Monday, May 19, 2008

My East Bay 200K RUSA permanent is up & running

... and the first DNF was me, naturally. :^)

This is a pretty challenging ride. I wanted to keep it for the most part on scenic roads, preferably shady, with little traffic. Alas, in the East Bay, that means climbing. I tried to keep it under 6000 ft of climbing, but between RUSA's constraints with respect to designing permanent routes, and my own self-imposed contstraint to avoid yukky urban sprawl as much as possible, the best I could do was about 7000 ft. Oh well, most of the studly randonneur types I know can do this easily.

Speaking of, congratulations to Veronica, aka Princess Zippy, the first finisher of the EB200 permanent !
Pending verification and rubber-stamping by RUSA, of course :^)

I started out strong & feeling fine. Veronica and I left the start point in Dublin at about 6 am, so it was very pleasantly cool out and the car traffic was about nil.

Calaveras Road was lovely. Along the way we passed a couple of deer, some quail darted across the road in front of us (quail are so doofy, they always make me laugh), and lots of turkeys - the bird kind, that is.

I had a flat after about 30 miles, and I discovered my Topeak road morph frame pump wasn't working properly - I could pump my tire up to only about 60 psi or so. Which was fine on the flatlands, but Palomares Road was a truly painful slog, I have never felt so awful going up that, I felt I was pushing a tank uphill. (yeah, yeah, some of you might think I already push a tank uphill, but trust me, this was worse).

At the top of Palomares, I asked a passing rider if I could use his frame pump. He galantly pumped up my tire, and then while disengaging the pump he broke off the valve. Ooops. Glad I carried 2 spare tubes. He galantly changed the tubes and inflated the new tube with a CO2 cartridge. I halfway expected it to explode, but yay, no more disasters.

I was only at about mile 50 and I was getting stressed out knowing that I was riding with a defecto pump and no good tubes left. And the way my luck was going I knew that was going to come back and bite me, so I managed to get a hold of Lee who met us out at the golf course and gave me his (working) frame pump and a couple of spare tubes for the rest of the ride.

We had been wasting a lot of time with all my pump/tube mishaps so I made V go on ahead to the next checkpoint.

Climbing up Redwood Road wasn't near as bad as Palomares, but by then I was really off my game and feeling stressed and lousy and it was getting hot. I was climbing so slowly that I was worried that I wouldn't make the next checkpoint in Moraga in time. Then eventually I decided this was BS, I just wasn't enjoying the ride any more. So I phoned ahead to V as soon as I got a cell signal at the top of Pinehurst Road and told her to just keep going, I was going to bail when I reached Moraga.

Once I reached Moraga I bought myself a Diet Coke at the Safeway - and wouldn't you know it, even with my glacial climbing and dawdling on the phone the receipt showed I made it 10 minutes before the checkpoint closing time.

I hung out in a shady spot waiting for Lee to pick me up. And I started feeling a lot better. I shouldn't have been so hasty to bail, I suppose, particularly since almost 3/4 of the climbing was done. I couldn't keep going since I had already called Lee to come & get me. Oh well, lesson learned.

Lee & I drove out towards Martinez to check on V. She was looking strong and going great. freak. We met up with her at the train station and chatted a bit and then we went on our ways.

I might give this a try again next weekend. With a working frame pump. :^)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Grizzly Peak

Kim, Cyndi & I rode the Grizzly Peak Century on Sunday. The GPC is in two parts, the northern part which is 73 miles and then the southern part which brings it up to 112 miles. When I signed up I had intentions delusions of doing the full route. But I've done so little riding in the past month, the 1st part sounded like good choice. Plus I like the idea of finishing before the final stop is all packed up and there's no food left. :p

The day started out freezing cold, windy and damp. We were in a damp mist riding up Pinehurst which turned into a fairly thick fog when we reached Grizzly Peak - so much for the great views, oh well. The mist was so thick we were rained on passing under the eucalyptus groves along GP. All in all, it was pretty neat. We dawdled at the first rest stop at Tilden park and decided to take it easy on this ride and make it a tour de bakery. I nearly froze to death on the descent down Wildcat, geeze it was cold!

It was much nicer cruising down San Pablo Dam Rd but the ever-present headwind made it a bit slower than I'm used to.

We stopped at a Starbucks in Hercules and lounged about for quite a while. It was sooo nice to get out of the chilly wind!

Back on the route we encountered a boy (maybe 18 if a day) on a loaded touring bike on the first day of his trip from El Cerrito to Chicago. Sweet kid, hope it goes well for him.

We dawdled again at the rest stop in Port Coasta, immediately after which we had the joy of climbing McKewan Rd. Jeeeezzz. For yucks I had the gradient indicator on, lots of 12%-plus. I saw 16% a few times. (Oh, and for the benefit of a certain person on TE, I climbed a great deal of it at under 3 mph, and I was oh-so-grateful for my 26/28 gear. :p """" )

We headed along Alhambra Valley Road, which I always like - it's one of the places I'd like to live if I won the lottery. I've never done it in the south-west direction. We climbed Pig Farm Hill the long way. Although it's significantly steeper in the other direction, I much prefer that other way since you get the climb over sooner and then you have the long fun descent. But this way wasn't bad, and it was actually over sooner than I expected.

My lack-of-training really caught up with me on the Bears. The wind really got to me and I got super tired near the end of the first climb (mama?) and couln't wait for the rest stop at Briones. That stop perked me up a bit but not a lot, and I still slogged up papa.

Heading down papa we passed by a very bad looking accident. I heard the sirens up ahead and then I turned a corner and came upon a bunch of stopped cars and a couple of police cars blocking the road on either end of the scene. I couldn't see over all the vehicles and the crowd of people forming, and my heart was in my throat when I asked a guy by the side of the road "was it a cyclist?" I'm a bit ashamed to admit I let out a silent prayer of thanks when they guy responded "yeah, a motorcycle". I rode by the scene and the crumpled-up motorcycle was in the middle of the road and the poor guy was laying in the road being tended to by a small group of people. (According to a short report in the Contra Costa Times, the motorcyclist had hit a stopped car. His injuries were quite serious and he had to be airlifted to the hospital.)

The rest of the ride was thankfully without incident. Cyndi and I were both wearing down, and Kim mentioned the last climb on Rheem was pretty steep, so we took a detour and continued down Moraga Way & took a left on Moraga Rd back to the start. Not only did we miss out on the last climb, we had a blissful few miles of tailwind to take us to the finish.

A nice ride with excellent company :)