Sunday, April 18, 2004

Primavera Century, 104 miles

First century of the year. Woke up at 4:30 and ate a huge bowl of oatmeal with brown sugar while I stretched, packed, rubbed in the Icy Hot and got dressed. The forecast was for a cool overcast day with possible showers so I decided to wear my tights over my bibs, a mesh T-shirt under my jersey, and arm warmers. I Picked up Peter just 2 miles away at 5:30, and then Rick in Dublin at 6:00. Got to the start in Fremont at about 6:30 and we met Joe who had decided to drive himself. Check-in was very well organized and we all rolled at 7:05.

For the first few miles we meandered through McNeighborhoods full of McMansions to get out of town while staying off of the busier narrow streets like Mission Blvd. I was feeling great and riding just a little bit faster than the other three and before I knew it I was way ahead of them. I even stopped to take a phone call from my wife, expecting that everyone would catch me but none of them did. There seemed to be quite a few flats and mechanicals the first fifteen miles or so. Then we started a steep but short climb up Calaveras and people were dropping like flies. One guy threw his chain of the granny gear and barely got unclipped before he fell over. Another woman took like two strokes and then totally stalled out. I burned by everyone on the climb but then stopped at a little park where there were some outhouses and I saw Peter riding by just then. If I had looked at my map I would have realized that the first rest stop was only another half mile up the road! It was at mile 20 in Ed Levin Park and they had banana bread, muffins, fruit, and bagels. There was much anxious talk about the upcoming "Calaveras Wall" but I actually looked forward to it. All four of us left this rest stop together.

The second leg consisted of about 15 miles around the Calaveras Reservoir. This was some really neat terrain on rolling, twisty roads with almost no traffic. Rick and I were in the lead and testing each other with little accelerations (I won them all) but he knew the road pretty well so he was faster on the descending sections. Then there was the Photo Crazy guy who took this shot of me:

Next came a nice long descent to rest stop #2 at mile 36 in Sunol Glen School. More of the same breads and fruits here, very friendly volunteers and a mechanic just in case.

The third leg started with about 15 miles of mostly flat Pleasanton and Livermore roads which I mostly rode with Peter; Rick and Joe were back a ways and together. Peter and I happened to join up with a man and two women who were clearly ultra-marathon cyclists (one of the women had a California Triple Crown jersey on). These three made really smooth position changes in the pace line and wasted no energy in unnecessary movement yet they were pleasant and conversational at the same time - I guess that's just something you learn when you do double centuries - I'll never find out for myself! Still they were slowing me down (really!) and Peter and I rode away from them a few miles out of Livermore. There was an optional water and outhouse stop just before the next big climbs so we stopped for a few minutes then left. Peter and I hit the bottom of Altamont Pass together and he warned me that it was a long one so I let him go and sat up to spin my low gear. Then I felt the first few drops of rain on my face - mile 55, I was also starting to get a little left knee pain at this point (tendonitis I think) so I didn't want to push it too hard. I'd never been on this road before; it crosses over I-580 at the top of the pass, then winds around all the windmill farms (pretty cool to get that close to some of them) and then drops down again. After a couple of rolling farm type roads we climbed back up over Patterson Pass Road where the wind started to get stronger too. So my knee was aching and the rain was falling and the wind was blowing but I was still feeling good mentally and physically as we turned in to rest stop #3 for Lunch at Rios-Lovell Winery, mile 68. They had make-it yourself sandwiches, Cup 'o Noodles, bread and fruit but the lines were pretty long so we wound up spending too much time here. Rick arrived about 5 minutes after Peter and I did, and Joe showed up just before we left. Rick said Joe was a tough guy and he'd make it at his own pace so we needn't feel like we had to wait around for him. I popped a couple Advil for my knee, Rick took three for his back, and Peter just tolerated whatever pain he was in without benefit of medication - the three of us started the fourth leg together.

This was the ugliest, rottenest section of the ride. The wind got a lot stronger and the terrain got a lot less interesting as we worked our way from Livermore through the Dublin Canyon including a stretch of the freeway frontage road that was obscenely noisy with traffic. Rest stop #4 came suddenly at mile 89 at a little farm house complete with goats and crowing roosters. I got here first and I joked that I was taking too much HammerGel and that's why I was going too fast - actually it may not have been far from the truth…the HammerGel was flowing and I was flying.

So why did they put a rest stop at mile 89? Because the last leg included another 5-mile, 900-foot climb up Palomares Road. What a grunt, it just went on forever and I did start to feel a LITTLE fatigued in here but the same scenario played out as over the last 3 or 4 climbs: Peter pulled ahead on the climb and Rick fell back with me in the middle, then I caught Peter on the downhill and Rick caught us both on the flats afterwards. We picked up quite a few single riders in the last five miles: it was still raining and windy and they appreciated the group effort. We got back to my car at 3:40pm (after my final solo escape to beat Peter and Rick), quickly loaded the bikes on the roof and headed over to the cafeteria for the post ride meal of lasagne, garlic bread, salad, and brownies. On the way home Rick called Joe to make sure everything was OK and Joe said he was too tired to eat the meal so he just threw his bike in his truck and left.

Ride Statistics:
104 miles
6,000 feet climbing
6h 30m ride time
8h 30 m total time (too much time at those rest stops!)
16.0 mph average speed

Ride Ratings (1 to 10):
Course/scenery 8
Support 9
Difficulty 8

Calaveras Reservoir alone would have been worth the fee; Altamont, Patterson and Palomares were nice bonuses. The SAG wagons were efficient and numerous, the volunteers were great, and the food was reasonable. There were a FEW miles on flat roads with no wind or rain… but not many.

Please sponsor me in the Tour de Cure charity ride for diabetes.