Tag Archives: cycling

Part 2: Santa Rosa Double Trouble

Continuation of the Santa Rosa Double Trouble ride report

Stores

I love the little stores that make these rides possible.  Every time I am in one, I just want to tell them how happy I am that they are there, selling me junk food and water and providing a bathroom.  I usually resist, except at the Junction, where my normal laconic nature is over run by my relief to be sitting in air conditioning before a plate of food.  “Thank you for being here,” I yell at the woman who works there.  She must think me nuts, but I love these places.   My favorite places in the world for food are:

  • The Junction at the corner of Mines, San Antonio, and Del Puerto roads.
  • Spanish Flat near Lake Beryessa (yummy yummy panini)
  • The Stewart’s Point store
  • Raymond’s bakery in Cazadero (my favorite bakery)
  • The Tomales bakery (yum)
  • The Jimtown store (opens at 0730 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday! best grilled eggplant sandwich I have ever eaten)
  • The Valley Ford store
  • Roberts Store in Woodside (has anything you could want)
  • Steady Eddys cafe in Winters

I was very happy to be able to buy water at the Sanel Valley Market before the 18 mile trek over and down Hopland grade in the heat.  Sanel Valley Market, though I am very happy for its presence in the world, will never make it onto my list of favorite places, but the Kelseyville Soda Bay Market may.  I loved this place.  It was really small, but seemed to have a little of everything and it was a hub of activity.  Two people worked there and other people seemed to be coming by mostly to visit.  One rather gregarious, good natured man talked at length to a woman about music, places he has played, places he will play, music he has written, people he has written music with, and what wonderful souls they had.  The woman, though less loquacious, was also quite interested in music and had provided the shop with some of its music memorabilia.  Johnny Lee Hooker had had a large impact on both of their lives.  The loquacious man offered to me, without prompting, the location of the bathroom and told me that I was free to use it.  They questioned me about my ride and told me about the other riders who had gone by earlier.  A woman in the clothing department noted that one of the dresses had fallen on the floor, getting dirty.  The dress definitely needed some dusting off and the woman wanted to know if she could get a discount.  The loquacious man declined to offer a discount, but did go back and help her pick herself out a dress, which at full price was $19.  I would have described the dress as more of a negligee.  It wasn’t transparent, but it was rather short, had strappy sleeves and a very low neckline with an oddly padded bust. However, they called it a dress and the woman thought $19 too good of a deal to pass up for such a nice dress, so she bought it.  I bought water, chocolate milk, and a hard-boiled egg and was about as happy and content as I had been all day.  I love eggs.

The area along Clear Lake was very pretty, but I had a hard time taking pictures. The road had no shoulder and I did not feel safe stopping at many locations. The areas with turnouts and no cars were not necessarily the most photogenic.

Google apparently does not know all

Check out that blank spot between 78-89 on the topography map.

That area couldn’t be that bad, its topography isn’t even noticed by google and google knows everything.  That section was tough.  Up, down, UP, down, UP, down, UP!  On one of the ups, I wasn’t able to down shift gears fast enough (I was slightly distracted by a fast passing car) and I ended making a u-turn and stopping to prevent myself from falling as I bogged down in too tall a gear.  It was pretty, but Soda Bay road and Point Lakeview road were tougher than expected.

Point Lakeview Road

I don’t like 29.  It has a shoulder.  It does not really have much climbing.  It should be fine, but I grew tired of the constant stream and noise of fast moving traffic.

I ran out of water about 12 miles from the end.  I knew I would run out of water, but I could not stand the idea of adding any additional mileage by going a couple of blocks into Middletown to buy water.  I am an idiot and I knew I was being stupid.

Party in Pope Valley

The Santa Rosa cycling club is really like no other club.  They throw ridiculously well supported events for alomst no cost to the participants.  There is no way our entry fee pays for that support.  The Santa Rosa club owns a lot of supplies that they use for their two large organized rides (the Wine Country Century and the Terrible Two), but they also have a lot of gear for the various trips and tours they do.  We were staying at the Pope Valley Farm center, which had a large room for sleeping and a couple of bathrooms.  Bob had set up an outdoor shower in the back.  He had a large overhead light (a street lamp, really) for outdoors lighting, a projection screen for showing a multitude of concert music videos, and a ton of yummy food.  They brought cookers and chafing dishes and everything was just over the top and great.  Anything you could want to drink, they had.  He played music videos  on the screen all night.  Should I say that again?  He explained that he was preparing for Nascar, an explanation that shed no light on the situation, as far as I was concerned.  Isn’t Nascar a series of a type of car racing.  What does that have to do with an outside wifi network, a large projection screen, music videos, an outside stereo system, wine, beer, sodas, yummy abundant food, and a lovely campfire?  I am not sure, but apparently we were practice.

I became very sleepy and was disappointed to feel compelled to leave the party and go to bed.  I missed most of the 600k people.  The 600k people were serious and in a completely different state of mind than us 200k slackers.

I met a bunch of people at the party in Pope Valley, but I have forgotten most everyone’s names.  Everyone was very nice and I had a great time.

Party in Pope Valley.   Brian, Susan, Andreas, Dave, Paul (hidden) Bob

Denis, Tina, Brian, Susan

I like this picture of me; it sums up the weekend. I had a couple of annoying moments, but I was happy every minute of the two days.  Me, Peter, Firouzeh (?)

The next day, using the danger of the Hopland descent as an excuse, I returned a shorter route.  I went over Ink Grade to Calistoga (yummy yummy eggs over-easy) and then up to Pine Flat road.  I climbed Pine Flat to the guardrail and then returned to Santa Rosa.  I love the 7 mile climb to the guardrail on Pine Flat, with its huge vistas in all directions.  After the guardrail, Pine Flat is stupid.

Food galore awaited us at the hotel room at the end of the ride.  yum

Useless stats

  •  19 600k riders started, 4 DNFs and the rest finished.
  • 12 Double Trouble starters.  8-9DNFs!
  • 1 (Garth) rode the Double Trouble straight through as a 400K.
  • Number of eggs eaten by me: 5
  • Number of pictures taken by me: 114

Day one:

  • distance= 127.3 miles
  • avg moving speed=12.7 mph
  • total time=10:46:46 (yay! beat 11 hours)
  • ride time=09:58:73

Day two:

  • distance=74 miles
  • avg moving speed=11.3 mph
  • total time=7:28
  • ride time=6:30

Society page

I met Barley and Susan Forsman, who are quite famous in these circles.  Omar doing his first brevets, did both 200ks.  He also spent much of the evening test riding Volagis, because the 200k wasn’t quite long enough.  Tina Forsman was also signed up to do the 200ks.   Robert Choi, Susan and Barley’s partner in Volagi cycles, was the first rider into the Pope Valley on the return.  Graham Pollock was the second rider.  I saw Linda Bott and Peg Miller on their way out.  Clyde Butt fought nausea valiantly and beat me in to the finish.  Firouzeh and Susan Noble worked the Pope Valley stop.  Firouzeh and Dave took the short way back from Pope Valley, but stopped at a winery for a picnic and wine tasting and just beat me back in.  Michael McGuire worked the Blue Lake stop. Bob Redmond organized the whole thing, did not sleep, and left his projection screen in Pope Valley.

View from guardrail on Pine Flat Road

Part 1: 2012 Santa Rosa Double Trouble

I was pleased by the sight of about 6 hot air balloons floating above wine country as I rode along Faught a little after 7 am. I was amazed that anyone would get up so early to ride in a balloon.

“My ride was going good until the nausea set in,” Clyde Butt said to no one in particular as we all meandered around the Pope Valley Farm center front yard trying to figure out how to feed ourselves. That sentence is a good synopsis of a lot of long rides.  Clyde had done the first 200 miles in 13 hours, but was eventually overwhelmed by nausea and stuck on the side of the road over a guardrail in the dark.  It was a little after 6 am on Sunday and he was at the mile 230 Pope Valley rest stop preparing to leave.  He had completed the first 200 miles by 7 pm the night before, but after that had had a rough night and a very difficult 30 miles.  He looked pretty good at this point-just a little tired and dazed.

My ride, on the other hand, was going quite well.  A few weeks ago, Bob Redmond, in a bit of a panic at the small number of registered 600k riders, decided to add the Double Trouble rides to the 600k weekend event.  While the 600k people would start at 6 am on Saturday and struggle through 375 miles by Sunday night.  The Double Trouble people, using some of the 600k route, would do 200k on Saturday; sleep and party in Pope Valley, trying not to make fun of the silly 600k riders; and then return to Santa Rosa by retracing our outbound route.  The obvious problem with this scheme is that Pope Valley is only about 35-40 miles away from Santa Rosa.  The next day most of the Double Trouble folks shortened the route for the return.  In order to do a 600k you need to be a little blind to other options like short-cuts and cabs.  The 600k-ers were on a mission and were focused, while also seeming slightly confused.  They seemed completely unaware at how close they actually were to the finish as they headed out back north in the opposite direction to home.

Three of the 600k riders were from Orange county and completely unused to hills.  One of the Orange County guys told me that the first 200k of this ride was the hilliest 200k he had ever done.  When they were told that they were only 35-40 miles from the start, they perked right up.  “You mean I can stay the night here and then just ride 35 miles back in the morning?”  The three DNFed on the spot and settled in to the Pope Valley party.  They had come up to the area with the hope of seeing new beautiful landscape and they certainly had succeeded on that goal.

Route for The Santa Rosa Double Trouble

The first day, I did the prescribed route, which starts in Santa Rosa, goes up Chalk hill, 128, Dutchner Creek, Cloverdale, north on 101, Hopland Grade, along the south side of Clear lake, 29 from Lower lake to Middletown and then Butts Canyon to Pope Valley.  Either you know what these words mean or you don’t. The only thing that matters is that Hopland grade is long and beautiful, that the road along Clear Lake is much harder than expected, and that 29 is annoying (completely expected).

If you ride slowly enough, Chalk Hill Road is easy.

Ride’s beginning

I am such an unsociable crank.  The start for the 200k was at 7 am, which meant I was able to sleep until 0430 and I was able to have breakfast.  Brilliant.  I love later starts.  0430 is almost verging on a perhaps, slightly reasonable time to get up.  It is too early, but it, at least, does not feel like the previous day.  A couple of weeks ago, in order to make the Davis start, I got up at 3 am, but did not have breakfast, since even with a 3 am wake-up call, I still did not have enough time to eat before driving to the start.  (My intestines hate me.  Honestly, they straight up hate me.  Biking wreaks havoc with the digestion system anyway and the earlier starts just ensure that no matter what I plan to eat, I’m screwed from the very start.)  However, Bob Redmond, in a stroke of genius, chose 7 am to start the 200k.

Liz was questioning Bob at the start about with whom she should ride.  Bob, seeing me, said “Let me introduce you to Lisa.”  I, being the crank that I am, answered, “I prefer to ride alone.”  Both Liz and Bob seemed pretty appalled by the answer, but I did want to ride alone.  I wanted to go at my own pace, taking pictures and I was certain that Liz was too fast for me.  At some point, when talking about pace, I told them that I was planning on taking 11 hours, which seemed to relieve me of having any obligation of riding with anyone else, since everyone was planning on a faster 200k than that.  I felt slightly bad for my answer, though, and at the end, Susan Forsman, with her voice dripping with sympathy, queried me about why had I ridden all by myself.  I assured her that I like riding alone, but occasionally I do feel like a freak for doing so.

Red Winery Road

101 Northbound

I like riding south on 101 from Hopland to above Cloverdale.  The pavement is smooth and the shoulder wide.  It is downhill and usually has a tailwind.  It is also gorgeous.  I mean just beautiful.  A lovely river-like thing runs along the west side of the highway and the highway runs within a valley, hills to both sides.  -And you are flying.  Wind at your back, slight down-slope, smooth pavement.  I feel like I belong on a highway, I am going so fast.  Wheeeeeeee!

101 northbound, however, the route I took Saturday, lacks many of these fine qualities.  I still think the road pretty but I can’t see the river from this side. I have a bit of a headwind and I am going slightly uphill, so I am not suffering from the delusion that I belong there.  Instead, I feel a tad slow.  At one point, due to some stupid drainage issue, the shoulder actually disappeared, forcing me out into the lane of traffic.  I was on the edge of the lane, but I didn’t want to share the lane with traffic doing 70.  This section was short, but I was still passed by cars while riding here.  A little later, still due to the same drainage issue, the shoulder was completely covered with algae-filled standing water.  I was afraid that the algae-covered wet asphalt would be slippery and didn’t want to ride through this section, but I really didn’t want to go back out into the lane of traffic on 101.  I could see a few bike tracks through the algae, but no body imprints, so I figured no one had fallen and I rode through.

On 101, a large electronic sign warned that 175, the road through Hopland grade, would be closed on Mon-Wed, Jun 4-6 for paving.  I noted that this date did not affect us and dismissed the notification as irrelevant.

Reminder not to go too fast on 101

The view was pretty, but the skid marks left by a semi with locked up wheels were a little daunting

Hopland Grade

Thus, the road surface, despite the notification, came as a surprise to me.  175 was chewed up in preparation for the impending paving.  At first, I thought it was not that bad.  I imagined myself on pave and fancied myself in Belgium. After about 1/2 of a mile, I found it very annoying and kept thinking it could stop anytime now.  After about a mile, I was struck (and I mean struck, like struck hard) with the idea that this could go on for a while.  11 miles.  It went on for 11 miles and not just any 11 miles, 11 miles up Hopland grade, so 11 SLOW miles.  It was not really that bad, but I was lucky that I had ridden my very comfortable, bump and pothole-eating, cushioning-steel-forked Rex, instead of my nervous, notice a pea under 40 mattresses, aluminum Cannondale, that drinks expresso every morning to start its day.

The constant bumpiness from the grading done to the pavement made the climbing slow.  My tire tended to slip when I stood, from the lack of traction due to the rough surface.  The sides of the road, in addition to the roughness, had gravel, which made them a little more slick than I liked.  The cars weren’t giving me a lot of room, which I did not understand.  They could certainly see that the road conditions were bad and, even in the plush ride of a car, you can feel the roughness of the road.  Why weren’t they giving me more consideration?  Upon complaining about them at home, Jason pointed out that they were likely unhappy with the road conditions, too, and did not have any consideration left for me.  I felt bad for the motorcyclists; they must have had a rough ride.

I was quite disappointed when the pavement continued to be rough after the county line.

The rough pavement only lasted a little bit beyond the top, but that small patch of the descent was horrible.  I was a few feet into the descent, when I decided that the scenery was pretty and wanted its picture taken.  I love the views along Hopland grade.  I restarted the descent and made it past one corner, before deciding that another picture really needed taking.  The descending really was terrible.  I was having a hard time reaching the brakes, because of how much I wanted to grip the handlebars.  My arms were shaking so much I felt like I could not really see them.  I restarted and made it a few more yards, before being, yet again, overwhelmed by the desire to take a picture.  This stop, my third, was my last for the descent.  The pavement became normal and the rest of the descent was ok.  I am happy for the pictures.

The next day my hands seemed slightly bruised and hurt slightly as I rode, but they weren’t bad.  My right has a slight bruise on the base of the palm, but I have no swelling and no neuropathy.  I have only done one 600k, but my palms were swollen and red on day 2 of that ride and the neuropathy lasted 5 months.  I am wary of possible damage to my hands on these long rides, but the only real damage from this weekend’s ride was a lost bar end plug.  (My friend James can go on at length about the bodily damage caused by missing bar end plugs, so, fearing his wrath, I went to the wonderful Cycle Sports today and replaced the plug.)

Hopland grade. 11 miles of road prepared for repaving.

Looking west as I climbed the west side of Hopland Grade

View north towards Clear lake from just beyond the top of Hopland Grade. I was avoiding the descent by taking pictures.

I took 114 pictures. Really, you should consider yourself lucky that these are the only ones being shown.

To be continued

Davis Double Ride Report

I have done Davis Double once before and the experience was miserable.  Beyond hot.  Too hot.  Felt horrid at the end- heat exhaustion-hot.  Spent the day pulling over to the side of the road to cool down under trees, trying not to fry my brain- hot.  Until yesterday, I haven’t done it since and I was not going to start this year’s ride if temps were predicted above 100, but the predictions were for mildly hot conditions, so I did it.

My facebook staus for the ride was: ” Cardiac was lovely, Honey was ok, Cobb was hard, and Resurrection was soul-sapping. I think that the Davis Double is worth doing just for the joy of reaching the rest stop at the top of Resurrection.”  Reaching the top of Resurrection is such a fabulous feeling.  I was overwhelmed with a sense of joy for having reached it.  The joy was probably mostly from the relief of the pain from climbing resurrection.   Resurrection is just a harsh climb.  It is hot and exposed and a slightly miserable experience.  Yesterday wasn’t too hot and we had a occasional cooling breeze, which really should have made for nice conditions.  However, Resurrection is still hard, even when it really isn’t overly hot.  I think that the expanse of open wide road road, being on a highway, makes the grade appear less than it is.  I can still feel the grade in my legs and the hot sun on my back, even with the occasional cooling breeze.

I spent the first 42 miles in pacelines, which is unusual for me on doubles.  I don’t really like pacelines on long rides.  My average speed for those 42 miles was 20.7 miles, a record for me.  Jason and I haven’t even gone that fast on the tandem for 42 consecutive miles.  I skipped the first rest stop in order to stay in the group and did not stop until mile 53 at rest stop two.  I was in a sketchy paceline at the very beginning of the ride and the big guy I was behind and I jumped a paceline lead by two tandems. We went from doing 21 to doing 27.  That paceline slowed, but it remained too fast for me.  I had someone behind me, so I was anxious about being dropped and causing him to be dropped, too.  I felt much better when the wheel (big guy) I was following fell off and I turned around and realized that the guy on my wheel was long gone, too.  We then followed a white jersey guy and the white jersey guy pulled us onto the 508 guy.  The 508 guy was fantastic.  He was steady like rock.  It was the perfect paceline.  His only problem was that he was extremely fast through the corners and would drop us all and we would be clamoring back on.  Eventually, after one corner, I gave up, realizing I would not be able to jump on.  The big guy said “he’s something in the corners. Let’s get him.”  He was able to catch him, but the white jersey guy and I weren’t.  We got on another line and everything was good again.

I stayed in pacelines until mile 42 when the headwinds blew me off.

Lots of people I know passed me and said hi.  Throughout the day, I kept being passed by the same people over and over again. That was really nice.  I liked being able to recognize people and I liked the feeling of everyone being in it together. I like riding alone, but I really like seeing people as I ride.  Everyone seems so nice and supportive.

Cobb was okay.  It was slow, but at least twice as fast as the last time I did it.  I was happy about Cobb.  I was riding on and off with a SF Randonnuer guy, whose name I never caught.  He told me that the last time he did Davis Double and went up Cobb, a guy standing on the side of the road in Cobb offered to sell him some Meth.  Wondering if it would help his performance, he considered buying it for  moment, but was able to resist the temptation.

The descent down Cobb on Seigler Canyon contained a large and nasty dip.  The dip was freshly painted a fluorescent orange when I went by, but it was not painted until after 5-6 people crashed.  I could see the fluorescent paint, but I could not really see the dip until I was close to it.  The pavement was sunken down, but it was not cracked, so it was difficult to see.  At the top of Cobb, we were warned that people were crashing on Seigler and to be careful.  At that time the people at the rest stop did not know what was taking people down, they just knew that people were crashing.

Chris of GPC crashed on Loch Lomond when he flatted going fast down the descent.  He was so happy that he was not badly hurt.  He finished the ride.

My favorite part of the ride occurred about 2 minutes after the start.  I had parked on the street along the high school a block away from the start.  The course went right by my car, so I was able to stop and turn off the dome car lights I had left on.

I bonked around mile 150, going along highway 16 though the Cache Creek area toward Guida and the Cache Creek Casino.  The ride to the Guida rest stop was slow and very painful.  I thought that I would never get there and I was dreaming of food.  I hadn’t eaten breakfast, because I didn’t want to have to get up before 3 am and is the meal you eat at 3 am really breakfast?  Isn’t that just a late night snack?  Honestly, who thinks that getting up at 3 am for a bike ride is reasonable?  (or before 3 am, if I were to eat?)  What was I thinking?  I skipped lunch, because it was hot at that rest stop, I didn’t feel like eating, and the last time I ate before going up Resurrection, I spent much of the climb chanting “Don’t puke, don’t puke, don’t puke.”  I wasn’t really surprised that I felt lousy at mile 150, but that knowledge didn’t make me feel any better.  My on bike temperature for the day also reached its maximum during that section.  I saw 101 at one point.  (The on bike readings are always higher than regular air temperatures.)

I sang the Merry Minuet to myself over and over.  I haven’t heard this song in years.  My mom would sing it too me when I was a kid.  I learned this song at the beginning of the Iran religious takeover and hostage crisis in the late 70s.  At the time, I was stunned that lyrics seemed so timely for a song written in the late 40s/early 50s.  My mom had said that people don’t change.

By the time I got to Guida, mile 162.8,  I felt pretty bad.  I felt like I was starving, but all food was unappealing.  I ate a peanut butter and banana sandwich, which was quite unappealing but I ate it anyway.  I had a can of V8, because it was the only thing that actually appealed.  I paced around the rest stop, hoping to feel better, but I never really did, so eventually I left.  I don’t sit at these later rest stops, because I have a hard time getting going again.  I feel very faint and become unable to get back up.  My blood pressure seems to plummet.  I do better if I keep moving.  I am like a shark.

CASINO!  The last time I did Davis, I rode by the Cache Creek Casino in complete darkness, which was horrible.  Dreadful.  The traffic was heavy, the road was narrow and I was blinded by the lights from the constant stream of oncoming cars.  I couldn’t see the side of the road, so I rode further into the lane than necessary.  Riding by the casino during the daylight is not that bad at all.  I can see the road and the traffic is much lighter.   The lane is wide enough for most cars to pass me without problems.  The difference was night and day.

I threw up along this section.  I have never actually thrown up while actually still riding and I was really happy that no one was behind me.  Pierce referred to it as a moving violation, a quip I appreciated.

I hung around the last rest stop, looking at food with a combination of longing and disgust.  After I while, I grew tired of circling and left with Steve, Alfie and Pierce.  Hanging on their wheels was great.  Eventaully we hit a headwind and I was blown off the back, dropping from 19 mph to 13, but I was feeling better, so all was good.  I was slightly confused at this point and completely alone. I was glad for the road markings, because I wasn’t really able to deal with the route sheet. I got on someone’s wheel for the last few miles, which was great.  He seemed to be happy that I was with him and I got in two minutes before sunset and everything seemed fantastic.

I was eventually able to eat again.  I ate slowly, but got down some beans and a coke.  I am fond of beans.  I needed the coke, in order to drive my self back home and not fall asleep.  I visited with LisaJ, Tony, Alfie and LisaLisa, Steve, Jim and Pierce.  Steve showed me how to operate the spot tracking system I had been carrying around all day.  JasonMc had wanted me to use it, but I couldn’t figure out how to turn on the tracking in the 15 seconds of consideration I had given it in the morning before starting the ride. Steve told me to turn it on for the drive home, so that when I drive off the road into some bushes, they would be able to find me.

LisaLisa tried to die last year when her aorta dissected.  She was at home when it happened, Alfie called 911 immediately, the ambulance responded quickly, she had the surgery at Summit for the repair and she did not die.  The odds weren’t in her favor and she is lucky.  She is facing possible more surgery in the future, a scary prospect for them both.  LisaLisa did a little over 40 miles today.   Steve’s regular riding partner, KenE is in the hospital recovering from coronary bypass surgery after his heart attack last Saturday.  He went into cardiac arrest while on a bike ride and was found by an off-duty nurse, who did CPR.  The ambulance came quickly and he also lived.  LisaJ did 46 miles today, riding out to the first rest stop with her husband, Tony, and Steve and then retruning to the start.  She is having surgery on Thursday and will find out then the stage of her cancer.

I only have a limited number of riding days left to me and I was glad I did yesterday’s ride.

The most questionable part of the whole day was the planned ride home.  If I felt sleepy I was going to stop in Dixon and stay the night there.  I am not a good driver and I once feel asleep driving home after a 300k.   I did fine and didn’t even feel sleepy as I drove along the highway in the dark, singing old disco songs along with radio.