I've been asked many times, why do I like to beat myself up on my bike rides. Everything must be taken into perspective. I know a few people who have ridden 15 double centuries in a year. Or a guy that after working a full day, would come home and hop on his bike and ride a 100 mile unsupported bike ride. I am not that hard core, but would love to be. So, without more dribble, read on... One more thing. These journals are written like I talk. They go on and on and on.... However, if you like to ride, I think you'll enjoy yourself.
My Independent Fabrications Steel Crown Jewel My Lapierre Carbon SLite
My custom Lemond Fillmore Fixe at the start of 2010 Death Valley Spring Double Century
Devil Mountain Double Century
Saturday, April 26th, 2003
209 miles 18,703' Elevation Gain
Maximum steepness gained – 18% on Mt. Diablo and Sierra Rd.
Ride Time -17 hours, 31 minutes
Extended Time – 19 hours, 47 minutes
Average Speed – 11.96 mph
Bike Ridden – Klein Q-Carbon Team with Shimano Ultegra –
This was the hardest ride I have ever done. The two other hardest rides were the Devil-less Mountain Double and the Terrible Two Double Century. I’ve done over ten double centuries since 1998 of which since 2000, I’ve completed three a year. I am not counting the failed attempt of two DC’s. I did not complete the Terrible Two in 2001 due to heat and cramping and Death Valley Double in 2001 due to snow and sleet. I have never been known to be a racer. My goal is to finish these things.
My opinion regarding difficulty is that alone, an opinion. The basis for my opinion is because of the way I felt the day after. I also have trained for this event. It was my first double century of the year where in previous years I’ve always started with an easy double (Solvang, Hemet). As of the day before the ride, I had accumulated over 2700 miles since January 1st. I’ve ridden multiple unsupported centuries an averaged 150-200 miles a week.
The morning started a bit wet. Since it had been raining all week and Saturday was the only day the forecast was indicating party sunny, I was discouraged at the thought that we were going to wet in the beginning. I now know the wet asphalt must have been drizzle because it did not rain except for two rain drops felt out on Mt. Hamilton Road. As soon as I took care of a little business, it was time to go. It was chilly in the low 50’s and since I don’t like to be cold and I knew I had cold descents in the morning and tonight, I dressed in a wicking De-feet undershirt, jersey, insulated vest, windbreaker, cycling shorts and tights. I also had an earmuff, glove liners, cycling cap, a pair of gore-tex booties and Smartwool socks. I also had my Jandd camelback; used to carry my extra Sustained Energy (SE) pre-packaged two scoop Baggies and my three flasks of Hammer Gel and extra clothing I would shed later if it warmed up. I did not carry a hydration bladder for the camelback. The two water bottles would suffice due to the weather forecast of high 60’s temperatures. My plan was to use SE (two scoops) in each water bottle for nutrition. Also, the cycling computer I use now is a Ciclosport CM436M. This downloadable computer tracks many functions, which include altitude and percent of gradient. The graph above was downloaded from my bike computer to my PC.
5:00 AM - Out on the road on the way to Mt. Diablo I felt pretty good. My backside was getting a little damp from the wet road but I’d survive. I had packed an extra set of lights to be picked up at the Crothers rest Stop after Mt. Hamilton. My goal was to finish the infamous Sierra Road climb in the light. We would see…
I turned right onto South Gate Road to start the assault on the mountain ahead. I could see that the peak was shrouded with fog. That was expected but still disappointing. The new bike I was riding (a red Klein Q-Carbon Team) climbs extremely well due to its stiffness of its aluminum tubing and rear carbon seat stay. I noticed this immediately. This was the second time I had climbed South Gate on the Klein. I also noticed that I wasn’t being passed which was good. My thought was that there were riders either ahead of me or behind me. I know that the real fast jocks were starting at 6 AM, an hour behind me.
The steepness of Mt. Diablo is actually not bad except in a couple places. The first section going up South Gate Rd. to the junction where South Gate meets North Gate Road averages 4 - 5% with some steps in the 7-9% range. Of course there are some steeper grades up to 10% but that is rare. After the sharp right turn at 2100’ onto Summit Rd., the grade steps up to 5-6% range. I saw some 11-12% grades in a couple sections, but quite frankly, my eye wasn’t on the computer all the time, even though it sounds like it.
7:08 AM - Soon, I was near the top (actually the trip up the mountain took me a little under 90 minutes) and to the steepest section. It is common knowledge that the “ramp” is approximately 1000’ long and averages 17%. I know that I saw 12-14% at the bottom and increases up to 18% at the top. It was nice to experience the “ramp” without worrying about vehicular traffic. In fact, the whole Diablo experience was a pleasure due to no traffic at all (except for the occasional passing of a SAG vehicle or park ranger). Also Photocrazy.com was out in force taking photos of all the cyclists. As I started to climb at the bottom of the “ramp”, I saw fellow Diablo Cyclist, Steve Berry coming down. I yelled out to Steve but I don’t think he heard me. The first rest stop (mile 19) was at the entrance of the parking lot as you crest the “ramp”.
I saw my friend and another Diablo Cyclist, Craig Martinelli crewing at the rest stop tent and showed him my new bike. After filling my bottles with water and SE, I chowed down some oranges and a banana. I visited the rest room, said goodbye to Craig and hopped on my bike for the cold ride down.
And cold it was. Even though I was all zipped up, with my glove liners and gore-tex booties, I was frozen. My feet and my fingers hurt. It was incentive to get off the mountain as fast as possible. My thought as I was flying down the mountain was I would be dead if I hit a patch of gravel or if my stem snapped. I got down safely to a warmer Walnut Creek but did hear later after the ride that a very experienced rider who often finishes these tough doubles in unbelievable times went down hard on his way down before the junction. He was part of the 6:00 AM starters so he was behind me. A few days after the ride, Tim Coleman was recovering after having serious back surgery but his prognosis was good. He hoped to be riding again within 6-8 weeks. It was determined that his handlebar broke.
At the bottom and a right turn at Ygnacio Valley Road, I was soon climbing up the relatively gentle climb of Lime Ridge at 4-6%. My goal was to be at the next rest stop at the top of Morgan Territory (mile 54) between 9 -10:00 AM. Dropping down into Clayton, a couple of riders passed me on the way out to Marsh Creek Rd. The ride out to Morgan Territory on Marsh Creek Road was relatively flat and then a couple hills topping out with a brief 10% grade. Then a fast descent and a right turn onto Morgan Territory Road. You then have a relatively flat ride for 4 - 5 miles until you start to climb. The climb up Morgan Territory is always an interesting one after a rainfall because of the creeks. Water was flowing big time. As I was climbing out on the shaded chewed up one lane road, I was amazed at how nice of a ride it is. I really like riding this climb by myself. All of a sudden I heard an approaching sound behind me. The 6 AM fast guys! Man they flew by. I kept my constant 5 -7 MPH and eventually I hit the rest stop #2 at the top parking lot of Morgan Territory Rd.
9:32 AM – I had reached the rest stop before 10:00 AM so I was reasonably happy. I used the facilities, ate some more, filled my water bottles with my usual “mix” and saddled up again for the ride down the hill. Since it was a little warmer, I took off my glove liners and windbreaker. I was once again back on the bike at 9:45, spending way too long at the rest stop. Also, I needed to get to the Mines Road rest stop at mile 92 by 1:00 PM or I would not be allowed to continue the double century route. That was NOT going to happen! I should’ve been in and out within five minutes but I always tend to dawdle more than I should. On flat doubles that’s OK, but I knew this epic ride was going to continue through the night. How late, I didn’t know, but I assumed it would be at least until 11:00PM. I would once again be happy if I got in by then. As I started my descent, I quickly pulled over and put my glove liners and windbreaker back on. It was too damn cold!
The route would take me down the Livermore side of Morgan Territory Road to Manning Road, then a left turn towards the Altamont Pass. I caught up with a couple of riders so I hitched on and we rode a pace line for a few minutes before I decided I didn’t want to expend the energy this early in the ride. I had three hours to cover a little over 30 miles and I still had the “Oh My God Hill”, or better-known as the Patterson Pass Road wall. As I was riding on Altamont Road, I noticed a sign at an intersection that said “Bike Race”. I assumed it was our ride but I thought it odd to be calling it a race. Soon, I would find out that our ride was now on the same course as a bike race. All of a sudden in my rear view mirror I saw a motorcycle coming up behind me real slow. Then a huge pack of cyclists coming up behind him. I was maintaining 13 -15 MPH at a 2% grade and they came flying by me doing 20+ MPH. I was quite impressed. I saw they took a right turn ahead of me at Flynn Road and I would keep going straight on Altamont. As I rode past a race crew person, she said to me, “great job”. That made me feel good. I continued on to Midway Road and made a hard right turn towards Patterson Pass Road. The road started to go up at this point but nothing too bad. I got passed and then I passed a couple people. At the end of Midway, we made another right turn onto Patterson Pass Road, one of the major advertised climbs. Soon after some gentle climbs, the pitch occasionally got up to 10 -13%. I kept seeing riders behind me but only one guy was catching up to me. As he caught me on a flat section of the road, we started talking about the course. This guy was riding DMD as his second double ever. His first was Hemet in March. Quite a jump from the flat 6000’ of Hemet to over 18,000’ on this ride.
We came to a checkpoint at the base of the main “Oh My God Hill” at 11:38 AM. I checked in and headed UP. The hill actually looks worse than it is. You can see the top and there were a few steps of +10% with the last step of 16%. At the top, Photocrazy.com was taking pictures. They have a clock there so you can check the web site for your picture. My time at the top of Patterson? 11:51. I had nine miles to go to the rest stop which had its 1:00 PM cut-off. I was clearly going to make it because it was all downhill. I headed down the fast descent. Soon I was in Livermore and headed to the Mines Road rest stop. As I was riding in flats, I noticed some the same guys I was riding with up the Patterson Pass climb coming up behind me. They were going at a pretty good clip (+20 MPH). I again, didn’t want to expend any more energy than I had to so I chose not to jump on their train. Besides, the rest stop was two miles away.
12:32 PM – I pedaled up to the rest stop and immediately got a Dr. Pepper. At the 92-mile mark, I was starting to feel empty. I was drinking my water bottles with SE in them, but needed something else. The sugar and caffeine seemed to help. I saw another person I knew who was changing from the full 208 miles to the 132 mile route. I knew how she felt but I was not going to do that. By 12:45, I was rolling once again for yet another major climb; Mines Road.
Mines Road starts climbing at 6 - 8% right away and keeps stepping up occasionally to about 12% for the next five miles. You’re not climbing at the pitch for three miles but definitely in the 8 -10% most of the time. After a while, the road slacks off to a very gradual 2 -3%. You end up climbing 2000’ in the next 25 miles to the next rest stop at the “Junction Café” which also serves as the lunch stop. It’s an incredibly beautiful ride out the junction but you’re still cranking away. The huge valley you were riding along side eventually disappears where you’re obviously on top of a plateau. There were many cyclists headed back towards Livermore coming from Mt. Hamilton. They were part of a ride called the Mt. Hamilton Challenge, that's a 100+ mile ride that heads in the opposite direction of our route. A few riders wished me luck saying ”good job”. They obviously knew what we were doing. Finally after a couple of hours, I had covered the 25 miles and was pulling into the junction parking lot.
2:52 PM – Lunch! I was ready for fuel. Even thought I had gone through at least eight bottles of SE and a couple of flasks of Hammer Gel, I needed substance. The crew was offering lunch (actually the junction café was making the sandwiches) and there was a Teriyaki Chicken sandwich that tasted wonderful. I loaded it up with chips and dill pickles to make it salty. I was also taking Endurolyte capsules all day, which are an electrolyte replacement, and pretty much replenished all the sodium I was losing. But I was still craving salt. And since no table salt was available (the lady said they had forgotten the salt!), chips and pickles would do. They did! I washed that down with two cans of Dad’s Root Beer. Man, did I have a hole in my foot. I saw my friend Issh Makk and his wife Nonie giving massages to riders. Issh is an ultra-endurance cyclist that is training for this year’s RAAM (Race Across America) in June. He gawked at my Klein and we talked a bit but I had to get going. In my mind, I knew I had the toughest part of the ride ahead of me. It was 3:20 PM. YIKES!
It was also getting cooler. The word at lunch was that it was 38 degrees at the summit at noon. I put my windbreaker and glove liners back on for a third time. Out on San Antonio Road toward the wrong side of Mt. Hamilton, you travel 18 miles to the summit. On the way out, the sky started to cloud up and I swear I felt two huge raindrops hit my helmet. That’s right, two. In the middle of the road you start to see painted numbers representing mile markers as you ride along. The road starts relatively flat, but eventually as what this ride is all about, it started to go UP again. There are a couple of places that pitch upward and then slightly downward but for the most part it was a desolate, boring ride until…Mile 10. Then it pitches back up 6 -10% for a while, then back down and then at mile marker 6 you cross a bridge which is really the base of the main summit climb. Off to the left you see it go UP again. This time however, there will be nothing DOWN until you’re screaming down the front side of the Ham. The climb gives little relief for six miles. Almost all of it seems to be 8% or greater. Talk about pain.
What’s funny, if anything can be called funny at this point, is that after you see the number 5, it seems to take forever to get to 4. That’s because you’re climbing 2400’ in five miles. Ouch! And then it took forever to get to mile marker 3. You get the idea. Somewhere between mile marker 3 and 2, I pulled over to water the bushes and just take a breather. Also, I took the opportunity to drink up and take a hit of Hammer Gel. My water was getting low, so if there was no water stop up ahead, I’d stop at the observatory at the summit and fill my bottles up. I hopped back on the bike and was once again grinding away. Only one guy had passed me earlier so I didn’t feel too intimidated. As I was riding, I happened look down to the bridge that I had crossed earlier. I could see a pack of riders starting to assault the mountain at the bottom. It would be a while before they would be at my spot. That gave me motivation to get this thing done with.
Eventually, mile marker 2 came up and I felt the grade relax a bit and soon the mile marker 1 came up. I could see less real estate ahead so I knew I was near the summit. Rounding a corner, I saw a water stop. Actually it was a checkpoint but they had water and that’s what I needed. I gave them my rider number, filled up my bottles and got going again. Soon at 4400’, I was flying down the San Jose side of Hamilton. It was cold! Not as cold as this morning on Diablo, but still I wanted to get down fast. The descent of Hamilton is a frustrating one. Why? Because there are two sections that are uphill. To me, it’s aggravating when you have a descent to have to go uphill! I endured for the next 17 miles to the next rest stop.
6:30 PM - I pulled into the Crothers rest stop at mile 154. I plopped down and was given at hot cup of ramen. It was great. I also gulped down a root beer and ate some fruit and cookies. After visiting the bathroom, I was offered hot chocolate and gladly accepted it. I was still feeling pretty good in the legs. My Klein had so far performed excellently. I still would have liked more gears but would deal with it. What else could I do? Next Sierra Road! As I was mounting up, I saw Lee Mitchell, a well-known SAG vehicle driver. When Lee's out on the road and he passes you (usually when you're climbing), he plays music. I've heard Wagner, the Beach Boys, and others but never recalled hearing my favorites, the Beatles. I asked Lee, "how about some Beatles?" He said absolutely!
After the rest stop, you have to ride back to Mt. Hamilton Road to continue another mile or two to the bottom. Then you get onto McKee Road and ride in urban traffic for the first time of the day. It had actually been very nice not having to worry about much traffic for the whole day. Since I had been up Sierra Road a couple of years ago on the Devil-less Mountain Double, I knew what to expect. I had been thinking about it all damn day!
Right turn and YIKES, how intimidating that hill looks. It goes straight up that hillside as far you can see. In reality, I knew it was 3.2 miles up. Just at the base of this sucker, Lee passed me and yes, he was playing "Can't Buy Me Love" by the Beatles. That picked up my spirits like you can't imagine. Right away at the bottom of the climb, you're hitting 10 -12%. There are flatter steps going up Sierra for some relief but the gradient gets more constant the higher you get. There were two cyclists ahead of me and I would eventually catch them at the very top. I would eventually end up riding in with these guys at the finish. The view just gets better and better the more you climb but you really can't appreciate it while your grinding up the hill. We passed a car that was pulled over and a quick glance inside revealed a couple doing… Something. Betcha they didn’t expect us!
I really think the mental thing about Sierra is what makes it so bad. Except…as you're heading up, it never seems to end. Mt. Hamilton seemed long but Sierra becomes infinite. The thing just keeps going up even though the hill ahead isn't there. And they’re steep. I did see a couple 16%’s near the top. One of the guys slightly ahead of me would loudly groan every time he rounded a bend. As I would come around the corner, I would see the reason for the groan. More climbing. And it was starting to get dark. The groaning cyclist had to stop because he was cramping. I stopped to give him a Tums, which I didn't have. Oh well…
Finally, we were at the top. A quick glance back and San Jose was absolutely beautiful with its lights. When you're at the top, what do you expect? Down? Yeah, right! Nope. There was still some more minor climbing. Just enough to hurt. With 160+ miles and 15,000'+ in your legs, two inches hurts. Another mile or so there would be a water/check point called the "Pet the Goat" stop that I was looking forward to. That goat is so cute. Well, the goat had to go to bed. I felt cheated. That goat was my motivation for doing this ride in the first place…Right again! I’d deal with it. I loaded up with more SE and water and it was also real good to be off the bike for a few minutes. The guys that were ahead of me and another guy were ready to go so we decided to ride together to combine our light. Going down Calveras Road in the dark (and the rest of the descents of the ride) was not going to be fun.
On Felter Road, which leads up to the famous Calaveras "Wall" has some pretty steep descents. I warned the guys that the right turn onto Calaveras would be coming soon. The route markings on the road (for the whole ride as well) were excellent but I still made a point to yell out, "right turn and drop your gearing. It's steep". I turned and attacked the climb with no problem. The guy I was riding with however had a gearing problem and he had to stop. I chose to go on but I did slow down for him to catch up. I was not going to stop and wait and have to start again. He recovered nicely and caught up with me at the top. Again, the thing I hate about descents is the ascents. And at the top of the Calaveras Wall, there’s a bit more up. At this point in the ride (haven’t I said this before?), you don’t want to go up anymore than you need to. OK, enough complaining. It turns out that I knew the guy I was riding with from last year’s Knoxville Double. I had been riding with him out on Knoxville Road and all of a sudden, he was gone. He had fallen in a gap in the road. He was OK, but it’s funny how you end up with people who have done these rides before. I guess we’re all a little insane! We were just gabbing away, going slow because my lights were not the brightest. Neither were his. A couple riders passed us that had great lights and they were flying. I use a Cateye Halogen that is cheap ($20) and easy to swap out, but it’s not very bright. Since the batteries last a couple of hours, I carried two. My expensive Niterider digital that I use for commuting in the winter was too heavy and only lasted two hours. Since I knew I’d be in the dark for up to fours hours, I needed an alternative solution.
When we were down in the flats of the Calaveras Canyon, I knew we had a four or five mile ride to the next rest stop (and last) in Sunol. I kept dropping David because I wanted to get to the rest stop. I was ready to put a fork in this ride and we still had two significant climbs to go.
10:02 – I pulled in to the rest stop and saw some of the other people I had seen all day getting on their bikes. The crew was trying to send people out in groups. Next time, I’ll opt to ride by myself because it does affect your ride time. You gab away and don’t realize you’re slowing down. I ordered a soup, hot chocolate and sat down. I also used some baby naps to semi-towel down. It felt great! Time flies when you’re having fun! It was time to get back on our steads. There were four of us. We started a slight descent down Niles Canyon Road. We were once again riding in traffic. There’s not much shoulder on Niles so it was a good thing to make the hard right turn after four miles onto Palomares Road. And up again. Palomares Road to me has never been that tough of a climb. It snakes up a valley at a 4 - 6% with some steeper 10% grades here and there. For the first 3 - 4 miles, we heard an incredible rush of water, obviously from the recent rains. Along a flat stretch, everyone was startled when a wild pheasant cried out as we passed. Great guard dogs! A guy that was with us kept asking “are we there yet?” I was wishing for a muzzle.
Before we knew it, we were at the top. We all dismounted and de-hydrated ourselves and got ready for the fast descent once again. Soon, we were at the bottom and riding quickly through the Palomares Valley headed towards Castro Valley. A quick left turn and a slight climb to Castro Valley and then a right turn onto Crow Canyon Road. My light was getting low, so I asked everyone to pull over so I could change it. I did and my buddy David, said, hey, it’s 11:10. I thought, Huh? We had left Sunol at 10:30. Had I thought of the feasibility of his statement at that time, I would have checked my watch. Instead, I said “cool”. In before 12:00 AM. No problem! I checked my computer and we had exactly 200 miles in. The end was near! One of the other guys light died at that moment. Great!
A slight right turn following the route marker and then we were quickly riding a slight ascent (maybe 1-2%) headed towards the Norris Canyon right turn coming up. Within three miles, we were turning right again and then for the last time, UP! Again, I’ve ridden Norris on fresh legs and it wasn’t so bad. The further we went, the steeper it got. Again, nothing too bad. Maybe 7 - 9%, but believe me, it hurt!
We were soon at the top. One of the guys pulled over to de-hydrate himself again. We were two miles from the finish! Why I waited, I don’t know. I happened to look at my watch. IT WAS FREAKIN’ 12:30 AM!!!! David checked his watch. It was still 11:10PM! Jeesh! With that bit of information, we mounted up and headed down into San Ramon. I, for some reason at this point, decided to get some distance between the other guys and myself. I sprinted. I wanted this ride done with.
And it was. I clocked in at the Marriott at 12:47 AM. I then immediately went back out to my truck, packed my bike up (god it was dirty), hopped in the driver side and took off my filthy clothes I had on for 19 hours and put some sweats on. Felt better right away. I went back to the hotel’s rest room to freshen up a bit and then headed to the conference room, bought a jersey (hey, I earned it!) and sat down with the guys I had been riding with and ate dinner. I was talking with the guys and heard about Tim Coleman’s crash from a crewmember. I also realized I was falling asleep in my plate. Time? 1:30 AM! Time to go. As I was leaving, another group of riders was getting in. As I walked by, I said to one of the riders who had that thousand-mile stare, “good job”! I really meant it because I knew what they had endured! I can’t wait for next year’s ride. I want to clip at least two hours off my time. Next time, I will ride alone! Yeah, I say that every year! We’ll see…
Terrible Two Double Century FINALLY
June 22, 2002
200 Miles - 15, 853 feet of Elevation Gain
The morning started at 4 AM. Sarkis Soghomonian and I were up and getting ready. We'd travel in separate vehicles due to my probable lateness this evening. Sarkis had been training like crazy and he already had five double centuries (including Devil Mountain Double) under his belt. On the way over to Willowside School, I pulled into two food marts that were connected to gas stations. I didn’t eat my yogurt that I had purchased the night before because it looked like it had been opened already. I was hungry. Both were closed. We pulled into the school and parked in the back where I knew it was lighted. We went to the front of the school, which was humming with cyclists. There would be a mass start at 5:30 and it was 5:10. We got our numbers (mine was 89) and I grabbed a breakfast roll the ride organizers had thoughtfully provided. I headed back to unload our bikes and suit up. I was wearing arm warmers, vest, shorts and my Diablo Cyclists jersey. I packed a pair of leg warmers and a windbreaker with my lights (2) in a paper bag to be delivered at the Ft. Ross rest stop. I packed two lights because I wasn't overly optimistic about the outcome of my ride today based on last year's DNF. The weather was overcast and cool in the fifties. Soon, I was riding my bike to the start point. I saw Jack Klebenoff and Don Cartright from the club but not Steve Berry. As I walked up, the ride organizer was laying down ground rules. Then he dedicated the ride to a Santa Rosa Cycling Club rider who had recently died of heart attack. Then he mentioned a fallen rider that had been hit and critically injured a couple of weeks earlier in Occidental where we would ride later today. It was a solemn moment.
Quickly, we were riding towards Santa Rosa proper. Sarkis was ahead of me, but I still had him in sight. We rode through town and then we were out in the country riding on rollers. I had a new toy that I would probably be fixating on all day. A new Ciclosport CM 414 Alti computer. My motivation for throwing away $139? It displays grade! Average grade, up, down, maximum grade. I was in geek heaven! So, whether you are interested or not here goes. I saw a couple 5-6%'s, then a quick 8%, but they were on small climbs, primarily rollers. I was talking to a fellow Merlin rider, telling him about my cracked frame. I found a crack on my beloved Merlin Extralight Seat tube near the bottom bracket on the past Monday while I was cleaning it for this ride. I was scrubbing the Merlin's under parts and I noticed a curved line that I thought was road tar. It wasn't. It was a big ass stress crack on a very expensive titanium frame that IS NOT supposed to break. Yeah, right. Well, all is going to be OK, because I'm getting a brand new custom built frame. No charge. All I have to do is wait a couple months. And you know what? It's OK. Today I was riding my commuter ride, a Trek 2300 Carbon Fiber/Aluminum frame with a triple crank set. The Trek is a great frame and the triple helped! The guy I was talking to couldn't believe it and neither could I.
It's funny how quickly it seems now that an hour and fifteen minutes had gone by. We crossed Highway 12 onto Trinity Grade, the first major climb of the day. I dropped into the granny gear and spun up the steep climb. A couple 14%'s that I noticed but almost a constant 8-10%. The top was shrouded in fog but it would burn off soon enough. It was cool enough to not have been too painful and my knee that had been bothering me earlier in the week was feeling fine.
I was headed down the backside of Trinity and then on the way to Oakville Grade where we would climb a little before dropping down the grade into Napa. Up ahead as the climb started, Sarkis was off the bike watering the plants. I took advantage of the moment as well. As I was hydrating the weeds, Sarkis hopped on the bike and said "see ya later". So much for club solidarity. This ride is totally about being selfish. That's the only way it can be. On this ride, if I've learned anything, it’s about you. And only you. I raised money again for the sixth year for the AIDS ride. I did my part. Now on this ride, it was about me.
Soon, down the famous Steep Oakville grade, I hooked up with another rider that was riding my pace. We could see a pace line up ahead. I suggested we team up to bridge to the pack. He said, "Let's Roll". We did. Soon we were on Silverado and picking up on the pack. Within two miles, we had bridged to the pace line. And guess what? Sarkis was right in the middle of it. We rode for a while and I noticed only one guy was pulling the line. I decided to help out a bit. I jumped out and rode to the front of the group. I took a pull for a few minutes and decided I'd had enough. As I peeled back off, I got kudos for my efforts. Funny thing, that's when I realized if the guy wants to pull all day, let him. His choice. I had decided to pull off. My choice. Soon we were rolling into rest #1 in Calistoga.
Back on my bike after enjoying the first rest stop of the ride in Calistoga at mile 51, I lost sight of Sarkis. Since we had rolled into the stop together, I figured we'd ride together...wrong. He was gone. I was only off my bike for four minutes. Enough time to eat for the first time since the roll at the school this morning. Since I had already been a part of a nice pace line, I was looking for another to latch onto. The next 17 miles or so would be rollers then a relatively flat and fast ride. The thought of riding a comfortable 18mph or a comfortable 21mph. Hmm, let's see...Finally, I actually caught up with three or four riders that were not really riding together. As I passed them, I planted the seed for a pace line. They bit. We had a small train going. I took a pull and then peeled off after a few minutes. I wasn't interested in burning out. So, the guy out front stayed on front. It was sweet.
Riding along the road, I saw a Diablo Cyclist jersey on the left side on the road. Sarkis. I passed him. Hey, why not. After traveling for a few miles, I glanced in my rear view mirror. There was a huge pack coming up. Normally, I'd be intimidated. Now, I was looking forward to being engulfed into the huge pack. Guess who was in the middle of it? Sarkis. There's nothing like riding in a peloton. This was as close as I'd come so I enjoyed it. Awesome!
We made a few turns on this road and then boom, there it was, Geysers Road. The pack disintegrated. Many people stopped to strip. I just rolled down my arm warmers and dropped into my granny. Sarkis and I rode together for while, then he edged ahead of me. This was the second major climb of the day. The gradient was fluctuating between 7 and 12%. That would be last that I'd ride with Sarkis. Bottom line, my 180 lbs. could not keep up with his 135. Last year the temperature was warmer. It was also about a 1/2-hour earlier. So, I just turned the pedals over in my granny. I noticed the grade in some places jumping up to 15-16%. It was funny how when I hit a 10% grade, I felt relief. The climb is a beautiful one in the morning but I would not want to be here in the heat.
Eventually, the summit was around the corner. Someone had written "Allez” on the road. Then, we headed down a bit and then up again for a short while. The grade was in the 7-8% range. Not too bad. Yet...Then, a descent. Off to the left, you could see a...climb. Jeesh. Once we bottomed out, we were going up again. This time for the second summit, the grade was a cool but constant 13-15%. Ouch. We turned left and the road leveled out. Sort of. If you call 6-8% level. Whatever, I felt relief again. Soon, signs indicating PhotoCrazy.com was near and for us to slow down. They have a clock on the side of the road so you can locate your picture on their web site. Oh yeah, slow down going up hill. 11:04 with my picture taken, I was ready for rest stop #2, which was just around the corner.
I was a bit tired because this climb was tough. I grabbed some fruit, watered up with my SE paste, hit the potty and climbed back on the bike. Five minutes, tops. I had stripped away my vest and arm warmers but the descent was slightly chilly. The sun was out which meant it would be warm later.
I don't care for this section either. You drop into a canyon that's pretty secluded and the road is either tore up due to a lack of maintenance or is totally graveled. One good thing... NO TRAFFIC. After a couple miles of constant descent, I leveled out and even climbed a little with rollers. It was starting to heat up big time, as I suspected. Soon, a tandem and a single was about to pass me. Great opportunity. I latched on. It was so sweet because they weren't riding above my riding level. Just right. They dragged me all the way through that darn canyon. Soon we were in a residential section. We had passed about four or five riders who decided to take a tow. I was behind these two guys who had no clue whatsoever on how to ride in a pace line. One guy insisted on riding three feet off to the left of the line. His pal behind the first Bozo rode only two feet out to the left. I quickly filled the gap next to Bozo #1 who pulled in behind me and then immediately drifted back out. I felt sorry for the rest of the line because any draft benefits were dissipated big time by these clowns. I noticed Bozo #1 had his front wheel on backwards. It reaffirmed my suspicions. Soon they drifted way back and had their own little party I guess.
We made a right and then left turn onto Dutcher Creek Road. Nice big rollers again. Hey, one thing about this ride...all you do is friggin' climb! But I digress. At the end of the road, we turned right and were on our way to lunch at mile 104. Pulling in, I threw off my helmet, gloves, camel back (used to only hold stuff), and I saw Sarkis. He had been there a few minutes. I felt good about that again! I had a crewmember make me a great turkey sandwich. I was not going to survive on the SE paste all day. The sandwich was awesome. I popped open a can of Iced Tea, took off my Sidi's, and ate my lunch. I was watching Sarkis talking to some people. He didn't eat. Soon, I was ready to get going. First I washed my salt encrusted face with a water hose. Then I was ready. Sarkis was gone I guess. His bike was anyway. I hopped on the Trek and started up Skaggs Springs Road.
As I was leaving lunch, I noticed the time; 1:05. I was doing better than last year when I left lunch at 1:40. I headed up by myself. I was full (but not too full) and I was determined not to cramp like last year. It wasn't as hot (hey, it was still 98'). A light breeze would occasionally come up and felt real good. This was the exposed section that I dreaded. As you climb at 8-14% continuously, you start to heat up quick. I was already sweating bullets on my face.
On Skaggs Springs Road, the climb is relentless. It was constructed in the 70's by the Army Corp of Engineers to connect the Lake Sonoma Reservoir to the Pacific Coast. The climb goes on what seems to be five or six miles. There is one point where if you look to your right, you can see a climb snaking up in the far off hills. That's the same road you will be hitting a maximum of an 18% climb. The sweat was pouring into my left eye. I had a cycling cap on and stopped to wipe my eye out. Back riding, I couldn't get over the fact that I was being passed by many riders who I had been seeing constantly on the ride since the beginning. That meant that even though they were passing me on these climbs, I was taking less time at the rest stops. It was quite intimidating. I considered yanking off my rear view mirror several times but didn't. It's funny because at the end of the ride as I was driving out of the school, I saw several of these hot dogs that had passed me earlier many times, coming in at least a half an hour behind me. That felt good.
I saw several riders huddling under shade on this climb. And yes, they eventually passed me. I'm convinced that if you can, for a double century with a timed finish, it's essential to stay on the bike in between rest stops unless it is absolutely necessary to dismount. Every minute counts on this sucker!
At the top, which never seemed to come, I saw a couple of awnings and I knew from last year's ride, a water stop was coming at the top of the first Skaggs summit. There's also another water stop at the top of the Los Lomos climb (the second of the Skaggs double summits). I made sure to stop at all stops. At this stop, the crew had towels soaked in ice water and Popsicles. Excellent! I loaded up with SE, Ibuprofen, Endurolight capsules (essential for sodium replacement) and Hammer Gel. I was there for ten minutes, way too long however, I wanted to recover as long as I could. I thanked the awesome crew and started my descent to the beginning of the next climb. This climb would be just as steep, but not quite as long and would be shaded a bit. It was however, still hot. Climbing again at 10-14%, riders were passing me again. The same ones that had passed me before. This climb to me wasn't that bad even though it was steep. When I wasn't in the direct sunlight I did much better. At the very top, the crew was waiting there for us with sodas. I popped open a Pepsi and took a load off. Another ten minutes off the bike. It's amazing how that time mattered but I felt I needed the rest. I loaded up my bottles (one this time with SE and the other with straight water), grabbed a few pretzels and I was off. The descent to Camp Gualala wasn't totally downhill all the way. It was a rolling descent. After 12-13 miles, I pulled into the next rest stop, Camp Gualala.
At the Gualala Rest stop, I gave my rider number to a crewmember and noted the time was 4:05. Last year, I was still at this stop at 5:30. I was feeling fantastic. I ate my usual fruits and filled my water bottles with the SE paste. A potty break and I was back on my trusty Trek 2300 with my Campy Racing Triple, 13-28 on backside.
This section is all wooded and I've ridden it twice before. Once on last year's TT where I DNF'd at mile 170 and once a few weeks before last year's TT with Jack Klebenoff. We pre-rode Trinity, the first summit of Skaggs Springs, the Gualala Wall and what we thought was Ft. Ross but was not. My previous two experiences were not that bad (except for my cramping on my first TT). And that was at the steepest section of this year's ride. 23%. Last year I walked it while cramping. A couple of miles after the rest stop were uneventful with a gentle rolling road. Then, you cross a small bridge and BAM, climb. I dropped into my granny and spun up that sucker. The gradient was fluctuating between 8 and 16% with a couple 17 and 18's. Then boom, I looked at my computer and 20, 21, 22, then 23% Woh, as Keanu Reeve's would say. A guy was walking it as I rode by. I told him the grade and he said he had the same thing. He had a Specialized Pro computer. Cool. A year ago, this kind of device was a pipe dream. Today, a reality. Finally, after 1.7 miles of lung heaving, I saw light at the junction, which is a township, I believe called Rancheria. At the top, I stopped to put clothes on. Two minutes later, I was headed to Stewarts Point.
Riding to Stewarts Point on the coast from the top of the Rancheria climb was easy. It was mostly descending a shaded back road except for a climb of 8-12% a little past the middle of the 5-mile ride. The shade was an energy boost for me. I was glad I only had about 3,500' of climbing left. And only about 4 hours of riding. When you see the sun break though ahead, you know you're at the coast.
Getting to Ft. Ross, to me, was a huge PITA. Yeah, Pain In The Ass! I was alone again, fighting the 16 miles of rollers. I'd rather climb Skaggs Springs Road all day than ride rollers. People don't realize you gain 1,000' between Stewarts Point and Ft. Ross. Oh yeah, I had a tailwind for the first couple of miles. That was cool. But then the rollers bled whatever energy I had in me. I was sucking down the Hammer Gel like it was water. Nah, I hate rollers. It was incredibly beautiful though. I was chilly as well. Good thing I had my vest and arm warmers on. I was decked out in my Diablo Cyclists gear down to my socks. The coast snakes around where a couple of sections you're headed straight into the wind. Yeah, I was having a great time. Soon, I was pulling into the rest stop and my spirits immediately lifted.
After arriving at the Ft. Ross rest stop at mile 160 something, I was greeted by a gentleman that knew me. Odd, cause I didn't recognize him. He told me "another one of you Diablo guys" had left about 20 minutes earlier. Sarkis. OK, I could live with that. I fueled up with oranges, a banana, a Pepsi (it was so good), a half a cuppa soup (as my buddy, Doug Goodwin says it) and filled up my bottles with the ever present paste...Sustained Energy (SE). God, it's awful, but I'm sure it helped me get through this day. A quick potty break and I was on the bike attacking the famous Ft. Ross climb.
Ft. Ross road on the beautiful Pacific Coast would be the last major climb. It, like the other four "major climbs" were double summits. That's where after you've climbed wondering "we do this...why?", you have another mother of a climb before the ride organizers (have I mentioned how good of a job the SRCC (Santa Rosa Cycling Club) does?) thoughtfully included in this pickle of a ride.
Average grade of the 2.6-mile climb (the first Ft. Ross summit that is); 12%. Maximum grade 19%. Minimum grade 4%. And that is the flat part. That sucker with 160 something miles in your legs is about as fun as poking your eye with a dull spoon. Last year, I waited for the people I was riding with. This year, I gleefully pedaled up and past the walkers. One guy said, "what's your hurry?". I said, "T-shirt". This was the first time of the day that I actually thought I could make it in by 10PM. My goal throughout the ride was to finish so I could buy a jersey. Now, I was shooting higher. At the top, I noticed I was about and hour and a half ahead of my time for last year. Yeah, I was gonna make it if I didn't bonk or have a mechanical or a flat.
It's flat at the top of Ft. Ross road. Kinda. It winds down a bit then up a bit. Then a pretty nice descent. I was all-alone for the moment. I kept hearing talking behind me. Soon, I saw a rider whom I recognized. It was a female rider that I had seen with another rider I had also seen during the day. She however looked fresh. The first time I saw them was back at Camp Gualala. I remembered that she was willing to go, but the guy she was riding with was whining a bit. She told him to suck it up, to quit talking about the Gualala Wall and just do it. Well, back to present, she would ride up to me, then drop back. I figured she was riding with the guy and was just stronger. Soon, I was climbing up the second and what would be the last major climb of the ride. 6 to 8% mostly. At the summit, she rode along side of me. I told her that she was looking strong. She told me that she wasn't an "official" rider and had started riding with her friend at lunch. She said her friend needed encouragement. Duuh, tell me about it. She took off on the descent ahead of me to Cazadero. We hooked up again at a stop sign in town. Her pal rolled up. He mentioned that he was whipped. She said, "that's OK, I'll pull you". We said "Roll on". And she did. She was stronger than I had realized before. She only had 75 miles in her. She pulled us most of the way to Highway 116.
Suddenly she pulled over to fix something, but I was not going to stop. I told them, "I'm headed in". Soon, I was on 116 headed towards the last rest stop at Monte Rio. I was getting anxious to finish and was hoping I'd connect with another pace line. That was not to be. I laid down the hammer for the five or six miles to Monte Rio.
At the Monte Rio rest stop, the crew was again, awesome. A lady asked if she could fill my bottles. I relaxed a bit and talked to a crew member about my frame. I was bragging/whining about my cracked Merlin frame to him. I was also showing off my new computer. At 8:37 pm, he told me if I wanted the damn t-shirt, I'd better get my ass on the road. Right he was. The next 17 miles back to Start/Finish in Santa Rosa was tough for me. I was by myself, it was getting dark and I didn't want to climb anymore. Alas, after checking my watch at each red light (I hit them all of course), I was sure I'd pedal in at 10:01. I actually thought I'd blown the ten o'clock deadline for the "I Did It" shirt due to my dawdling at the Monte Rio rest stop 17 miles prior. I rode in at 9:57 pm without anyone but me. No lights in my rear view, no one to pull my sweaty crusted butt in, nada.
OK, we all finished. And all under the 10pm cutoff for the friggin' t-shirt...just barely. I was the last "official" qualifier for the darn thing. And you know what, I'm as happy as a kid in a candy store. OK, I was gonna use a different description, but I was afraid I'd insult you swine lovers. Hey, I love pork too...Boy, am I getting off the subject. I met up with Sarkis, Don Cartright (His first TT. Finished at 7:30) and Jennie Phillips (who had finished at 6:30!). I had decided about three hours ago to forego the dinner SRCC would provide and get a fat, juicy hamburger at Denny’s. I did however eat a big piece of cake and ice cream there at the school. I also got my jersey. Finally.
Well, there it is. Like I said last year, this was the hardest ride I've ever ridden. And the best. Lastly, I'm extremely happy that I got the friggin' "I Did It" t-shirt. Why? Because I did it.
Chronicle's of a Completed Terrible Two Double Century…almost
Saturday, June 30, 2001
15,000 feet of climbing
Ouch, that hurts. I really was genuinely afraid of this ride. Like I used to be with Devil Mountain Double, Central Coast Double and the Death Ride. With one exception. After riding those rides, I wasn't afraid of them. It took me two tries before I completed all five passes at the Death Ride, but I wasn't AFRAID of that ride. I hear by proclaim the Terrible Two (TT) Double Century to be the hardest ride I've ever done and..I'm afraid. I'm very afraid of the Terrible Two.
First of all I'd like to congratulate the following Diablo Cyclists members for finishing the TT by the infamous 10 PM cutoff for the "I did it" T-shirt. Joe Ornelas finished at 6:48 PM. I roomed with Joe and this time did NOT surprise me. I knew he'd finish early. Jack Klebanoff finished his first TT at a truly amazing 8:08 PM. Ish Makk and Jeff Martin rode on a tandem (Jeff was the captain) finished slightly ahead of Jack. Steve Berry finished his first double of the year at 9:38 PM. Steve started training for this ride six weeks ago. Truly incredible! Me? I DNF'd at 9:37 PM, 23 miles short of Santa Rosa. Why you ask, when I was so close? Read on kind reader…
My goal for the ride was to finish. I didn't care about the 10 PM T-shirt. I wanted to be able to purchase a jersey. One can spend $45 on a TT jersey only if you finish the ride by 12 AM. For me, I wanted that jersey so bad I could taste it. I thought that due to my new weight (170), my miles (about 4,000 so far this year), my three completed doubles (Solvang, Devil Mountain and Central Coast), and my gearing (a triple chainring with a 13x28), I could probably finish with no problem. Jack and I even pre-rode four of five of the major climbs a month before. On fresh legs mind you and believe you me, that fresh leg factor means everything. On that ride, we felt the pain. Three things however I did not plan on came into the mix. A chest cold, cramping, and my brain. Not that I'm coming up with excuses, but I really do believe I have the capability to finish this ride.
We got up at 3:45 AM. Joe was getting antsy and was chomping at the bit to get going. I started to pump up my tires and noticed I had a flat on my rear wheel. I changed it while carefully checking the tire to see what the problem was. I didn't see any but I changed the tube anyway. We headed out toward the schoolhouse where we needed to check in at 5 AM. I saw all the DC members and after listening to pre-ride instructions we were off at 5:30 AM sharp. . Let me also say here that the ride support and organization was first rate. The Santa Rosa Cycling Club and Bill Oetinger are to commended for putting on such an incredible event.
Temperatures were forecasted to be in the high 80's. This was not bad. The first 23 miles were through a relatively flat Santa Rosa and Bennett Valley. I felt great. I was in the middle of the pack. I saw a couple familiar faces and had a nice spin expecting the first major climb of the day, Trinity grade. Since I was totally hydrated, I needed to stop before the climbing started to water the trees. Hoping back on, I started the climb. It was about 4.5 miles to the summit and there were steep grades but nothing I wasn't used to. I quickly jumped into my spinning gears and decided to save my knees. I still think this is a good plan because today as I write this (two days after), my only pain is in my quads.
The reason I was able to do this ride due to my schedule playing with my band, was the guitar player Bill, wanted to take this weekend off to house watch a friends house in Sonoma. Guess where the house was? On Trinity! So, almost at the top, I see a guy sitting in a lounge chair off to the right side and it's Bill! I pulled over for a total of two minutes to say hello. I also gave him my windbreaker, which I knew I wouldn't need. I hated to cut off our discussion but I knew I had to NOT dawdle. Dawdling is not permitted on this ride! So, off I went finishing the climb and then proceeding down Oakville grade into Napa. Boy, what a beautiful ride this was going to be. I slowly passed a couple of guys on the flats so I asked them to hop on so we could pace. They did and within ten minutes we had a ten-person line. Of which, only five would take pulls. The other five just tagged on about six feet back. I hate that! Why can't everyone take a pull if they're getting the benefit of the draft? Anyway, We had a nice pace of 25 mph going up Silverado when about six miles out of Calistoga (first rest stop at mile 51), I flatted. The pace line that I started disappeared in the dust…
I checked my watch and noted it was 8:14. I knew I had to be out of the first rest stop at 9:30. This time was not a cutoff, only an estimate that a rider needed to be out of the stop at the latest to make the 10 PM cutoff for the T-shirt. I quickly changed the flatted tube. I carefully checked the tire, did not find any holes whatsoever. I assumed it was a pinch flat from my earlier flat in the morning. Suddenly, a sag vehicle pulled up and the guy jumped out with a floor pump. Outstanding! He even did the pumping. I quickly took a pee (still hydrated!). He told me another pace line was coming up so I thanked him and tried to hop on but they were too fast. I didn't want to expend the energy to catch them. So I just settled into my own pace of 20 mph. I even noted my time wasted by the flat. Eight minutes. Not bad!
I rolled into rest #1 at 8:38. Off the bike, I filled up my camel back (it was empty) and wolfed down some potatoes, cookies, PB & J, and fruit. I also saw some people I had paced with. I got back in the saddle in six minutes. It was 8:44. The day before the ride, since I had ridden most of the climbs with Jack except for the Geyser's, I drove the rest of course through Napa and then the Geysers climb. I was not looking forward to the ride to the Geysers climb. It seemed long in my truck but riding it wasn't bad at all. I joined a pace line that was passing me. What a great feeling! Soon, the twenty miles or so since the rest stop was behind me and I started climbing Geysers Road at 10:05. It was getting hot. I checked the temperature on my Cateye computer. 93 degrees? Well it felt like it. What the hell happened to high eighties? Oh, how I thought of the climb after lunch. If it was 93 now…this is where my brain started going into denial mode I believe.
The climb was tough but again, not undoable. I noticed lots of people passing me. I was in my comfortable granny gear (30 x 28), just spinning away. I heard a few comments (I heard it many times) that I was lucky to have a triple. Duh! Most of the people I saw riding with doubles seemed to be using pie plates on their rear cogset. Joe had a 34 with an XTR mountain derailier. I believe Jack did as well. The climb just went up and up. At 10:27 I came up on a Photocrazy.com photographer. I know the time because he has a big clock set up so you can search for your picture on the web site. I noticed Joe's time earlier today as being at that same spot at 9:22! He was more than an hour ahead of me. Jeesh! Well, I kept spinning. I knew that someone had written all sorts of messages on the road like the ones you notice on the climbing stages of the European races. They were addressed to I don't know who, however they also wrote "1/2 a mile to go" (or something like that), and then "FIN" at the summit. Hah! I knew this was a false summit. There was a steeper climb coming around the corner. Sure enough after descending a bit, we rounded a corner and you could see this huge climb. A guy behind started cursing big time when he saw it.
At the summit was rest stop #2. I clocked in at 11:30. I was still 1/2 hour ahead of the cutoff. It's funny how time flies when you're climbing…for us slower folks anyway. I fueled and watered up and was gone in another six minutes. Descending down Geysers was fun but dangerous due to the road conditions. I was hanging onto a recumbent (a guy I've met on other doubles). You descend into this valley and then you have small rollers, with a lot of gravel sections. It was hot and my feet were hurting. I took some more Hammer Gel in (I had four flasks with me) and kept rolling on towards the lunch stop at Lake Sonoma at mile 109. I had also been taking Endurolight capsules, which is an Electro light replacement. I was taking three at every rest stop. I should have taken three an hour as prescribed. I was still hydrated because I never lost the desire to pee after 30 minutes so that was good. It took me 101 minutes to go 28 miles, I guess that was okay since I couldn't check my computer. It had died coming down the Geyser's Road descent. As I headed toward lunch on Asti Drive that parallel's Highway 101, my feet were really burning. I loosened my buckle and my straps, which seemed to help.
I arrived at lunch at 1:11pm. Lunch was hot, which meant the climb was going to be hotter. I ate fruit, potatoes, and cookies and had a Coke. I didn't want to eat a sandwich. Since I wasn't doing the sustained energy powder, I now feel I made a BIG mistake. I needed fuel and Hammer Gel was not enough. Oh well, I would be taught a lesson after lunch. After relaxing in the shade and toweling off with water on my bandana, I started talking to a couple of guys who were sagging. One had a mechanical and the other had enough of the heat. I hit the head and started climbing out of lunch at 1:35. Man was it hot. And the climb is all exposed. One thing though, it is incredibly beautiful. As you get to the top of a climb, if you glanced to the right you could see a road in the distance curving into the forest. And of course, it was headed up! Another decent and then back up. Once I was hitting the curvy road I had seen earlier, I noticed about four riders huddled in the shade ahead of me. Since I had started to cramp for the first time ever, I joined them. We talked and found that we had been passing each other since Silverado trail. As a matter of fact, this guy John was in my original pace line back what seemed days ago. I relieved myself again (I was still hydrated) and up we continued. As I was climbing, I noticed John and this woman named Margaret were walking up ahead of me. As I passed John, he said he would rather walk than go 4 mph. I didn't agree with that (I do not want to walk up a hill while I can still pedal) so I pushed on. Now I was keeping up at a nice 4.5 mph pace (I think) so I'd wait at the top for John and Margaret. Which would turn out to be fatal mistake #2. I think my chest cold was #3 because I was hacking all day. Up at water stop # 1 at the first summit (there of course, were two), I waited for John and Margaret (not too long. About 4 minutes). The crew had Popsicle's and soda. They tasted wonderful.
Headed back down, I didn't know there was another climb before Guala, even though Jack and I had driven this part of Skagg's Springs a month ago. The next climb was just as steep (maybe 10% average), but not as long and it was partially covered. It was however, very tough due to my cramping. My legs would alternate cramping in the quads and then would dissipate. Then come back slightly and then come back big time. It was very annoying. Man was I NOT having a great time. At the top of Las Lomos (the second summit) was another water stop. I stopped to water up and noticed the time was 4:40! It had taken me over three hours to go fifteen miles. 5 mph! I waited a few more minutes for John and Margaret. Straight down hill into Camp Guala for 13 miles. Yeah right. It was sort of downhill but there were rollers in there. Cramping came and went. We rolled into Camp Guala at 5:23. FYI, the first one to finish this year's TT arrived into Santa Rosa about 4:45 PM! We were still 64 miles out! Also, for the first time of the day, my time was off by 23 minutes. The rest stop officially closed at 5 PM, but they still catered to us. We also heard that there were about 12 others behind us. Out of 250. I'm not sure how many sagged but I heard the number was pretty high. It didn't make us feel any better. Still, we had 47 miles to cover in four and a half-hours. With two or three major climbs. We thought we could make Monte Rio by 10pm. After that it was a cakewalk into Santa Rosa by 12 am. Off we went for next climb; a nasty 1.9-mile climb called "The Wall". It was nasty, but up I went cramping and all. I waited at the top for the other two and stretched a while and put on my arm warmers because we were getting near the cool coast. That I was ready for.
When we headed down, whoops, more climbing came up. Hey, I thought it was all downhill after "The Wall". I guess not. Finally we hit the coast. And finally we had some help. A tailwind. We had 15 miles to go to the next rest stop at Ft. Ross, with over 1000' elevation gain consisting of rollers. Some of the rollers were no problem due to the tailwind. Some however, hurt. I was having spurts of energy. Like my friend Doug Goodwin says, sometimes you feel like you're riding on Velcro. What a beautiful ride! Perfect northern coast scenery. The two I was riding with dropped me due to faltering energy. I picked them up however as we rolled into rest #4 at the bottom of Ft. Ross Road. We fueled and watered up and put our lights on (I had my lights and an extra jersey trucked to this rest stop). We were told there were only two behind us. No one had past us. All the rest had sagged. There must have been 40 bags containing riders lights there. The time was 7:55 PM. We tried to calculate if we could get to Monte Rio by 10 PM. Remember that you get sagged if you do not make Monte Rio by 10 PM. We had a little over two hours to go 22 miles. With a 2.6 mile 11% average and then another false summit after that, I did not like the prospects. So I headed up the hill with John and Margaret. They started walking and I pedaled on. I stopped midway to pee and change my glass lens to clear. The sun was quickly going to sleep. The two walked up to me because I must admit, I relaxed while they'd walk up. I toweled off with a moist towelette. I let them walk a while and then I'd jump on the bike, pedal past them, and wait at the top. Margaret made me feel good because she said I looked strong climbing. I felt strong climbing. Only when I hit rollers did I lose my energy. And I was cramping again.
At the top where Ft.Ross road intersected with Seaview, I waited for them again. I put on my other jersey because it was getting chilly. We started again on some gentle rollers down Ft. Ross Road and then we started climbing yet again. This is where I lost it. I cramped so bad I couldn't pedal. So I got off and for the first time in my life, I started walking up the hill. All of a sudden a sag vehicle came by. I asked him if we would make Monte Rio by 10 PM. He said the only way we would was if we hopped in the car. Margaret started crying. I asked them who wanted the one seat that was available. They both said no, that as long there was time left (now less than a half an hour), they'd make a try. I said, move over. I was done. I was cramping when I was walking. We loaded my bike in the back of his compact car. As we passed John and Margaret, I asked her again to take my spot but she said no. All she needed was more water. As I was giving my last water from my reserve bottles, John asked Mike (the sag guy), to have Monte Rio send them a sag wagon. He said he would and as we left I gave my thanks and good-byes. On the way, we found another rider (a gentleman by the name of Paul that I had met earlier that had completed six TT's and 77 doubles). He would not finish this one. It was after 10 PM when we encountered him. Mike told Paul he would also send a sag vehicle for him. His lights were dying as well. For me the ride was over.
We drove into Monte Rio. It 10:10 PM and there were four riders there. They were complaining that they had missed the turn and had ridden beyond to Guernville, and that they should be allowed to proceed for double century credit. Sounded reasonable to me. The markings on the road were hard to see at night. The crew doubted that the ride organizers would sway and that they'd probably not get double century credit. Man, were they pissed. As I would be. They started riding towards finish. We saw a few other riders on the road that were going to make the 12 PM cutoff and I couldn't help but feel happy for them. This was the toughest ride I had ever been on and it had defeated me. When we rolled into the school, I unloaded my bike and stuff into my truck, changed into my sneakers (God they felt wonderful), and walked over to report of my status. I quietly told the woman my number and she screamed (sounded like a scream to me), "we've got another DNF'r here". Talk about feeling lousy. Maybe I was just hyper sensitive to the situation but I felt like s%$!
I ate my lasagna and salad even though I wasn't hungry. I knew my body needed nutrition, which I apparently had denied it all day long. One cannot survive on four flasks of hammer gel and fruit, potatoes and cookies alone. I think I've learned my lesson(s).
#1 Don’t do this ride if you're ill
#2 Eat something, even if you're not hungry
#3 Ride your own pace
#4 Don't dawdle (even though I don't think I did)
I know I've been bitching through this whole journal, but bottom line…I'll be back next year!
Central Coast Double Century
Saturday, May, 12, 2001
214 miles (including 4 miles to and from hotel)
14,300 feet climbed
Once again, I'm sitting here thinking about how I can possibly describe yet another double notch in this relatively green double rider's belt...
OK, here goes nuttin' honey, (and be warned, it's long, like a double)
Central Coast Double. Saturday, May 12th, 2001. OK Hertlein, so what's the BIG deal? For us mere mortals, it's a TOUGH ride. In my humble opinion this ride was tougher than this year's Devil-Less Mountain Double. Why? Less elevation. Flatter terrain for longer distances, yada, yada, yada...Probably the best explanation for me was I was unfamiliar with the route. My brain! Sure I've ridden central coast roads before on my last four AIDS rides. But in the opposite direction. To me it was not the climbing that got to me (I actually enjoy the climbing with my new found love, Ms. Triple Ring). It was the miles and miles of remoteness. I don't know why 'cause I love Death Valley. Who knows? All I know is it kicked my cellulited (albeit a little smaller than it used to be) ass!
Of course my opinion of the ride is based on the fact that I am not a hammer. However, three club members who meet that qualification were present; Ish Makk, Joe Ornelias, and Jeff Martin. And as usual, their perspective shall not present in this journal. All I know is we saw them at the beginning of the ride and not ever again.
Sarkis S, Doug G., and myself headed down to Paso Robles Friday afternoon, getting there around 4ish. We headed over to the bike store which was the reg center. We traded pleasantries with the above mentioned DC members and headed over to Sizzler to load up on whatever that eatery calls food. After din din, we went back to Motel Six and got ready for the morning. Calls were made to significant others, Hammer Gel grenades locked and loaded, and bikes were readied for the next days assault. Oh, Sarkis LOVES to sleep on the floor.
Four in the AM. "Why do we do this?" A mantra I would be repeating ALL day! I have to go on record to say that the ONLY reason I will stay in a room with other males is to decrease the costs of these events. Enough said (and I'm sure my buddies will "ditto that!"). While we were getting ready for the ride, I turned on the TV and channel surfed a bit. I have to say that the one good thing about Motel Six is they had Bookoo (sic) channels. For some reason the only thing worth watching at 4:15 AM is Bass Fishing or the "Watchmeflash.com" advertisement. We headed to town at 5:15 AM. I, of course, was cold.
We rode 2 miles to the town center which was the Start/Finish for the ride. We saw the hammer boys, and Joe was present in his sleeveless DC jersey. I of course was freezing. The temp was 50 but fog was present closer to the coast so I had my usual arm & leg warmers, undershirt, smartwool socks and a windbreaker. Doug and Sarkis went without leg warmers (I personally thought they were nuts, but to each his own...). We listened the ride organizers warnings about the route and the cutoff time (9:45 PM at Bradley, the next to last rest stop at mile 179). At 5:45, we were rolling in a mass start. All 140 of us.
We hit rollers within 10 miles. Nothing hard, but grinding on the knees. Nothing to whine about...yet. The line was thinning out as the climbing started. We were in the back to start. That's called strategy. Why beat yourself up mentally with everyone wanting to be up front. I was feeling good, passing a few people. At least I wouldn't be DL (Dead Last). Here's the gearing our group had; Doug and myself, triples 12X28. Sarkis, double12X25. A couple nasty climbs hit us at York Mountain road and Santa Rosa Creek Road. The former being the worlds worst road on the northern continent. Because Sarkis and I have abnormally active bladders, we were always off the bikes, well, you know. Doug would pass us, we'd pass Doug, and so on, and so on, and so on...
Right before the first rest stop at mile 31, there's this nasty little climb that was slippery. As I was slogging up the steepest part, some guy next to me went down. Nothing bad, just went to stand up, got into the dirt on the side of the road and plop, over he went. I was encouraged by the site of another cyclist (former RAMM rider we found out later) walking up this section. As I passed him I said, "you're the smart one dude". He said he got off the bike for a breather and couldn't get back on due to the grade. Worked for me.
At the rest stop, Sarkis and I wolfed down some food, put our windbreakers and listened to a crew member tell us to be careful on the descent. Some rider had not heeded his advise and missed a turn and fell into a barbed wire fence very fast. Ouch! As we were headed down Doug headed in from the climb. I was trying to stick to my five minute rule in rest stops. (Yeah sure). We were not waiting for Porta Potties. We'd take care of bidness later.
This is were my comment about the road being lousy really came into play. There were sections of this road where the road had settled 4-6 inches. I did not want to break my new Rolf's, so I took it easy. After a while though, the road improved and Sarkis and I latched onto a couple of old Double Dogs (one being the guy who went down earlier and an older gentleman named "Big Ring Dave"). They knew the road better than us so we let them take the lead.
We dropped down into Cambria and then north onto Highway One. This is where I really enjoyed this ride. We had a paceline of four headed up the highway averaging 20 mph. It was flat and beautiful. Past Hearst Castle for about 15 miles. Then small rollers. Then we noticed another rider had latched onto our little train...Dougie!!! We rolled into Rest Stop #2 at Ragged Point. While we were fueling up with water, goodies, and Hammer Gel, I was waiting to refill my Sustained Energy bottle. Some woman loaded her two bottles with SIX scoops in each bottle! Talk about being selfish, in our humble opinions, we were amazed as everyone was who saw her doing this. If she needed so much, she should have brought her own damn stash! I should have said something! Oh well, we'd see her again. After our ten minute rule had expired, we were rolling again.
Now the ride was becoming absolutely beautiful. This is the part of the coast that climbs gently to 5-600 feet and then descends, and repeats over and over again, cutting into coves and back out again. I was feeling great on the bike. I think we were all enjoying the incredible scenery. I was riding about a half a mile ahead of everyone for a while. Life was good. Next rest stop was at Mill Creek, right before the dreaded "Nasty-Mento" climb. We were there around 11:50 AM. I asked when the first rider was in. Around 9. How did we lose almost three hours with our 15 minutes of rest stops and maybe 15 minutes of pee breaks? Were we that slow? Talk about feeling intimidated. We were at mile 87.2. After our fifteen minute rule had gone by, back on the bikes. We could see the road we were about to assault. It looked...well it just looked...
STEEP! Nine miles we were told. I'll tell you, I'm really glad I decided to bring my triple ringed bike. I decided at the beginning of the double season, that I'd ride my old Trek 2300 with my racing T for the three toughies I was attempting (DMD, CCD, and the TT, with the Death Ride thrown in. Yes, I got in.) Back to Nacimiento-Ferguson Road (it's real name). Right away, this sucker was fun. With my triple and my recently lost weight, I have fun on my climbs. I know, Terrible Two will cure that notion. Anyway, Sarkis and I were riding together. Man, I don't know how he does it. Here I was grannying it, and he was seated in his 25. Youth, ah youth. About two miles up the road we stopped so Sarkis could take a Kodak moment. Suddenly, Doug rounds the corner. Man he was riding well. We mounted back up and grinded our way up to Nacimiento Station at the summit at 2750' in 8.5 miles. It was sunny now. Unfortunately we were robbed of the opportunity of the views all the way up by the fog, however, we were grateful for the temperature. I would not have enjoyed the ride up in the heat.
Great Downhill. The kind I like. It reminded me of Diablo for some reason. I prefer switchbacks to long straight descents. The sun was out on this side of the San Lucias Range. It was beautiful and it was heating up quick. Now, I think is when the miles, the effort with all the climbing we had done, the heat and last and probably the biggest factor, the unfamiliarity with the route started to make this ride an effort to me. We rode for what seemed forever to lunch at mile 113 through Fort Hunter-Liggett. We passed a movie set out in the middle of nowhere. A little past the set (they were not filming on the weekend we were told), we heard automatic gunfire. We saw a non-military type with a tri-podded rifle as we passed. I say non-military because he was dressed in blue overalls and weighed about 350 pounds with longish hair. He was in a ATV. Doug said later at lunch that he thought he was part of the movie crew which made sense to me. Doug also saw a Huey helicopter attached to a crane with no rotor. Also, on this road (it was a really nice paved road within the boundaries of the Fort) were these concrete sections of the road which were tank crossings. The road was flat, and to me, boring and warm.
Riding into lunch, we gave our rider numbers to a crew member. This ride is very tightly monitored. At every stop, you had to give your number. I was hungry for real food. Probably the wrong thing to do, but I prepared a huge turkey sandwich. After lunch, I didn't enjoy this ride very much and I'm inclined to believe it may have been due to eating that damn sandwich, but who knows. We were there for about 45 minutes. I understand they time you and you need to get moving after an hour. We were told the first rider got in around 11 and there were 25 behind us. It was 2:30. Still not bad as far as we could tell. People were sagging however, so our placement was definitely moving down.
Back on our bikes, we headed out. It was around 3 PM and were headed on a road called Sulfer Springs Road. It was very sandy here and a very shallow ascent with a few bumps. A very boring five miles. Next we made a left turn onto Jolon Road. Now this road I knew. This was an AIDS Ride route but we were headed the opposite way towards King City. Again, a gentle ascent and then a great descent that dropped us a good 500 feet. This hill we were going down is called "Quad Buster Hill" on the AIDS Ride and is 10%. Now I understood why this hill was so tough to climb. We made another climb and stopped to use nature facilities yet again. Our friend on the recumbent (it's funny how you see the same people on these rides) stopped to, well, you know, and then he was gone down the descending road. We only saw him at finish. We headed down as well and was passed by another rider. Our placing was slipping more...I was tired and I think my other two buds were as well. We were now facing a headwind in the fields and I was starting to feel drained. I kept on drawing off of my Sustained Energy and Hammer Gel and it would help, but I was still TIRED.
At 4:30, we stopped at a water stop at mile133 and asked the fine gentleman what time the first rider had come by. ONE PM!!!! I guess that made sense for we only had 76 miles to go. We still had two substantial climbs and many rollers. And we had to be at mile 179 before 9:45. 46 miles in five hours? No problem. We had this licked. Up on the bikes, we were headed toward the "grinder", Lockwood-San Lucas Rd. It wasn't steep, however, it just went, and went, and went. "Doesn't this stupid thing ever crest?" we thought out loud. "Why do we do this?" I asked once again. It was at this point, and what had become evident much earlier in the ride for my two riding partners, I was a WHINER! Ech, I hate whiners, yet I had become one. Sarkis asked me more than once, "Are you OK?" Yes, I was OK, I just wanted this ride to be over.
Finally, the summit and we were descending into the valley for our next to the next to last rest stop at the Lockwood school at mile 145. Again I asked how many out? We were told 12. 12? 13 riders did not pass us. Only two from my count. Maybe three, but not 13! It was 6 PM and were told one more big climb and then it was ALL DOWNHILL into Paso. Our 20 minute rule done and gone, we were rollin' rollin' rollin' (to paraphrase a Limp Bizket song).We had 34 miles to ride to go in 3 hours and 45 minutes. My 4 year old niece can do that on her tricycle. I guess every additional hour on the bike seems like two 'cause it seemed to take forever to go 20 miles but we did it in a little over an hour. We started the last major climb of the ride, the upper end of the Interlake Road climb. It wasn't tough for me. The other guys didn't agree with me, but I didn't mind the climb. At the top, the view was great. It was dusk and looking down on Nacimiento Lake was beautiful. I put all my clothing back on, because the descent down into Bradley was going to be cool with the sun going down.
The actual descent only lasted 2-3 miles, then a gentle descent (that felt like rollers to me). I was whining again to Doug. Sarkis had dropped us on the previous climb. The sun went down and we rolled into Bradley at 8:50, 55 minutes before forced sagging. Cool. We had done it. We still had 30 miles to go though. We hunkered down, had some soup and hot chocolate and got ready to head home. The support for this ride was phenonomal! I can't think of one complaint I would voice. We were going to head out with a group of four others. As we rolled out in the pitch black, we followed the group and quickly decided to ride in back of them due to all the lights moving all over the road. We'd rather ride behind them. As we headed out on Hare Canyon Road, we had another gradual climb. Personally I was done with the climbing (especially the kind where you can't tell you're climbing except for the burn in yer legs. Doug kept saying there would be a killer descent JATC (Just Around The Corner), however, it never seemed to come.
All of a sudden, a big pickup truck (it sounded like a diesel) was right behind Doug and me. I called out to Doug and asked him to stop so this jerk would pass us. We stopped and the jerk suddenly became a godsend. He said, "go ahead, use my headlights as light for the road". What a cool farmer I thought. We went ahead, caught the rest of the group and this guy followed us all the way to the last rest stop. This was really cool because of the killer descent which finally came. We hammered, as did most of the group. We rolled into the last rest stop and the farmer walked up and it turned out this local yokel was actually the mayor of San Miguel who was acting as a crew member helping us out. Awesome!
After fueling up for the final ten miles (with two final shots of Hammer Gel), we were gone. Doug was dodging the sprinklers (a rude awakening in the middle of the night at 45 degrees), his light was dying. He almost lost it on a turn. I screamed "pull over Doug". He took a shot of Expresso Gel and was putting on his helmet headlight as the Mayor drove up who told us he'd follow us into San Miguel. He did and finally we were on our last 7 mile leg into Paso Robles. We were joined by a rider who we had seen all day from Canada (he had a Canadian jersey). Very interesting guy. He had traveled all over the world on a bike. Cool guy.
Finally, we rolled into Paso, checked in at 11:30ish. Sarkis had rolled in only 22 minutes before us. We rolled into the church where the ride organizers where serving Tri-tip. We ate and admired our patches.
We rolled back to Motel Six, showered, and snored!
In all, another great Double but a tough one! And it was a BIG deal!
Devil Mountain Double Century
Saturday, April 15th, 2001
17,300 feet climbed
Well, I finally went and did it...I've often wondered why anyone would want to torture themselves to riding a double century with one thing on the ride creator's demented mind. Climb, Climb, Climb!
I mean, this ride occurs in our back yard. And with the exception of two nasty and very annoying yet beautiful climbs, we've all ridden these roads. This years course was officially called "The Devil-less Devil Mountain Double". Why you ask? The Mt. Diablo Park Nazi's told Mr. Pinney that his ride would create too much of a strain on Park resources. So, the park officials said "Nein" (sic, 'cause I don't know how to spell no in German)Well, I'm glad that they did.
I registered before hearing of the route change and I was shaking in my Sidi's at thought of riding to the summit of the devil, back down North Gate and out to Marsh Creek. Then over Morgan Territory and out to Altamonte (I think) and back over Patterson Pass. Jet! And that's before heading out to lunch (4 PM cutoff) via Mines Road.
Here's this years route (in case you didn't know). Leave the Marriott in San Ramon for a mass start at 5 am. Head out to Tassajara, Highland, Livermore Blvd. This takes you through Livermore and out to Mines road. Right after the left turn onto the "real" Mines road, first rest stop at mile 25. Continue up Mines road (first climbing of the day), out to the Junction for rest stop #2 at mile 55. Keep heading out on San Antonio (which becomes Mt. Hamilton Road I think). Five miles before the summit, you start climbing to the top. At the summit, you head down the front and eventually you arrive at the next rest stop at Crothers. Next, on this masochistic jaunt, SIERRA Road. At the top (where you're encouraged to pet a goat...don't ask), you continue onto Calveras Road. Eventually you get to Sunol for lunch where the cutoff is still 4pm. From there, it's down Niles to Palomares. After that is how the new route kicks in...(on to a new paragraph)
Up Redwood, up Redwood, up Redwood (did I repeat my self? Yeah, well I'm friggin tired at this point and I'm a little over half done!) Then up Redwood (pretty scenery, but I do hate the climb right before it turns into Skyline). Skyline (fun, fun, fun) and a sharp and fast decent down Shepherd Canyon Road to Rest #...Whatever, I've lost count. Then up Snake Road. Back at Skyline, up to Grizzly. Down Golf Course (it's getting dark for us "average riders") and down Wildcat (it's dark now). Then up the Bears to eventually good ole Pig Farm. Down Alhambra to the last rest stop (great Chili!). One more climb...Reliz. By this time you are...tired of climbing. Down Reliz to Pleasant Hill Road, out to Olympic, over to Tice to Danville Blvd. and jam back to San Ramon.
Whew! Here's a very brief recap. (I promise)
Our posse was comprised of Doug Goodwin, Sarkis Soghomonian (easy for you to say), and myself. Joe Ornelas was there from the club, but we just saw a flash of blue and yellow at rest stop #2. I understand he started at 6 am, caught us at #2, and he was GONE! Man, that man flies!
At rest stop #1, we were glad to see so many DC members volunteering. Tom Nelson, Craig Martinelli, and Jeff Martin. At rest stop #2, we also saw the famous Dick Anderson helping. Also at lunch we saw Ish Maak, his wife Nanni and Jeff's wife, Joyce. Ish by the way was massaging. He massaged Sarkis's bum knee and said he worked a small miracle.
In bullet form, here's the highlights;
- COLD, but great weather. (snow on Hamilton)
- Flat tire at rest stop #2 (thank you Jeff for being my personal mechanic!)
- Mt. Hamilton climb is hard, but doable (for you "average" riders like myself) Definite must (for you "average" riders like myself) A triple! (I used my Trek 2300 for the first time on a double) We saw a he-man blow by us with a 21 on the Hamilton climb, only later to see him whimpering like a little boy lost without his Barney doll. It was sweet to see (for us "average riders").
- The best PBJ sandwiches at the Crothers rest stop.
- Sierra road. Enough said. (no, I did not walk it, and Sarkis handled it fine with his "bum" knee). Did I say thank god for Triples?
- The goat. Enough said (but he terrible breath!)
- Lunch at 3 PM. We were feeling good about our time even though we were behind the "average rider time" listed on the route sheet. Yes, that's why I keep saying it. It was nice to have the time listed on the route sheet, however, us "average riders" felt intimidated by it.
- Going down at Palomares at 45 mph, I hit a Hammer Gel bottle (grenade). I didn't see it, but I felt it and I thought I was going to hit the pavement (sure death I'm sure. All for sustained energy and 500 calories!). No I stayed up on the bike.
- The rest you know from my course description mentioned previously.
- Oh, we dawdled more than we should have, so what! It's the Devil Mountain Double! We earned our dawdle time!
- 17,300 of climbing in 203.9 miles. 12.5 average.
- Great Support!
Sarkis and I rolled into the Marriot at 12 on the dot (I think George Pinney's wife wrote down 12:05, 'cause we couldn't find the room and Sarkis had me trying enter the back of the hotel. But all I found were two sterno bums eating their dinner out of the trash compactor!) Which is more dinner than they had for us! Just limp salad and chips (my ONLY complaint of the ride organizers). I was looking forward to the Lasagna all day.
We ended up with 16 1/2 hours of ride time done in 19 hours ("average rider" time was listed at 18 hours and 51 minutes) Still, the dawdle factor is there. It's getting better, but to tell you the truth, I needed the extra few minutes we took.
Last Recap...( I really promise)
It was (without a doubt), in my opinion, THE HARDEST RIDE I'VE EVER DONE! Sarkis did great (bum knee and all). He beat me up Sierra (does it ever end?). Hamilton was hard but not a show stopper in my opinion. And the last section of the ride...all the climbs hurt! Palomares, Redwood (before it becomes Skyline), Grizzly, the Bears (in the dark), Pig Farm, Reliz. The only climb I felt good on was Snake because I know that road.
Sarkis got his DMD jersey (he was primping like a little girl in the mirror!). And as I was leaving In 'n Out Burger (even when I was as hungry as I was, it still is a lousy burger!) , I saw a guy heading down San Ramon Blvd at 1:05 am. Sweet! We weren't dead last!
Oh boy, I can't wait for Central Coast and Terrible Two.
One more thing...I loved the ride!!!!!!!!
Death Valley Double Century
Saturday, February, 24th, 2001
5300 feet climbed
In case anyone was interested...and yes, it's long!
I DNF'd Death Valley. How'd I do it you ask? Sanity, that's how. Here's my story.
Of course it's been a lousy training winter ( I know, we really have nothing to bitch about compared to areas east of us), but be that as it may be, it's still been a sucky winter. On the bright side, I've lost a considerable amount of weight, thank you, and it has certainly improved my cycling. I was stoked for the year's first double.
Driving into Death Valley on Friday was encouraging. All day on the way down, it was drizzly. As soon as I got out of my truck at Stovepipe Wells to gas up, the sun was shining and the temperature was 70 degrees. Beautiful. Forecast for Saturday's ride was partly cloudy with a slight chance of an occasional shower in the late afternoon. I could deal with that!
After checking into the room (it was 2:30), I decided to go out for a ten mile ride. I'd been on the trainer for the past two weeks and I did not want to start the double without at least road testing my bike. New tires, new aero bar, new cleats, thirty pounds lighter. Man, I was ready. The ten mile ride turned into 20 in one hour and three minutes.
After the ride, as I was getting something out of my truck (I was still in my bike gear), Vic, Katherine, Rich and Patty showed up. They invited me to dinner. It was nice running into them due to an unnamed roommate of mine, who turned out to be a nonroommate. Actually, it was nice having a room where I didn't need earplugs. I could watch all the exercise shows in my birthday suit I wanted without offending anyone! But that's another story, so I'll forge on...
I found at dinner that only Patty and myself would be doing the double. Vic and Rich were relaxing doing the single. After finishing my meat loaf, I bid all farewell. I was in bed by 7 with a wakeup call at 3am! Yikes!
I woke at 3am raring to go. I was all prepped. Since I hate the cold, I overdressed (not by my standards you understand, but everyone elses). I also would be trying music a try this time. I've never used a walkman while actually riding but I do when I'm on the trainer. Since Death Valley is a pretty desolate place, I thought I'd give it a try.
I checked out at 3:52 on the way to Stovepipe Wells. The temp was about 45 and there was no wind. My CD player wasn't working. Oh well, I'd check it out at the rest stop. I hammered. A small paceline passed me so I hopped on. Until the climb at 17 miles. It's actually just a 200' climb in about a mile but after riding a flat 17 miles it's really the only time you slow down. I dropped the paceline 'cause I was feeling so good. One the riders hooked up with me and stayed with me till the stop.
I ran into Patty at Stovepipe Wells. She was looking good. My problem with doubles is I tend to (as Doug Goodwin will say) dawdle. Patty was gone and I was still futzing with my CD player. Fifteen minutes later, I was on my way back to Furnace Creek, this time with AC/DC jamming. I actually enjoyed the motivation, watching the sunrise, listening to hard rock and roll! I was making good time (for me) averaging 18.5 mph.
So far, so good. It was clouding up however, but that created a fantastic sunrise for about three minutes. I rolled into Furnace Creek with the intention of going to my room, taking care of business and shedding some of my layers, etc. but instead I stopped at the rest stop out in front of the Inn and ate some soup. And had some Gatorade, and some cookies. You get the idea, right?. Dawdle, dawdle, dawdle. Then I went to my room. It turns out that all I shed was my booties. I was still cold. I changed my CD.
Out on the road to Badwater, I had to get to Ashford Mills by the 11 am cutoff time. No problem. It was 7:30. The ride to Badwater was fast and uneventful. Again, it was beautiful except for no sun. If it was windy, I didn't feel it. I was at Badwater at 8:30. I stopped of course and ate some more. Changed my CD. I happened to mention to some rider that I'd better get going 'cause I only had 2 and 1/4 hours to go 27 miles. He said, "you'll never make it". I said, "piece of cake"! He said, "Good Luck". As I was riding away, I was wondering, now what the hell was he talking about?
The next couple of miles was fast. I was hammering along, doing 19-20 mph, feeling good about my riding. No one was passing me. Life was good...then...BAM. I came around a corner of a mountain and hit a tremendous headwind. I'm talking 20-30 mph (okay, I don't know the windspeed, but it sure felt that strong!). I was lucky to hit 10 mph, and that was with me in the drops or my aerobars (thank you Ron for the suggestion). The only riders that were going faster were two tandem teams that I couldn't hang onto for the life of me.
What seemed like a certainty in reaching Ashford Mills timely now looked unattainable. I was doing the calculating. I thought if I could maintain 10 mph then I might be able to do it. What a long two hours! I rolled into Ashford Mills at 11:05 and found out, they were NOT enforcing the cutoff! I was glad but pissed at the same time for busting my chops. What they were saying however, was that the climb up and over to Shashone was going to be rough with either rain or snow or both with strong headwinds on the way back over the passes. I was talking to two Furnace Creek 508 vets who told me they were playing it smart and turning back. Wimps, I thought!
I started the climb up to Jubilee pass and I saw what they were talking about. The black cloud ahead of me was getting nastier by the minute. I stopped, looked around and thought, nope, it ain't going to happen this year. I figured 150 miles was good for me and I'd be back in my warm, dry room watching mud wresting or something rather than climbing the back side of Salsberry Pass in the rain/snow, with a headwind. Let's see, wet and tired, or dry with a tailwind on the way home...No Brainer Folks. NBF.
So there you have it. I NBF'd and DNF'd at the same time. And when I got back, the word was that one person had completed, with two more that they thought would finish. And a busload of riders that were being sagged back due to possible exposure problems.
Nah, I decided that I did the right thing.