Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Jens Voigt, Tour of California, stage 4 2011

Jens Voigt atoc stage 4 2011
Jens Voigt rode this stage with a badly broken wrist. I shot this as he neared the finish line at the top of Sierra Rd. You can almost hear "Shut up, wrist."

Jens on having to drop out of the ATOC.

Jens Voigt on how to pronounce "Jens Voigt."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Official Old Guy and Non-Athlete Tips for Surviving the Davis Double Century (with 2011 ride report)

Dan and Curtis Davis Double 2011
LanceOldStrong, not the old guy, on left. Curtis Corlew, the old guy, on right, at the completion of the 2011 Davis Double.

Let's start the Davis Double report with some stuff that might actually be useful.

As a veteran of four Davis Double Century rides (and 4 other doubles) let me offer my Official Old Guy and Non-Athlete Tips for Surviving the Davis Double™.
Disclaimer: These work for me. There are many way to attack this ride, but these are mine.

• Start early. I think it's better to start in the dark than finish in the dark. There's no one stopping you from leaving at 4am (like I do) or even earlier. Leaving this early gets me back just before it gets dark.

• The first 20 miles is flat and you'll be excited. People will fly past you at warp nine or faster. Let them go. Ride with a group that won't kill you. Remember, it's a long day; take the long view. Don't burn out in your first 30 miles.

• At rest stop number one you can leave your lights and pick them up on the way back (mile 180) as it's the same stop. I've done this and it worked. I've also just left them on the bike.
Another possibility is to just roll past rest stop one. It's only been 20 miles, and if you followed my advice you aren't tired at all. The time you save by not stopping is huge. You'll end up ahead of much faster riders. If you do stop, don't mess around. Get in and get out. Don't chat.

• Rest stop management is one key to finishing the same day you start. I didn't dismount my bike until mile 100 in 2010. It worked fine. I just grabbed water without even getting off the bike, and then just rolled on.

• Cardiac hill, the first climb, is no big deal, relax and enjoy it.

• The next rest stop is a chance to make sure you have water and add some sunscreen. Don't skimp on the sunscreen. Really.

• Cobb Mountain, up next, is a royal pain. It comes when the sun is full, and it's too long and too steep. I can't power through it. I drop into my lowest gear and just try to keep going. The rest stop at the top… it isn't the top. Enjoy it quickly, but move on, there is more climbing.

• You've earned your descent. It's frighteningly fast, and there are shadows that could be hiding bike-eating potholes. Relax. You'll be passed by people going over 50. Slow down and live to ride another day.

• Pretty soon you'll get to lunch. Make it quick.

• I keep saying don't screw around at the stops, and I mean it. Stopping for food and eating really slows you down. I carry a bottle of mixed Hammer HEED and Sustained Energy, and a big baggie of more. I also haul a couple of Powerbars and a bunch of gel. I try to eat on the bike as much as I can.
Sure, if you are fast and strong you can bomb from rest stop to rest stop and visit, eat and have fun. But if you are slow like me you need to do everything you can to keep moving.

• The route after lunch is a pain. It's not a climb, so you don't get to feel good about conquering a mountain. It's just slightly uphill into a headwind. Seek a slow moving pace line, or settle in for a no-turn bit of painful boredom. After the right turn there's a climb that looks to be long, but isn't. The descent is a delight as the road is wide and smooth. Enjoy it because the next climb, though not steep, seems to take forever. Eventually you'll get to Resurrection Rest Stop and be happy.

• A short climb more and it's generally downhill (there is one small climb in the middle) long and fast. Enjoy. The right turn onto Cache Creek is a slight downhill, but the headwind can kill you some years. Roll on to the next rest stop and then past the casino. The road narrows, pickups scream at you and it is no fun until you get off the highway. It's all flat from here on, and the wind will determine how your day goes.

• The rest stop where you may have left your lights is the next to last. The last one is seven miles from the end. It's a Fire station that serves Chili. I just want to be done at this point and would just as soon do without. Some riders insist you haven't done Davis if you skip the Chili. I do anyway.

• At the end, don't forget to check in and pick up your shirt. Smart riders have a cooler with cold beer waiting in their cars.

Stuff I take other than the usual:
  • Light that I charge the night before
  • Garmin Edge 305 with a battery extender (battery is good for about eight hours, the ride takes me 14-16)
  • Gallon bottle of water to fill my water bottles with nice tasting water that morning.
  • Small LED headlamp (like for camping or spelunking) to read the route sheet
  • "Bento Box" top tube bag for camera and ibuprofen
  • Interchangeable lens sunglasses
  • Ice chest with beer (IPA), and ice, to leave in car for after ride
spokes Davis Double 2011

2011 Davis Double Ride report.
I did my usual start at 4am with riding buddies Dan and Ron. Dan did the Devil Mountain Double just a couple of weeks ago and was doing this just to visit with me and have fun. Ron is seeking his 1000 Mile Club Triple Crown jersey.

Davis DoubleĀ  Dan 2011With all the rain this year I haven't trained much, but I do bike commute every day and have a couple of centuries under my belt. Still, I wasn't as strong as I might have been. I had trouble holding Dan's wheel and he kept backing it off just so I could stay with him.

That said, even though we were taking it easy, we rolled pretty well, with favorable winds, through the morning. We did make a wrong turn, but thanks to luck and Ron's smart phone we were able to get back on course without even adding any miles.

At the first climb up to the dam I heard my bike making the weirdest noise. I stopped to check and discovered a broken spoke. Damn it! I loosened the brakes and went on. Later Dan noticed a roll of duct tape in the road, and we stopped to tie up my spoke. It worked well, though I did have to stop several more times for adjustments.

The climb up Cobb mountain is every bit as awful as I remember it. It takes too long, and when you think you are at the top, you aren't.

I knew I hadn't been on the bike enough when my butt began to get worn out around mile 130. I've not had that happen before. It just got sore, like I'd been on a bike seat all day.

After the rest stop at Resurrection when the road gets flat again we we rolling along and a paceline came by, not a lot faster than us. We jumped on, but they were so squirrely that LanceOldStrong started to be offended — he's a delicate sort. They'd speed up, slow down, wobble, speed up, slow down, You know the drill. \ So Dan dropped the hammer. He just exploded away. It was impressive. I watched him bridge to the next group, then explode past them. It was fun to see the guys in front of me looking around all confused.

Later, Dan pretty much dragged me, and a few others, along at 18-20 when he got "horse and barn" syndrome.

Tricia met me, Julie and Dan's kids met him. Ron rolled in a few minutes later. He rolls faster, but enjoys the rest stops longer. Check out his excellent ride report and photos.
Tricia drove me home as I was in no shape to operate a car.
I was beat, but managed 9 miles the next day, bike commuted on Monday, and played 3 sets of tennis as well. It's Tuesday and I'm pretty recovered. Life is good. I may even ride another double some day.

Stats for those who care:
202.28 miles
16:10:48 total time
14:29:17 rolling time

Friday, May 20, 2011

Amgen Tour of California Stage 4 2011

atoc stage 4 2011_ahead

Cycling gods. That's what they are. Watching Chris Horner destroy the field and win by 1:15 up the scarey-steep Sierra Road in San Jose was like witnessing Zeus destroy the Titans, while smiling. It was hard enough standing up straight on the roadside. I can't imagine racing up it — especially after climbing Mt. Hamilton.

Lance OldStrong and I parked at Welsh Creek Road near Sunol and rode to the finish, taking the easy way up. We still had almost 3000 feet of climbing in 16 miles just to get there. I cleverly took my weighty commuter bike, thinking I'd have to lock it up and leave it somewhere. Instead it was with me the whole time. I could have taken the Roubaix. Oh well. In just a couple of hours and two flat tires we were there.

We picked a perfect spot. Such a perfect spot that that we quickly had a flock of tour photographers standing in front of us. I was starting to worry about missing the race, but the promised to duck low when the riders got there, and they did.

It's amazing how quickly it's all over. Just zoom, wow, the end, ride back. Totally worth while!

Link to a slideshow of few photos by me.
YouTube video of Versus coverage where we were.

atoc stage 4 2011_heliocopter

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lodi Sunrise Century 2011

Road kill on Sunrise Century, Lodi 2011
What can I say about a ride that has not only has route markings, but road kill markings as well? Those, and a brief "traffic jam" that was a small cattle drive are just two of the things that made the Lodi Sunrise Century a  ride fun.

We usually ride where there are a few hills. Our neighborhood loop has 2000 feet of climbing in 30 miles. Doing a century with only 3750 feet of climbing was just what I needed.

I rode with Tricia and Joyce until the first rest stop. I tried to wait for them, but I hate stopping, especially when I'm just getting warmed up. Tricia had Joyce, but I had no patience. I was in full "next week is the Davis Double" mode and took off. I thought I might see them later, but I didn't.

The ride through the California foothills featured very little automobile traffic (with the short exception of the narrow Liberty Road, and the big trucks that scared the bejeebers out of me.) It included a brief tour of walnut orchards, endless fields and a bunch of delightful rollers.

The easy climb up to Pardee Reservoir was beautiful. It was so green, and seeing the amazing amount of water poring through the spillway was awe inducing.

The friendly tail wind became a pain in the face headwind on the return leg. I was lucky to hook up with a couple of strong (and big) riders who vacuumed me along at 15-18 mph for a long way. I eventually lost contact at 100 miles. I'd missed a turn earlier and added 5 to the 103 mile route. My last 8 miles was considerably slower, but I did manage 15.1 average for the first 100. I might have even been able to bring it up a hair if I'd not been caught behind the cattle for a bit.

A good ride, and a quick stop at the Michale-David Winery on the way home made for a delightful day.

RideWithGPS map, complete with missed turn.

Cattle Drive 2 Sunrise Century Lodi 2011

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Pittsburg Twilight Criterium 2011

Pittsburg crit_women

Tricia and I went to the Pittsburg Twilight Criterium. A real bike race with real bike riders, so close to home. So many healthy looking people, so many way-cool bikes. Wow.

The temperature was 60, but the wind was howling. I can't imagine racing in wind like that. I would hardly enjoy just riding in it. I was so cold I could barely stand it. We kept trying to find wind breaks to huddle behind. It's really too bad about the weather, because the event itself was wonderful. It's supposed to be yearly, and I really hope it is.

We weren't able to get there until just before the womens race, but we had a chance to walk around and see the booths and such and scout the course. It wasn't crowded at all, so we were able to  find interesting corners with great views to watch from. The women's field had a bunch of big-name riders from all over the world, and holy smokes could they fly. The seventy-five minute of full-tilt race was 15 minutes longer than most womens crits I was told, but the fast riders finished at about the same lap time as they started. It was breathtaking to sit right on a curb and have them fly by at warp nine.

Kudo's for the sponsor, Project Sport for having an equal  $5000 purse for both the men's and women's main events.

As much as I loved seeing the bike race and everything that went along with it, there's one weird thing that seems like a holdover from some previous era. I know it's tradition, but I find it a bit embarrassing. It just doesn't seem to have anything to do with racing, and feels like pandering.

Why are there "Podium Girls?"  I don't doubt these young women are fine people and all, but the major make-up, heavily-style hair and frighteningly-tall stiletto heels look out of place at an athletic event. And even more so at an event where there are women competitors killing themselves to squeeze every ounce of power and skill as they make superhuman efforts. One group is there because of what they can do, the other for how they look. I don't want to criticize the "girls" themselves, who seem to be good sports — they even posed for a photo with me, and countless other geezers — and who seem genuinely friendly, and are there of their own accord. I know it's supposed to be all in good fun, but still, I do wish bicycling, as a sport, could move past this uncomfortable anachronism.

Pittsburg crit ccc with podium folk

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Bike to Work Day 2011

My graphic design students at Los Medanos College designed posters to promote Bike to Work Day. Yep, I assigned them to. Their posters will be printed and put up around campus. Would it be fair to grade them base on how many people actually ride that day? How about bonus points if they ride?

No image? Click this link.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Devil Mountain Double Volunteering

DMD rest stop sign
Riding the Devil Mountain Double, a 200 mile bike ride with 20,000 feet of climbing just wasn't in the cards for me. But the Quack Cyclists did a great job supporting the Knoxville Double I rode last year, and my friend LanceOldStrong was riding the DMD, so I signed up as a volunteer. I was placed at a food/water/rest stop at Mines Road, ninety-something-miles and three major climbs into the ride.

DMD rest stop folks

DMD rest stop orangesIt was an enjoyable experience. The Quacks are well organized, and are all about helping the riders. When a cyclist rolled in someone was there to hold their bike, while someone else asked what they needed. Volunteers hustled to fill their water bottles, and add whatever magic Hammer powder they needed. There was a huge assortment of cyclist-friendly food, from fresh fruit to potatoes, from peanut butter sandwiches to Hammer Gel by the gallon. Volunteers brought camp chairs for cyclists who needed a break. Even the riders were considerate. I can't imagine how they are able to focus on anything but the ride, yet many — maybe most— thanked us for being there for them.

It was also fun to have familiar faces from Bike Forums roll through, and have the opportunity to help them in some small way. Ramon came flying through early. Marco came in reasonably early reporting three flats and a broken front derailleur. He'd been shifting with his foot and planned to carry on that way. LanceOldStrong rolled in looking happy as could be and ready to tackle the next section.

At one point a little girl came up to me and, in an accusatory voice demanded to know "Why are you wearing that shirt?" referring to my Davis Double Shirt. I told her "Because I did that ride." That must have been the right answer, because she smiled and said "So did I." I remember seeing her on a tandem and being amazed, and here she was, tandeming the DMD. Watch out world.

By the time we packed up I was pretty beat after about five hours of trying to be "on." Then I realized that the riders started before I got up, and would finish after I was in bed. I felt silly, but no less tired.

The most frightening thing I saw all day was the first rider through. He was about 20 minutes in front of the next rider and must have been pushing a 20 mph average even after thousands of feet of climbing.

DMD rest stop LanceOldstrong
Crowd-favorite LanceOldStrong exits rest stop three, looking strong with over 100 miles to go.