.
Well the reason he's real short is that he's a 12 year old kid!!!--he's on the 100 mile, 2 1/2  climb, 10,500' ride.  When I was his age I'd ride my bike 1 block on the sidewalk to the schoolyard.  I shout out encouragement which I'm later told got him stoked.  At Bunny Flat I hung out for 15 minutes, mostly to take off shoes and to see if Dave and Jack would come in and we could finish together.  I talked with the kid and his dad for awhile and his mom was at the rest stop where she took my photo.  Dad said the ride was hard as he was 51--I laughed, when I was 51 yers old I was fast.

The last 2 1/2 miles--I got lots of energy in this section and perfect for  a conversation with my dad.  

With Dr. Dave at the Old Ski Bowl.  We finally made it.

Where is the Ski lodge??  At the Old Ski Bowl there is the top of Mt. Shasta...and rocks.
No Jack or Dr. Dave so time to get going--the last 2 1/2 miles (800' elevation gain) I couldn't do last year.   Now I'm stoked.   In sleeveless jersey--temperature is perfect with a little breeze.  I turn off the music--nice and quiet, and have a quick talk with my dad, assuring him that not nearly suffering like on the last climb on Alta Alpina 8.   Some more quick glimpses of the second half of Mt. Shasta which has no paved road to its 14,612' top (Old Ski Bowl is at 7730'.)  Getting close to the end of the road and suddenly a familiar face is coming down--Jack.   Then I soon pull into Old Ski Bowl--no Ski resort or chair lift, just a huge field with rocks as far as the eye can see.  Dr. Dave is waiting for me--we take our VICTORY photo, Dave starts the downhill and I just hung out for a few more minutes.  I thanked the rest stop workers and one said "we'll see you next year."  I responded--"you'll have to work the Sierra Century then." 
Dave did notice a maze at the Old Ski Bowl.  Wonder if he did it while waiting for me. (Dr. Dave)

I brought a tshirt and rain jacket for the downhill--if I wasn't such a cold wuzz I wouldn't need both.   The 14 mile downhill was a million dollar downhill.  Road curves but in a grand sweeping style, well paved, no cars on it.  It was cool when I started going down but half way down I pulled off the rain jacket.  About a dozen riders still coming up; the first one I saw was the 12 year old and his dad.  What a cool thing to be able to do together. 

Back to the park for congratulatory beer glass for finishing 4 passes, and a nice soft taco meal.  Any thought of going to Weed brewpub to celebrate is veto'd by my weary body.  There is always time for the HOT TUB back at the motel; when I go in it who comes along but 12 year old and his family from Santa Rosa, and we have a nice chat about cycling.  

The next day long, long boring drive home.  The remote boring drive is probably the main reason never to do this ride again--unless I know that Mt. Shasta is drenched in snow.  The ride is just one day old and already an all time "epic."  I then thought about in 2010 doing the 3 longest passes on a heavy steel bike loaded with "stuff" was easy, now with a lighter bike and not carrying gear 4 passes was doable but hard.   At this rate, in a couple of years the 12 year old kid  will come flying by me on some ride--I hope he remembers to call out "on your left" as he zips by.

**I was puzzled why "Venus In Furs," a song I wasn't that familiar with, was stuck in my head--especially the musical intro with the plodding beat that is perfect for climbing.   Found out on return car trip--I had downloaded the 1970's classic garage band song "Vehicle" last week and had played it numerous times.  The song that follows Vehicle on the car jutebox...Venus In Furs.

1 comment:

Midland said...

Another sweet ride report, thanks. Been thinking about attempting this ride.