For the last few months I've been feeling like Such a Loser because I hadn't managed to ride my own East Bay 200K permanent route.
Granted, it's a fairly demanding route with 7000 ft of climbing over about 125 miles, but still, it's my own route so you'd think I could eeke it out once in a while. :p
Well, yesterday I finally rode it, and I'm pleased as punch!
After last weekend's reasonably successful Crater Lake Century, I realized I had nothing planned for this weekend so I thought it was a good a time as any to give my perm another try. I didn't tell anyone my plans (except Lee of course, who drove me out to the start in Dublin) in case I ended up bailing again.
My goal for this ride was simply to finish sometime within the allotted 13 & 1/2 hours. So I employed the time-honored "start slow & taper off" approach. I never really pushed on any of the climbs - except for the last climb on Reliez Valley Road, at which point forward momentum was a bit hard to come by (gahhh) - and I stopped a lot for photo ops, snacks, water, chatting with people, & nature breaks. All told it took me 12 hrs and 20 minutes to complete the ride, which is kind of lame (especially compared to others who have ridden this permanent) but hey, it's a start. With all the stops I took I'm pretty confident I will smash that elusive 12 hour barrier next time. :)
The day started out chilly, damp and foggy. The weather report said it would get to the low 90's inland so I wore a sleeveless jersey & bolero. Calaveras Road was very misty on the way up to and at the False Summit:
At the bottom of Calaveras I stopped at the first checkpoint, Christies Donuts, where I scarfed a couple of glazed donut holes - yum - and refilled my bottles. The overcast fog finally burned off by the time I reached Niles Canyon Road.
Heading up Palomares Road I passed a tarantua - my first Big Fuzzy Spider Sighting of the season! - toodling purposefully up the road. I took a couple of photos (in telephoto mode, natch) and thought of putting my foot near to him for a comparison pic, but I didn't want to run the risk of a heart attack so early into the ride if he chose to change course and climb on my foot. If you're like me you like to prepare yourself before viewing a photo of a Big Fuzzy Spider, so here it is.
Continuing up Palomares I was passed by a big group of vintage cars. Much nicer than the usual noisy obnoxious groups of corvettes and beemers and whatnot that like to bomb through that canyon.
Recently someone marked the road with mile markings indicating the distance to the summit. While the 4 and 3 mile markings weren't really thrilling, I definitely perked up when I say the 1 and the 1/2 mile markings. And this one was most certainly welcome:
I headed down the fun descent on the other side (40+ mph, whee!) and into Castro Valley. I stopped at the Willow Park golf course near the bottom of Redwood Road to use the restroom and have a snack, and I got chatting with a woman wearing an Oakland Yellowjackets jersey. Seems the Bike Against the Odds was being held that day (I totally forgot about it!) and she had just finished her volunteering stint and was out on her own ride. I spent entirely too long hanging out there, but it was nice.
I called Lee just as I was about to head out from the golf course to let him know how I was doing. He told me that after he dropped me off in Dublin he went over to Danville and rode up Mt. Diablo. While he was up there he saw Veronica and they chatted for a bit. He went and told her that I was out riding my permanent!! OK, I didn't tell him it was a secret or anything. But V told him "tell her she better finish!". Aw crud. No more riding under the radar. :p
Redwood Road was lovely, as always.
And hilly, as always.
At Pinehurst Road I starting seeing signs and route markings for the Bike Against the Odds ride, and for much of the next 40 miles or so I was following the BATO century route.
I reached the third checkpoint in Moraga only about 25 minutes before the closing time. While by then I had completed most of the climbing, I still had the long hot slog on Alhambra Valley Road and up Pig Farm Hill. I was starting to wonder if I'd make it to the fourth checkpoint in Martinez in time.
Although I was running a bit low on time, that didn't keep me from stopping again at the Starbucks in Orinda for the restroom, more water, and a slice of banana nut bread. That Starbucks was the last opportunity to top off my bottles for quite a while & I wasn't about to pass on it. The nut bread, well, I just felt like it.
Continuing down Camino Pablo I passed the intersection of Bear Creek Road and saw there were tents set up for the BATO ride. One of the tents had a LunaChix banner so I stopped to see if CindySue was there. Turns out I missed her by only a half hour, bummer. Probably for the best because I couldn't spare too much time chatting.
Luckily, there was a light cool breeze blowing on Castro Ranch and Alhambra Valley Roads so it wasn't as hot out there as it could have been.
But as I was slogging along AVR I started having my first major case of the Dreaded Self-Doubt (Why on earth am I doing this? Who am I kidding? and so on). I was seriously doubting I'd make the Martinez checkpoint in time. I decided I would check my time when I reached the intersection of AVR and Reliez Valley Road. I'd have about 8 miles to Martinez from there, and if it looked like I wouldn't make it to Martinez by the 5 pm checkpoint closing time, I would simply continue on Reliez Valley Road and head into Lafayette and take BART back home. I tried not to think of what V would have to say if I bailed yet again. :p
But in the meantime I still had to tackle that stinker, Pig Farm Hill:
Oddly enough, Pig Farm Hill wasn't too bad, I simply geared way down and chugged. I heard one guy come up rapidly behind me and I assumed he would pass by, but as the grade reached its 12-16% max I heard him emitting death throes. Meanwhile, my super-low gears & I just continued upward, slowly but surely. At the top I caught my breath and chatted with the guy in the photo (who was well ahead of me all the way up the hill) while he waited for his friend (the aforementioned Death Throe Guy). Guy in the photo really liked my Keen cycling sandals so we were discussing the merits of Keens and super-low gears, and Death Throe Guy soon appeared.
I bid my farewells and bombed down AVR. When I reached the intersection I checked the time. It was only 4 pm! I had a whole hour to ride 8 flat miles to the checkpoint! Yee-hah, I was actually going to do this!!!
I reached the checkpoint at 4:22, and headed out again at 4:30. I called Lee to let him know I thought would finish between 7 and 7:30. I was relieved that I'd likely finish before sunset.
A couple of weeks ago I changed the remaining route slightly. Instead of a long, shadeless slog up the very busy Taylor Blvd, the route now went back on AVR to the intersection with Reliez Valley Road and continued on RVR until it joined up with Pleasant Hill Road leading into Lafayette. It's a much more scenic, shady, less travelled route. Except I forgot about that last stinker of a climb before reaching Pleasant Hill Road. It occurs around mile 105 and it's nearly as difficult as Pig Farm Hill. But, at least it's in the shade. And once that's over with, that's it for the big climbs. Yay.
I can understand why V says she hates that last slog down Danville Bld. After Reliez Valley Road, I was more than ready to be DONE, dammit. Although it's flat & shady, Danville Blvd was hard - my legs were yelling "uncle!" and I had to stop to take a couple of ibuprophen. At least when I reached Railroad Ave I knew I only had 10 miles or so to go, and the last 5 miles on San Ramon Road was a slight downhill grade which was a definite plus. I rolled into the Safeway at about 7:05 pm, a very happy camper indeed.
After I cleaned up a bit in the lovely Safeway bathroom, Lee and I had a celebratory dinner at Bosco's in Sunol. They make a mean linguine with Dungeness crab! I probably shouldn't have eaten the whole thing, but geeze it was goood. I then slept for a good ten hours.
This morning I was pretty creaky but I did a quick easy spin along the AC Trail out to the bay & back, and I felt fine after that.
And still mighty pleased with myself! :)
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