Sunday August 3 - Marin Century, 103 miles, 5,000 ft vertical, 5h58m
Route: A Winding hilly roads scented with salt air, fennel, and cow dung.
Organization: A+ Friendly volunteers and numerous SAG wagons, flawless production.
Food: A+ Very large selection at every rest stop and a great après-ride meal.
Joe bailed out of the ride because he crashed his bike Friday night and was hurting too badly to ride. Sarkis and his friend wanted a later start time so Rick and I my house alone at 5:10am. Check in was very quick and we started riding by 6:30. The boys' locker room was kind of gross and there was a long line for the two toilets - I'm glad I only needed to whizz. Here's the profile (although I'm not positive this depicts this year's route exactly):
(.gif file removed because it blew out my blog - go here to see the profile)
We headed out of town and very quickly started the serious climbing. It was cool and foggy and in some places there was a very light drizzle - not even enough to wipe off my sunglasses though. I had on my warm weather gear and I never felt chilled but I did think that a little sunshine would feel good. Rick and I rode up all the hills at a nice clip and we bombed the descents and we got to the first rest stop at 7:37 am. I mixed up some chocolate HammerGel in my water bottle, popped an e-Cap, and had a bagel with some Brie (!) on it. The stop was at Lincoln School which also was a rest stop in the Holstein Century that Rick and I did last year. I saw one of the Rivendell guys here that I talked with on Mt. Diablo last Wednesday - his name is Marty, he's a classic retro Rivendell guy and a very strong climber.
Still feeling fresh and zippy we headed out toward Tomales Bay over the hilly Marshall-Petaluma Road. Rick and I have done so many centuries together that we just groove. I frequently noticed that we were in the same gear pedaling the same cadence and would get out of the saddle at the same point in the road. We also know each other's relative strengths and do some pretty efficient two-man pace lines. When we got to Tomales bay we rode up over the curvy undulating Highway 1 taking in the magnificent rocky shoreline before we turned northeast toward Valley Ford. The rest stop here was in the gravel parking lot of a bank and there was no plumbing; there was a potable water tanker truck parked just off the street with a hose for the volunteers to fill up the Coleman coolers and the drinking water tasted like sucking swimming pool water through a rubber glove. I cannot emphasize enough how horrible the water was, even mixed up with Cytomax. The other food stuffs here were very good though and had just enough bread and cheese and fruit to get me to the next stop. It was only 9:30 am and we'd gone almost 50 miles already.
Back in the saddle for the much smaller hills on the trip from Valley Ford to Petaluma we picked up some other good riders and made really good time. The sun also started to burn off the fog by this point and it was also in this leg that I first started to feel the lactic burn from such hard efforts. We had ridden away from almost everybody who tried to come with us but there was one guy who was riding very well - turned out he was a local and not doing the century so he didn't already have 70 miles in his legs. We got to the Petaluma rest stop at a very nice little park at 11:20 am. This rest stop was also part of the 100km route and there were hundreds of riders there. I was glad to see ice chests full of Pepsi as well as all the usual stuff like banana bread, bagels, and PB&J. A handful of cashews was also a nice treat. We hung around this stop a little longer than the others because it felt good to sit on the cool grass in the shade. The water here was free of swimming pool/rubber glove flavor too. After popping another e-Cap and a Clif Shot we launched our assault on the final 25 miles.
By noon we were well over 80 miles into the ride and I wasn't in too much pain; usually my neck is really sore by this time but today it was tolerable. Our route was taking us the long way from Petaluma to Novato around Red Hill and for the first time in the ride I felt my hamstring start to cramp up over one of the longer climbs. I was able to prevent it from seizing up by sitting way back on my saddle, but just barely. We hammered up and down all the little rollers and rolled into the finish at 1:24pm for a sub 6-hour ride time and a sub 7-hour total time so it was a very good effort for both of us. The PhotoCrazy.com photographer got this great shot of me about 15 miles before the finish.
The post-ride meal was super - they had pizza, burritos, lasagne, pasta salad, green salad, fruit, breads, cookies, cakes, juice, and pop. Biggest selection of food I've ever seen at a century and probably 400 people sitting around the campus enjoying their accomplishments. There were also a DJ and some cycle exhibition booths set up to look at for fun. A very memorable day, one of my favorite centuries so far.
Product Review: e-Caps ...supposed to help you keep hydrated and prevent cramping. I took four over the course of 6 hours. Couldn't tell that they did anything. Best thing about them is that they didn't cause any stomach problems. My weakest recommendation. Definitely not worth the price (I got a free sample, thanks anyway Adam.)