Ride Reports

Quick jump: Mix Canyon Berkeley 200k

06.08.2013 SFR Dart with Wild Bill's Brew Crew (Dean, Drew, Darell, KJ)

GPS track of our route: http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1395785

Wild Bill's Brew Crew: Drew Carlson (Reluctant Ride Leader), Dean Albright, (Reluctant Rider #1), Darell Dickey (Reluctant Rider #2), Ken Johnson (enthusiastic crazy-man). We rode one of Rob Hawk's perms in reverse, and even hoped at one point that he would join us! Our route was the same as "Are We There Yet?" with an hour earlier start time.

5am start in Davis, and it was mid 70's with high humidity. It felt like the middle of the night... in the tropics. We fumbled the start a bit, but managed to get officially underway by 5:15. Before Winters, 30 minutes later, I confided in Reluctant Rider #1 that I was feeling crappy. He pleasantly confirmed that I certainly *looked* like hell. How would I survive the sun if I was already feeling like tossing my Cheerios in the relative cool of the morning?! Ug. I just wanted to hurl, but instead kept myself busy with crafting unique insults for my teammates.

We rolled through a shuttered early-morning Winters, watered up at Moskowite corner, and pressed on to St. Helena. We rode in reasonable temps all morning, but I got dizzy standing in line at the Model Bakery. Still no idea what was going on with me, but apparently the remedy was parfait! Everybody loves parfait. 20 minutes in line to get our food was a bummer, but Model Bakery never disappoints with the goodies. Great mid-morning-post-breakfast-pre-lunch snacks all around. Next we stopped at the grocery store down the street to buy a gallon of water and a bag of ice for everybody to share. The best $3.65 you can spend on a ride like this! This trick we would repeat through the day, and was key to the team's eventual, and spectacularly mundane finish. Every sip of water I had on the ride was *cold.* Calling cold water a lifesaver on this journey is an understatement. After a bathroom stop at the park, our St. Helena visit clocked in at a full hour. But hey... we have tons of time right? We usually knock these things out in 8- 10 hours and we have 13.5. No rush. With ice crammed everywhere it would fit, we headed for the big climb of the day. In the *middle* of the day.

I can't tell you what magic was in that parfait, but somewhat suddenly I felt better than I had all morning. Here we were, climbing Mt. George with the sun straight up - over 100 degrees of goodness. And I felt... fine? Almost strong? ....Let's go with "unreasonably good." Crazy. And I just kept feeling better all day as it got hotter and hotter. At about the half-way point of the climb, we uncharacteristically stopped in the shade for a breather. We all agreed that we'd never thought of doing that before, and we all agreed that until this ride, we've always been idiots. And what the heck...time to spare, right? We stopped again in the shade at the top, and were confidently told by Reluctant Ride Leader that now it just gets cooler and easier. We weren't buying it, but had a good laugh as we descended.... into Hell.

The Wooden Valley descent was an oven. Not just a regular oven either. One of those convection jobbies that eliminates the not-quite-as-hot nooks and crannies to ensure that everything gets equally cooked all over. We could feel the hotter-than body-temperature air going in with each breath. We could feel the heat radiating off the pavement. For a moment, I wondered how much it would suck to be a bike tire. Just a few minutes earlier, we were thinking that the climb was hot. We were wrong. It seemed like we weren't even sweating any longer. Our bodies were in full survival mode - now just little shriveled, crispy fritters. Clothing felt like crunchy tissue paper. As the team started running low on water, we debated our next stop. With a bit of resource sharing, we made it to our favorite sandwich place in Rockville. Air conditioning from the Gods. Great food, and they always fill our bottles with ice and water. They get good tips from us! We soon found that another "Valley" team (Deb Banks and the "Hot Flashes" nail-polish set) were just across the street. They wandered over to find us sprawled in the air-conditioned splendor, and proceeded with a proper pedicure on one of our (unnamed for his safety) members. With water-soaked jerseys, and ice-filled bottles and blue toenails, we continued our journey South to the promised land of cool air and beer.

Pushing through Cordelia and Lopes Road was just more heat, punctuated with great views of the freeway Uneventful, until we ran into a cycling tourist couple from Germany who were trying to find their way to Vacaville. We helped them highlight their map, and sent them on their way with a much-appreciated gift of salted peanuts. Strong winds coming from the West managed to keep our minds off the heat for a bit. Our Lake Herman control at the always-scenic Chevron station found us loading up one more time on water and ice. At this point, I was putting ice in my jersey pockets, I was snapping it into my shorts, and Reluctant Rider #1  was wedging it into Reluctant Rider #2's helmet vents. We decided to just have a few snacks here since our "must stop and wait" control was "just an hour away". Looking at distance and schedule, we figured we'd be there with *plenty* of time for a leisurely pizza and beer. We were assuming a typical 15 mph average, naturally. Then we headed West on Lake Herman Road only to discover that 6-7 mph forward progress was pretty impressive. One hour became two quite quickly!  This was some pretty serious head wind, coupled with a few steep pitches. No more chit-chat. Just heads down, aiming for the Carquinez Bridge. Since wind was now the primary concern, we barely noticed that we were no longer hot! Ah, the Bay fog.

We crossed the bridge and headed into an over-cast Crocket for our final control before the finish. When once we thought we'd have a luxurious couple of hours here, we were now down to about 25 minutes. Fortunately, the warm, less-than-desirable beer selection didn't invite us to linger. We hungrily consumed a Medium pizza and bottle of beer each, and packed up for the final leg into Berkeley. I need to add here that when the seater/greeter/server saw us looking around for safe parking for our bikes outside the store-front, he stuck his head out and asked if we'd like to bring the bikes in. How great is that?! He got a good tip too...

Next we got to see what this I-80 "Bikeway" through the East Bay was all about. I was excited to see it listed on our cue sheet, and had never heard of it before. We'd be on it a good long time, and I had high hopes. Oops. Besides the signs, I'm still trying to figure out what exactly MAKES it a "bikeway." The bike lanes would come and go. Sometimes no margin at all. Very difficult intersection crossing where we needed to go left, and the cars wanted to go right. Our team has no problems with high-traffic areas, but this bit of the route, at this time of day, definitely held our attention. It wasn't always obvious where we should be, nor where the cars were planning to go. But we muddled through. And as the earlier heat took its tool, and the descending dark fog sapped the energy reserves we pretended to still have, the going got slower and slower. We were actually getting cold! Until... down the street and across from each other - there were two beacons of hope! Our glorious gilded Suburban chariot, complete with accommodating driver, bike racks and cold beer... and T-Rex. Woot. We rolled up to the SFR greeters within one minute of our expected finish. We never purposefully wasted time. And we never hurried. We stopped when anybody suggested we should stop. We simply consumed the entire time allotted. 137 miles of hot-fudge goodness!

What a superb finish! As one friend from one of our sister Davis teams put it: "Way better than ending at 7-11 with a pack of Tic-tacs!" Great beer. Fun, energetic service. And food we didn't have to decide on. It just kept arriving. Perfect! And you volunteers who do all this - from the overall organization to the restaurant selection and liasioning, the bike-watching, the greeting, the paperwork,  the route checking... and on and on and on.... Super big thanks.

Our team - like most teams I'm sure - had plenty of reasons to DNS this one. We made a go of it. Made some uncharacteristic smart decisions, and finished up with good cheer and with big appetites. Super-proud of all the randos who even attempted this little ride! One for the record books.

04.26.2013 Sierra Foothills Tour (Nevada City)

There is spectacular riding on this Tour! Great fun.

Darell’s perspective of the weekend (crap. How did this get so long? Sorry):

Deb mapped out a nice detour around Grass Valley (Friday afternoon commute time right when school gets out has historically been the one crappy bit of riding). So a small change on the way up made it nicer. No drama on the way up, but we suffered the big climbs toward the end in the heat. Ford drove up early, then rode down most of the way to Auburn to meet the gruppo. Dean and I managed to roll into the Inn first (we both agreed  to not lollygag at the rest stops – in order to keep ahead of the heat and the traffic), and we sat on the deck drinking the beer that Ford brought up. Thank doggie for Ford! Best beer I’ve had in ages.

We had a superb dinner (after finding 1+ hour waits everywhere we checked) that ended up costing everybody $60 no matter what they did or did not have. Most expensive soup and salad that Dean has ever had, certainly! Still, everybody’s meal was great. Fresh, wild, line-caught halibut for most of us. We don’t have a clue what happened with the money…

Saturday morning, we headed to our favorite breakfast place. I can never remember the name… Sat outside amongst the flowers and rising sun. Fresh-baked muffin… tofu scramble with spinach, artichoke, caramelized onions, potatoes and fruit. Vegan breakfast for me, though Dean’s eggs and sausage almost contaminated a corner of my plate when he had to make room for his side of bacon that showed up later… 

Then EVnut day got under way. We just had Gishi, Ford, Kelly and me in uniform http://goo.gl/FSyKx… and Martha came along in civvies as well. We started out to do a loop that Deb had mapped out, but half way up the climb, I was the lone vote to continue up the hill. We all turned off the climb and did a rollers out-and-back that was spectacular. Zero cars. One-lane road through a tree canopy. At the turn-around, Gishi, Deb and I tried to find a way to the lake that we could see through the trees… but no luck. We rolled down a few roads, but everything seemed to be private property. Some nice property, of course… just no way to the water that we could find. We gave up and headed back. At the junction where we initially stopped the intended route, the rest of the gang flew down the hill back into town, while I turned back up the hill to continue the original route alone. Deb warned me that there might be some pavement missing, and sure enough, after the big climb (at elevation, in the heat… my favorite!) there’s the sign, “pavement ends.” http://goo.gl/4a9PJ  Some pretty good gravel at first, and then craptastic pavement for another mile or so. Pavement but with gravel on top of it! Ug. Give me a proper gravel-only road any day. I was pinging tiddly-wink rocks left and right. Then civilization shows up again, and whoa! Flying down this lovely hill at some insane speed when *woosh* a sign goes by that I can’t believe. Says 31% with a tippy truck. I slammed on the brakes since I had to get a picture, and managed to stop just before the cliff. http://goo.gl/T2R18  The road you can see in the pic is about a 20% grade, then it gets steep where you see it disappear over the edge. I managed 49.9 on the descent… with the brakes on. Going over the edge of this thing just makes you giggle. Where’s the road? Where’s the Road?! Oh shit!

Through texts, we met up at the brewery http://goo.gl/Ub3J0  Everybody else showered and changed and smelling lovely – me in my EVnut kit, leaking sweat from every pore. Dean had a cold Imperial Pint of IPA waiting to go for me. Back home we all tried to nap a bit in the cottage – but being the central meeting place, there’s always somebody dropping by… so no luck with the nap plan. Spaghetti, salad and garlic bread dinner on the deck with beer and wine. Birthday cake for Larry (75) http://goo.gl/AgK01 Group picture. Then everybody scattered. I walked through town to the river with a small group. Perfect evening once the mosquitoes went to bed.

On Sunday morning we got a good start down the hill. And man… Some of my favorite descents are on this route. Damn that’s fun. In the cool, morning air… no cars. Only wildflowers and the farm animals just waking up. Dean and I just bombed this thing. At Ikeda’s we pulled out Deb’s leftover pies, and they were a HUGE hit. Especially with Larry! From that point on, it got plenty warm, but a great descent down Auburn Folsom as per usual (meaning Dean pulling). One more food and water stop at Beal’s point, and we began the flat slog home through the heat. At William Pond (to soak our clothes), my on-and-off knee became off-only, and I had to slow the pace. Dean graciously stayed back to pull me along without accelerating over the bumps. My situation wasn’t pretty across the causeway, but I made it! Said our goodbyes to Bill at the water tank, then Dean and I (slowly!) rolled to Lone’s – where she’d left beer on ice for us in the garage. Aaaahhhh!

I am fully content and fully sore today. Considering how little I’ve ridden this year, this was a HUGE weekend for me. That I enjoyed most of the riding, and only suffered at the end thrills me.

Time to clean the bike. We rolled through some nasty stuff a time or two….

Here are my pictures, such as they are:

And GPS tracks:
First up the hill: http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1278086
Saturday around the area: http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1278084
Then Down the hill yesterday in the heat: http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1278079

11.17.2012 Dart 200k.

Short synopsis of DART day, before I forget -

Greg and I left Mariposa Circle at 6:21 and met the rest of the gang at the S. Davis Safeway about 30 seconds later. Reasonable temps and constant drizzle when we headed out. Eric Norris tagged along with us until we turned South at Pitt School Road off of Sievers. Moments after Eric (brilliantly) head home it started to really rain. We worked our way down to Timm and Cantelow roads... found Gibson Canyon was open. As we crested that hill, it started to rain in earnest. We passed no other cyclists, but there were several runners North of Vacaville. Everybody waved and said hello in the rain. The best of soggy comradery. Headwind down Pleasants Valley to Fairfield with wind-driven rain stinging our faces. Completely soaked when we arrived Fairfield Safeway. Water literally running out my elbow every time I lifted my hand to drink from a bottle. While I watched the bikes, Greg secured a cup of hot coffee for me at Safeway - a major lifesaver. We tried to wring out our gear, but everything remained totally soaked and cold. We left huge puddles on the floor in Safeway. It kept pouring rain while we sat and looked out the window (I smiled every time a shopper had to suffer the run from the door clear out to the car), but it finally cleared up a bit when we headed out. Departing Safeway, we were ALL shivering and miserable. No real rain, but now cold and wet and windy. Just as we turned North on Wooden Valley toward Mt. George, Eric had an altercation with an asshat motorist. Ended with Eric yelling, "pull your head out of your ass." A few miles later, bang! Eric is way behind us yelling and wobbling to the side of the road. Saddle is toast. Nose piece in his hand. He rides like that for a short while, but when we pull over again, I suggest shoving some clothing under the leather. Nothing fits until gloves are tried. And that works reasonably well for the next seven hours of riding. I'm still amazed he completed on the broken saddle. Eric definitely takes the "Golden Ass"
award.  Lunch at the sandwich place in Yountville. Split a smoked salmon sand with Eric - weather and food just like the last time I stopped there with Drew! Cool but no rain as we head up Sage Canyon. Finally some tail winds that we earned! Greg was having fitness issues and stomach cramps so we rolled a bit slower than usual. As we neared Moskowite we started seeing other teams - after seeing *no* other bikes for 10 hours. We rolled into Preserve at dusk, and were treated to heaters and beer and lovely waitresses. We changed tables, and pulled the new one directly under the heater. REALLY great. I think we saw a total of five teams there. The first time we dried out all day - but only temporary! It was a fun time since it was ONLY dart people in the patio area so we didn't offend anybody with our joking and laughing and farting. Of course it began raining just as we were leaving, and rained all the way home... We settled back into our familiar soggy feeling before we were a mile outside of Winters. We just hunkered down and got it done on the way home in the dark and rain.

It was certainly an adventure.

09.02.2012 Over the River 300k... double century!

Darell does a two-fer!

That’s right. I’m counting Monday’s ride as a 300+k for RUSA, *and* I’m counting it as a personal Double Century. 195-ish miles. In the heat.

I wanted to jot this down before I forget about it. The length alone made it pretty epic for me. And while the route is somewhat dull, I had a great time with Drew and Ken. If you’re going to suffer, you might as well do it with people you like!

It was cold at 5am with a huge, bright moon when we headed out from North Safeway. Drew, KJ and Darell (and Jeff, a friend of Drew’s who accompanied us – behind us, mind you - to Carmichael and back) – as a group we were underdressed and pretty damn cold all the way up to breakfast. The sun just started to peak over the horizon as we got into Old Sac. And oh look – Frontier Days again!… means they dumped dirt and horse shit all over the road for that authentic “old West” feel. Neat. At least there were no crowds to contend with. At Bella Bru we all enjoyed a real breakfast and hot coffee. My hands were too cold to operate my zippers or my pen, but we all warmed up quickly out of the cold. I couldn’t quite finish my breakfast burrito, but it sure was good! I had apparently done really well pre-hydrating the evening before with significant quantities of IPA at Greg’s house. I think Bella Bru was my third pee stop!

Back over the river and through Frontier Days again, all in full sun and perfect temps. At the cars in Davis we modified wardrobe ever so slightly. I swapped out my morning bottles with two frozen ones (smart, right?) for the heat, and slathered up with sunscreen. I was needing a real “rest” stop. The kind in a room with porcelain. So we headed to Starbucks for our control. Sure is great to do this with the experienced folks!

Not much to say about the leg up to Dunnigan. Upwind. Next to the freeway. Bad pavement. Drew thinks we might have been going a wee bit too fast. We were just trying to get this bit over with. Gag in the Bag for the control, and it took us forever to get up to the counter to order. ONE person in front of us took maybe 10 minutes?? It was enough time for KJ to take a complete bath in the, uh, bathroom, and not be delayed in ordering. I bought some sandwich thing that was mostly butter and some meat. Couldn’t eat it all. We filled our bottles from the ice machine (how much do I love the ice machine?), because now the heat was really on.

We headed down to Winters, expecting that typical tail wind to kick in at any time. ANY time! It got hotter. The headwind remained. We were pushing along at 12 mph for much of it, hoping that we’d get to enjoy a tail at least on the final leg home! Just South of Capay, I realized that I needed more salts. We pulled over so I could grab some food, and while I leaned over my bike on the side of the road, I tried to measure out some Skratch drink mix into my last bottle. My last, cold, beautiful bottle. I ended up accidentally dumping about five servings into the thing. This rendered my bottle completely undrinkable. No way to dilute it. Shit! I licked my empty bottle a couple of times, and desperately tried to drink the thick syrup in the other. No luck. Also no water. And lots of miles and lots of heat to go. I feel like an idiot. Drew offered me the hot remains of his bottle, and it was the best hot water I’ve ever had on a hot ride! It just had to get me to Winters, I kept telling myself. Uncharacteristically, I decided not to whine about my hydration situation – mostly because everybody else was in pretty much the same boat at this point, and Drew had just given me HIS water! Somewhere above Winters, Drew got the only flat of the trip. We stood in the shade of a huge walnut tree, and everybody was happy for the short break from the hot headwind. It wasn’t long after we got on our way again when Drew broached the subject of stopping at Berryessa Brewery… his treat! Ken and I thought about the answer for all of one nanosecond, and said “yup!” Drew had brilliantly checked out the hours for the holiday Monday on Facebook, and we’d be there with perfect timing to enjoy a pint of cold, lovely hop nectar. Yay. Running on hot water vapor in our bottles, we turned right onto 128 at the school in Winters. At this point, I was literally drooling at the thought of a frosty pint. KJ noted that a renewed energy had overcome the peloton as we danced on our pedals with glee in our hearts. We were dehydrated and giddy at the thought of our brilliant way to solve our hydration problem. Then we rolled up to the locked gate. No f’ing way! Just kick my puppy, dang it! Down-trodden and sullen, we rolled down to Lake Solano. Behold!  Gone were the woes as we made love to the hose!  Oh, the glorious hose. We should build a monument to that hose. We all took turns drinking from it, showering under it. Hugging and petting it. I love the hose. We took a short break… then drank and showered again. Oh man! Did I mention that it was hot out? And that we were dehydrated? That hose was a life-saver in a sea of salty dryness. I almost forgot about the beer. Almost.

We climbed back on the bikes, and pointed them for Rockville. A bit of shade under the trees on Pleasants Valley. Still a hot headwind, of course! As we passed through Fairfield, we were Darell-Ken-Drew in a row. Every time I glanced in my mirror, it was the same… then suddenly, no Drew! Ken and I turned around and rode and rode and rode, and finally after I figured we couldn’t have been THAT far ahead of him, I called out “what the hell!?” to Ken, and we heard Drew out in the bushes yell something enough Drew-like for us to know it was him.  Ken and I brilliantly waited in the safety of the sidewalk until Drew finished whatever it was he needed to finish. It was apparently an emergency, and he had to duck off the road NOW. Disaster averted, apparently. Finally we rolled into Rockville and we knew the normal sandwich place wouldn’t be open. But also the little café with beer wasn’t open. Thwarted again! We made do with the gas station. Big cold waters. Ice cream. KJ shared a sandwich with me that I thought I wouldn’t be able to eat. But a few seconds after he handed it over, it was gone.  We sat outside in the shade. This is the stop that worried me since I knew if I held still too long, I wouldn’t be able to get rolling again. But second-best after the lovely hose at Lake Solano was the clerk in the gas station store who told us we could use the ice machine! Filling our bottles with fresh water/drink and jammed full of ice was a huge bonus for the stop. And the final bit of great news was the tail wind out of there. Finally! We got pushed back to Pleasants Valley and started the slog home.

At this point we are all tired and used up, of course. Nobody is doing anything fast or without accompanying grunts. And this is one of the places it went a bit weird for me. I guess I just kinda tucked into my own head. I was trying desperately to ride with the guys, but I seemed to just be holding my place about 50’ ahead. I specifically tried to slow down, and the gap wouldn’t seem to narrow at all. I had to physically stop pedaling and not start again until the guys  passed me. I’d start to pedal again, and the next thing I knew, I was 50’ ahead again. Very odd. But nobody felt like chatting anyway, and we were all in sight, so I stopped worrying about it. We pulled over at some point to share some pharmaceuticals and to cheer Drew up by telling him how old, shaky and pale he looked. Ol’ Drew was NOT having his best day on the bike. He was just proud of himself for not hurling, and decided that he wasn’t feeling any better stopped, so we might as well get closer to the finish *while* he suffered. Drew was a champ, and even offered the obligatory, “I know my way home, you guys go ahead” bit. We rolled by Winters as the sun began to seriously set. After an uneventful, pleasant cruise down Putah Creek and the Russell Bike path, we rolled back into Safeway at 8:20pm. I stayed outside to call Kim and Kyra (they’ve been gone for four days and were now home waiting for ME to arrive). And when I got in line at Dos there were several people in front of me, and Drew was just finishing up his order. Then a magical thing happened. Drew, looking like hell, and wanting nothing more than to be done with this and go home… brought me a frigid pint of Hop Stoopid so I could drink it while waiting in line. I love Drew. Almost as much as I love the hose.

08.15.2012 Bodega Bay Mixed Terrain http://ridewithgps.com/trips/856371

And pictures!

Drew, Dean and Darell go camping. And beer drinking. And a bit of riding off the pavement.

08.11.2012 Marin Meanderings http://ridewithgps.com/trips/846399

Whew! We took a long time to get this one done! When all was said and done, we left the first control at 8am, and were all done with the final control at 8pm… in the dark. I was already in SF for the weekend, so I met Eric S and N, as well as Ted and the ghost of Paul Thober at the Safeway on 17th Ave near the park. The route owner stopped by to see us off.

Wet, drippy and blowing on the way out. Mid-50’s but feeling much cooler. Roads wet enough to make rooster tails and give us concern about traction. Soon after we got rolling, I started to realize how many Darell Landmarks we’d be passing. Of course I started the day from the house where Kim grew up. Then after a short while we rolled through Ross - about ¼ mile from where we were married. Minutes later we rolled past where I lived in San Anselmo for a few years after college. Then over White Hill (cowgirl found here) and into San Geronimo just half a mile from my Dad’s house.

We stopped at the Bovine Bakery for sustenance even though it wasn’t a control, then headed up to the Marshall store that WAS our control. They have good beer and GREAT smelling chowder there! I made do with some hearty green juice and water I swiped off Eric S. At this point we were headed inland into the heat, and hydration was the order of the day. Second (after sharing them with Kaitlin the Cowgirl in Lagunitas) blackberry pickings were had on the Marshall wall…. Until Eric reminded me I was right in the middle of a Strava section. I hammered up the rest of it just because it was still relatively cool. THEN it got warmer. But a nice head wind to cool us as we made our way up above Petaluma, then when we turned back toward town we had a great tail that we sailed along with. Super lunch in Petaluma – everybody was pretty saggy at this point, but in good spirits.

We then rode by the jeweler’s that made Kim’s wedding ring. Up over the flipping hot D St. hill that seemed to never end, and down toward the Cheese Factory – where I proposed to Kim (20 years ago today, in fact). A left just before the Cheese Factory, and since I hadn’t seen some our group in a bit, Eric N and I pulled over into the shade and there was the huge bunch of blackberries. I had a field day until Eric S. and Ted turned up and rode on by.

At this point in the ride, I knew exactly how we could get home – though not how the route wanted us to go (Eric’s and my GPS had issues all day). There have been a ton of new bike paths put in through Marin, so it was great fun discovering them. Having two pages of “turn in 0.1 miles onto some unmarked path” was a bit rough, but knowing the area, the landmarks, and the general direction we needed to go helped a lot. I finally got to ride through the new tunnel that connects San Rafael to Larkspur Landing. Uses the old railroad right of way through the mountain so you don’t have to ride OVER the thing with the cars. But anyway… we rode by my old elementary school (now a housing development), the second place I worked out of college, and finally our first home in San Rafael. As we neared Mill Valley, we stopped and put all of our morning clothes back on. In the last 30 minutes of riding we lost about 40 degrees and could see the fog bank again. Back through Sausalito, up the hill to the bridge and into zero visibility and wet, windy cold… with rental tandems coming the other way! We’d picked up another rider along the way who was headed back to SF, and he knew the best way to return to our control – except for one street, it turned out to be our prescribed route, so that worked out great! Back at the control by 7:45. I bought a big Racer5 to take home in my back pocket. I said farewell to the rest of the gang, and I headed off into the darkness with my dark glasses… ug.

The best news for me was that I didn’t get sick and I didn’t have a personal mechanical failure. That’s the first time in waaaay too long that I didn’t want to call it a day early. I did it! I totally used myself up – something I haven’t been able to do in a while. Something else that I managed on this ride that usually doesn’t happen too much – I was somewhat helpful in navigating!

Favorite part – the route looks like a dinosaur (tail in SF)

08.05.12 - Mt. Shasta Century

Boating pictures:

Riding pictures:

Drew, Tray, Darell riding by the house at the beginning of the century.

descent with Ford and Gishi:

Darell on the SUP:

Loading the boat. Let’s see you do THAT single-handed without the wheels.

Old Zeke swimming for the ball (check how stiff at the exit)

06.09.12 - Berkekey, Castro Valley, Davis

First from Eric:
On Jun 9, 2012, at 10:02 PM, Eric Senter <budzilla1@gmail.com> wrote:
Triple D and I rode Bruce Berg's Berkeley to Davis 200k perm today.  We finished, but I think he would agree with me that it was not a thing of beauty, with the exception of our EVNut jerseys.  Between my slowness, bonking, and cramping and his blown-out knees we set a torpid pace around the East Bay Hills and back home across the Valley.  The morning climbs in the East Bay Hills were great (if slow), but the long, hot slog back across the the valley into a quartering headwind really took it out of me.  The last 40 miles in particular were brutal and I rode at a snail's pace. Really ugly stuff.

Triple D took all the town limits sign and all the KOM's with the exception of Gibson Canyon. He was nearly in tears, but it was as much from the pain as losing the "sprint" to the summit.  I broke down 10 miles from the end with full-on leg cramps. D gave sum Tums and we limped into town.  When I got home, Liza looked at me in shock b/c I was so pale.  It turns out I wasn't suffering from hear exhaustion (well, Ok, maybe I was), but what she saw was a THICK salt rind all over my face!


Then from Darell:
On Jun 10, 2012, at 1:59 PM, "Darell (iPad)" <darelldd@gmail.com> wrote:
OK my turn. I'll give a slightly modified version of what i sent to dean in my stupor last night...

The ride was lovely. Well, it started off lovely. Perfect temps. Calm air. Stunning views. Really a spectacular beginning. I love riding down there. Then at mile ~50(!) my right knee checked out. Somewhere around Moraga, I think. I over-compensated, and ended up with the left knee being my limiting factor for the rest of the ride… but hell, I just couldn’t get either of them to fire properly. Then at some point nearing 100 miles (or maybe 75… or maybe 50 too, I don’t know!), Eric’s feet started killing him, and he began to cramp. We were *pathetic.* The good news is that we were both so slow that nobody had to worry about waiting for the other. We just both worked at getting each other home. When the headwinds really started up in earnest for the final 30 miles we were just glad to be making headway. I typically climb Cardiac quite a bit faster than we rode the second half of this thing. I'm pretty sure that this was my official worst ride ever from a pain standpoint. I was just f'd up. I tried pretending to be sympathetic to Eric’s pain every once in a while, but I don’t think I pulled it off. We’ll have to ask him. I was quite introspective for many hours. We enjoyed each other’s company… chatting for the first half of the ride, and mostly suffering in silence the second half. Our *ride* time (not elapsed time) was almost ten hours. But hey, few other cyclists passed us on the second half because nobody was silly enough to be out there headed North.

Here’s all you need to know: I had to walk part way up one of the rollers on Timm road. A freaking roller! First I almost fell over due to riding at zero mph into the wind with a pair of knees that were barking. And once my feet went down, there was no way to get enough pedal pressure to get started again. Fortunately, I wasn’t all that far from the top, and I was already ahead of Eric. Hell, he barely caught up to me while I walked (straddling the bike like some salty, spandex-clad duck – it was VERY sexy and impressive). Eric was hurting so bad by this point that he didn’t even have the courtesy to laugh. I don’t think I have EVER walked my bike up a paved section of road before. And certainly not a 6% section! Eric forgot to mention that he took this KOM as well.

I think it was pretty hot in the middle of our ride. I seem to be a bit toasty. Hell if I noticed the heat  while trying to get my pedals over the top though.

Leaving Castro Valley (Castro District as Eric calls it) we were passed on that steep pitch heading out of town by a team in matching kit on fly-weight bikes. They give us the, “We’re sorry you’re so slow, but we understand that guys with trunk bags can’t be as cool as us” look. Eric says, “I think you should catch them before the top.” We chat about it for a while, and he convinces me that it was all but mandatory. So I do it. I get past them all well before the top. The guys in the front were NOT pleased to have the green steel bike and EVnut jersey go flying by. I have to say, it felt pretty good though! I still had 25 miles of good pedaling in me after this….

Small Coke at Burger King.

Having a buddy to suffer with, along with a good source of sodium for emergencies.


And Followup from Eric:
I'll admit that my ulterior motive in getting Triple D to chase down the fly-weight snobs was to burn him out a bit and make him slower for the rest of the ride. It worked like a charm, but I regret that it had the side effect of blowing out his knees. It *was* nice to witness the defeat of the fly-weights: I was at least 100 meters behind, but I could see their shoulders sag as TD blew past them! The lead guy whipped his head around with what had to be a "WTF?" expression on his face, though I was much too far away to see it. Would that I had the chops to hang with Darell on that climb and give the pretty boys a one-two punch! Being the elder, more treacherous rider, I thought it better to hold my limited reserves for the remaining 100 miles left in the ride. Though he would do a little post-up at every town limit sign, I secretly smiled at what was his certain future demise...

Despite the horrendous salt excretion evidenced in the photo and cramps toward the end, considering the ride (lots of hills early on), heat, and wind, I think I did a passable job of electrolyte management: endurolytes, shot bloks, Nuun tabs, super salty fries and ketchup with my Burger King kids meal (I got a monster truck for a toy). Sure, I could have done better and have more work to do in managing my electrolytes, but I made it in without entirely blowing up, did not get sick, etc.

Admittedly, I was not on top of things, but an equal limiter was foot pain: there were times when I just had to stop and coast to give them a rest, and I spent a lot of time in a lower gear, which made my arse sore, then I was into the vicious ass hatchet cycle (though not as bad as the DC, thankfully)! I gotta figure that out, b/c it's been an issue all spring and appears to be getting worse.

I cannot finish without making a correction to Darell's post: he waited for me a *lot* during the ride and did more than his share of pulling across the flats and into headwinds.  I was happy that I could do some work when his knees started going south, but I had to resist the urge to wave him on and let him finish ahead of me.  The only thing that kept me from mentioning it was the fact that I knew he would be insulted by such a suggestion. Normally, I relish the opportunity to insult him, but in this case I was happy to let it pass.  Thanks, Darell, for getting me home!

One last thing: I wore Voler Sol Skins on my arms and legs the whole ride. While protecting me from the sun, that extra layer may have had an effect on how I felt during the ride though it's not easy to judge. Had the typical June pattern set up, Delta breeze in the afternoon, we'd be having a different conversation. 


04.24.2012 - VHV Mt. Howell RWGPS route

Whew. Big day for ol’ Darell yesterday.

As I sit and lick my wounds, I’m reminded that for most of you, 200k is now (or always has been) considered “wanker length” for a bike ride. I can again confirm that 200k is (and likely will remain for the foreseeable future) an epic length for me. I’m content with being an epic wanker. It still amazes me that I can ride my bike from East Davis to have lunch in St. Helena, and be back for a pre-dinner beer while the sun is still high. Certainly there are “easier” 200k’s, but I’ve never met one that I’d call easy for me. These things consume me.

Drew and I started out from the Mace Nugget a bit after 7:30 in just arm warmers and vests, and headed out to winters to find the 9am Moskowite riders getting ready to roll. We stripped down to our full summer gear and enjoyed chatting with the group for most of the way out to the dam… until the tandem train left the station. Drew and I hung with them to Moskowite (lest anybody thinks we got too much advantage from the tandems, please note that I pushed Dan and Marnelle up the first incline a couple of times!) After taking pictures at Moskowite with a green bike that could have been the twin of mine, Drew and I pointed toward St Helena and started pedaling again.

Just super, overcast weather the whole way out. Excellent pizza and root beer at Model bakery, then on up Howell Mountain with full tummies. After the awesome descent (!) we enjoyed Racer 5’s, chips and water refill at Pope valley. Then we headed for the barn. Back on home turf, poor drew gave me EVERY opportunity to sprint for the Winters town sign, and I could do nothing but leave him hanging. He slowed down. He begged me to go for it. He got no love. Right before Winters, I had to shift into the Darell Zone that allows me to finish. There’s a certain cadence and effort that’s a perfect compromise of ouch and go. I hate to lose it once I find it, so Drew took the town sign fair and square. I dare say fairer and squarer than MOST signs are contested with our group! Finished up at Nugget a bit after 5pm… with more beer. I had me a Mojo IPA from BoCo. That’s right MoJo from BoCo. And Drew picked up some Green Flash IPA. We again drank out of brown paper bags. We riders are such a classy bunch!

Drew claims it was 5 degrees too cool. I claim it was damn near perfect all day. Since we both hauled around a vest and arm warmers all day without ever putting them back on after the start, I guess we know who had the right take on the temps.

Kim (who rode to work in honor of Earth Day) called to let me know she was on the way home, so I took off from Nugget to head across the Causeway, and ran into (almost literally) Kim somewhere in the middle. We boogied on home, and met up with Kyra who hadn’t seen either of us since 7am. 145 miles and 7200' of climbing when all was said and done.

Two out of four controls were beer purchases. You just can’t have a bad day that works out so well in the beer department, ya know?

04.05.2012 125k - Millertown Crux! RWGPS route

Man! That Millertown stuff is good riding! RWGPS says about 3k of climbing and Strava says 4500. My Garmin said 4200. I’ll go with 4.2k.

Ice on the wild grasses when Dean and I headed up the trail this morning. But as usual, it was so great to have the trail almost all to ourselves just after sunrise. Dean and I chatted and took it pretty easy all the way up to Beal’s Point. We cut across Auburn-Folsom Blvd into what I have come to call “Denny Land,” and in a couple of blocks, I hear “POING!” and Dean has come to a grinding halt. His second broken spoke in a week. Dean “I’m sure glad Darell sold me these wheels” Albright is not looking forward to the remaining five hours of climbing and descending on a marginal wheel, but *I’m* sure willing to have him try, as long as he rides behind me. Out comes the Fiber Spoke and we give it a whirl. The threaded part of the broken spoke seems to be stuck in the nipple, and the two old guys with failing eyesight are having a hell of a time trying to stuff the round peg in the square hole. After several tries and several photographs, Dean looks up and says, “Uh… you should probably go if you want to make the control.” Oops. That’s one of the problems with these “short” rides. Especially the ones that start out up-hill. That first in-route control really sneaks up on you.

Now, if you ever wonder why you should bother printing out a route sheet when you’re riding with the route owner… here’s why! I felt like a dolt because today was one of the very few times I didn’t bother with the route sheet. Jeez. Dean was generous enough to hand over his sheet, and I scampered off on my own.

This is REALLY a great ride. Some of the best little roads in the area, for sure. Seems like the best way up to Auburn, followed by the best way back down. Just my kind of ride too! There you are, rolling by a babbling brook with nothing but little homes and farms. Dogs sleeping in the sun. Cows giving you the lazy eye. Then suddenly, BAM! Wall. You hump up the thing and when you just get back into the spinning groove, BAM. Wall. Repeat. Cute little one-lane roads winding by creeks and through fields and farms. Truly stunning scenery. Then you suffer through the Auburn traffic a bit, have some lunch in town, and Weeee! Rollercoaster ride back down. The only bummer was the stiff headwind all the way back down the Trail…. Staring right into the maw of whatever that huge black cloud to the West was (that blew some CRAZY wind, and even rained on us a bit during the beer-drinking portion of the afternoon). Lots of time-trialers out today. Cracks me up when they tuck in behind me on their super aero machines with the lacy little bars. They sure don’t like it when I catch up to them and tuck in, but they seem to have no problems helping themselves to MY wheel!

The Crux goes into the books as one of my favorite pops for sure. Next time it’ll be fun to do it with some company!

09.05.2011 200k - KJ's Way. RWGPS Route

My R9 was another go at KJ's way from Davis to Auburn. The day was filled with route records, personal records and no end of fun. My new-to-cycling neighbor Greg would accompany Ford and me for the first 35 miles, then return home for his longest-ever ride of 70 miles. Since our complete ride would be 140 miles, this had a nice symmetry to it.

With bananas purchased, the three of us headed out of Safeway at the stroke of 6am in pretty much complete darkness. After dodging a few bats returning to roost at the underpass, and just before the turn East at Ikeda's, "POW, FSShsshssshhs, whack, whack, whak. Greg - who has never had a flat - managed to pick up a huge, folded nail. The sharp tip AND the blunt head passed through the tire and both layers of tube - where ONE leg of this staple-shaped thing then bent 90 degrees. It was like the brads you used to hold paper together with, and it would NOT pull out. I finally got it straightened enough with my multi tool to yank it all the way through the (now gaping) hole in the tire. Booted the tire, replaced the tube, and we were back on our way. The good news is that it was now light out. The bad news was that this (along with the potty stops - stay tuned) sort of set the tone for the rest of the ride. With everybody in good humor, and a nice cool morning, we headed into the beautiful sunrise across the causeway. I played with a flock of these little black birds that would fly in a bunch up and over the trail, then all land on the railing 10 yards ahead of us. When we reached them, they'd repeat the pattern. At one point, I sprinted up to them and managed to get right into the group before they could launch. I was sort if IN them and the whole group flew directly over me for a bit, then decided the other side of the freeway might be more fun. It was pretty neat.

First (of many!) pee stops on West Capital (Shell station). Let me mention here that the day before this ride, I had my high school/college buddy up for the day. Much of our relationship is based on beer drinking. Suffice it to say that we sampled much of what Davis has to offer in that regard. It started before lunch with a half gallon of Imperial Pilsner that I'd picked up at Sudwerk on Friday. It just got better from there. And after sleeping a bit less than three hours before the ride, the... uh... hydration of the day before came back to haunt me on this ride. For the first half I had to pee about every 45 minutes. So anyway...Across Tower bridge we go, illegal left into Old Town and, "psssssss." Deb's front tire is flat. This one is goathead. New tube in there, and we're ready to go. We roll down to the road that bypasses the cobbles and it is dirt. No, it isn't "dirty" it is dirt.
Thousands of yards of dirt has been imported and piled on the roadway for "Gold Rush Days." They have horses and carriages. Everybody is readying for the day's festivities. And we're riding on this dirt that is alternately deep and loose... and hard and hoof-divoted. We cussed the route owner since there wasn't anything else to do.

I think I made it all the way to William Pond before I desperately had to pee again. The trail is starting to come alive, and there is plenty of action, but nothing out of the ordinary. There's a detour for construction on the path, so we get some bone-shaker frost heaves for a stretch. Pretty area that I hadn't seen before though. Lots of elderberry and blackberry.
Greg isn't quite at mile 35 when we reach William Pond, so his plan is to continue on with us until he reaches the magic number. With full bottles and empty bladders we head up the trail. After a few miles, we bid Greg farewell and he heads for home. In a few more miles, the huge sprinklers are going, and they're spraying all over the trail - starting from OUR side. We slow up and try to borrow a bit of the other-direction trail, but get yelled at by the cyclists coming the other way (guys, really? You can't share a bit?). At the hatchery, there are new bike trails going every which way it seems. UP to the bridge directly. Under the bridge. Beside the bridge? Hell if we can figure out which one takes us where we need to be. And none of them are marked in any fashion. We watch to see how others are doing it, and it seems that NONE of the 100's of bikers we see are going from where we are to where we want to be... nor are they doing what we want in the opposite direction. We take a stab at it, and it seems we failed. So we just took the East side of the bridge sidewalk across and the steep trail back down to the main trail. On the way back it was easy to figure out what we should have done and how we screwed up. We know for next time.

Yet another pee stop before the Beal's climb. Poor woman is trying to repair her flat tire, and just as I come out of the potty, "FFSSSSSSShit! She tore the stem off her (shrader) tire. Not really anything we could do for her, but we both felt bad leaving her there. At Beal's point we fill up our bottles with nice cool water since I know from experience that we're on our own from here to the turn-around. And hey - might as well pee again too, right? Onto Folsom-Auburn, and we get our own, new lane! Of course we have to dodge the cones and the pesky "lane closed" signs, but on balance, it is quite pleasant being totally separated from traffic. While the pavement looks all goey and tacky, it isn't. Hell, the dust from Old Town is still on our tires! It is a great, smooth roll. With help from a fellow cyclist, we take note of the Eureka intersection for the return trip - that's our beer ticket turn to Denny's!

11:30 in Auburn, and it is pretty damn hot. But standing in the Starbucks AC to buy sandwiches and drinks returns us to operating temps and we sit outside in the shade with shoes off. I call Greg and find that he made it home with his 70 miles at about the same time we made OUR ~70 miles. And I call Denny so he knows where we are and when. Back down the hill with full bottles and full bellies. The way down is so nice! We make the Eureka turn... we make sure we don't get hit at the intersection where Denny was just hit... and we eventually find the party. Of course we're in the front looking through the windows, and they're all in the back. WITH BEER. They don't hear the knocking, so we go cross-country and make our way back over the abandoned well and the hot tub. There's instantly a frosty Lagunitas IPA in my hand. Ahhh. Shoes off. Sitting in the shade. Chatting with old and new friends. Suddenly my bottle is empty and Denny is forcing another one on me. The first one took all of three minutes. The second one I  s t r e t c h e d out of five minutes. When the food was ready I begged off and said I didn't want any. Then I saw it. I filled my plate with pasta and BBQ chicken. When one of Denny's highly-trained assistance offered me yet another beer, I didn't even pretend that I didn't want it. This wasn't a day for amateurs!

An hour and a half later we made our way back to the course with great food and beer in us, and bottles filled with fresh, cold water. Down the trail, and just before the dam, I hear, "Damn it. I'm flat" from behind. This time Deb's rear tire. At the rate we're going through tubes, I figure we'd better start patching. This one was a pinch, but easy to fix with a small patch. We took our time in the shade and once again very closely inspected all tires before heading along. At about 5pm, the trail was quite empty and pleasant. TONS of rafters on the river having a great day of it. We took one more water break at William Pond where I called Dean, and Deb went begging for both ice AND ice water. My call to Dean failed but Deb seriously came through.

We crossed Old town this time on the knotted boardwalk. I was worried that there would still be crowds and lots of activity on the dirt... it probably wasn't the case, but this made for more adventure, right? Honestly, I'm not sure which is worse to ride on - the unpredictable dirt, the cobbles or the boards. But I'm here to say that I've done them all! No more drama until we were just about off of West Capital when I tell Deb that it feels like I have a flat. Nothing looks flat, but hell if I can steer, and the smooth pavement sure feels rough! I was delirious or blind with sweat - I just couldn't see that I was riding on my front rim. In the shade of an abandoned building, I change the final flat of the day. Another goathead. I use the patch kit and pump. We again inspect every tire, and we're on our way. Next thing you know, we're passing under the bat underpass on Covell, and they're making a huge racket - must be readying to head OUT now at 7:15. Back at the cars we take our time changing and storing bikes. Then we head over to buy the cold water we've been dreaming about.

Four flats (with 2.25 riders)
Three *real* beers
6.6 mile beer detour
One construction detour
One Gold Rush Days detour
Most pee stops
Longest ever 200k-ish finish at about 13.4 hours

08.07.2011 Mt. Shasta Summit Century. Pictures - Garmin Route - RWGPS Route

I’m not sure if this was the hardest ride I’ve done. And I know it would have been different for me if I wasn’t just coming off a week+ of sinus infection. All I can say for sure is that I’ve done some hard rides in my short riding career - and this was one of them.

I don’t think the Shasta Summit Century gets enough credit for what a difficult, beautiful, well-run event it is. Fabulous roads. Un-crowded. Almost no traffic. Exceptional staffing, signage, marking, food. Riders don’t get stickers for completing anything. We just get the views and the back-slaps. The volunteers are genuinely in awe when you get it done, but for the most part it isn’t obvious how hard the ride is until you start to turn the pedals. If I had to choose one favorite thing from the ride (hard to do!) it would be the roads – the generally great pavement, the beauty and the almost ZERO traffic the entire day. Where there was any traffic expected, there were relevant signs on the road both for the cars and the cyclists. The markings on the road were the best I’ve ever seen. Not in the margin. Not little stickers. But HUGE 4’ long arrows right in the middle of the road! And if that weren’t enough, the cue sheet was PERFECT, even though it wasn’t needed because of the great markings!

By design, I rode this thing about 95% by my lonesome. I ended up seeing four other DBC riders out there. Joaquin and Carolyn Reagan were among them. I recognized the others, but don’t know their names. We all only saw each other in passing (me usually screaming down a descent), though Joaquin and I saw each other regularly at the rest stops until he threw the towel in before the Shasta Climb. Riding alone, I could spit, fart and pass out at my leisure without having to check in with anybody. That worked out great. This ride about killed me, and I loved it.

I haven’t had a fever in three days, but the sinuses are still swollen and making my teeth hurt. I make snot like a factory and my jaw hurts from a chronic cough. But the beauty of this ride is that after the first 30 miles, you can turn around anywhere, and roll down hill back to the start/finish. It is likely that one of the big (ironic) reasons I finished is because I knew how easy it would be to give up, and check out early. So with not much to lose, I headed out of the log house at 6:15 (perfect 50 degrees!) with arm and knee warmers, a vest and my DBC kit. I grabbed some fruit at the check-in and headed out onto the course at 6:30 – the beginning of the start window for my century group. I was about to try riding with a guy I chatted with at registration when he pulled an amazing bone-head move of cutting off a car… and that began my solo journey.  We first head North to Weed along awesome country roads – with Mt. Shasta ALWAYS looming in the not-so-distance. When dawn broke, I swear you could hear the angles… and the cows. I rode slow enough to bore the snails. Infuriatingly slow. I knew this was my only chance to finish, and I had no time constraints, so what the hell. In just a couple of miles I began to close on a small group of riders and wondered how I could possibly be catching anybody. When I finally “caught” them, a brief chat revealed that they were on the 25 mile family ride and left an hour before me to have a chance at making it to the lunch stop before it closed (!) The first rest at mile 21 is in Weed, and Joaquin and I were surprised to run into each other. Out of context and all that. We said howdy but nobody suggested riding together. We said howdy again three more times at each rest stop… but never saw each other on the road. The fresh melon at all the stops was *awesome* - as was the unlimited ice water.

By mile 35, there have been no real “climbs” but my Garmin shows that I already have 2,000’ feet in my legs on (mostly) rollers. And it’s at that point that I roll right past our house. So I lean the bike on the mailbox, strip the vest and warmers and leave them on the stairs to our flat. How’s that for a great bag drop? Down past Lake Siskiyou and across the dam… up the South shore. Single-lane along the main feeder creek. Looks like a large-scale Mix Canyon but without the 20+% grades. This is our first climb. Sort of a practice 1500’. I’ve done this one before. Seems like so much more than 1500’. Second rest stop at the turnaround of this climb (the super century guys keep going a bit beyond), and back down the hill we go. Why are people so bad at descending? Hard to pass on the twisty, single-lane road… especially with loose dogs half way down. :jeez: They belonged to a jogger and were no problem, but you don’t know that when you first encounter them – and you’re already sharing the single lane with up-hill and down-hill riders! In general there was not only very little car traffic, but also very light bike traffic (and no crowding at any of the rest stops). And in general folks were skilled and courteous. But there’s always something/somebody….  On this descent the muscle just above and inside both knees started to cramp. Never done that before! Took some calcium pills. Didn’t help. Took more. It helped.

Before crossing the dam again, we head up to Castle lake. I’ve done this one too - back when I first started riding on the Scott. I recall having to stop several times to rest. Not today. Humped it all the way up in one go, and this is the only place where I rode with and chatted with another rider. Was fun while it lasted and he has lots of experience with this ride. I learned a lot. Top of Castle and there was Joaquin again (how? I  thought I left the last rest before him, and nobody passed me). And he looked like shit. Said he’d throw in the towel after lunch. My feet were painfully swollen, and I waded into the lake to cool ‘em down. Like HEAVEN! Lesson learned at this rest stop – don’t bother to eat. Lunch is 15 minutes away at the bottom of the hill (no effort to get there). Don’t need food or water. Just hop in the lake and get back on the bike. Screaming descent with the most amazing views of Mt. S - down to a big lunch spread at the golf course. HUGE lawn. Easy to spread out and have lunch next to your bike. There was Joaquin again, asking the most direct route back to his car.

So I ate a huge lunch at about noon… and it was time for the big one. 4600’ of elevation gain - AT elevation - in one go. Not something I’m well designed for, but something I’m determined to at least try. I ache from toe to head. I feel like I’ve been on the BBQ an hour too long. I’m bloated from lunch. My feet are swollen and I have the unbridled energy of a marathon napper. I’m at mile 70 with 6,000’ under my belt. What could go wrong? This isn’t a steep climb. On paper it shouldn’t be a hard climb. It simply goes on forever. 15 miles of literally never-ended elevation increase. There is NO flat or down. 100% up. The beauty is that there are two rest stops on the way up. This is one reason why I’d have a hell of a time doing this self-supported. Ice water and treats provided on the climb. Yay! I have found all day that I’m emptying both water bottles between every rest stop (!). It is so great not having to worry where to find the next water. And the water is the best in the world AND cold. Have I mentioned that the first part of this thing is HOT with no shade? And the mountain shields from any air movement. Hot, still, thin air. Ready to climb? Better get comfortable on the bike because this is a relentless (well, except for the rest stops!) 3-hour climb. I mean if you don’t stop and lollygag like I did. As you climb away from town, it isn’t particularly pretty, it is miserably hot and exposed. It is noon. And the steepest section is staring at you in the face. Once you pass the first snow gate in a couple of miles, the getting gets better. The road is astonishingly beautiful, and it calms down to a pleasant if not steeper-feeling-than-it-should 6%. And shade. Glorious shade. After a bit the natural AC kicks in as the breeze comes off the snow at the top. As far as hot, tired climbs go, it doesn’t get much better than this. An hour later a bit of that awe and wonder has worn off… but there’s the water stop! Here’s how tired I was – I let the guy valet park my bike! Of course that was AFTER he told me all about HIS custom steel bike.  :) In the next hour I came to snow on the side of the road… and started seeing riders descending. But they weren’t summit riders. They were locals. Jeans, boots, baseball cap on backwards. Cruisers and Mt. Bikes. They pile a bunch of bikes in a pickup, and somebody runs them to the top, and they come flying down. I really started to wonder why I wasn’t seeing any other summit riders coming down. Not one. In the final hour of the climb I finally saw them start to trickle down. A tandem was the third one – was awesome to hear it go by at 50+ mph. wow! The final pitch is truly inspiring. There’s the snow-covered summit right there behind these switch-backs that cut through a moonscape of raw earth. And the rest stop perched right there with snow all around.

Now I need to rewind a bit and mention that I’ve stepped off the bike into the shade several times on this thing. Heart pounding in my chest. Swollen feet burning. Sweat blinding me. I’ve been in my 28 rear cog the entire time. Never pushing it. Really going as slow as I could. And this is the same for the previous climbs as well. I wore my HR monitory for this one, so I even have proof of how consistent I was putting out the mild effort. After an accumulated 9,000’ of climbing I was reminded of two things – that I wasn’t quite better from my sinus infection, and that I was at elevation. I started to get that same barfy feeling I had at the Lair this year. The good news is that I played it MUCH smarter this time around - when that feeling started, I would simply step off and let it pass. In this way, I would see the same few riders that were near me time after time. We leap-frogged for hours. When the summit was in view, I was feeling enough elation to sort of ignore the barfy feeling, and press on. I got to the top and had trouble getting off my bike and standing up. Somebody offered to take a picture. I about laughed out loud, but instead said “OK” and that picture came out pretty well! This is where I was told that I only had to hang on to the finish. No pedaling needed EVER. Not even a slight flat or up-hill pitch. I enjoyed the views, chatted with all the people I could only grunt to on the climbs, and then asked why there were so few descenders. Well, it turns out the reason was that I was the 28th person to the top of the damn thing. Not very many people complete this thing. The poorest record are those who try the super-century. This is everybody’s final climb, and a huge percentage of the riders just can’t get motivated after lunch.

So the fly back down is AMAZING as I expected it would be. Just moments after I left the summit (after negotiating the gravel and frost heave sections of the very top) and I started the brake-free roll down to reality from the top of the world - everything about the day hit me and I started to get emotional. I can’t believe I freaking did it. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t make it when I started this ride. I gave myself tons of excuses as to why there was no honor lost in bailing early. I knew that nobody would lose respect for me if I terminated early. I wanted to turn around about 20 times on the final climb. But here I was. A super feeling to be “done” and with 15 miles of the most scenic descent still ahead of me. Man! I got choked up. At this moment I was really missing my riding buddies. I would have loved to share this part! Then, just as quickly as that moment came to me, every muscle and joint seemed to seize up on me and hurt. Knees screaming. Back screaming. Cramps. Gaaa. After all that effort, then holding still in the cool air – not a great combo for me! The thrill of the descent starts to take my mind off the pain though.

Now I get to see a LONG, spread-out train of climbers. Usually solo, sometimes in pairs. NO groups at all. I probably see 50 total in the 15 mile descent. Half are staring at the front wheel. The other half give thumbs up as I shoot by. The views are so great, and my back hurts so much that I eventually give up on my aero tuck and just become a holiday rider. I hit the finish at 4:10. Total elapsed time of 9:40… and only 30 riders finished before me?? At the finish are the now-standard zero crowds. Plenty of shady tables. Great salad and lasagna. But my sinuses were so stuffed from the fast descent that I can’t hear anything the servers are asking. I just keep pointing to my plate and they keep piling on the food. I get extra cookies because they just want me to move along at this point. I suck it down like I’m starving. Roll down to the Sacramento Headwaters (have you guys seen this?) – it is where the Sac river starts. Just 100’ from the start/finish of this ride. The water bubbles out of the earth and begins the journey down to us. The locals all climb out on the rocks and fill their bottles. They do prayer circles here and burn incense. It is all very “Mt. Shasta.” So my final act of the day was to fill my empty water bottle with this “best in the world” water. I toasted myself with the fresh, cold nectar of the mountain, guzzled it down, and very slowly spun the 2.5 miles back to the log house. Beer. Shower. Margaritas by the campfire.

The stuffed sinus thing turned out to be a bigger deal than I thought. I was still so swollen by bed time that when I attempted my evening sinus rinse that the stuff went up one nostril just great, but wouldn’t come out the other. Yikes! After another hot shower, the steam finally did the trick, and things are back to (my current) normal again in the sinus department. On the day I consumed eight Ibuprofen. Four Pepto-Bismol (crappy stomach from the start) and six ant-acids (cramps)

05.14.2011. Berkeley to Davis via Castro Valley. Pictures - Route

Well, Dean and Drew covered the highlights pretty well. Now it is my turn to bore you with the Darell Spin

My weekend really started late Friday night. Original plan was to pick up Kim at SFO at about 9:30pm. I figured that gets me to bed later than I want before a ride, but not terrible. Well… the call doesn’t come in until 10:30… the only good news is that the pickup is now in Orinda instead of SFO. Bottom line is that I’m not home until about 1am, and have trouble getting to sleep. I finally hit it at about 2:30am. Then the alarm goes off at 6:30. As I’m packing my stuff, I see that my GPS is on… and showing red battery. Been on all night. I quickly plug it in to try and get one hour of charge on it. I’m crazy tired, and have a dead GPS. Things aren’t off to a great start, but I’m really looking forward to the ride.

I made the wise decision to go with a wool base layer – and was perfectly dressed all day. I changed out of my ear warmers once, and realized it was a mistake. I wore the ears the rest of the day, and thought many times of the “Furzilla Advantage”. Only once, and for a short time, did it get to what anybody called “warm.” The whole day was perfect climbing weather. Arm warmers, vest, knee warmers, wool socks. Really, only my feet ever got cold – which just seems normal for me… (this was most obvious during the showering phase of the day when my feet almost painfully tingled.)

I met the guys at the Davis train station about 10 minutes before boarding – train was on time and we loaded up and sat very near our bikes to make us feel better. I enjoyed the train ride – having never done it that direction. It was fun trying to figure out where we were, as the tracks go through places that we just never see otherwise. I know Berkeley reasonably well, and it was a simple matter to lead the guys up Hearst to our start point at Peet’s.

I love Peet’s. Not only is the coffee good, but they have the best restrooms of any control I’ve ever used! Big, clean, stocked and the best part – clothing hook on the back of the doors! If I ever meet Peet, I’ll tell him personally of my appreciation. Hmmm. This reminds me that I owe Drew a coffee too…

After wiping down the Rex (removing Dean’s smudge AND the cough goo), and with GPS loaded and partially charged, I led the way out of the Berkeley start. Let me just say here, that the GPS routing worked PERFECTLY (right up until the battery died in familiar territory). The only times on the whole trip where we weren’t 100% confident is when the route sheet said something different than my GPS. And in EVERY instance my GPS was correct, and the route sheet wrong. It isn’t often (OK, never) that I lead the way on these rides through unfamiliar territory – but I did this time and it worked out great. Several fussy little turns to get us through and out of town. First order of business was to head AWAY from home, of course. So we’re off to Castro Valley.

Great rides on roads we’ve never been on. I particularly enjoyed going up Tunnel Road that passes through the “Firestorm” area above the Caldecott tunnels. I remember that fire vividly, and it is amazing to see the place look all built up again. The whole trip to Castro Valley was beautiful with very low traffic, and perfect, cool weather. Some great climbing along quiet (except for one passing scooter gang!), forested roads. A bit of confusion on what we could use for a control in Castro Valley - but it all worked out fine. I buy something at the real (Peet’s again) control, and get extra receipts for Drew and Dean who bought everything at Safeway. Full of sandwiches and liquids, it was time to truly head for home, now almost exactly 100 miles away. We backtrack just a short while, and pick up a couple of new friends – one on a new custom steel bike by Jeff Lyon in Oregon. He and I (no names exchanged) talked at length about bikes and builders and such – and the reasons for some of the choices we’d made. The riders were from the area, and wanted to know the route we would take. At the top of our climb together, my new steel buddy let me know that the best descent of our journey was starting RIGHT NOW!. And man it was great. Super twisty and just the right grade for flying. AWESOME.

In Cordelia, I have my first hamburger in about a year. I’m skeptical about how well this will work – having not eaten anything similar on a long ride before, and knowing that red meat just doesn’t sit all that well with me in the best of conditions. It tastes great and is finished in about 13 seconds. I’m done before Drew can even go inside and order his! And no problems from it on the rest of the ride… in fact I enjoyed that burger several more times before reaching Davis. But the big news is that I decided to go with a “large” Coke. Understand here that I don’t frequent fast-food burger places… and innocent me figured that “large” would be something like 16oz. Like the size of bottle I would have purchased at the minimart. I didn’t want to be stuck with a little taste you see – I was ready for some real sugar and caffeine. Well hell… he hands me this plastic cup that could be used to bail water out of the ocean. It had to be at least 32oz – and there’s more good news – I’m told the large is even refillable! Good lord. Impossibly big! I fill it and finish it all.

By this time Dean is suffering like a champ and Drew and I insult him as often as possible to keep his spirits up. Dean is sure that he’s “catching us” on every descent – he’s a bit delirious and doesn’t notice that we’re basically stopping to wait for him on the way down after every climb. Hey… it keeps him happy and rolling, so it’s all good.

The clouds clear up a bit by Fairfield and the sky is beautiful and giving us long shadows. I love this time of day. We have a tail wind, and it is a perfect temp. There is ZERO traffic. We can use the whole road without worry. Apparently nobody drives out there between Fairfield and Davis after 6:30 on Saturday. We’re now into very familiar territory. We get to roll on autopilot. BEEP. Battery low on my GPS. It finally shuts down 45 minutes later at mile 105 or so. Almost made it! The route sheet is a bit screwed up through Old Davis and campus, but I can ride that with my eyes closed, of course. We are in great spirits when we roll into F st. Starbucks. Dean makes a final purchase and gets receipts for everybody. Dean has his R12. I’m at five and Drew is at two. We rode the entire thing together, and had a super day. No machine mechanicals – Dean’s knee is the only drama really. I’m tired from lack of sleep, but not ready to quit. It is 8pm, and we talk about trying to make it to the BFF by 9pm. Jeez… I’ll be home where there is a hot shower and cold beer and the girls are gone for the weekend at an over-night girl scout thing (at mild elevation – more on that in a moment!). I won’t confirm that I’ll make it to BFF but we agree to call when we all decide what’s happening.

I mount up and FLY home. Middle of the road, keeping up with traffic. I was feeling pretty good. Dean’s pace really saved me from myself. While my personal mechanicals weren’t doing great, they were doing better than they usually do usual after 130+ miles. My engine was rarin’ to go. Got home, grabbed a protein drink, stripped and hit the shower. Fed the dog, dressed, and jumped in the EV. Gave Dean a call, and it turns out I’m just a couple of minutes behind him. When I get to Hot Italian, Dean has managed to hobble half-way down the block from his parking space, and he waits for me to park and join him. We’re in Hot Italian having our first Racer5 just 43 minutes after we bumped fists at Starbucks! The difference is that I’m clean and smelling pretty… Dean not so much. Dean called Lori to have her order our beer ahead of time, so no waiting when we arrived. How cool is that? And how did Dean know what I’d want??? A bit after 9, we head across the road to the BFF and what’s this? A beer garden! Torpedo on tap and a couple of neat give-aways. Dean and Lori bought my beer at Hot Italian, so I returned the favor at the beer garden. Drew calls just as we’re having our first sips, and he’s on the way with chairs. Moments later, the three of us are together yet again. We watch the movies (sort of ) and drink the beer (for certain). We say goodbye to Lori and Dean’s friends – then DD, DA, DC and Lori head to Hot Italian for pizza.

I finally get home late – no idea what time – and start catching up on emails and such. The idea is that I’ll have all day Sunday to sleep in so I don’t worry about the time or my previous lack of sleep. I finally get in bed at 2am (again!) after turning off all the phones and pulling the shades. Next thing I know, Zeke is flipping out and somebody is climbing the stairs. It is 7am and Kim and Kyra are home. Turns out the girl scout cabin in Somerset where they were staying had lost power (and water) and were experiencing real snow. Everybody had to leave before they got stuck, so at 4am, everybody was shooed out. I try to sleep the rest of the morning, but my promise of a totally quiet Sunday is gone, and so are any real hopes of sleep.

Here I sit, bleary-eyed and wondering just how long it’ll take me to catch up on the Z’s.

- Darell


And from Dean:

I awoke to a tender knee yesterday AM, but it wasn't terrible.  I did a little research on Friday and figured-out that I have an Iliotibial Band Syndrome or "ITB knee".  This doesn't shock me, of course, because my IT bands are super tight.  My massage therapists and yoga instructors always seem amazed at this.  Karen taught her first "yoga for cyclists" class last week and said everyone in the class suffered from the same inflexibility.  No shock there.  I decided to experiment and use KT Tape.  Lori helped me with the tape application on Friday night so I'd be ready to go in the AM.

I arrived at the Amtrak station in Davis first.  I had prepaid for my ticket online the night before, and had printed a scannable confirmation sheet, which was great because there was a slow moving line at the ticket window.  I just walked up to the ticket machine and flashed my bar-coded paper under the machine's scanner, which then spit out a ticket.  Love that.  It was chilly standing outside waiting for the train to arrive, and I wondered if not wearing a base layer was a mistake.

Anyway, had a pleasant train ride with the guys.  Darell and I had to keep an eye on our bikes hanging in the racks because the velcro was so worn-out from use that it barely worked.  They kept coming loose and swinging around.

When we arrived in Bezerkeley we disembarked and had a pleasant 3-mile spin to the Peets Coffee start control at Walnut and Vine (Peets was barely identifiable....they should get a sign).  We arrived an hour early, so we hung-out with our bikes outside and drank coffee.  We watched a homeless guy walking by as he loudly hacked on Darell's bike.  Ick.  We had the typical conversation with some people where we describe what we're doing and then watch as they wrap their heads around it.  While Darell is inside Peets I put a smudge on his frame for good luck, as has become my ritual.

At 10:30AM we roll.  First through urban streets, then up Grizzly Peak.  My eyes water from the cold air in my face.  It's still overcast and cool, which is great for climbing.  I go kinda easy to protect my knee.  We link-up with a guy on a TT bike who rides with us to the top.  We then seem to traverse on rollers along the top of the mountain.  I realize that without my compass I'd have no idea what direction we're heading because it's completely overcast.  At mile 11.68, my knee starts letting me know there's an issue.

We ride through some beautiful new terrain, with some great, winding descents, and eventually end up at the Castrol Valley control 26 miles into the ride.  About a mile before the control there's a little bump that seemed a steep....it's hard to perceive because of the overcast skies....so I glance at my Garmin and it reads 14%.  It's lunch time, so Drew and I get sandwiches at Safeway, and then join Darell at Peets Coffee to obtain our proof of passage.  As we roll-out my knee is stiff.

Heading back up Redwood Road we are joined by two guys, one on a custom rando bike with wool knee socks, knickers and a beanie (no helmet), and the other in a Grizzly Peak wind breaker.  The Grizzly Peak guy says he's planning to ride the Davis Double the next weekend.  I sit off the back keeping the guys in view and trying to minimize the stress on my knee.  We ride north, through some new beautiful climbs, which finish with a great, winding descent into Moraga.  My eyes still watering from the cold air.  We ride through Orinda, past San Pablo Reservoir.  We are riding into a headwind at this point, so I move to the front to give Darell a break from pulling.  We stop at Castro Ranch Road for a quick pee stop, and then on to Pinole.

As we work through Pinole and Hercules we are continually stopped at red lights.  Darell and I eat while rolling.  Darell eats a lot while rolling, all day long.  I start thinking he could be a hobit, but I reason his feet aren't big or harry enough.

Our green light karma has been used-up.  Every time we have to start and stop, my knee gives me trouble.  I can no longer accellerate quickly to get moving through the lights.  And it seems like there is a slight hill to go over after every stop light.  The guys pull away, and then I catch them on the down hill.  At least the extra 5-pounds of crap in my pod pays-off on the descents!

We roll through the refineries on our way to the Carquinez Bridge.  I watch to see if EVnut explodes resulting in a mini-mushroom cloud above the green Rex, but he does not.  He begins to analyze the differing petroleum odors.  The climbs near there are really taking their toll on my knee.  Occasionally I feel a twinge in my hip now, and my neck issue feels like it's returning.  I try to push those thoughts deep down inside.  We're not even half-way home yet.

The bridge crossing is quite pleasant.  We have a tail wind.  It is Darell's first time crossing the bridge, and I think Drew's also.  We seem to hit every red light in Martinez, which aggravates my knee even more.  I crawl up the hill on the Columbus Parkway.  I do the same on the Lake Herman Road rollers, but bomb down the descents.  We have a great tailwind on Lopes Road, but my knee is not allowing me to take full advantage of it.  What a waste.

When we roll into the Union 76 control at Cordelia, I can barely get off my bike.  My knee is useless.  The overcompensation is taking its toll on my left leg now, and the other end of my IT band at my hip is feeling the stress.  The Union 76 doesn't have any real food, so we each buy a drink and then head over to the Burger King for some hot food.  The sun finally pokes through the clouds.  We sit outside and eat our burgers.  Darell drinks his massive, super-size Coke.

When we roll out of the control Drew and I get stopped at the light just before the I-80 overpass; Darell rolls on.  When the light turns green, Drew goes through, but I can barely remount my bike and have to wait.  Drew rolls on.  The light turns green.  I mount my bike, but I can't quickly accellerate, and the light turns yellow.  It turns red as I cross the other side.  I climb the overpass at about 4MPH, using my upper body to support myself as my left leg works to haul my lifeless, stiff right leg around the crank.  I think to myself, "It only hurts when I bend it."  As I crest the overpass I see Darell down the road looking back, probably wondering what the hell happened.

Later, as we roll through the rotary onto Abernathy Road, there is a guy holding a sign over his head telling us the world is going to end.  Darell engages him in a rolling 5 second philosophical/religious conversation in which he asks the guy for all his money since he won't need it.  We still have a week before the world is going to end, so we move on.

Fucking Hilborn.  We of course get stopped by the light at the base of the climb.  Same routine as before, slowly hauling my ass up the hill using every part of my body except my right leg, then bomb down the other side, all the time being greatful for the tail wind.  Cup half full.  Beautiful atmospheric perspective to the west, with the sun punching through the clouds, the sea of grass on the rolling green hills flowing in the wind.  We admire this as we roll home on Cantelow and Timm Road.  A sharp, dagger-like pain stabs at my knee.  I let out a groan.  Drew says, "That's not good."

We stop on Timm Road by the 505 for a pee break.  It feels like we're in the eye of the storm.  We call our spouses to check in.  We roll.  A platoon of hay harvesters pass by us going in the opposite direction, and then we're alone on the flat roads outside Davis.  Darell gives me a push.  We chat.  More jokes.  We take some pics.  Then we're in Davis.  Pass by the Mondavi Center.  Darell shows us the newest Davis addition: "sharrows".  At an intersection the cars hesitate too long so I take the initiative and roll through so I don't have to start and stop yet another time.  We roll up to the final control....Posh Bagel is closed, so we go to Starbucks.  Again, I can barely dismount.

Done.  High-fives all around.  R-12 complete.  It is a strange feeling for me because I feel like my motor is good and I'm not tired, but my knee kept me from riding strong.  Darell says the same....I kept him from using himself up.  We go our separate ways and plan to meet-up at the Bicycle Film Festival in Sac.  I get to the Suburban in the Amtrak park-and-ride.  I can barely maneuver to change my clothes.  I groan and whince with pain everytime I move.  But the promise of a Racer5 on tap at Hot Italian with Lori and friends keeps me going...


And from DREW

It was a bit chilly riding to it, but we met at the train station about 7:30am.  Found a train car that holds bikes (3 anyway, but one slot already taken).  Ride to Berkeley fairly uneventful, but the fare is kind of pricey - $22 one way!  We got to Berkeley on time, found our way to the first control (Peets on Vine) and killed almost an hour waiting for 10:30 start time. 

Finally underway, we ride urban through town a mile or two, and start our climb up to Skyline.  It was cloudy, cool and a bit breezy.  We were all dressed similarly, except I brought no knee warmers (and I don't as yet have any cool club kit like the other guys were wearing).  I was fine as long as we were cycling, but stops were a bit cool all day.  We kept our pace pretty sane, and really enjoyed the scenery along the route to Castro valley.  Car traffic was pretty light, and there were almost as many cyclists as cars. 

Second control (about mile 25) in Castro at a Peets again, but it's 12:30 - lunch time. Dean and I eat a sandwich from Safeway next door; Darell has a sandwich he brought (in addition to snacking almost all the time while riding, as usual).  We get receipts and double back out of Castro Valley, until we turn right (West), toward Moraga.  This part may have been the prettiest part of the ride.  Gentle climbs and descents in a forested area, dark enough with the cloud cover to wish I had clear lenses instead of sunglasses.  I don't think any of us had been there before.  Darell especially like the turns. 

I think Dean's knee wasn't great when we started the Perm, and he did try to take it easy on the climbs.  It seemed to me to get progressively worse, but he never complained.  I thought he was in remarkably good spirits considering.  He can fill us in on this from his perspective.

Long straight ride with gentle rollers from Moraga to Pinole.  Lots of scenery, good pavement, and mostly with a bike lane.  Richmond and Vallejo?  Well, ya gotta get through it, and traffic and the road wasn't bad.  Nuff said.  Carquinez bridge was pretty, and the tailwinds became more evident, a good thing, as we are well in to the ride.  Lake Herman road was pretty nice, and so was Lopes (frontage road along 680) into Fairfield. 

Third control (at mile 84!) in Cordelia at a convenience store.  Not much to eat there, so we buy a minor item and head over to BK next door for some food (we were all a bit tired of power bar type stuff).  Probably our longest stop (maybe 25 minutes).  We head out to the overpass to a stop light that was so quick, that only Darell got through the first time, I, the second, and poor Dean had to wait for the third (knee is slowing him pretty signicantly at this point)!  The rest of the route is well known to all of us (Waterman, Lyons, PV, Orchard, Gibson Canyon, Timm, Allendale, Silveyville, Tremont, etc.), but the tailwinds and the late sun (finally!) really picked up our spirits.  Nice to finish a point-to-point perm and be home!

We stopped in our final control at Starbucks, congratulated Dean on his R-12 achievement, and headed off to home and BFF.  Interesting, edgy films, Torpedos on tap, and amazing pizza afterwards. 

I had an amazing time.  I really enjoy riding with you all, and l look forward to more fun like this together! 

OK, I provided an outline.  Dean and Darell can fill in a lot that I've left out.  I gotta walk dogs and get some gardening done. 

04.12.2011. Pope Valley to Lower Lake via Knoxville Rd. Pictures - Route

One of about six wet water crossings. We cross the river 13 times in all.

Only the three of us managed the ride today. Drew, Ford, Darell. I picked up Drew at his place, and we all arrived Pope Valley just after 9am. Deb brought cinnamon rolls! Dean called to ask about brake pricing just as I was putting my morning moves on Ford. Sort of a buzz-kill, but at least Dean was happy to be saving money. We managed to roll a bit before 9:30. Deb asked about my time constraints and I said I’d like to be home by 6pm (the idea was to eat, shower, remove gear and pick up Kyra by 7pm). We all laughed about how we’d be able to spend LOTS of time drinking beer with that kind of schedule… turned out not to be the case though!

45 degrees when we rolled. Thin wool base, jersey, wind vest and arm warmers with my lightweight knickers turned out to be perfect all day. Clear, beautiful morning with zero traffic. When we finally made it up into uncharted (for me!) Knoxeville road, it started looking more and more like Unknown Valley crossed with Big Canyon. Narrow, crumbling roads with no cars. Fields of wildflowers and abandoned orchards. A babbling creek. Singing birds. The feeling of being in the boonies. Faint banjo music in the background.

Then we came to our first water crossing. (At least the first one where the water goes OVER the road. The first couple of crossings have the water going under. The water is crossed 13 times in all – you get wet for about half of them). We all stopped and talked about it and discussed depth and current flow. We took our first pictures – the adventure had begun! For the record, Darell and the clean, green Rex were the first to venture across. And I found a bracelet! I felt like Zeke trying to get a ball out of the pool without actually getting wet. After trying to ride through again and reach down for the thing, I finally took my shoes and socks off and waded in for it. Could NOT believe how amazingly slippery it was. With both legs locked still, I would begin to slip down the angled concrete. That I rode across it a few times trying to reach down with one hand is really stupid in retrospect. I was wobbling all over and using brakes. How I didn’t go down is beyond me.

The next few crossings were still somewhat novel, so more stopping and picture taking as we went across one by one. After several (eight?) of these, we finally didn’t bother stopping but just plowed on through with our experience and confidence. On this eighth one, I was first into the water, and I soon hear Deb splash in behind me and cry as she passes me, “I’m going too fast again!” as her rooster tail threw water all over the place. Then, just a moment later, I hear a BIGGER splash behind me on the other side. If Deb was going too fast at 3 mph, it sounded like Drew hit the water at about 40 mph. The splash was that big. Of course it was more than his skinny tires making the sound - right there in the middle of the thing is Drew on his hip in the water still clipped into the bike. So slippery that he still has no idea what went wrong. We just know that traction evaporated. The good news is that there was no wind, and the sun was out… because that water is pretty dang cold. Drew wringed everything out and we were on our way – following the path of water droplets leaking from his dunked trunk. Drew was never quite warm enough from then on, and was never completely dry the rest of the day. The worst part of this whole adventure was that I couldn’t stop and get my camera out until I’d cleared the water, so I missed the full submersion shot!  L

Continuing on, we saw several huge blue herons up close. Lots of deer. Horses, cows, sheep. Vineyards. We discussed Deb’s DBC mapping ideas until the hills started in earnest. Then we didn’t talk much for a while! As the big descent began, I reached my 45 mph terminal velocity pretty quickly… and almost immediately here comes a freaking turkey trundling from right to left across the road. She stops and does a little dance while pondering her next move - and I start screaming my head off. This, of course, was the same as saying, “hey – keep walking toward the path I’ve chosen to ride!” I was on a direct collision course with the thing – me at 45 mph on about 18% down grade. Braking was out of the question. I was committed to just trying and absorb the impact when my new feathered friend remembered she had wings and put a bit of hustle into her run across my path. She squawked, I squawked… everybody lived to tell about it. Drew was bummed – he was sort of hoping for a field-dressing exercise.

Rolling into the sprawling metropolis of Lower Lake is a bit of a buzz kill. After seeing basically no cars for many hours, here we suddenly had multiple lanes of traffic with everybody trying to show off how fast their car could make it across the main intersection in town – including the UPS driver. I purchased the single most disgusting Minimart product I’ve eaten to date. I wanted salty chips, and the only thing that wasn’t a huge freaking bag were these TGI Friday’s “potato skins.” There was nothing “skin” about them, and I soon realized there was also very little “potato” about them. After trying to hork some down, I committed the mortal sin of reading the ingredients. Good lord…. Vegetable oil is the first ingredient. In fact, potato was the third ingredient on the list! Oil, white flower, and then a bit of potato. Not much more potato than salt, actually. Ewww. I bought a big jug of water to share around. Almost made up for the nasty chips to have plenty of cold, good water.

After a short, crappy climb up 29 out of town, we head off on a meandering little country road that’s cute as a button. But before long, we’re back on 29… and this is where the fun stops for me. 29 had it all, man. Worst road surface ever, loose gravel on the edge, barely any shoulder to speak of, rumble strips carved into the fog line, high-speed traffic in narrow lanes, and a stiff headwind. Ah, the stuff cycling dreams are made of. Six miles of “put your head down and hope to survive.” Finally we get to the turn back to Pope Valley before Middletown, and all is right again. Still have a bit of headwind – which gets worse as we get nearer to Pope, but at least it is lovely pavement and few cars again. And we got to see a bald eagle out over the HUGE lake (never seen it so full). That was a treat. The final climb is a booger… but at least it is the final climb.

Back to the parking lot at about 4:45 (remember how much extra time we’d have??) – Deb heads over to the store to treat the boys to beer and chips. We sit on our favorite tire and enjoy the afternoon. We all head home at 5:30-ish. I make it to pick up Kyra at gym at 7pm with my bike still in the car with 10 minutes to spare. Yeow. Long damn day for an 83 mile ride. And so worth it.

April 1, 2011. Nifty Ten-Fifty


March 5, 2011. Davis 200k Pope Valley Route 8:48

Checking in at the finish just as the rain started, and just after winning the overpass KOM.

Several firsts for me on this brevet:

R3! (third brevet of 200k or more in consecutive months).
My longest single-day mileage ever. Almost exactly 140 miles.
My first 200k where I didn’t ride with Dean AT ALL.
My first 200k with a beer stop.
My fastest 200k finish (by like a minute… and including the generous beer stop!)
My first long ride without a “personal mechanical.”
My first Davis brevet (which also means my first “supported” brevet!)

It was a treat to be able to sort of graze for food at the control. Normally, we rush in and buy something… anything. And eat it and hope it was the right thing and enough of it. This way, I just ate and ate and ate, and stuffed more in my pockets. Not having to screw with the damn receipt or even write anything down was REALLY nice. For some reason, I really don’t like that aspect.

It is frightening when I think of the calories that I shoved into myself yesterday. Way beyond what I normally do. And wow, it really helped keep the engine running. What’s odd is that last night my engine KEPT running. I ate a huge dinner, then had more. With more beer. Went to bed and I was super-warm all night. Ended up removing all my clothes, then the blanket, then the sheet. It was like a mild fever, but definitely not fever. I was just burning the calories still, I think.

Didn’t do much today but eat. And now it is time for bed.

Feb 19, 2011. SRCC 200k Healdsburg Route

This is what the roads looked like the day before we were there. Most snow cleared by Saturday. Dean and Darell at the top of 253 before dropping into Ukiah.

Our gang of four (Deb, Deb, Dean and Darell) arrived in Healdsburg in frigid, steady rain at about 7pm Friday evening. Adjoining rooms! We unloaded in the drizzle, and headed for the Bear Republic brewery – just so we would be familiar with it when we finished on Saturday, you understand. With plenty of beer sampled, we headed back to the motel and started the arduous process of figuring out what to take on the ride, and who to beat with the pillows. We all made the “no fenders” decision – which surprisingly turned out to be a good call.

Up at ~5:30 on Saturday and we go through the same process of deciding what to wear and take. I wear wool base with wool arm warmers. Thermal jersey, waterproof jacket with dayglow vest over that. My warmest gloves, and full thermal shoe covers. Balaclava and ear warmers. Amazingly, I dressed about perfectly, it turned out. We graze around for food, and find the motel “free breakfast” offerings to be on the pathetic side of acceptable. We mount up and head into town at about 6:40. We all sign in at City Hall, collect our Doc Sprocket tire boots and head out with the group at 7am.

Lovely, relaxed roll-out pace in the quiet, dark, damp cold morning. A bit of chatting and meeting others. The whole group stays mostly together for the pleasant ride to the “Café Racer” sign control. A few hills before Cloverdale start to break up the group a bit. The big climb up 128 after Cloverdale creates the first big “selection.” Suddenly, I find myself in the lead group going a bit faster than I’d like to. Eeek. After doing my share of pulling, I drop off the lead group at about Yorkville. After stopping for a pee break (how many layers to remove??) Dean and I hook back up (along with Fixie guy and his wife). The four of us arrive in Boonville with some nice sunshine. I pulled over at the real “Market” only to find that we need to be at the “Deli Market” just down the road. The lead group is there. Still too cold to stand in the shade, but nice in the sun! Dean and I stand in line way too long to buy some baked goodies and a drink (note to others – lay off the fancy coffee concoctions when 20 people need receipts!). Load up with water, and greet the Debs as they roll in. We fiddle around with clothing – the big climb is coming, but the air is still too cold to have much exposed. I take off exactly one item – my balaclava. Dean and I head out for the climb over 253 to Ukiah, and about ten minutes into it, my left knee has made a run for the border. The damp cold, my initial fast pace, and standing around too long in Booneville have taken their toll. From now on it is just a matter of making smart decisions – and standing much more than I normally would. What the hell – there are only 65 more miles and most of the climbing to go. Ug. Dean and I climb and chat together seeing only a few other riders for the whole climb. The ride along the top of 253 is beautiful. Tons of snow and crazy weather to see and ponder. We stop for a picture, a snack, and to put my balaclava back on where it will stay for the rest of the trip. Screaming descent down the other side. I hit 44 mph and never felt out of control though I was always wary about the shady spots, and tried to never brake in them! Flat, relatively ugly ride into Ukiah and…

Ginger with her cowbell and home-baked treats and sodas and chocolate milk and chips and water and…. WOW. What a treat. Too bad we still had to ALSO go buy something at Safeway. Big walk across the lot trying to not wreck our shoe covers (saw Banks roll in as we got to the entrance) – Dean and I buy sandwiches and share with others. Ford rolls in while we are stuffing brownies and cookies into our pie holes. I have a Pepsi and countless cookies and brownies along with half of my sandwich. Topped up again with water and electrolytes, the four D’s roll out together with several others folks in tow. At this point my Garmin route has gone to crap, and we’re all relying on the paper route sheet. Lovely ride along Old River Road with very little traffic. Great pee stop at a pretty rock, and then the “little” hills of Mountain House Road. Whoa – is somewhat brutal to start those at mile 96. Dean and I do most of the climbing together, but I have to switch to automatic pilot for the last bit up to 128 to save my knee. I can’t go faster, I can’t go slower, I can’t talk, and I can’t think much. I just hurt, and want it to stop. At the junction of 128 I pull over to see who is coming up the hill behind me. Dean is followed by Banks and Clyde. We head down 128 together and realize that we must have JUST missed the rain and/or hail that others spoke of. Pavement is soaked, but we still have a great descent back into Cloverdale. Banks wants to stop for coffee in Cloverdale, but there’s no way I could get going again if I stopped, so I’m a no, and Dean is a no. Banks decides to press on with us… and probably should have stopped for a bit of sustenance. We managed to lose sight of Banks on the pitches outside of Cloverdale. Then on the Dry Creek Rd flat section, my master plan of sticking with Dean pays off, as I knew it would. Dean pulls me back to the barn. I can barely stay on his wheel, but that is my mission! We pass a small group at an intersection, and they catch us and rotate pulls with us until YAY – we cross under the freeway and we can smell the beer! Roll in at just four minutes past Dean’s hopeful time of 5pm. Banks and Ford are not far behind. We jockey around cars and bikes and showers – and all end up back at the brewery for multiple beers and dinners.

Feb 16, 2011 Mix of weather Route

After returning from the summit of Mix Canyon Rd. Cold, but giddy. Picture of Mix Canyon Rd the next morning.

Check here for a great write-up and pictures of both Mix and Gates: http://www.toughascent.com/blog/?p=224#more-224

A weather record-breaker for me today

I rode locally today in bright sun, almost total darkness, dead calm, severe wind, pouring rain (wait… it gets better), snow and hail. Where else are you going to get that? At 2000’ elevation up Mix Canyon the snow started gently, then got thick. Almost complete white-out situation soon followed, and I had real trouble getting traction on the rear tire for those 20% sections. I just started giggling when I saw the snow. I had it piled on my hands and thighs. It was awesome - oh, and a wee bit cold. I was totally unprepared for the sudden drop in temp. I got to the top soaked from inside and out, then turned around and descended in my vented shoes with light wool socks and knickers. Good god. I’ve never been more cold on the bike in my life. I’ve also never descended more slowly. It isn't often that I maintain such control of my speed on descents - but had little option on this run! Didn’t have to stop to cool the brakes this time, certainly. In fact the brakes only really started working at the point where I normally pull over to let them cool (at the horseshoe turn). It was dramatic when the snow started because just before the snow I was in a downpour of freezing rain that was deafeningly loud one second, then suddenly *poof* totally quiet with drifting snowflakes. It was surreal. I was working so hard at the climb and trying to save traction that the change of sound and weather within one pedal stroke really did a number on my mind. I’m a mess, the bike is a mess – it was a huge adventure. Scott rode up to the 3.1 mile marker and managed to completely miss the snow. We had a great time, though it certainly wasn't what either of us expected.

The hail started just as I arrived on the tandem at the gym with Kyra. The grocery panniers were about 1/4 full when I figured I had to do something. I literally had to scoop out the ice to put in her school clothes to bring home. After it let up a bit, I headed out onto the road (second street) that was covered in ice pellets. Severe headwind – I’m doing about 4mph into it with ice beating me on the face turning my lips blue. Understand that I’m still in my wet clothes from the Mix climb – I didn’t have time to do anything but hop out of the car (yeah, we drove to lake Solano to start the Mix ride) and onto the tandem to pick up Kyra from early-release day today. We cut it real close, but got it all done.

My shower this afternoon never felt so good. Probalby helped that I took a beer in with me.

Definitely ranks up there with some of the most amazing 40 miles I’ve ridden – and they were all local.

Jan 26, 2011 Pope Valley Promenade Route

First official ride as a RUSA member. I’m now (again) at R1! A fine day with fine friends. Dean, Walt and Jonathan were missed! Rolled into Safeway parking lot at about 6:30am to find Ford, Banks and Ken already making their first control purchase. I headed in for my bananas. Not terribly cold yet, but certainly foggy and cold enough! Glad to have my full thermal bib tights and wool on, for sure. I added the balaclava and spankin’ new LG gloves and shoe covers. Just before heading out, Bruce rolled in for the party. Off we go with Ken pulling us out of the barn and into Winters. This would be his first of many rock-solid pulls for the day. Totally socked in with fog from Davis well past winters. I can’t really see without my glasses… and could see less with them on! We were drenched with the fog, and nobody’s brakes worked (thanks to Banks for pointing this out before I needed them!). Could barely see cars coming or going, and I’m sure they couldn’t see us. Got colder and colder as we got near Winters. Wasn’t a whole lot of chit-chat going on as we were mostly hunkered down trying to stay in a reasonable, invisible pace line.

First stop was for peeing at the gas station in Winters on 128. Rolled out of there for about 100’ and I had my first flat at mile 17. Dark, cold and drippy wet. Ken played the part of super domestique while I managed to find the piece of glass through the tire, tossed in a new tube and we were on our way. Through the valley on the way to the dam, Bruce started calling out temperatures (it was at least daylight out now, so he could see his computer), and the temps just kept dropping. 35, 34, 33… and all the way to 32. It was flipping cold and I wasn’t the only one who had REALLY sore toes from the cold this time! Nor was I the only one bitching about it. Was thrilled to have my tights and balaclava on! Finally started to clear and see sunshine before the dam… and still cold. The climb up Cardiac was perfect temp in the sunshine… then the descent into the valley took us back to frigid. But at least the Cardiac descent finally cleared my glasses to the point where I could use them again.

Arrived Moskowite to purchase and pee. Everybody removed one layer since it seemed the sunshine was for real now – even if the temps were still low 40’s. Heading for the Pope Valley control! Ford held back a bit on this stretch in a failed attempt to avoid my singing. Next notable event was another Darell flat at mile 49 just outside Pope Valley. After I searched the tire in vain for the culprit, Ken and Deb found the defect in the new tube I’d put in at Winters. :sigh: Last tube goes in, everybody offers up their partially used CO2, and I top it up with my last new cartridge. Then of course we couldn’t have any discussion that didn’t involve how many more tubes I’d need to get home. Since nobody else was flatting, it seemed that we had enough CO2 and tubes to feed my habit. Next up, Banks did some off-roading near a ditch at speed - arm-warmer adjustment coupled with pot-hole avoidance gave her no small thrill! Amazingly warm and sunny at Pope Valley for our lunch stop. Everybody stripped down to warm-riding gear (or as close as we could get) and we headed back the way we came.

Great temps for the trip home, and relatively uneventful. My lower back was aching, so I couldn’t stay in a tuck… which meant Banks kept screaming by me on the descents – usually hollering about her new ceramic bearings. Everybody did great. As we turned AWAY from home on the way back through Winters, Bruce did the smart thing and kept heading for home. We said our good-byes after he offered up one last “have enough tubes?” As we headed out from the Oates’ control just above Vacaville (where Ken made a new friend who likes electric bikes and solar power… and talking) we suddenly realized it was cold again! Screw it – we just kept riding. We also realized that nobody likes riding on Midway. High volume, fast traffic with zero shoulder. What’s not to love? Just before Solano Bakery in Dixon, we happen to see some crazy guy in DBC shorts, riding a vintage mountain bike and looking somewhat lost and bewildered. Pale white calves and flapping dew rag confirmed our suspicions We caught up, “Hi Glenn.” He ate Ken’s food and took pictures of us all the way home.

On Tremont, just after Old Davis Rd, my left knee gave it up. Moments later, the right knee followed. Fortunately we were only about eight miles out, and the headwind I’d feared we’d find on Mace didn’t happen. At least I don’t think it did. Banks stayed with me to assure that I stayed pointed in the right direction. I let everybody else pull and I just concentrated on getting the pedals over and staying on somebody’s (anybody’s!) wheel. Limped into the last on-road control – nobody really wanted to buy anything so close to the finish… but we did, of course. Back onto Mace over the freeway, then Covell – hitting every red light as Glenn warned us would happen. And finally home to Safeway at 4:30 where they would NOT sell me a beer “single.” Ended up buying a yogurt for Kyra for after gymnastics. Chatted with the gang for 10 minutes while we all filled out our brevet cards. Then I rushed over to be in time to pick Kyra up at 5pm.

Beer. Motrin. Ice. Limping this morning, but I’ll live to ride another day.

December 11, 2010 The Calistoga 200k and Turtle Rock Century Route
OK… after my beer, my shower, my nap and my full body Ass Kisser rub down – I’m in pretty good shape.

Was great to see everybody out there this morning! I guess you guys all know that Eric and I had planned on bagging another century for him. I hadn’t planned on riding quite that far, but was certainly willing to do so in order to have company! Well, at the first restroom stop, Eric’s back put an end to the notion of companionship for my return trip.  Eric headed back from to Winters to have his wife pick him up. I know he made it home OK since I dropped off his kit order to his wife, who told me he was flat on his back somewhere in the dark recesses of the house. Speedy recovery, Eric!

So I continued on with the gang feeling all frisky and full of myself since I knew I wouldn’t be riding all 125 or 130 miles (how many?) I went after the climbs with wild abandon, and it felt great. Quick stop at Moskowite, and on we went. We crossed that ugly bridge expansion joint a mile or two before Turtle Rock, and I hit the joint pretty hard with my rear wheel.  Couple hundred feet later – at mile 42 or so, my rear wheel was greasy, so I pulled over and wished everybody a good rest of their trip. I took my leisurely time patching the tube (not a pinch flat at all – but a tiny bit of glass about 1 cm from where I had the tiny rock do the same thing earlier in the week. Crazy how these things seem to come in multiples after so many months of being flat-free. I swear I get more flats on wet roads though!) I even pumped it back up by hand (got home and checked with a gage – got it a bit over 120 PSI!). Turned around and headed for home.

Had a delightful solo trip home since the fog had lifted a bit and the roads were slightly dryer (were so wet on the way out that we had rooster tails!). Was still socked in with fog at the top of Cardiac just like on the way out. Zero visibility. You could hear other riders, but I had no idea where they were. Ahead of me? Behind me? Lights and bright vest were on for most of the ride home! Was fun riding with just me and my thoughts. Very quiet out there for the most part.

Went the slightly longer way over Mt. Solano and down Putah Creek. Did really well mechanically until I got close to Winters. At that point, I suddenly became REALLY glad that I didn’t do the whole route (up until that point, I was pretty bummed you understand!) Mostly knees. Stopped by Myke’s to ask about adding threaded inserts for my battery holder idea. No dice. Need to be brazed on thus fucking up the paint. Easier on carbon and Al… who knew? Headed for Davis down Putah Creek and saw some familiar jerseys ahead of me. Caught up to Garry Button, John Whitehead and a new club member – James (not our James from before). They were coming home from Coffee and a roll. They had ME pull. Shit. Thought I was done with the time-trial stuff! Had a nice chat with them, and we all split off when we got close to town. I ducked into the house and surprised Kim. Was happy to hear, “Wow, that was fast. And you’re not even all hunched over.” So at least I was walking normal… I was still warm. And I also wasn’t done with my century which I told myself I’d do for Eric. Still needed four miles to make it official (official century being at least 90 miles – don’t make me have Eric cite you the rules!) So I grabbed his kit order (and Ted’s) and headed over to his house. Handed it off to his wife, and returned home for the final time, and with enough miles for a “century.”

Beer, shower, nap, pain rub. Knees aching like hell, but generally feeling pretty happy with how the day went. Thanks for letting me tag along. Thanks for keeping me company on the way out. And thanks for putting up with me not quite being able to get things done these days! NOW I’m walking like Kim expected…. Heading out for our evening now.

Thanksgiving, 2010 Appetite Seminar Route - Pictures

Up at 6am in SF and wondering as usual what the heck to wear on a literally freezing day. Wool everywhere… Two layers on the torso, arm warmers, socks, helmet liner and knickers. I didn’t pack any full tights, so wool bib knicks. Exposed skin eeek! I didn’t bring insulated gloves, but had windproof overgloves for my fingerless. They’d have to do. I taped over all the vents on my vented mt shoes, and was damn glad of it!

Got to Fairfax way too early (who knew there was no traffic at 7am on Thanksgiving morning??). Hoofed it over to the coffee shack – they had a great assortment of muffins and good, hot coffee – all sitting on – and stuck to - a literally frozen table. When the sun finally came up a bit before 8am, we were at 32 degrees. It hurt getting geared up because I had to keep taking my gloves off to adjust something or another. Met up with fellow YUM’er Erik at about 8 by the coffee. Crazy bastard was in shorts. We looked for a few others that were supposed to meet us, but we never (and still haven’t!) found them. 8:15 we were off for the first climb up the pavement to the first peak of the Fairfax Bolinas Road. Half way up Eric had to strip his LS jersey off, and did the rest of the day in SS. He thought I was nuts in my three layers, and I KNEW he was nuts in his one SS jersey and shorts. Did I mention the shorts? At the top (where we leave the pavement), I waited for Erik, and finally took my jacket off. He caught up, and I walked over to make steam discretely (frikkin’ bibs and ¾ zip jersey!) while he started the real climb up the aptly-named Rocky Road. Ten minutes later I rode by him as he pushed his bike up the ugly steep part. He politely swore at me, which made me feel better about my effort. I wouldn’t see him again until the top of Pine Mountain – the highest elevation of the trip. This was probably the hardest version of this ride I’d done – or maybe I just always forget in the intervening 12 months. Always super steep and rocky – but this time also slimy and gooey in many places. I spent some time riding the bike sideways across the trail as the rear wheel spun, and no forward progress was made. I had no unscheduled dismounts though, so all’s good in that regard! I saw more hike-a-bikers this year than ever before. I vowed not to be one of them!

HUGE crowd on Pine Mountain. I guess I’d never gotten there so early before – normally we have a larger group and do much more waiting around. When Erik showed up (let’s just say he had to be creative with his shifting), I let him oogle the ladies for a while, and down we went into the super-descent (this is so steep that I have yet to be able to climb it the other way. Some folks walk DOWN this part. Added bonus is the off-camber turn right in the middle of the 30% downgrade. We lose somebody there every year – usually directly into a tree.) Before heading off the top, I can’t believe how many people stripped layers before the descent. Hello? Yes we were all sweating. It is a huge climbing effort. Takes about all I’ve got, and everybody is drenched at the top regardless of ambient temp. I told several of the newbies to put their clothes back on before the descent. Temps still had to be in the 30’s at this point, and would get colder as we got lower into the trees where no sunlight penetrates at this time of year.

At the bottom of the descent there was literally a cloud of smoking asbestos. Several blue disks, and one was smoking so bad we thought it would burst into flame. I tried to take a picture, but it didn’t work all that well. And at the bottom is where I met the couple on the single speed tandem (!) and the two 9-year-old boys riding with dad and uncle on tandems. Very cool. Got pics of that as well. Next come the stream crossings. So we’re about half way done, we just finished the frigid descent, and now the creeks are all higher than I’ve seen them. Shit. Wet shoes! Don’t miss those crossing pics that show Eric underwater! Waited for Erik so I could get his picture crossing, and he begged me to just go on (OK, he didn’t like blubber or anything, but he seemed serious). This time I took him up on it since the waiting was getting me cold, and now I was wet. The next big climb is in the sun. Sucks in the summer when I do it – was REALLY welcome that day. Met up with another Voodoo rider. Steel and same color as mine. Fun to chat… though he was walking when I came upon him, so had to leave him to his own devices.

Top of the climb is where goodies are handed out by Cliff Bar and others. I like the Mocha gel they have! Didn’t stop with the hordes this time, and just pressed on. This is the little section that I did with Deb the other day before finally turning around for home. Lots of wannabe heroes that were just freaking in my way! They’d fly past in the wrong gear, and literally fall over when there was no way of getting over the rocks. Then they stand there cursing themselves like this is the first time they’ve ever failed… without bothering to step out of the dang way! I ran over one guy’s foot. I think it made both of our days. SUPER wet with atomic puddles up on the ridge. Yeee! I actually tried to keep clean – but that’s impossible when you’re riding through 6” of mud. At the next intersection are the guys who make pancakes and coffee every year. They haul everything – water, stove, fuel – up the mountain on bob trailers. They don’t do the actual loop, but come up backwards the short way. Still impressive. They’ve done this for 14 years straight now. The blueberry pancakes and coffee are free. They’d like a tip for the brandy.

Now the decision – the “official” route is straight, and then down the famous Repack – a very fast and furious downhill that ends the day much too soon. OH… and includes another big, rocky water crossing. I chose to turn left to exit the ridge through Tamarancho – single track and more climbing than the other way. Never seen it more slippery and came as close as I’ve ever come to completely ending my riding career. Trying to navigate around a puddle in the middle of the single track, I rode up on the outer lip. Rear wheel slipped off the lip and headed down the hill (when I say “hill” I mean shear drop-off). Somehow the front slipped off the lip headed back onto the trail at the same time. The bike followed the front instead of the rear, and there I was – blind with fear and adrenalin seriously wondering exactly how I managed to still be both on the trail AND on the bike. I’m glad I peed earlier. The self-congratulations lasted about two tire rotations, and it was back to business because of all the roots that are slippery as snot. Yee haw! Couple more water crossings, and I’m off the mountain and headed for the beer tent. I get there and am finally taking stock of my bike, myself and all the mud.. and here comes Erik down the street from the  Repack direction (which is a much straighter shot to the finish).  We chatted and caught up… spent just enough time for me to miss last call on the beer!

Brushed the dry mud off of me, put a towel over my seat and turned all the heat on I could… sat in the car and thawed out for ten minutes before stripping and stowing the filthy bike. The shower back in SF never felt so good. SOOOOOO good. Three days later, my joints were still aching. Today, I’m starting – finally – to feel frisky again. That cold was rough on this aching body.

Pics: http://darelldd.smugmug.com/Bicycle/2010-rides/2010-Appetite-Seminar/14817785_5zsEN#1105416749_DCDrh

Aug 07, 2010 Skylonda 200k Route
Completed my first 200k brevet. Let's see if I can do our day justice.

Up at 5:00 am. My plan was (and alarm was set) for 5:30... but both Deb and Dean each (uh... without telling me or each other, apparently) set up wake up calls at 5:00 - so with the two of those calls, there was no hope for my extra half hour). Egg McMuffin thing for Dean and a very-hard-to-bake-in-the-microwave quiche-in-a-metal-pie-pan for Darell and Deb. Hopped up on Ibuprofen, and geared for rain, at 6:30 we rolled out of the hotel for the lighthouse start in a steady drizzle. Start at 7:01, and tried to stay in the middle of the pack to avoid having to navigate through the dripping town. My GPS burped on me, and I had to fool with it a bit before it settled down. I lost only the first mile of info.

Drizzle and pretty cold all the way to the first control at Freedom (mile 20). Dean and I rolled in just a couple of minutes ahead of Ford who was pulling in a couple of guys. We all peed and slammed liquids. I may have slammed my chocolate milk a bit too hard... more on that later. I got my first-ever brevet receipt and very proudly popped it into my baggie after first chasing it half-way across the parking lot in the wet wind.

We rolled out together to begin the climbing and the crappy road surface. At mile 28, just a few miles into the climb I was getting a stomach cramp that slowly got worse. Any jarring of the bike was painful, so I had to stay standing on the pedals just to keep it rolling. At mile 30 I was happy that I had Lori's number programmed into my phone. With the idea of tons of climbing and 100 miles ahead of me, I was getting all frustrated with the idea of throwing it in before it really got going. We all stopped to strip layers finally, and eventually I remembered that I was carrying some Pepto Tablets. Saved my ride, I'm convinced. Made it up to Summit Market and our first chance at a Port-a-Potty! That little visit went a long way to fixing my predicament, and finally it seemed like I could get 'er done. Loaded up with more calories and liquids, we continued up the big climb. Though Ford was also having some digestion issues, everybody looked strong. I felt better and better - to the point where I could finally climb for real, and started enjoying going off the front for a couple of the grades. We rode with Ken Johnson and Denny on a bunch of this section. I accidentally led our group of about six riders almost onto HWY 17... missing the overpass. Oops. Crossed that overpass only to find the absolute steepest section of the whole ride. So steep I couldn't look down to determine the grade percentage from my computer. My educated guess was that it was ~ 20%. It was Mix Canyon steep for sure. Fortunately not for very long. Ken tried to get me to go back and do it again.

Rolled into Skylonda Control at mile 73. Big freaking gap between controls from the first one at mile 20! Sunny and warm here - about perfect temperatures along the ridge. Huge crowd of cyclists and motorcyclists at the intersection of Skyline and 84 . Dean and I ordered up sandwiches while we kept an eye out for Deb to roll in. Dean and Deb shared a sandwich (after the requisite hugs and kisses to impress the other lonely riders who didn't have the foresight to ride with great friends), while I tried to figure out how to get as much of my sandwich into me as I could. Stomach still not quite right so I was constantly worried about getting enough calories in without bringing back the problem. I drank a full liter of water, I guess I didn't drink enough on the big climb. Dean pretty much did the same with the liquids. More Port-a-potty action, and we were good to go.

We rolled out together for the ride down the hill through La Honda - 100% headwind so an odd feeling of having to crank to get down the hill. Fun watching guys just FLYING up the hill with the wind the other way! Dean and I popped Deb off the back again, and she then had to time-trial it all the way down against the wind. Of course so did Dean, but at least I kept him company while he pulled me. Mile 87 was the end of that slog - control at the post office in San Gregorio where we had to mail a postcard (pssst... the door is green!). Right before the PO, we found what must be the steepest driveway in the world. Dean invited me to give it a whirl so we could determine the grade. I didn't want to show off, so declined.

A nice jaunt down Stage road brought us to the Pescadero Control at mile 94.8. Enjoyed Port-a-Potty, chips, water, and some crazy drink that Ford bought that is probably still battling my oxidants. Quick stop and go. We're getting better at the in-and-out thing, and are starting to think about heading back to the barn! Cold and foggy again down at the coast, so we dragged out or wet outer layers and suited up again. By this time, we hadn't seen the sun for a couple of hours. Headed out to Bean Hollow Road.

We finally hit the fabled HWY 1 tail wind section... minus any sort of actual tail wind. What UP!? I've heard stories of everybody coasting along at 20 mph, or pedaling for 30. Us? Pedaling for 17 mph. Grrr. And then since this is a "climbing" brevet, it was time to turn inland and head up Swanton Road. Steep bugger, that! Brought us to the final control at mile 116 - Big Creek Fire Station.

Back to HWY 1 with no tail wind, through Davenport, and finally to the finish at mile 130, 11 hours and 11 minutes after we started.. Avg rolling speed of about 15 mph. Moving time: 8 hours, 36 minutes. The computer estimates that I burned 9,500 calories. We were beat, wet and cold. Rolled back to the hotel…

We chose beer over champagne back at the hotel room, then hit a pizza place across the road. Dean hit the hot tub while I hit the Ibuprofen. A bit of ice for my knees, and at the end of the day everybody was healthy, happy and beat.

And yes I realize that there is lots of " Port-a-Potty" mention here. They have new meaning for me now... and were a very important part of my day!

May 20, 2007 My first Century
My first adult century. Might even be my first actual century ride ever - can't remember in my advanced age. Called the Monticello Century, it began at VacaValley High School. I left about 7am, and arrived back a bit before 2:30. I was pedaling for six hours and 32 seconds. Top speed of 42mph. I started off to do the "metric" century of 60 miles, but was called a chicken, and went for the 100 miles. About 25 miles in, I met up with a group of three friends who work at the Sac Bee. One of them named Carlos. I enjoyed their company for more than 70 miles, and at the end, I handed my card to Carlos, and he realized that we knew each other! From about 30 years ago at Plantation. Small world. I drank before I was thirsty and I ate before I was hungry. I felt great the entire way. No saddle soreness in the least, thanks to my new Selle An-Anatomica saddle that I installed the DAY before the ride! In fact, I rode with a new helmet, new shoes and a new saddle. The only thing "old" was me, I guess. Video and images.

March 17, 2007 The first tandem ride.
I've heard folks mention "around the block" for the first ride. A mile for the second, etc. Ha! I decided on the acid test. 27 miles for our first ever tandem ride. And there was still time and energy left for romance at the end, so I guess we didn't over-do it. ;)

Before ordering our first tandem, I reserved a Co-Motion Periscope at our LBS for a lengthy "test ride" with my wife as stoker. Had to pack all my own equipment and even take bottle cages to screw to the frame. I took our seat bags with tools, extra tube, pump. Sort of a pain to raid my other bikes to make a kit for the rental, but heck if I was going to risk getting stranded 15 miles from home during our introduction to tandeming! I found child care for our daughter, and we were off.

The LBS was a mad house on a Saturday morning, and once we paid the rental fee, we were totally on our own. No help setting the bike up, nor any sage tips from the college-age employees. Not that I wanted too much assistance, but the loan of a hex set would have been more convenient than using my multi-tool to adjust the stems and bars. I managed to get a good rough setting to get us started, and we struggled to thread the long bike through the throngs in the store and out to the curb. The road beckoned!

Next little hurdle was beginning our adventure in down-town traffic. We walked a few blocks pushing the bike - in hope of finding a quiet side street to get going. Any place lacking an audience would have been good! We finally gave up, and decided we could push all day, or start riding NOW. Drawing on my vast, impractical knowledge of reading this list and all those helpful internet articles - we were soon wobbling on down the road without much screaming, and with no injuries. There was, however, much giggling during the mounting phase. In fact, every time we mounted up, that same giggle was offered up. More on that later.

After a few blocks, we stopped to tune up the stoker seat height and to dial back the rear disk brake pads that were rubbing in the annoying way that only disk brakes can rub. And after the same mount-giggling (!), we were on our way again. We managed to get some speed. And after a while we even managed to go roughly where I intended. Brakes worked great, shifting worked great - turning and "threading the needle" between trail posts and other riders was still a bit dicey. But we were having fun! The saddles down-right sucked on this bike. Took maybe ten minutes for both of us get numb toes and fingers. Don't know if Co-Motion has made better saddles since they first came out with the original Periscope, but I sure hope so! These were awful. Makes me respect the saddle on my Scott single more, that's for certain!

Oh man, it is a lot of work being the Captain! I'm a relatively accomplished "enthusiast" half-bike rider (see my facility with the tandem lingo already?) and figured that the Captain position would be reasonably close to riding my solo bike - just with more help pedaling! I'm heavier, stronger, more experienced and in better shape than my stoker. Piece of cake for a stud like me, right? Hell no! I'm sure it'll all change with experience, but the amount of concentration and seeming lack of control is mind-boggling at first! And then you add a big helping of responsibility, and you've got a decidedly UNrelaxing experience. I had no idea just how much steering the stoker can do - especially a stoker who is forced to wiggle on the saddle to keep from going numb. And what's this? I can't randomly spin the pedals around where I want them when coasting up to a turn! When I let up for a shift, I actually have to SAY something to get the stoker to do the same. When I turn to look at traffic, the bike doesn't automatically go where my hips point. Turns out that I suck at calling out the bumps until we're over them - the ones that appear to be important turn out to be nothing, and the ones I don't call out have my stoker grumbling. And how about standing to pedal? I thought we were gonna die.

But we didn't die. We made it to the next town - about 17 miles away, and to a biker-friendly, highly-rated cafe that we've wanted to visit for a long, long time. Now... how do you get the dang bike to hold still when you lean it against something? I've got to get a ESGE stand for the tandem I order - that seems to be a given. Especially if I'm gonna pay for custom paint - no way I'm leaning it on anything! We ate like we'd never eat again, and even ordered the GIANT apple-cinnamon bun (a single serving is about 9" square and 3" thick - I kid you not). We had to cut it in half just to avoid eating all of it in about 10 seconds. We asked the waitress to leave the pitcher of ice water, and drained it in short order as well.

Except for the painful saddles, the ride home was uneventful and FAST. The speed you can achieve with two engines is nothing short of spectacular. Acceleration seems to always feel sluggish, but the speed! Wow. About half way home we stopped at a nice stand of trees after the pitcher of water became insistent in its reminders. As we prepared to remount, I finally asked what the giggling was about. Well, as I'd taken seriously the advice of "hold the top-tube steady with your hip (meaning crotch as far as I can tell!), and spread your legs so as not to get nailed with the pedals" coupled with the Periscope's rather low and sloping top tube - my assumed position was apparently quite the goofy visual each time we mounted. But hey, I never dropped the bike, and my wife never felt insecure climbing on, so I guess I can just deal with the giggles for now. later I'll figure out how to straddle the bike and brace it with my "hip" - and not the crotch.

Tomorrow I order a purple-painted Co-Motion Torpedo.

- Captain Doom, Purple Perdition.

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