Devil Mountain Dummy V – After the Ride

April 30th, 2006

First I want to thank my wonderful husband who has coached me, ridden with me and provided so much moral support. I wouldn’t have even attempted this ride without his help.The alarm went off at 3 AM and we began getting ready to go the ride. Everything was going well. I was even able to eat some breakfast, which is hard for me at that hour. Thom packed up the car with things he would need volunteering while I concentrated on prepping myself for the ride. We were just about on time, when I realized the cat was nowhere to be seen. The front door had been open while the car was being loaded. I suspected that she had wandered outside. At 17 she is still very curious. We finally found her in the garage. Apparently she meandered in while the bike was being put on the car.

We drove about fifteen minutes down the highway and I realized that I had left my water bottles in the freezer. We stopped at a convenience store and got me a bottle of water. They did not have any with a sport top that would fit a cage, so I ended up with a screw top bottle. It’s a good thing I’ve got pretty good bike handling skills, taking a screw top off on a bike is an interesting exercise.

Between looking for the cat and the need to get a bottle, I left at least 8 minutes behind everyone else who left at 5 AM. As a result I was by myself most of the day. The ride to the base of Mount Diablo was uneventful. I turned onto Mount Diablo Scenic Blvd. and found myself faced with a big ditch. “Holy Moly!” I uttered and thought to myself, this road really has gone downhill. Then I realized I was actually on the asphalt sidewalk and the ditch was a ditch. Oops.

Diablo was totally socked in with fog below about the 3,000 foot mark. It was cold and I was wishing I had worn wool socks. I passed a couple on the side of the road. I said, “Hello” and continued on by. The woman caught up to me and said that her husband had broken his chain, I don’t have a spare chain and they had a chain tool, so there wasn’t much help I could offer. I did call Thom and ask him to make sure that they would be Sagging South Gate Road. I continued climbing.

In retrospect I wish I had taken a picture of my arm warmers as I was climbing Diablo because they looked like they had frost on them. Maybe it was just dew, but it looked wicked frosty. I also think some of the trees were dropping hail not water as I passed under them.

Right below Juniper the sun was shining and it was so warm I rolled my arm warmers down. I continued on in the sun, it was nice to be warm. I got to the last stretch of the climb – the 17% bit, made sure I was in my easiest gear and started up. Fifty feet into it, the chain fell off the rear cluster to the inside and took my rear wheel off! I got off the bike to fix it, as I’m working on it, two women start up the climb and yell at me to clear the road. This section is at least ten feet wide. I have been passed by cars here. If I am two feet from the right hand edge I’d be surprised. Nonetheless I moved towards the ditch. They neither said, “Thank you” nor asked if they could send help from the top. Whatever. I’m sure they started at six and were racing for time.

Everything was fixed, but I couldn’t get the chain to go back on to the largest cog. It was three down and I was determined to start right where I was on this 17% grade. Freakishly strong legs came through and I was able to start and down shift to the right gear. I spent less than five minutes at the rest stop. I got my funky water bottle refilled and added some Sustain and Gatorade to it. As I begun rolling down the hill I realized that I had not closed the quick release on my rear brake. But when I closed it, the brakes were rubbing. Hmmm… I checked to make sure the wheel was in properly. Yep, that was good. Maybe when I dropped the chain and the wheel come off it moved the brakes. I decided to ride with the quick release open and I’d get Thom to look at it when I got to Morgan Territory. The upper part of the descent of Diablo is great. But when I hit the fog bank again, it was COLD! I decided not to be stupid and stopped and put on my jacket and long fingered gloves. Two guys passed me as I was doing that. I caught them south of the junction of North and South Gate roads. They asked me if they were going the right way. I assured them they were and led one of them down the mountain. I don’t know what happened to the other one. This guy seemed happy to have someone who knew the descent. It was kind of gnarly with the fog and I took it much easier than normal. I was also totally aware that my brakes weren’t 100%.

I climbed up Ygnacio Valley Road, probably one of my least favorite climbs. It’s just ugly and there is so much traffic. Then I tootled on over to Morgan Territory. I love the Morgan Territory climb. Yes, the road is horrible, but it’s quiet. You can hear the stream, the birds and critters in the woods.

I was stopped at Morgan Territory for 17 minutes while Thom looked at my bike. He tuned the limiter on the rear derailleur. The problem with my rear brake seemed to originate near the brake lever. The cable worked just fine further back engaging and releasing as it should. But when you used the lever, it wouldn’t release. We suspect maybe the cable has frayed. We decided I would continue with just my front brake. It was doable. Required more thought and caution than using both brakes. But I know these descents. I still hit 45.8 MPH on the Plunge!

The descent down the Plunge was foggy and again I took it a little easier than I have on past rides. The flat section in Livermore and climb up Altamont were great. Tailwind! I was doing 29 MPH without even trying.

Then I turned to go up Patterson Pass. Patterson Pass is about 4 miles long and climbs 1100 feet. That’s an average grade of 5%. There is a wind farm there. Another thing I wish I had taken a picture of. I don’t know how hard it was blowing, hard enough that on the few downgrades I could not coast, hard enough that when I got to the summit the wind nearly pushed me over. But I still felt good. Nothing hurt. It was just an obstacle to get over.

I was an hour behind the cut off time when I got to Mines Road. The ride coordinator was there and he said I could keep going. I stopped for about three minutes here. I still felt really good. Mines Road starts off with a fairly stiff climb, but then becomes a steady 1 % grade for about twenty miles. This part of the ride was actually some of the most pleasant. I was riding along by myself, enjoying the scenery and the sounds. I saw a deer and maybe a red wing blackbird. It was a black bird with red wings anyhow. Fifteen miles or so into this section, I start experiencing hot foot. I’ve never had this before. It’s very uncomfortable. I estimated I would get to the next rest stop at just about the cutoff time. It was supposed to be the lunch stop. I hadn’t spent much time off the bike so I planned to take a little break there. Maybe take off my shoes and massage my feet. I was also starting to not want to eat anything.

At the lunch stop, another rider pulled in behind me and a volunteer at the rest stop began telling us that we have to be sagged forward. We were ten minutes past the cut off and I was NOT getting sagged forward. She insisted that there would be no support for us and we would have to finish the ride on our own. Huh? I know that is not how Quackcyclists do things. They want you to finish and will do whatever they can to help you do so. I told the guy not to worry that we will have support – even if it is just my husband who is at the next stop. The other rider left the rest stop ahead of me. Most of the food was gone or already packed away. I refilled my water bottles and put extra Sustain in one since it seemed to be the only nutrition my stomach could handle. I was there for 13 minutes.

I left the rest stop and had a blissful section of downhill and rollers. I still felt pretty good. I could tell that I was getting fatigued since I was going to the granny a lot sooner. But that’s okay. I could still do it. I don’t mind being slow. There are a couple of little climbs before the final five mile push up Hamilton. I caught up to the other rider, whose name was Kim, just before one of these. We mostly rode together the rest of the way. He had never ridden here, so I filled him in on what to expect. We started up the final climb. He was kind of struggling and would stop, rest, then catch up to me again. I was riding in my 24 X 27, so was not going all that fast. Kim commented on how small, my small ring is. After about a mile of this, everything fell apart. The hot foot was becoming unbearable. I would pull my feet out of the pedals, reposition them and continue pedaling that way. This on a 7% grade! Both my lower back and upper back began to ache. My butt felt numb, but also hurt. My stomach was feeling nauseous and even Sustain was becoming difficult to swallow. My neck hurt, my abs hurt. I kept pedaling, cataloguing all the reasons to finish the ride. I wanted the jersey; all sorts of people had come out to support me. Completing the ride was the goal I had set for myself. How could I even contemplate not finishing the ride?

Just the fact that I was thinking about stopping clued me in to how miserable I was. It would take me at least seven more hours to finish the ride. All this went round and round in my head for the hour it took me to go three miles. I rolled up to Thom at Windy Gap and told him I was done. I was thinking, but didn’t say out loud, “I am f@cking nuts.” I don’t swear a lot so this was big.

  • Veronica not very happy at mile 133, after a very long climb.

Thom replied, “No you’re not done. Sit down, rest for awhile.”

“Okay,” I thought, “Maybe I will feel better and I can do this.” I sat. Kim arrived. He was ready to pull the plug too. I tried to stand up and couldn’t even stand straight up, my entire back hurt so much.

Thom was still hoping I’d be able to get back on the bike. I went off to change into some dry clothes behind a bush. I could not even balance to get my clothes off. I had to lie on the ground. I started walking back to Thom and sort of collapsed in a heap. Thom saw me sitting there and realized I really was done and stopped pushing me to get back on the bike.

My initial thought when I got off the bike was there is no way in h@ll I am doing another double century. By the time we drove to the summit of Hamilton I was thinking I felt so good after Solvang. I need to do two more “easy” ones and get the Triple Crown. Before we were off Hamilton we were talking about what I need to do to be able to finish this ride next year. Yeah I am nuts.

I lost four pounds on the ride. I usually hydrate and eat so well that I don’t lose anything. I never felt like I had bonked. I was still eating, right until the end, even though it felt gross. And I didn’t feel dehydrated the day after. So I’m not sure what was up with that. Sure would be nice if they stayed lost.

I’m going to sign up for the Davis Double. I’m not sure which will be my third Double. I’d like to do the Knoxville staff ride. Maybe I’ll do Death Valley and Mount Tam. We’ll see.

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