Mental Management or Triple Delight

August 10th, 2006

To complete a double century, you have to be a little mental. Eventually things will begin to hurt, maybe you won’t want to eat and you have to figure out how to manage that. You have to decide what is pain you can deal with and what pain is worth DNFing for. It’s a thin line.The alarm went off at at 2:15 and I bounded out of bed. I did not forget my water bottles this time. The cat did not get out. We left the house at 3 AM, just on schedule.

I checked in at 4 and was on the bike by 4:10. It’s very dark at 4:10.The first climb was up Lucas Valley, which was much easier in the dark than in 95 degree heat, like the last time I did it. The route kind of rolls along, with a few short climbs and a rocking descent into Fairfax. I was really glad I had done this descent in the light (Thanks Sarah!) because I was comfortable taking it fast, even though it was still dark.

Then the big climb began. It was starting to lighten up by this time. The first rest stop came at mile 25. I didn’t even get off the bike. I just filled one water bottle and got back on the road.

I descended down to Alpine Dam and then started the final climb to Tam. There was quite a headwind when I turned onto Ridgecrest which follows the spine of Tam. It was absolutely clear, unlike last time I was up here, and the views down to the ocean were amazing. There was a check in at the East Summit of Tam. I turned around and began a ten mile descent to the second rest stop.

From mile 50 to mile 114 the road was kind of all the same. Some rolling, some longer climbs and fun descents. But somewhere between mile 50 and mile 84, my right knee began to hurt. I have knee joint issues and this was different, it felt like a soft tissue problem. I decided I would start chugging down Advil and hope that would keep the pain to a minimum. I took my first three at mile 84. I took them at every other rest stop thereafter.

Thom passed me on the motorcycle just before mile 100 and pulled over a little later so we could chat and he took this picture. That’s his motorcycle. 🙂

We both got back on the road and I saw his motorcycle at a store in Tomales. I decided I would take advantage of that and had him buy me a Red Bull. His money/my money, it’s all ours, so I decided that was an accpetable thing. It was beginning to warm up and a cold drink seemed like a good idea.

He was also waiting for me when I got to the next rest stop, Valley Ford at mile 114. This was the cut off stop and I made it with a bit of time to spare. After refueling and getting Thom to put some more sun screen on my shoulders, I took off for the 30 mile Coleman Valley loop.

To get over to Coleman you first ride along route 1 into a headwind and over long rollers. I took this section kind of easy. I had made the cut off, I could relax. The next turn is onto Bay Hill, a little tiny road with a shaded climb. Rod (a friend of a friend, great calves!) caught up to me on this climb. I had seen him as I was descending Tam and he was climbing – rather I saw his Amici Veloci jersey. I tried to stay with him on the descent of Bay Hill, but the bumps were really irritating my butt. None of my shorts seem to fit quite right anymore and I was starting to get chafing. Everytime I hit a hard bump, it HURT!

Once off the descent the route rolls along to Coleman Valley Road. This was a long, tough climb with no shade. It’s this climb that kept me from wearing my AV jersey. It has sleeves and I knew I would just be too hot here with sleeves. I know there isn’t much difference, sleeves/no sleeves, but after 130 miles, when you’re on a stiff climb, EVERYTHING matters.

I did have an AV tattoo on my leg. I put it on upside down, by mistake. Then I put sunscreen on. The tattoo ink ran down my leg. I had a couple of guys ask me if I had cut myself. Nope, just my poor tattoo losing it.

My friend Scott who is one of orgainzers of the Devil Mountain Double and Knoxville Double caught up to me on Coleman and we rode to the checkpoint together. It was nice to have company. I did notice the views out to the ocean on Coleman – stunning.

Scott left the checkpoint before I did, so I was on my own back to the rest stop at Valley Ford. There was a long descent down Joy Rd. It was no picnic – bumpy and painful!

My friend Sarah was at Valley Ford when I got there. She became my personal valet and filled my water bottles. I changed shorts and she took those and some of my extra clothes. At this point I had 60 more miles to go. My knee was really beginning to throb. But I felt like I could manage the pain. So off I headed.

Sarah passed me a few times between Valley Ford and Petaluma. It was so encouraging to have someone you know and respect telling you that you’re doing great. I had hoped to make pretty good time on the flat sections through here. But I had to manage the pain in the knee. Pedaling hurt, not pedalling didn’t hurt. It didn’t matter how hard I pedaled, just turning the crank hurt. So I would pedal at the pace I had hoped to maintain, 17 – 19 mph. Then stop briefly and resume.

I arrived in Petaluma and got more valet service, turned on the rear lights, put the bolero back on and the wind vest and took off for the last 30 miles. There was one long, but not very steep climb. My bike started making this really odd noise, it sounded like rubber squeaking. But it only happened when I was pedaling. I was freaking out, thinking I was going to have a mechanical DNF. I was still climbing this hill and I went to an easier gear and the sound went away. I think there is something up with my rear derailleur and it was getting fussy about exactly where it should be. So now I had to manage that too. If it was even just a little bit off, the squeaky rubbing would return.

Just keep pedaling. I think I’d gotten use to the pain in my knee because I had to pedal constantly up the hill. Or maybe the desire to be done outweighs the pain. Last check point – there are six more people behind me. Well… at least I’m not last. I won’t be finishing alone. I turned back up onto Lucas Valley. It seems to take forever to get to the summit. It’s dark and I can’t see the GPS. I can turn on the back lighting, but I know the batteries are running low. WHERE is the summit?

Finally the summit and I knew it was an easy ride back to the start/finish. Thom and Sarah were waiting for me. It’s funny, but as much as my knee and my butt hurt, I still felt great. Or maybe that was the euphoria of being DONE!

So there you have it.

200 miles
15,000 feet of elevation gain

and a Triple Crown!

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