Devil Mountain Dummy III

March 4th, 2006

We went to the Rice Valley Tandem Rally Feb. 11. This was a nice flat ride, with only 400 feet of elevation gain, 92 miles in length. We haven’t been on the tandem in about a year. I have really changed my riding position since we were last riding the tandem regularly, and it showed. The comfy position on my Brooks saddle is sitting straight up, while I now prefer to be in a more aerodynamic position behind Thom. Frequently standing to pedal kept me happy, but overall it was much less comfortable than my single bike. We had been considering using the tandem to do our first double, Solvang, but we’ve changed our minds.I’ve ridden 437 outside miles this month, most of it involving a climb. On Presidents’ Day we went to see the finish of Stage 1 of the Tour of California in Santa Rosa. In the morning, Thom dropped me off in Napa and I rode Mount Veeder to Dry Creek. Mount Veeder was very pretty and we had done it previously on the tandem. It’s a pleasant climb with a nice downhill. The roads were a little sandy. I suspect that they had been quite icy overnight, as I did see a few patches of ice left over.

It’s a pretty stiff climb up Dry Creek, however and I was thrilled to get to the top and see a Cheese Hill sign. You know the sign, it has a truck on what looks like a wedge of cheese and usually indicates the grade of the downhill. In this case 12%! Woohoo! It’s a curvaceous descent and I’m having fun. That is until the road takes a sharp left and I have too much speed for the corner. I brake hard – too hard and lock up the rear tire. I fishtail twice across my lane. It’s amazing how many thoughts can go through your head in a short of amount time. “I’m going to crash. This is what happened to Joseba Beloki in the 2003 TdF. I can’t crash. My bike is too pretty.”

Fortunately, I released the brakes, Fluffy straightened out and there was no crash. It did shake me up a bit though. I stopped after another corner and called Thom. He was already heading up the hill to meet me as my time for riding was running out, so he was only a mile or two away. We had underestimated how long it would take me to climb Veeder and Dry Creek so I didn’t get in a very long ride before going to the ToC.

Since I have my speed sensor on my rear wheel, I know exactly how fast I was going when I locked up – 34.4 MPH. I consider it a lesson learned – actually two. Fluffy could have taken that corner, at that speed. I wasn’t leaned over very far; I didn’t need to brake as hard as I did. Secondly, release the brake dummy.

The next day, Tuesday, the Tour climbed Sierra Road. So did we. This is the climb I am most worried about on DMD. It comes after Mount Hamilton and is very steep – 3.4 miles, average grade of 10%. By itself, this is a very doable climb. I never got out of the saddle – except to pose for my picture as I got to the summit.


I plan on doing a loop of Hamilton – Sierra Rd. sometime in March. I was extra cautious on this descent and afterward I was a little concerned that maybe I’ve lost confidence in myself. I need to be zippy on the down hills to counteract my slow climbing.

My last big ride for the month was from our house, over Morgan Territory, through Danville and up Diablo. I was initially planning on doing two loops of Morgan Territory/Diablo, the second loop with Thom. When he hooked up with me on Diablo, we decided to bag the second loop. Neither of us was really excited about it and riding is supposed to be fun. The good news is – I’m back to my zippy self – at least on descents I know. I had my personal fastest speed on the Livermore side of Morgan Territory – 44.3 MPH.

I think my training is going pretty well. In addition to the outside miles I had another 8 hours on the trainer. I’m really looking forward to the Solvang Double at the end of March. It’s fairly flat. DMD is the first of the stage race doubles. I plan on signing up for Central Coast, which is the second stage. If DMD goes well, I will sign up for Terrible Two, the third stage. Terrible Two has a 16.5 hour time limit. That means I need to average 12.25 MPH. That doesn’t sound hard, but it has extremely steep climbs -the first being that 12% grade I nearly wiped out on. My average speed for the long climbing rides I’m doing has risen from 10.9 to 11.5 MPH. So we’ll see. Only 32 people completed all three stages last year. I could be in the top fifty!

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