Sunday, August 17, 2014

Patterson Pass Century (2014)

(August 16, 2014) Patterson Pass Century, w Christine, Jack, Matt, Young Andy, Vlad, Kris, 92 miles, 3,760' climbing

Significant Climbs
Patterson Pass-4.8 miles 5%--steeper with head windbuildup near the top (.3 mile, 11%)


Midweek Christine and I ran into each other at the base of Mt. Diablo, and we both decided we DIDN'T want to do the weekend Diablo Cyclist Peet's Coffee ride--again.   My plan was  to ride the Napa Century (Tour of Wine Country) route self supported the day before the official ride if it was sizzling in the East Bay.   This would necessitate waking up early, if it wasn't close to a predicted high of 100 degrees we'd do Patterson Pass.  Christine was in and then we sent out a mass email to the "usual suspects" to see if anyone wanted to join in.
"HELL NO WE WOULDN'T GO"   Co conspirator Chris when we decided NOT to do the Peets Coffee ride and we'd suggest a better alternative.

In response Kris sent me a string of "funny" emails; she is planning to do her first double at the end of September and is looking for some tips, and was doing the Napa Century on Sunday.   One of mine is to ride back to back century rides on consecutive days.  Kris said she was going to do that in a few weeks.    A few weeks?, the Knoxville Double is 40 days away and following the Dr. Dave tapering plan (which is more normal than mine) she really just has 30 days to ramp up.  I strongly suggested she join the Patterson Pass group and about 3 emails later she signed up.

"I trained well--tomorrow I am going to try to do the maximum-but more I can't do."- Johan Museeuw

Otherwise Christine and I had no idea who else would join up to Patterson Pass, which goes in a diametrically opposite direction than Peet's Oakland.    It involves a GREAT desolate and fast run in to the climb and then a hard windswept climb in between windmill farms.

At the group gathering at the start of the club ride, the low level fog hanging over the Oakland hills had everyone choosing to go towards Patterson Pass.  Towards--as the first 20 miles is relatively flat and half the people would turn around at "the Trees."  It was great having lots of company, even without really knowing who was going to do the route and who was going to turn around.

Big sprint to "the Trees;" I was shot out the back as Dr. Dave, Matt and Christine zoomed forward.  I regrouped with Young Andy and Vlad--the two best sprinters in the club, but they were on good behavior at this point as they were considering the Patterson Pass option, which they had never done.

At the end of the trees Christine, Kris, Matt, Young Andy, Vlad, Jack and Dr. Dave continued on--Dr. Dave wasn't going to do the PP but wanted to get in more miles where he could comment on the turning windmills ("When the windmills are turning you are screwed"--Uncle Steve.)   In the flat section Vlad and Andy are great to ride behind, big guys but real real steady--as long as Vlad doesn't decide to kick in an instant 1100 watts just for fun.
Andy and Vlad just past the dirt bike park and under the trestle--we are now leaving civilization far behind and starting the best 12 miles of cycling in the East Bay.

Matt and I on the great PP run in.
As Kris, Vlad and Andy never did this I kept telling them about the great DOZEN MILE run in to the PP climb--IMO the best dozen miles in the East Bay.   Jack disagreed but didn't offer any alternative.  The run in to PP features:
-smooth road
-no traffic control
-almost no traffic
-rolling hills with windmills off to the side
-an ever present tailwind that has you easily going 20mph on the climb

Dr. Dave turned off to look for rabbits before the trestle that starts the "miracle dozen miles" and a lanky triathlete was about 600' in front of us--starting the fast climb.   Vlad and Andy were in serious discussion--Vlad saying "he knows that the triathlete is a girl, look at the way she sits on the saddle."  No one else was THAT sure, the triathlete was two football fields away.  Vlad zoomed ahead to see if he was right, he was, and started to celebrate when he passed the woman.  Not that he passed a cyclist--but that he had been correct about the cyclists gender.  Woman was rightfully po'd and sped up and Matt and I stayed with her up the climb to Summit Garage--very smooth pedal stroke that wasn't squirrely like many triathletes.  Vlad lucky that she wasn't going up the PP climb.
I didn't have the camera out when Vlad first passed the triathlete and started an over the top celebration--so here is a re-creation.  He's lucky he didn't do that to Christine--she would have kung fu'd him in the head.

On the downhill Christine, Matt and I pushed the pace and on the sudden fast uphill rollers I had so much fun.  I just had a cortisone shot in my hand and was the first time in awhile I could stand on the pedals and push hard on the bars.  Then I flipped back to ride with Jack and Kris, giving her doubles tips.  Between Jack and me, and Don tomorrow on the Napa Century, she'll get lots (maybe too much.) useful information.  Past the Rolling Stones Altamont Speedway and past the PP climb turnoff--as it was 90+ degrees and we'd first go another 2 miles to the Tracy 7-11 to get liquored up before the PP climb.
Andy, Jack and Matt when we turn off the fast PP runin onto the Midway.   No carnival on the Midway--just some steep rollers, windmills and the Rolling Stones Altamont Speedway

Vlad has the super super super Big Gulp.

Only bad thing about the big, new, modern 7-11 is that there is no trees in the front, so its broiling.  Christine has a good idea--there is a small foyer entrance where we can watch the bikes and is also air conditioned, so we all huddled in the entranceway.

When we were going towards the PP--all the windmills on the sides were turning--not a good sign.  The helpful tailwind on the dozen mile PP run'in becomes a strong headwind on the PP climb--and the headwind becomes stronger at the top when the grade is in the high teens.

We started up the climb and Matt zoomed away.  Christine was setting a killer pace and I stayed with her.  Matt and I agreed that after the 28+ minute (Matt)-33+ minute (me) climb we'd go back down for the slowest rider.   Meanwhile we were pleasant surprised--the headwind wasn't bad--just strong enough to keep us cool but not much of a hindrance.   (Headwind strength "3"--compared to a brutal "10" headwind as can be seen clicking here   
Christine on the Patterson Pass climb

Andy on the PP

Jack on the PP

Kris on the PP.  I don't think she's THAT angry with me for talking her into this.

Vlad on the PP--he had done this once before from the EZ Livermore side (1.7 miles, 7%, tailwind) and he thought this is what we were doing today.  Surprise--but our sprinter did well. 

Matt decided he has soooo much fun on the PP that he shot by our last rider coming up and did another mile of bonus climbing.

Everyone did a great job on the climb.  Kris didn't start curing me out as promised for talking her into this, and Vlad disclosed he had mistakenly thought this climb was easier than MT. Diablo Junction as he had come up from the Livermore side once before.  Festive sit down at the Livermore Library.
Our group at the top of Patterson Pass--luckily we didn't hit all the rabbits running about.  Dr. Dave would have loved it.

Ride back was great--rode as a group or regrouped often to keep together.  The bonus mile group watches out for each other.  Stop at a fast food joint that had ice, which almost had Vlad celebrating again.  Some hijinx at the approach to Walnut Creek--a "famous" sprint point.  Andy is a strong all around cyclists who is a very good sprinter, yet Vlad is a much much better sprinter.   Meaning I was going to get killed in  the sprint so I started from far out, hoping Vlad was fried.   Nope-all of a sudden a sports car zoomed by me--oh, it wasn't' a car, it was Vlad. 

In any event it was Vlad and Andy's first time on the PP course and first time they did a century ride (the rode a little more after the ride to get a full 100.)   Kris may not be happy on the Napa Century as she rode much harder than I would before a century ride, but it was great training for her double aspiration.

Christine is getting too strong, so it's great trying to keep up with her.   I had an ez ride as it was useless to chase Matt on a climb or Vlad in the flats, so most often I was either riding my pace or trying to match Christine's--which made for a real enjoyable ride.

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