Recently in Cycling Category
Looks like the Furnace Creek 508 Roster is shaping up, and my name appears to be on it. I will do my best to honor the race. Less than 6 months to go… I’m already excited.
Not really… But there was snow at the top of King’s Mountain today, deposited during yesterday’s storm. It was about 37° F, or 3° C, at 2000’ elevation. There is even more snow at the higher elevations, but I didn’t get up that high today.
Here’s a picture of my bike frolicking in the snow.
And a picture of Mt. Diablo in the distance across the bay, with its top covered in snow.
Off to the Furnace Creek 508. Follow us here. We’ll have periodic updates, and GPS updates.
The Good—My legs felt pretty good and I finished with practically the same time as I had in 2005, the Quack Cyclists put on another great ride, and the weather was absolutely perfect.
The Bad—Alto the goat was no longer manning Pet the Goat, and a fellow DMD rider collapsed and died while climbing the backside of Mt. Hamilton.
The Ugly—I crashed on Morgan Territory, but was not hurt. I wore some of the course on my jersey while riding the rest of the course.
Mulholland Double: Well, I finished the thing
Summary I didn’t have great legs for this ride, had to repair a bent chain, and had a nice bonk at the end. I give details below. Maybe not epic by some standards, but given my previous attempt at this ride, it seems about par for the course.
A brief summary of the Devil Mountain Double from my cycling computers:
- Distance: 206.4 miles
- Time: 14:56
- On-Bike Time: 13:42
- Rest Time: 1:14
- On Bike Avg: 15.1 mph
- Total Avg: 13.8 mph
- Max: 45mph
- Total Climbing: 18360ft
Compared to 2005, I was about 25 minutes slower total time, but my on bike time was only about 5 minutes or so slower. (I estimated that my rest time in 2005 was about 45-50 minutes, compared to 75 minutes this year.) So even though I was really slow up Sierra Road, and had a few cramping issues, my performance on the bike was amazingly consistent.
As part of her 508 training, Tina rode from Livermore to Mt. Hamilton on Saturday, climbing the steep backside road. Joining her was her friend Gabrielle, and I came along to document the journey. The pictures are on the picture album page, or go directly to the pictures here.
I also took a video of Tina and Gabrielle climbing the backside, and I’ve embedded the video below.
Like my Mulholland ride report, Tina has procrastinated writing up her experiences during her recent Davis Double Century. However, it’s finally done and I’ve posted it below the fold.
It’s been almost two months since my Mulholland adventure. I wrote a report a little bit afterward, and have been sitting on it since then. I looked it over and here it is in all its glory, after the fold.
Tina and I went down to Solvang last weekend. She was doing the Solvang Double Century, riding 200 miles in one day. I was there to climb Figueroa Mountain, a considerably shorter ride.
The wildflowers were the highlight of both of our days. I’ve posted pictures of my ride here, including some nice ones of the flowers that I saw.
Tina sent an e-mail to her friends describing the experience, and she let me post it here:
I’m home, exhausted but satisfied (I think). I finished the Solvang Double, 200 miles and lots of butt butter and even more advil. A complication was I got my period the night before. As you can imagine, this was less than optimal on a variety of levels—physical, emotional, time at portapotties, etc. The on-bike time was around 13 hr, but Steve (my very gracious ride buddy who stuck with me!) and I were on the course from 5 am until 9 pm. A very long day in the saddle. It took all the mental strength I had to hold myself together and finish with at least a shred of dignity, but I think I accomplished that, at least.
I learned from the experience that I was physically trained and ready for this, but mentally you never quite know what’s going to happen. The key is to stay focused, in the moment, be your own internal cheerleader instead of non-stop critic, and grind it out! I am stronger and more resilient than I knew :)
The best part of the day was WILDFLOWERS! They were everywhere—blanketing most hillsides and roadsides in vivid yellow, orange, purple, magenta. I haven’t seen this amazing of a bloom in over 10 yr, maybe ever. The privilege of riding my bike in the presence of their beauty overwhelmed me with joy almost to the point of tears! (Told you I was emotional) It gave me hope that we humans have not completely ruined the planet (yet). Mike was on his own ride (which had more climbing than my double) and got some great photos which he’ll post soon.
Enough philosophical stuff…Mike said minutes before Steve and I pulled into the finish, a SAG wagon pulled up loaded to the gills with bikes. He said it could have been a clown wagon at the circus with all the DNF riders piling out :) And all of them were guys…That image cracks me up and makes me even happier that I completed. It never was an option not to finish, in my mind.
Onward to Davis on May 17. I’m hoping for a shorter and less trying day, but I will deal with whatever comes down the road.
Tailwinds and cheer! Tina
Tina and I did the Davis Double Century on Saturday. I had already done it in 2005, but a number of Western Wheelers were doing it and since I was going to be in Davis anyway, I decided to do the ride as well.
For my part, my ride went well. I met Lyresa, Jeff, Letty, Laura and Mike Myzsa at the start at about 5:45 and we proceeded from there, hitching onto a tandem who pulled us to the first rest stop. At that point, we heard about the wild fire at Lake Berryessa that had closed the highway there, and with that, the ride had to be re-routed. The end result is that we did an out and back to Cobb mountain with the morning leg being a reverse of the regular way back. The Davis Bike Club did an excellent job with the logistics of moving rest stops and opening new ones, and we managed to find our way without any problems.
With the route change, the climb up to Cobb mountain was a little tougher with gradients of over 10% in spots, causing some riders used to the more gentle Davis climbs to end up getting off their bikes and walking. I enjoyed the climb knowing that I’d get to enjoy the descent even more. Indeed, we saw a number of returning riders bombing down the hill as we were climbing.
Other than the route change, the day was uneventful for me except for a little hunger bonk near the end. As usual, I did a lot of pulling, and for some reason I didn’t get enough food on board after the Guinda rest stop. As a result I started to get the hunger knock a little with about 20 miles to go. My power meter was saying I was producing only about 100 watts and my heart rate had fallen to about 105 bpm. Still, I was managing to keep a speed of about 17-18 mph. When I looked behind me, there were still 5-6 people sucking my wheel, and no one was offering to help the poor dying cyclist (me!) doing the pulling. I pulled off the front and fell behind. Letty was the only WW left with me, and I had to get her to drop back while I pulled over to the side of the road and search my pockets for any food that I could find. I found a gel pack and a Clif bar. Just then a SAG vehicle came by and asked if I was OK. I asked him where the next rest stop was, and he said it was about 3/4 of a mile up the road. Sweet! I got back on my bike and we proceeded (slowly) to there. They had the best chili and grilled cheese sandwiches, which I gladly consumed. After about 15 minutes or so, I was feeling much better and we hit the road with only 6-7 miles to the end, which we did with no further problems.
As for Tina, she had a good ride with her friend Lydia. I passed them at about the 70 mile mark (they had started at 5am or so), and they were still looking pretty fresh. I stayed with them for a while until the first climb up highway 20 towards Clearlake. Since it was an out-and-back route, I saw them again as I was descending Cobb, still looking strong.
I got back at about 7:30pm and after consuming the tasty supper that was provided, I chilled out and shared war stories with the rest of the Western Wheelers as they arrived, and waited for Tina and Lydia to finish. Soon it got dark, but I wasn’t too worried as Tina had the powerful light on her bike that was perfect for showing the way. At about 9:20, they arrived and in good spirits, the only casualties being sore legs and sore behinds. Congratulations were extended to the newly minted Double Century riders and hear their war stories.
So it was a good day all around, and we slept well knowing that we had accomplished our goals for the day.
Pictures are here.
I worked the “Pet the Goat” rest stop for Devil Mountain Double on Saturday. It was unseasonably warm, and the condition of some of the riders seemed to confirm that they had to work pretty hard that day.
Several friends from Western Wheelers did the ride, and most of them made it at least to “Pet the Goat,” although being an easier 45 miles to the end from there, I assume that all of them made it to the finish.
Alto the Goat made his usual appearance, although he seemed to want to go back to his nice pasture, the way he kept staring over the fence.
As usual, pictures are here
The Western Wheelers did their usual September bike ride up Mt. Hamilton and down the backside. This year we went all the way to the Junction Cafe for lunch. Apart from a yellowjacket that decided to snack on my leg, the ride was a lot of fun. What more fun could be had riding up above the fog with a group of friends. See here for pictures.
Eddy Merckx was in Marin County to do a charity bike ride. Tina went to ride with him and take pictures. (See here for pictures.) She didn’t get to see much of him on the ride though, because the “no drop” policy for the ride didn’t last too long, according to this article. Still she enjoyed seeing Eddy, and it’s not often that one gets to see and ride with a living cycling legend.
The people that took our pictures on the death ride finally sorted through all the pictures, taking almost a month to do. When I was riding up with Tina on the second climb up Monitor Pass, the photographer took this picture. I like it and it’s one of the few pictures that I have of the two of use together on our bikes. Yay! Yay!
Tina and I did the Santa Cruz Mountains Challenge on the weekend. We were signed up for the 100 mile, but decided to do the 64 miles version instead, just so we could reach the end of the ride and not feel totally wiped out. We had not been riding much since the Death Ride at the beginning of July, so that was a wise choice.
The day’s main climb was the difficult Jamison Creek, which averges 12% for about 1.6 miles at the top. I rode with Tina so I felt pretty fresh when we reached it. She was also pretty fresh, and reached the top with plenty to spare. “That was fun. Let’s do it again,” was the first thing she said when she reached the top.
We saw our friend Kelly Rogers, who was with us on our France trip last year. He had been recovering from a knee issue, so it was good to see him out on the road.
Pictures from the ride are here
Tina and I made our annual trek up to Plymouth this weekend for the Sierra Century. We stayed at our favorite place, the Plymouth House Inn, which was unavailable last year due to a family function the owner was having there. All the rooms are nice and the owner treats us very well, and it’s just down the street from the start of the ride.
I worked the Devil Mountain Double as a volunteer yesterday, at the “Pet the Goat” rest stop. “Pet the Goat” has become something of a legend, because of Alto the Goat. Alto’s owner, who lets us use his driveway for the rest stop, brings him up to keep the rest stop workers company. More importantly, many of the riders take the opportunity to actually pet him.
Pictures are here.
I rode up Mt Hamilton today, and then descended down to San Antonio Valley and the “Junction Cafe.” The ride up Mt. Hamilton is always fun, as the road is never too steep and the traffic was modest, since it was a weekday.
When I was descending the backside of Mt. Hamilton, a deer bounded down the highside to my right and nearly crashed into me. He was pretty nimble and managed to veer to his right and followed me down the road for a bit before veering back up the hill.
San Antonio Valley was nice, and with all the rain this winter, the wildflowers were out in full force, with verdant fields full of poppies and lupines. There were a few cyclists on the road heading in the opposite direction, but otherwise the road was deserted.
The Junction cafe is right out in the middle of nowhere, at least 31 miles to Livermore, 25 miles to I-5, and 38 miles to San Jose. It’s a good place to hang out, and the bar had some local yahoos in there, some of whom made some smart comments about my cycling attire. I didn’t pay them too much attention, and got some water and was soon on my way back to San Jose.
The backside of Mt. Hamilton is about 4 miles of steep climbing, right in the middle of hell. The day was pretty warm, so I had to keep dousing myself in water to stay cool. I was down to nothing in my bottles at the top, but I was able to refill and enjoy the long 19 mile descent back to my car. The final stats for the day were 82 miles, and 8900 feet of climbing. Not bad for weekday!
Pictures of the ride are here.
I’ve just posted some pictures from my New Years Day ride up Mt Hamilton. You can see them here.
The climb up Mt. Hamilton on New Years is a semi-tradition for cyclists in the Bay Area. The “semi” part comes from the fact that the weather pretty much decides whether the ride takes place or not. I did this ride for the first time in 2005, and it was snowing at the top. Not a lot of snow, mind you, but it was pretty epic. I was looking forward to a fun ride to start off 2006 on the right note, but it was likely that the temperatures wouldn’t be cold enough at the top for snow. There would be rain and wind though, so it was going to be a battle against the elements regardless.
Tina and I went to San Francisco on Sept 4, to watch the Pro Men race the San Francisco Grand Prix. We were joined by our friend Laurie and her husband Steve. The pros put on a great race as usual, which was won by Gerolsteiner’s Fabian Wegmann, the first time it’s been won by a European rider. (Usually the domestic pros win this race as it’s late in the season for European riders.)
Tina and I went to France on vacation for two weeks at the beginning of July 2005. We spent most of our time cycling in the French Alps, and watching the Tour de France. I’ll summarize the details of our trip here. You can see pictures from our trip by clicking here.
The Terrible Two was going to be my last double. (That meant that I would never ride another double century in my life.) Upon finishing it, I would achieve my goal of riding three doubles in a single year, and get my California Triple Crown, entitling me, gladly of course, to purchase expensive Triple Crown merchandise.
Tina and I climbed Mt. Diablo on May 28 with the Western Wheelers. Bill Bushnell took a picture of me near the top at Devil’s Elbow. I started late so I rode a nice pace up with Steve Prothero and Miguel Guterres after I caught up to them at about the halfway point.
The top is at 3850ft, for a total elevation gain of about 3300 ft. This picture was taken at about 3460ft, near the top. It was a cold day at the top. I had a vest on, but when I descended, I needed to stuff my plastic baggie full of energy drink powder under my jersey to keep warm. Brrrr….
Tina and I have just returned from the Sierra Century. Tina’s training was perfect, and she made it up Slug Gulch without any problems. In fact, she managed to pass plenty of people off their bikes on the side of the road, trying to recover in the shade. These were people who had passed her earlier in the ride, but were now reduced to quivering husks of sorry humanity by the nasty grades and the heat. Other than a finicky front derailer and a bit of discomfort in the, um, nether regions (what do you expect after a 100 miles in the saddle?), the ride went better than expected for her, and she was very happy to receive her Slug Gulch pin at the top of the climb.
As for me, I enjoyed my 122 miles on the road. I rode with Tina until the first rest stop in Ione, and then I went on ahead while Tina finished at her own pace. I enjoy starting early so that I can enjoy the food at the rest stops while it’s still fresh and not picked over as much. While Tina was having shifting problems, I was having my own chain problems. I had replaced my chain before the ride and it wasn’t behaving properly… It was shifting okay, but it would skip when I tried to put more power into my pedaling. I got some lube at the rest stop in Volcano, but it still wasn’t perfect. However I managed to get it to settle down for most of the ride, even though the chain jumped off on the back completely when I started up Slug Gulch. I figure I need to get the gunk they pack the chains in off of it completely, and then give it a good lube for the problem to disappear. At least the bike was rideable.
I managed to see some fellow Western Wheelers at the end of the ride, namely Sue Keyser and Greg Wong. They are both strong riders, but they started later so I never saw them on the road. It was a pretty fun ride, and the rest stops, SAG and everything else was perfectly organized. With the abundance of lupin covering the fields on either side of the road for much of the ride, the scenery was the best it’s ever been, and with Tina finishing the 100 mile version for the first time, the ride was perfect all the way around.
The "Flat" Double
After successfully completing the Devil Mountain Double (DMD) three weeks ago, I was ready for an "easy" double century. Not that there's anything easy about doing 200 miles in a day, but the Davis Double certainly isn't as arduous, and indeed, it's the one that most experienced double-riders recommend doing for a first double century. By completing Davis, you gain valuable experience and confidence, which enables you to graduate to the harder doubles. Doing a double century is as much about mental endurance as it is physical endurance, plus it takes experience in knowing how to manage time spent at the rest stops, the amount of food to eat, and making sure to stay hydrated. This is also important on shorter rides such as centuries, but mistakes made on a double century tend to compound over the course of the long day. Doing Davis allows you to work out all of these issues on a relatively easy course, where the chance of success is much higher.
Tina and I did the Strawberry Fields century on Sunday May 15th. The support was good, and getting strawberries and chocolate at the end was worth riding 100 miles.
The weather was excellent and more importantly, this was Tina's first century of the year. She did great, and looks really good in this post ride photo, almost as though she hadn't broken a sweat all day.
The Devil Mountain Double results have been posted here. When I finished at 7:30, I was about the 16th cyclist who had arrived. However, there were about 9 or so cyclists from the 6:00 am start who arrived after me, but still had a lower cumlative time. So I ended up in 26th place overall, out of 126 finishers and about 150 starters. There were more people riding this year than last, and I would have finished 14th last year if I had the same time. However, I'm pretty happy with my effort and the results of my first double century. To finish while there was still daylight was more than I expected, so that was the real victory for me.
Tina and I have the Strawberry Fields Forever ride on Sunday. We're worried about the weather a little for this one, as the long range forecast is for possible rain, although it's probably more likely that it will be dry. We're hoping for a good day for Tina's first century of the year. She's ready for it, and it's a great ride, with excellent support, so we'll be very happy if the weather cooperates.
I’m not sure when the idea of riding a double century (200 miles) first originated. I was pretty sure it was before I ordered my custom Titus bike last August. I had worked with Titus Bikes on making sure the ride would be comfortable over the long haul, a quality that my previous Trek 2300 lacked to some degree. Not that there was anything wrong with the Trek. It had served me well as my first performance road bike when I bought it at the beginning of 2002, and I had successfully ridden it on my first century (100 miles) and first double metric century (200 km, or approx. 125 miles).
The T-Mobile cycling road race was run in San Francisco on September 12th, 2004. I managed to get some pictures of the race from the top of Taylor street. Taylor is not a steep as Fillmore, but they had to go up it more times.
The sun had barely risen before the woman started their race at 7am. The local bicycle racing clubs were well represented, with teams from Velo Bella, Webcor, Los Gatos Bicycle Club, and Palo Alto Bicycles. Also racing was the strong T-Mobile team. (Being the T-Mobile race, it would stand to reason that the T-Mobile team would be racing. That logic didn’t hold for the men’s race however, with nary a T-Mobile rider showing up for that race.)
Despite the fog, the race was exciting, with Lyne Bessette of Canada gobbling up the Master the Mountain points on Taylor street. Although not as long as the men’s race, it was tough enough to make a good selection, leaving only the top riders at the front. On the final climb up Taylor, Nicole Cooke launched a blistering attack and put time into her rivals. She held on for the run to the finish to win the race, making it two years in a row.
The men also started under foggy skies, although it cleared up about halfway through the race. Lance Armstrong didn’t start the race, due to tendinitis in his knee. Who could blame him for not wanting to face the Filmore climb 9 times, and the Taylor street climb 14 times. Almost immediately, Health Net put five riders into a break. Doug Ollerenshaw from Jelly Belly was in the break and gobbled up most of the early Master the Mountains points.
On the last big lap, Jason McCartney broke away and put time between himself and the break. At one point he had over four minutes on the main peloton. With five small laps left, surely that would be enough. However, the main group begain to drive hard, led by U.S. Postal and Chris Horner and the Webcor team. It was hard to believe but on the last climb up Taylor, Charles Dionne launched off the front and blew past McCartney, followed by Fred Rodriguez. However Fast Freddie was suffering from an earlier crash, after which he had to change his bike, get his seat adjusted on the fly, and then waste energy chasing back to the group. That left Dionne to take the solo win, followed by Freddie, trailing in after him by 8 seconds. George Hincapie sprinted out in the remaining group to come in third.
It was a brave solo effort, but even though McCartney came up short, he still won the Master the Mountains competition, just hanging on the last climb up Taylor to break the tie between himself and Ollerenshaw.