Devil Mountain Dummy IV

April 1st, 2006

During the first weekend of March I took off my 27 mm Speedblend tires and put on 23 mm Continental 4000s. I also took off my fenders. Of course we then proceeded to have two weeks of rain. To make my rides harder I started riding with 3 rocks weighing twelve pounds in my Banana Bag. Their names are Rock Hudson, Cary Granite and Clod Raines. They are referred to as the triplets – although they don’t look at all alike.

My first ride with the triplets was a day when the wind was blowing 17 MPH and I was supposed to do hill repeats. I had dilly dallied enough when I got home, that I knew I would not get in my usual number of hill repeats, but I figured I could do 3 before sunset. I have lights, but I really don’t like to be out at commute time.

It’s almost always windy here in the delta. Cool air from San Francisco gets sucked up the river to Sacramento. It’s a great place to sail. I would guess it normally blows 5 – 10 mph. This day was a steady 17 mph. Ugh and my route and the hill I do my repeats on, was right in the wind’s path.

My first trip up the hill was pitiful. I was a full minute slower than normal. And the wind made me just miserable. There are two roads that come to a T at the top of this hill, so I have three ways to climb it. I decided I would try coming up the other side. Alas, it was just as windy. I don’t usually come up the third side. It is a rocking descent, one I don’t normally brake on at all and I can easily do 35 mph on it. But I had to climb this hill one more time, so I elected to do from the third side. It too had a headwind! My average speed for this ride was pitiful.

My second ride with the triplets was a much better experience. Thom had looked at my bike and noticed my rear brakes were rubbing a bit. Hmmm… that would explain some of my unhappiness on the first ride. I timed myself on the same hill after riding hard for 75 minutes and was 45 seconds faster than the first ride with the triplets. Still no where near my best time up the hill, but not agonizingly slow either.

On March 18th I finally got out for a good, long ride. We had planned on joining the Pedalers for Mary’s birthday ride, but we got to the starting point a little late. We did see a few of them out on the road. We arrived at the Junction café to find hordes of other cyclists there. The service is always a little slow at the café, but with so many other folks there, it was like cold molasses running up hill in winter time. I did get a chance to talk with some of the other Pedalers while standing in line though.

After this much longer than intended stop, I was not a happy camper as I headed off for the summit of Hamilton. I was very cold as I headed across the valley and didn’t warm up until the first climb. Happily I felt good the rest of the day. The climb up Hamilton seemed to go much better than last time. I think I was better able to manage my heart rate. My average for the climb was 165 – right where it should be. The descent was a bit nippy. I hadn’t planned my clothing very well.

Thom was no longer having fun, so he ditched me at the base of Hamilton and went back to the car in Livermore. I continued up Sierra Road. Doing Hamilton + Sierra was my primary goal for the day. Sierra has an average grade of 9.4! Thom had said it would take me about an hour to get to the summit. I kept looking at my watch – 25 more minutes of agony, 20 more minutes, telling myself, “You can do anything for 20 minutes.” We had been at the summit of Sierra when the course marshalls marked the line for the King of the Mountains competition for the Tour of California. I was so looking forward to crossing that line. Imagine my dismay when I got to the summit and it was GONE! They had used spray chalk, and with our rainy weather it had been obliterated. I hit my lap counter where I thought the line had been – fifty minutes at an average heart rate of 168. Not bad.

The DMD route gets a little easier after Sierra Road. It rolls along, some ups, but mostly down. I was flying along Felter, looking for my next turn onto Calaveras. For some reason the folks who live through here paint over the DMD signs on the road. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for that black paint. Fortunately, I spotted it and made the hard right turn onto Calaveras – only to be confronted with the Wall! I wasn’t in the right gear for this. Friction shifters don’t like being shifted under load. I guess I am becoming a better rider because I managed to accomplish my shift to my granny. Next time I’ll be prepared.

After the Wall, Calaveras continues to be rolling, but with a definite downward trend. I got to watch the sun set. My Jet Light is awesome! I turned it on before sunset at its lowest setting and turned it up as it become dark. It definitely lit the road well. Once it got dark, I was really getting cold. I decided I would stop in Sunol, rather than continuing the DMD route to the finish. Although energy wise I was feeling pretty good. I wasn’t looking forward to Niles Canyon in the dark. It’s a heavily trafficked road, with no bike lane.

This ride was definitely a confidence builder for me. I may not be able to do DMD fast, but I will be able to do it.

March 25 was the Solvang Double. I was a bit nervous before the ride. I hadn’t ridden more than 95 miles in I don’t know how long. Jumping from 95 miles to 193 seemed huge. Thom kept reminding me that my 95 mile rides were hard rides and that I was well prepared.

We started at about 5:15 and got into a little pace line. It was cool to watch the sky lighten up. It was pretty shades of pink and lavender. But now I know why they say, “Red skies in the morning, sailors take warning.” There was one climb before the first rest stop. We had a few sprinkles before the stop, as we pulled out it began to drizzle. It was fairly flat for awhile and then some long shallow rollers.

As we pulled into the second rest stop the skies just opened up. This stop had real bathrooms and the line for the women’s room was non-existent. I switched jackets in the bathroom and put on my balaclava before we left. I felt like my shoes were filled with water. My shorts were totally soaked and I was squeezing water out of the chamois. The rain was so bad here that a bunch of people dropped out. There was no way to SAG everyone in (they would have needed a bus), so at least 3 groups called taxis. After this stop we climbed up a few short, sort of steep stair steps. I had my first mental moment here, “Why am I doing this?” The rain and the cold wind were blowing down the hill right into my face. I pulled my balacalva up, right over my nose. That made me happier and turned a dismal moment back into an adventure. Just before we stopped at the checkpoint in Morro Bay, we helped a guy with a flat tire, gave him one of our tubes. We turned in our poker chips (proof we had been there) at Morro Bay. It had stopped raining at this point and was just overcast. We continued on to lunch.

At the lunch stop, I took off my shoes and tried to let my socks dry a bit. Sometime after lunch, Thom got a flat. I found glass in his tire. His second tube was toast, so I gave him mine. By the time we got to Pismo Beach the sun was out! More riding – Thom was feeling pretty crummy. More riding, up some hills, down some hills, some flat. We got to the 4th stop and Thom decided to SAG in. He rode 145 miles, the most he’s ever done and with out really training.

It was pretty flat to the 5th stop. I got there at about 6:30. It was a little chilly, but I opted to not have the Ramen. Probably a good call, since the last climb came right after this stop. I had my second mental moment as I started the climb. It was dark, I knew the hill was three miles long, but I couldn’t see any of my instruments without turning on my small clip light. I really don’t like being alone in the dark. Then I noticed the stars and I could see the lights of other riders ahead of me. So, I just kept going. We had been warned that the descent was kind of treacherous. I guess it’s all in what you’re used to. I didn’t think it was bad at all, but I descend the chopped up side of Morgan Territory fairly often.

The route then had some rollers back into town. My ride time was 13 hours, 17 minutes. My total time was 15:25 or so. I never felt physically crummy. My legs felt strong the whole day, I ate well. I wish I were a little faster, but whatever.

I did it!

Total Monthly Mileage: 541
Only 4 hours on the trainer

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