Thursday, May 24, 2012

Davis Double Century

            Well, the Davis Double is in the books.  Some good parts, some bad parts, some things I’ve learned that I need to improve or simply totally change, and some things I will just have to put up with.  Let’s start with numbers:

208.1 miles (4.5 bonus miles, I’ll get to that)
15:11:07 total time, 12:45:04 time on bike
9,560 feet climbed
9,972 calories used
Leg #2 of my California Triple Crown in the books

            The night before, check in was at a park in Davis, right next to the US Cycling Hall of Fame.  I got to say hello to a couple of old school heroes, folks that got me not just interested, but head over heals addicted to, the sport of cycling.  Here's Ned Overend, one of the best of all time.  Now at 57 years old, he still schools young folks in off road endurance races.

I elected to pay for an all-you-can-eat pasta feed at the Cycling HOF, and I did.  While I was eating and people watching at the park, I overheard some folks talking to the owner of a tandem that was parked right outside the building.  Apparently, this guy was going to ride the Davis Double on a tandem with his 12 year old daughter.  I thought that was awesome, and then he said this year would be their 3rd year!  She was more of a grizzled vet than I was!

As he was talking to folks, she was off running around like any 12 year old would, running on the grass, exploring the jungle gym, and doing cartwheels.  All of this in cycling cleats, you could hear the usual click-click-click as she did cartwheels. 

            But she was all about it.  She had her whole set up on the back side of her dad’s tandem, and she was a vet.  She knew it all.  Awesome.

            The next morning, the ride started off great.  I was rolling out from the start just after 5:30, and I forced myself into a long, relaxed warm up.  It felt great, even in the cold.  The beginning of the ride was on long, flat, straight roads, so I took it easy knowing it would be a LONG day. 

           I started to feel like I wanted to pick it up, so I made the decision to hook onto the next tandem that passed.

            Tandems are interesting on these kinds of rides, especially in the flats.  I could feel like I’m cranking out a great tempo, absolutely flying, and a tandem can suddenly appear on my left, passing me 5-10 mph faster, with anywhere between 5 and 50 riders drafting behind it.  So, they say the best way to do a double is to find a tandem and hook right on. 

            Before long I get passed by a tandem in that early morning cold, and when the train already drafting it finally passes me, I hook on.  I’m maybe number 25 or 30 on the train, and we’re doing 25-30 mph.  A little fast for me, I had to struggle to hold on at times and that may have effected me later when I got to the mountains, but it was still fun!

            Then we reached Cobb Mountain.  I was not expecting that.  2000 feet of elevation gain in about 6 miles.  They said the grade doesn’t get much more that 8%, but I don’t believe them.  It had to get up to 10-12%, upwards of 15% in some spots.  For 6 miles.  Did I mention it was A) miles 96-104, and B) already well over 90 degrees?  Someone said it was between 95 and 97.  Yeah, Cobb Mountain hurt.

            Next came the descent, which is my forte.  I pass folks, but also got passed some climbing, and in the flats, because I ride solo and at my own pace.  Descending, it’s game on.  I don’t get passed descending.  I didn’t get passed descending all day at the Davis Double, or earlier this year at the Solvang Double.  I would have to think about the last time I did get passed.  Maybe not yet this year. 

            I think I frustrated some folks as well, they would work and work and work to catch and pass me going up, and once over the top I would catch, pass, and have a ¼ mile gap by the bottom of a small hill. 

            This is also where I may or may not have made a large mistake.  I passed a group descending, came around a corner and saw a sign pointing to a right turn.  I had seen these particular signs several times pointing the same direction my cue sheet told me to go, so I made a split second decision, signaled right and went for it. 

Two guys followed. 

About two miles down that road, without seeing anyone else in any direction, I started second guessing myself and my decision to turn.  So I told the other guys I didn’t think this was right, and we went back and sure enough, it was a wrong turn.  I’m glad I noticed and was able to catch one of the guys that had passed me, the second guy was still with me.  That would have been bad.  I felt horrible, so I tried to convince myself that I at least partially redeemed myself from the wrong turn by also figuring it out and minimizing our losses.  I don’t think the other two guys were all that stoked.

            After Cobb Mountain the rest of the day was a game in ignoring, and dealing with, pain.  Everything hurt.  I probably overate at lunch, so that didn’t help.  My back hurt, my right side felt like I pulled a muscle and would scream at me every time I breathed in, my legs where al dente, my neck hurt, my shoulders hurt, and my feet hurt so bad that later I would have to stop a few times to rest them.

            Then came Resurrection.  900 feet up in about 5 miles.  But it was consistent and not as steep over all as Cobb.  This was my kind of climb.  Get in a groove, get a good song in the head, sit and spin.  Even at mile 136 it wasn’t too bad.  I could even push my groove some.  And before I knew it I was at the top and ready to kill another descent.

            The rest of the day was a game of trying to relax and stay comfortable, keep my cadence up, and deal with excruciating pain.  The pain in my feet, in particular my left foot, got so bad at times I simply couldn't pedal.  I would un-clip, stretch it, bend it, point it, clip back in a keep going.  It’s all I could do.

            Now, at this point the route was following Cache Creek.  It looked amazing.  Cold, clear, beautiful water.  For about 20+ miles I watched the creek on my right and thought about stopping.  I kept looking for a good spot to pull over and dunk my feet and head, hoping in the process to see others who where doing the same thing.  Never did….

            HOWEVER…  I got to the next rest stop in Guinda at their little fire station, and what do I see?  KIDDIE POOLS!  Two of them, full of cold water and surrounded by chairs, many of which where already occupied by barefoot riders talking about the same thoughts I had:  Of stopping to dunk feet and head in Cache Creek.

            I did this for about 20 minutes while Facebooking. 

            A few more miles and we were out of the hills, back on the long, flat, straight roads of the central valley farmlands.  40 miles to go, and I was feeling pretty done.  A bit heat exhaustion, probably some dehydration, cramping feet, a left foot that screamed every pedal stroke, a right rib that did the same on every breath, legs that felt weaker then the spaghetti I had for dinner the night before. They were well beyond al dente at this point. 

            But I would keep pushing.  I hooked on to a few trains passing here and there to draft and get a short respite from the wind, but I’m more of a solo rider, so after a few miles I would tail off, get comfy on my aero bars, (In my head I call them my La-Z-Boy) and regain my rhythm. 

            And then I saw it.  Just a simple little sign, but it was enough to lift the spirits and keep them high and happy all the way in. 

            All in all, the Davis Double was pretty amazing.  Some of the roads absolutely sucked, like they had not been paved in 30 years.  Some were awesome.  The scenery was amazing, and I actually like riding in the heat, so that was fine.  And, now that I know what to expect, if I plan to do it next year, I’ll have a much better and easier time.

            I’ll just make sure not to try to draft the fastest tandem train of the day in the first 25 miles. 

A few notes:
I need inserts for my cycling shoes.  That pain is not something I can deal with again.
I need a new seatpost so I can move my saddle forward and alleviate some stress on my sides and back, as well as my knees.
I need to trust my hydration and food schedules.  No more sandwiches for lunch.  Fruit only.  Hammer to do the rest.  That turkey sammich hurt…
Don’t hook onto the first train that flies past.  Wait for one my speed.

           Now all I need to do is figure out what will be my third Triple Crown ride.  It's looking more and more like it will have to be a climbing double, so I guess it's about time to hit the mountains and start training!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Todays' Rant: Earphones

-Sorry if this offends any of you.

/start rant

I regularly ride on the Los Alamitos Creek Trail in Almaden for a short time, under 2 miles, between Camden Avenue and Almaden Lake.  It’s either that or ride on Almaden Expressway, which I am not a fan of.  However:

I am so sick and tired of seeing every other person on multi-use trails with headphones stuffed into not one, but both, ears.  There’s a very good reason this is illegal while driving (or cycling, yes it is) on the road, and I am a strict believer that it should also be illegal for all users on multi-use and wilderness trails as well.

It’s not just that these folks have both ears plugged, taking them away from the scenery and beauty of simply being outside.  There are responsible ways to use them, i.e. having a bud in one ear, so the other can keep track of outside sounds.  I see many people doing this.  Great.  Even having them turned way down but in each ear doesn’t really work, since not only is there music, albeit soft, but both ears are plugged.  Even with the music off, having something in each ear still blocks sound, creating a dangerous situation.

On a track or at the gym, fine, there is little to no danger of being passed by folks moving at much higher speeds, and for the most part everyone is going the same direction and there aren’t line-of-sight problems or issues.

My pet peeves about these damned things lie in the irresponsible ways many people use them. 

Parents/Pet owners:

People with headphones in both ears with children or pets.  Seriously.  I see this quite regularly.  And when I see it, I am dumbfounded every time.  It’s unbelievable how irresponsible and dangerous that is.  If you're out walking your pet, or out for a walk with small children, you are in charge of their safety.  How can you possibly do that without being able to hear past your own earlobe? 

Kids, and obviously, animals, don’t understand the rules or dangers of using a multi-use trail, so it's the job of the adult with them to pay extra attention to what's going on, where other users are passing in either direction, and what their kids are doing.

For this very reason, I once had to bunny-hop a poodle, because the owner didn’t hear me call out, and the dog darted out in front of me just as I passed.  

Sudden Mergers:

If you're going to make a lane change on the road in your car, you would look first, yeah?  At least to make sure there isn't a car right there?  So many folks out on these trails randomly pull into the left lane with no warning, without looking, no signal, no glance back, or forward for that matter, they just suddenly go for it.  For whatever reason, to pass someone slower, to look at a flower or stream out to the left, whatever.  My favorites are the people with headphones stuffed in that merge into the passing lane after I have called out "On your left", and then get mad at me at the ensuing near collision.  

Or simply people that can't walk a straight line.  Wandering all around the trail, left to right, back to left, over to center, suddenly stopping, then going again in who-knows-what direction.  Of course, with their ears full.  Um, wow.


Wearing earphones and walking down the middle of the trail.  Really?  Are you assuming you're the only person out here?  That no one could possibly be going faster and thusly might want to pass?  There are reasons there are signs posted at every trail entrance that talk about STAYING TO THE RIGHT!  I’ve been stuck behind these people as well, with bushes overgrown on both sides and some jerk walking down the middle of the path with music blasting in both ears.  I yell, more than once, “On your left!” and “TRAIL!” but it does nothing.  Finally I pass very slowly on their left, squeezing between them and nature, and after scaring the piss out of them, they give me an angry glare.  A few times they even say something.  Like it was my fault they were blocking the entire trail.

The Oblivious:

Having ear buds/phones turned up so damn loud the listener can’t hear anything outside of them.  I yell “On your left!” as loud as I can, and sometimes people don’t hear me, even after a second or third calling, and are startled when I pass.  Several times the person has been so startled after not hearing me call out that they stumble or jump, endangering themselves as well as me.  If I can actually hear your music through your ear buds as I pass you, they are WAY too high. 

To all these people I now have a ritual. Whenever I call out and then pass someone with headphones in who is then startled or says something to that effect as I pass, as soon as I am in front of them, I sit up, take both hands off the bars, and imitate me taking something out of both ears.  Overdramatic, overacted, and exaggerated, of course. Maybe eventually they’ll get the message.  Probably not.

Today's Examples:

Hell, just today in the 1.5ish miles I'm actually on the trail, I saw 3 people, all with buds in both ears, walking down the center of the path.  Right along the dotted yellow line.  2 of them heard me, although one of them I startled.  The third person did not, even after I called out a louder, closer second time.  He jumped as I passed. 

Then there was the two cyclists, riding together, each with buds in both ears.  Really?  Riding with someone else and you still have to have your ears full?  Whatever.  Had to call out to them 3 times and one of them still didn't hear, as they rode side by side taking the whole trail. I had to sneak up next to them, and then they finally let me pass.

Then there was the group of moms pushing strollers coming straight at me from the other direction.  OK, they didn’t have buds or earphones in at all, but they were taking up the entire trail, side to side, three wide, all the while making eye contact with me as I rolled towards them, never budging an inch to give me room.  To the dirt I went. 

And how about the runner running the wrong direction?  The signs say all users need to stay right for a reason.  Not like it mattered, she had buds in both ears, and even going the opposite direction and running straight toward me in the same lane, I don’t think she saw me until the last second when she looked up from the ground for some random reason.  And no, she still didn't bother to move. 

Sometimes, people amaze me.  I’m surprised I haven’t hit someone yet.

(Yet, cause I missed that poodle)

/end rant