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SPINNING YARNS (Ride Reports)

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  • Wednesday, July 17, 2019 8:20 PM | Dennis Prior

    We had Jerry A, Lorenzo, Peter S, Pam C, Laura B, and myself along with our great tour guide Phil.  The single track forest trails were just amazing riding amongst the redwoods and the fern fields.  You just couldn’t ask for a more perfect place to ride a mountain bike.  We stayed away from the technical trails and had an absolutely wonderful day.  If you ever get a chance to ride in the Mendocino Forest you should not miss the chance to do so but you will need a guide or you will quickly get lost and Phil is a great guide!

    Enjoy the day,

    Dennis

  • Thursday, May 23, 2019 8:59 PM | James Gloystein

    2019 Davis Double Century Ride Report -

    Co-written by Jim Gloystein and David Levinger on May 19, 2019

    Executive Summary

    =================

    Cold and wet. This was perhaps the worst weather day Jim Gloystein has ever experienced on the 47 times he's done this ride. During the ride, David quipped that his wife Angela called it Jim's "finest hour". Hmmmm...

    Picking up packets

    ==================

    A really neat thing happened on Friday night when picking up ride packets at the Veterans Memorial facility in Davis. Jim showed up first and grabbed his "standard" assigned number (which was rider #226). In the last 20 years, Jim had always gotten his rider number to match the number of DDCs he started. But the recent change of Race Directors never returned emails when this tradition was requested. However, David L. ended up registering the night before the start (as did several other folks) and we all quipped that they might wonder why he was registering with the impending doom of the weather. But during his registration David L. noticed a stack of numbers starting with #1 and asked Jennifer, who was running the "day of" registration, if she could help swap a number. She was happy to do so, and all of sudden Jim G. had rider #47 in his hand which matched the number of DDCs he's ridden. David is amazing how he never hesitates to ask for things and make a difference for his riding buddies.

    An Early Start

    ==============

    Several weeks before the May 18th start of the DDC, the weather reports started to predict rain late in the week before the ride. But the closer it got to the start, the percentage chance of rain kept climbing and soon occupied almost the entire Saturday. In the early days of the Davis Double, the weather was a lot more guesswork. But these days with all the advanced weather models and satellite data, there was no question it was going to be both wet and cold all day long. In fact, the temperature was between 48 and 50 degrees almost the entire day both before the sun came up and after the sun set.

    So a decision was made amongst the 4 riders (Jim Gloystein, David Levinger, Steve Piazzo and a "new" member that has started riding with the Sonoma County Mountain Goats named Andy Tautges) to start earlier than usual to try to get as far down the course as possible before the rain started. We agreed to start at 3AM (yikes - that's really early!).

    Sure enough, all four of us were in the Vet's parking lot by 2:50 AM, although we didn't leave on the dot (some people were still playing with electronics and lights). We finally got out on the course at 3:15. It was very calm at the time of the early morning, but still somewhat cold with the temps in the high 40s. We rode out of town and only passed one solo rider all the way to the first rest stop. We held a very good pace and traded pulls.

    Of course, when we got to the Forbes Ranch, the first rest stop, it was completely dark since it didn't open until 6AM. We pressed on, and just after "first light" as we approached the town of Winters, Steve P. had a flat. So we pulled over in front of some kind of equipment yard and while Steve changed his rear tire, a friendly cat begged for our attention. Just as Steve packed up his tool bag and was ready to flip his bike over, he discovered his front tire was also flat. He had hit a pothole and must have gotten pinch flats on both wheels. So we went through the whole tube change rubric again while the friendly cat rubbed our tires and legs begging for attention.

    We finally got back on the road, and headed up the canyon to Lake Berryessa and the first big climb of the day (Cardiac Hill). Steve and Andy zoomed ahead, while David held back with Jim who was slowly climbing up the long hill. We regrouped at the 2nd Rest Stop at Capay Valley Fire Station, which was now open. Taking in the usual food and peanut butter sandwiches, there was a contingent of Philippine workers who greeted a team of Philippine riders. They had some kind of authentic food which we couldn't pronounce (along with rice), but it was way too early in the morning to experiment with unknown food and all the miles we had yet to conquer.

    Back on the road, we ran across two other riders who had "low" numbers pinned to their jerseys. As David rode by them, he asked them why they had a low number, and both riders said it was the number of DDCs they had ridden. One had #39 and the other had #42, so it was clear they had changed their policy on allocating requested numbers to some riders. And, of course, David pointed out to both of them that rider #47 was right behind them, so there was a lot of respect for these riders who also had done many years of riding this venerable course.

    We pretty much rode together all the way to Pope Valley and Rest Stop #3 (mile 76). At that point Jim noted that he felt pretty good, and after munching on more peanut butter sandwiches and potato chips, we ventured off passing "Hubcap Ranch" and going up the hills just after Aetna Springs.

    But that's when things got interesting. Just before we crested the last hill to Butts Canyon, it started to rain. Jim pulled over to put on his rain jacket and David stopped with him. Jim and David caught up to Steve and Andy at Middletown (mile 95), but not after having ridden a good 15 miles in the rain. Fortunately there were lots of places to get out of the rain at the Middletown Rest Stop and we loaded up with food and courage to go back out in the rain and greet the nasty little hill by Harbin Springs that precedes a 5-mile stretch of dirt road and the Big Canyon climb.

    There, things got really, really interesting! The entrance to the gravel section is a downhill, and although the gravel was a pretty solid surface allowing one to keep a stable riding line, the mud in the roadway started covering all parts of one's bike. And, of course, if you put on the brakes, you heard the grinding sound of brake pads on mud covered rims. Worst of all, Jim's bike was making strange noises coming from the rear chain, mostly because the mud and grit was working it's way into the drive train. What a mess! At the top of one rise Steve pulled over and we all stopped. A SAG wagon pulled up behind us and asked us if everything was okay (and he took pity on our poor bikes which were now filthy with mud and goop). But the funniest thing was David asking the SAG driver if he was a bike fender salesman, because he could make a fortune! (we all had a good laugh, including the driver).

    At some point, Andy and Steve (once again) took off and Jim was taking up the rear. But something seriously wrong was going on with Jim and he approached the Big Canyon climb. Not only was it cold (46 degrees) and wet (the rain was nonstop at this point), but Jim's lower back started to seize up on him. As a result, he couldn't put any power into the pedals. The lower back pain only got worse as the ascent got steeper, and Jim finally met up with David at the water stop (ha ha--everyone there was only trying to take a break from the rain) on the Big Canyon climb. It was all Jim could do to get up and over this climb, which is a good climb but not overly steep. David was a most gracious riding partner sticking with Jim even though Jim was almost literally crawling in his lowest gear. And Jim noted that going at this slow a pace without being able to put any power in the pedals had a debilitating side effect - he wasn't generating heat and was getting cold from the wind that was in our face while climbing.

    But we reached the "Top of the DC" and rode to the start of Siegler Canyon Road where there is a long steady downhill to lunch at Lower Lake High School (mile 112). Jim started out the descent already very cold, and by the time we got to the lunch stop at Lower Lake, Jim was a "popsicle". So much so that when he walked into the lunch room he couldn't undo the buckle on his helmet. But thank goodness they had cranked up the heat in that High School room and after taking off wet outer layers, all four of us started to warm up. And what really hit the spot were several servings of "Cup O'Noodles" that put hot liquid back in our bodies as we slowly started to warm up and regain control of our bodies.

    Steve and Andy had arrived ahead of David and Jim, but they were still quite cold. The conditions weren't merely unpleasant, but they were downright dangerous. People descending Siegler Canyon--one of the best downhills anywhere, incidentally--were getting so cold that they were losing control. Steve and Andy were first on the scene at the flat beneath the descent where a rider went off the road into a ditch, destroying his helmet and breaking his nose (though this guy was moderately cheerful inside the lunch stop).

    Steve is a man without much spare insulation, and along with about half the riders present seemed to be risking hypothermia. He needed a full hour to warm up sufficiently to accept Andy's spare clothes and brace himself to resume. We looked a lot better than many others who were either mud-covered or outfitting themselves with Hefty trash bags as a defense against the weather. It was truly amazing how many people attempted this ride with a standard kit and nothing warmer than a vest!

    Unfortunately, Jim's lower back was completely seized up and not getting any better, despite taking some Tylenol supplied by Steve. So Jim decided to "throw in the wet towel" and SAG the rest of the ride. A very hard decision, but his body was telling him there was no way he would be able to climb Resurrection Hill (on Rte 20) and keep up with the group. Unselfishly, Jim's chief reason for taking a SAG was that had he tried to continue, he would really slow the group down.

    So Steve, Andy and David put all their rain gear back on and ventured off from lunch just after 2PM or so. Meanwhile, Jim signed up for a SAG ride home, only to find out there were around 50 people also wanting to get a SAG home. So they encouraged us to try to find our own personal SAG ride home if we could. Jim called an old friend in Davis and he agreed to drop everything and drive an hour and a half to Lower Lake to give Jim a ride home. His name is Lars and he has been a great friend of Jim's Davis-based family for years. Jim is now deeply indebted to Lars for his assistance in time of need. In fact, Jim had a rich contribution of help by Steve, Andy and David all day long. Especially David, who waited for Jim at various points when the hills considerably slowed him down. Oh, and one more coincidence - while waiting for his SAG ride to show up, Jim discovered that riders #39 and #42 had also decided to SAG the rest of the ride. The conclusion one could reach is that this day was a lot tougher than expected and it even devastated some of the riders who have experienced many hours on the course in the past.

    On Jim's SAG ride home, it was decided to drive down Highway 16 which follows Cache Creek along the official DDC course. Just about the middle of that canyon is where Jim, riding in the SAG vehicle, passed the now-3 riders on a slight uphill. No fanfare needed - we silently went by and saw that several groups were riding together to battle the headwind and everyone looked pretty strong so Jim returned to Davis, got in his car, and drove back to his Mom's house for a hot shower and some delicious warm chicken soup.

    And this is where Jim's DDC narrative ends, so he will hand the keyboard over to David to chronicle the 87 miles he rode without Jim after the lunch stop. David...take it away!

    -----------

    Upon leaving the lunch stop, Andy proclaimed that the rain was going to stop. Lo and behold it did stop as they departed Lower Lake, and the sun even seemed to threaten the overcast. Unfortunately, after zooming north on 53 past the "trash bag boys" with SAG repairing a flat, Steve fell victim to another flat. Andy earned the nickname "Mary Poppins" as he pulled out another tube from his enormous seat post bag and helped repair it while David stared down approaching traffic.

    The dry weather followed up the Hwy 20 Resurrection climb. The legs really are an incredible heat generator, and we were all in good spirits at the top (mile 132). More hot cocoa for Andy and Steve and then on to the descents leading to the remote and lovely Hwy 16 ride down Cache Creek. Give David a flat or 0.5% down slope and he loves to push the pace. But the rain reprieve didn't mean a layoff of the wind, and that meant a headwind. The rain resumed about mile 150. We made pretty good time to Guinda (mile 157), just 5 minutes slower than last year when we had beautiful weather. More hot soup and beverages. This time, Andy "Mary Poppins" pulled out his super-size hothands body warmers and gave them to Steve.

    A few miles down the road from there David got his first flat a shard that teeth of steel Steve extracted. The first repair immediately failed. The second lasted until just in front of Cache Creek Casino. Fortunately, SAG had a spare tube and that did the trick. But a mile later, Andy's front tire flatted (the only front flat of the day). Andy was amazing and efficient with his positive attitude and quick good work repairing the flats. Thank you Andy for keeping us buoyant at these times!

    OK, it's now starting to get dark. DANG, we started at 3:15 AM in order to finish before dark!! Ah, well, we have lights and we're all using them now. We get through the nasty 7 miles of traffic south of the casino and turn onto the back roads again. Oops, the rain is pouring now. Oh, David's light indicates red, meaning it's on reserve. We stop at the mile 176 rest stop and David charges his light for ten minutes while we stand in the rain and resolve ourselves.

    Back on these truly vacant rural farm roads in the wind and rain. Andy turns off his light to conserve battery. David's light is back in the green. Now Steve's light goes dead, and we're all riding with one light. David's light indicator goes red, but it switches to full bright beam. Not sure what this means--never have run it all the way down before. What does David have? 15 minutes? 30? We're still 15 miles out David thinks. Andy still has his light off.

    Our rural road goes over a highway and there's a cyclist stopped. Then we see the SAG beyond that. Steve says "that's it". A rational assessment of the issues of riding in the dark windy rain with risky lights. He's made it 182 or more. Andy and David are shooting for the Triple Crown and so we're forging on.

    David's light never dies completely. At some point less than ten miles out, his light is dim enough that Andy turns his on and we're in business. David notices that with less than 20 miles to go, his power output surges. Even though the conditions aren't any better, it's flatter and there's no traffic.

    Soon we're in civilization again with street lamps and were almost there. A couple turns in the city and we're back at the start. A quarter mile shy of the 200 mark, Andy and David ride laps around the lot and we meet Steve at the car. He's changed and dry. We're elated and relieved. We peel of the wet and change into the most wonderful feeling dry clothes ever.

    At dinner, two guys next to us who we rode part of the way with tell us how much they like the Terrible Two--best support of any ride they've done. They completed it in 2017 (with 100+ degree heat) and even in 2012 when it was hotter still. They say that the weather today made this ride harder than those were.

    A drive home after midnight, and the day is a wrap.

    Stats on the ride from the DDC web site:

    360 Total Registered for the double (includes several tandems)

    68 Did Not Start

    143 Did Not Finish

    108 Finished

    41 no data or faulty data (includes David)

    David used Angela's Wahoo for the ride:

    15 hours time moving

    13.3 Average speed (Steve and Andy were a bit faster)

    200 miles (David looped back in a few places)

    -----------

    Some fun facts from Jim Gloystein

    =================================

    - If you've never experienced watching the sunrise while riding in the pitch dark, you have to try this. It's "experiential" as David and Jim called it. With all the clouds overhead, it took a while to actually see "first light", but when it took place just as we were heading to the town of Winters, it was simply amazing.

    - The 5-mile stretch of gravel; Although traction was not a problem, the unbelievable mess the mud created on one's bike was a huge problem. The first time one applied rim brakes, there was that awful grinding noise that sounded like you were sanding off paint. But my Cervelo was making even worse noises in the drivetrain itself - the grit and muck had gotten into the chain and rear derailleur and was making grinding sounds that make bike mechanics cringe. And looking down at one's front tire where you normally see a clear stream of water coming off the tire, this stream was dark brown and full of mud and grit! Thankfully one could wash some of this off with a water bottle after we got back to the pavement, but it was really quite harrowing to have your bike get so fouled up (of course, David L. being the exception because he was running fenders).

    - Speaking of bike choices, as I was loading up my non-fendered Cervelo carbon fiber road bike in the car on the way to Davis, it occurred to me that I have two other bikes with full fenders, one of which is my venerable Surly Long Haul Trucker which I do full touring. I stopped for a minute and considered taking off the front and rear racks and using this bike (which also doubles as my winter "rain bike"), but I thought better that I should just go with every advantage I could in terms of light weight and good handling. If I had it to do over again, I would have taken the Surly "rain bike" and been much better off with fenders for the rainy day and gravel section.

    - Electronic shifting; Jim has used SRAM wireless eTap electronic shifting for over three years. And not once did it malfunction despite all the rain and muck. Compared to lights and GPS devices that are touchy and highly prone to malfunction, this stuff is "battle tested" and worked no matter what. Upon having to clean my bike after I returned home, I noticed that the mud and muck had gotten into almost every crevice of the front and rear electronic derailleurs. The only way I could clean them was with "Q-tips" and alcohol. But as noted, they never once failed to work in a very harsh riding environment and that was worth a lot.

    - Rain gear; you either love it or hate it. There's no perfect solution, so you try to find gear that minimizes the agony of riding in the rain. There were people with no rain gear (and just shorts and a jersey top - what were they thinking?) and then there were a plethora of Shower's pass jackets and knock offs. No matter what, everyone gets wet, whether from the rain or the sweat buildup inside rain gear. The trick is to have good insulation underneath (yes, wool is unbeatable) and not to get too overheated from non-breathable rain gear.


  • Saturday, February 23, 2019 6:36 PM | Paul McKenzie
    Nobody showed up for my "C" ride today... Don't get me wrong, there were 10 riders present, but none of them wanted to ride at a "C" pace!


    In round numbers, 2 Climbs, 66 miles, 5,000', 4-4.5 hours moving (depending on rider), dry roads, rushing creeks, no mishaps or flats (other than Jens' Di2 battery starting to run low).


    7 riders rolled out from Howarth at 9:07 AM. Darrin, Craig, Carl S, MarC, Sam, Nick, and your fearless, if slow, rider leader. In short order, Miguel rolled up on the rear. On the Calistoga Rd. climb, Jady rolled past us at a good clip. I was leading the climb, with my ducks all tucked in behind me in a neat, single file row. Everyone was in warm up mode, so didn't take the bait —  this time. Jens met us at the top of the climb, having ridden from Calistoga, so we were now 10 strong, pun intended. With the addition of Miguel, Jady, and Jens, the roster wasn't exactly deteriorating ;-)


    On the St. Helena/Spring Mt. climb, I was a good ride leader and led from the rear. I wish I could say it was by choice. The only rider I could keep in sight was Craig H. I was able to claim the Lanterne Rouge on Spring Mountain without competition.


    Spring Mt. featured dry pavement this time around, with only a few wet spots. The creek was still rushing, and again provided a beautiful distraction on the climb. The descent was much safer this week vs. last with more or less dry pavement.


    Once on Silverado, the pace heated up, and I was immediately dropped. This meant a solo ride into Yountville, where the group waited patiently. Knowing they wanted to stick to the knitting, I made my stop brief, with a Coke and a quick snack.


    We then headed for Trinity via Dry Creek. The ride along the frontage road was civil, and we all stuck together, but the pace heated up again on Dry Creek, and the group was completely shattered, every man for himself. Dry Creek was far from dry, and the rushing water was again an enjoyable distraction on the long drag toward Trinity.


    On Trinity, I thought my Lanterne Rouge status was safe, until, near the top, I slowly reeled Craig in. Desperately wanting to hold onto my LR status, I eased up just a bit to ride behind Craig. But I eventually lost my resolve, and pushed a bit toward the summit, gaining a small gap on Craig going over the top.


    We regrouped again at the bottom of Trinity, and I snapped a group photo. MarC, Miguel and Darrin broke off and took Sonoma Mt. to their respective destinations. Jady, Nick, and Sam powered ahead, and we were unable to match their pace, and did not see hide nor hair of them for the remainder of the ride. Jens, Carl, Craig, and I, finished ride together, safely back at Howarth at 1:50 PM.


    Rider of the day is Craig H. Not because he did anything spectacular, but he was largely the only rider I could keep in sight all day, and he let me nip him on Trinity, so he's on my radar. Oh, and he did take that little bump of a climb at the end of the ride going into Spring Lake toward the bike paths!


    This ride was pretty shattered, with riders going at different paces, and some getting dropped from time to time. But I wouldn't have it any other way. I think everyone enjoyed this ride very much, and got a great work out on a perfect Winter cycling day. A big thank you for those who came out today and rode safely. It's a pleasure to lead a ride with such a competent group. Stay tuned for the Three Hill!

     

  • Saturday, February 16, 2019 6:33 PM | Paul McKenzie
    The One Hill Winter Trainer ride finally happened today, after several weather delays.  7 riders, 62 miles, 4300', 4:06 riding time, wet roads, roaring creeks, snow capped peaks, a few sprinkles, and one downpour.


    Darrin J, MarC M, Dave S, Richard A, Carl A, and Sarah S, a.k.a. "The Usual Suspects," rolled out with me from Howarth Park at 9:10 AM, under dry skies, and over wet roads. Spring Mt. was quite wet, with several places where water was running across the road. The creek along the road was rushing with water, and was an enjoyable distraction during much of the climb.


    The group was well matched (with MarC taking it easy and riding a mt. bike), and there was little separation over the summit. We regrouped at the bottom after an extra careful descent of the treacherous East side of Spring Mt.


    We formed a pace line up Silverado, and stopped briefly in Calistoga for water, then were treated to an incredible view of Mt. St. Helena, well covered in snow, as we headed toward Hwy 128. After descending the County Line climb, some light rain fell as we rolled by Ida Clayton Rd, and looked up to see more snow on the ridge top.


    The rain subsided as we tackled Chalk Hill, Faught Rd, then Mark West, to Riebli, and back toward Howarth. At the final stop light, I noted to the other riders that the sky looked terribly dark. With about 200 meters to go, the sky opened up, and we experienced a heavy downpour. All riders made a mad dash to their cars seeking cover from the heavy rain. While we didn't get a chance for a proper goodbye, I am confident in saying that all present had a wonderful Winter ride experience, in beautiful conditions.


    A big thank you to all riders who made the effort to attend the One Hill Trainer. Rider of the day goes to Dave Smith, who, after recovering from a serious injury, is back riding again, as strong as ever. Dave crushed the climbs, and also put in some very strong pulls at the front on the flats. Welcome back, Dave!


  • Sunday, April 29, 2018 11:30 AM | Paul McKenzie
    16 riders (12 men, 4 women), 121 miles, 10,000', 3 flats, a few sprinkles, tacky dirt, lush green grasses, wildflowers, 1 cougar skeleton. That's the short story of the Three County - Four Hill Ride.


    The Four Hills climbed are Geysers, Old Toll, Hopland Grade, and Mountain House.


    Dave left the start in Healdsburg one hour before our group to get a head start. At 8:00 AM 10 more riders left the start, heading for Geysers. Conditions were beautiful, with a mix of bright sun, puffy clouds, light fog, and also some darker, threatening clouds.

    The temperature dripped as we climbed Geysers, but the cool weather was comfortable given the effort. Jennie pretty much dropped the entire group on the first Geysers climb, but the male members of the species faired just a little bit better on the second hump.

    Descending Geysers, Jennie was laughing at the contrast of road conditions on that stretch, from smooth, wide pavement with center double yellow, to narrow, potholed single lane, to bumpy dirt, with a few significant slumps in the pavement thrown in for good measure.

    At Geysers and River Road, we picked up the "Cloverdale Crew," Trudi, Catherine, and Nick. And we lost Steve, who'd had enough after Geysers. But wait... there's more. Up the road, also starting in Cloverdale, was Darren.

    Despite closed lanes for repair along the 8 mile stretch of Hwy 101, it wasn't really any worse than usual, and not too unpleasant on the bikes. Unfortunately, one rider got a flat on this stretch, followed by a second, unrelated flat. The bulk of the group carried on to our stop at the store in Hopland... no sense in having the entire group waiting along Hwy 101. Darren was waiting for us at the store. At this point it began to rain lightly, and skies were looking ominous.

    After a regroup and a break in Hopland, we tackled Old Toll Road, a beautiful old road, with a mostly dirt surface. Fortunately, the sprinkles were short lived, and we were treated to absolutely perfect conditions on Old Toll, the best I have ever seen. The descent featured none of the loose dirt normally seen, as the light rain left everything nice and tacky. I caught up with David on the descent, so he was making good progress, holding off the group to about the half way point. Many riders commented on how much fun the dirt descent was — no argument here, I had the time of my life!

    Once back on to pavement, we had another regroup planned, but several riders were a bit chilly and wanted to continue on. I let them go and we formed a second group. Unfortunately, the chasing group experienced another flat tire (different rider this time), so this put the "C" Group a further behind the "C/D" group.

    The final regroup in Hopland resulted in a similar strategy. With the C group behind, the C/D group wanted to forge ahead and finish the ride. I sent them forward and rode in with the C group. We caught David again on Mountain House, and he was able to finish the ride with our trailing group.

    The Cloverdale Contingency finished where they started, while the Healdsburg Homies were all in safe and sound by 6:15 PM. It turned out to be a perfect day for this amazing ride, with just a few sprinkles and dramatic weather. We never got soaked, and while a few riders complained of being a bit chilly while stopped, most were quite comfortable during the day.

    Thanks to everyone for riding safely, being social, and accommodating the requirements of riding efficiently in a group.


  • Sunday, March 04, 2018 8:49 PM | Paul McKenzie
    Another great day on the bike if a little cool. We assembled at Howarth Park at 9 AM for this 107 mile adventure. Looking around, it was clear the field represented the who's who of "D" riders in the club... for this supposed "C" ride. The group that left Howarth, right on time, totaled 16, and the group swelled to 20 by the time we got to Pope Valley.


    The specs:


    20 riders, 106.4 miles, 8500' elevation, some ice, some sand on roads, 7:06 riding time, 7:52 Elapsed time. 15.0 mph average speed, which I would call a C/D pace, no flats, no crashes, one minor mechanical that was fixed quickly. Hundreds of noisy croaking Toads.


    At the rider meeting I stressed two points. First, being careful on the wet, slippery Winter descents. Second, asking the D riders to hold back a bit when in a pace line to accommodate the C rider pace that was advertised. The first point was heeded by the group, however, the second, not so much. Asking these thoroughbreds to hold back in the pace line turned out to be a fool's errand.


    The group split up nicely going up Calistoga road, allowing cars to pass. Ice was visible at the edges of the road, but the tire track was free of ice, and we didn't experience any slippage. Descending Calistoga Road and on to St. Helena Road, it was evident that the County had sanded the roads heavily, as there was black ice last evening and early this morning. Again, clear for us, but frost still visible at the edges of the road.


    Everyone set their own pace up St. Helena Road, and descending Spring Mountain, I found myself behind John E and John M. These guys are two of the most competent, experienced riders I know, and to watch both of them dissect this tricky descent at a safe but efficient pace was quite a joy!


    We regrouped in St. Helena, and it didn't take long for the large group of 16 to reassemble.


    As we headed out of town, I'd heard that Matt had a mechanical, so I sent the group ahead while I returned to find Matt. He and Michael came rolling along with the issue already resolved, and we chased to catch the group. The group had stopped at the Porta Potties left on the side of the road by the Marathon that was happening today. Craig had told me about the Marathon event on Silverado during the pre ride meeting, and I thought to myself... "This could be interesting." As it turned out, the only inconvenience was later in the day when the trucks were stopping on Silverado to pick up the Honey Buckets, and we had to swerve into the traffic lane to avoid the trucks.


    At this time, just before ascending Howell Mountain, we picked up Eduardo and Gilberto, two nice Irish lads (just kidding), who'd ridden from Napa to meet us. Following the climb up Howell Mountain, we stopped for supplies at Pope Valley, where we picked up Jady and Nick.


    As we left, and Jens was setting a swift pace at the front, I suggested, "I sense there will be a split in this group."


    Heading out Pope Canyon Road, the likes of Marc, Jens, Jady, Michael, and several others, lit up the pace big time. The speed varied between about 20 mph to 35 mph over the rolling terrain. The pavement was terrible, and I found myself going into race mode, fighting to stay near the front so as to stay out of danger, and not get dropped should there be a split. Sure enough, the group did split, and when we came to the final little climb before Lake Berryessa, I cried "Uncle" and let the front group go.


    Jennie Phillips was with me at that point, and we found ourselves in no man's/woman's land. Dropped from the front group, but ahead of the chasers. The good news is that we worked very well together splitting pulls on Knoxville Berryessa Road. The group was pretty shattered at that point. We later encountered Chayan and Eduardo, who'd stopped for a break, and they later passed us again. We also picked up John M and Gilberto, who'd been shelled by the front group, and Jennie and I towed their carcasses into Yountville. Jennie and I worked together for the entire stretch from Lake Berryessa to Yountville trading equal pulls. Thankfully, Jennie is still recovering from a broken wrist sustained in November, so I was able to match her pace, and we worked together like a well oiled machine.


    We had a quick lunch stop in Yountville, and the main group was ready to go, though the later riders had just arrived. I elected to go with the main group, knowing the riders left behind could find their way.


    The last obstacle of the day was Trinity, and I, along with a few others, struggled to turn the pedals up the steep climb, running on fumes after bouts of riding very hard throughout the day.


    When clouds blocked the sun, it was quite cool, but at other times, the warm sun and gorgeous clouds were comforting. Every time we passed a pond, we could hear hundreds of toads croaking so loud it was almost deafening. Apparently they are enjoying the aftermath of the wet weather!


    For the final stretch back to Howarth, the group had dwindled to 9. Some were ahead, several broke off to head back to Petaluma or Napa, and a few were behind. The group of 9 arrived back at Howarth a few ticks before 5 PM.


    We didn't have any takers for Pizza and Beer at Mary's, but Jennie and I went there anyway, to enjoy some well deserved food. As we finished up, Jay came in to let us know that the riders behind were in safely. They'd finished at about 6 PM, a long day, but still in daylight. Jay was in good spirits, and I was relieved to find there seemed to be no hard feelings about the ride leader leaving a few riders to fend for themselves.


    Overall it was a fabulous, hard, training ride, with many competent riders. It was a large group for such a difficult ride, and I am very pleased with the turnout.


    We'll up the ante again with the Four Hill ride in April. This one will include Geysers, Old Toll, Hopland Grade, and Mountain House. Although not for the faint of heart, the Four Hill is by far my favorite of the series. I think I'll call this one a C/D ride, knowing it'll attract mostly the D crowd again.


    Thanks to all riders for heeding the warnings and riding safely, even if you ignored the pacing request ;-)


  • Saturday, February 10, 2018 6:20 PM | Paul McKenzie
    The Two Hill Winter Trainer was a smashing success today! 12 riders showed up for the ride, and the weather could not have been better. There were several ride options today, including the Kroecks' popular Valentine's Sweeheart ride, so I was pleased to see the good turnout. We even had a nice tailwind on Silverado. The specs... Two climbs, Spring Mountain and Trinity, 12 riders, 66 miles, 4700', Riding Time 4 hours 16 minutes, Elapsed Time 4 hours 58 minutes, average speed, 15.3 mph.


    We rolled out of Howarth at precisely 9:10 AM with a competent group of a dozen riders, 10 men, and 2 women. As we approached the first climb up the short, but steep, Calistoga Rd., Joyce announced that she and John would be on their own, so I should not worry about them. Of course I didn't, as they are both experienced riders, and I appreciated that Joyce informed me of her plan.

    When the road kicked up, Chayan and Sam hit it hard, and a good bit of the group followed. I kept a tempo pace until the top, put in an effort, and caught the group right at the summit, though Chayan and Sam were already waiting. Descending, I was in second position behind Sam, and I stopped at the right turn on to St. Helena Road to make sure the group made the turn. I waited for all to pass, except for Joyce and John, then began the long chase to catch the group.

    I thought it would be an easy task to catch the group on the long climb, and I slowly caught Del, Jim, and Craig, but Walt, Steve, and Trudi remained elusive over the summit. Craig announced as I passed, that he is a BC rider trying to be a C rider. Looked to me like he was doing a very good job working toward his goal. I was able to reel in the speedy 3 on on the descent, and the four of us found Sam and Chayan patiently waiting at the regroup point at the intersection of Madrone St. in St. Helena. All riders were together in short order and we proceeded over to Silverado Trail.

    We organized a nice pace line to cover the 10 miles to Yountville efficiently. Coincidentally, we had 10 riders, and after each of us had done exactly one pull, we arrived in Yountville, having enjoyed a tailwind for a good bit of the stretch. We could not have planned it better. What a great group!

    After a leisurely snack stop in Yountville, Joyce and John showed up. At that point Del announced that he planned to join Joyce and John for the remainder of the ride.

    We tackled the next flat stretch over to Dry Creek at a moderate pace, then the pace picked up on the gradual climb, and the group split again, with Sam and Chayan ahead, and the rest of us chasing. We found Sam and Chayan waiting at the intersection of Trinity, where Trudi announced that she would go ahead, as we'd catch her on the climb.

    The group left shortly after, and everyone put in a good effort on the very difficult Trinity climb. As it turned out, Chayan was the only rider to catch and pass Trudi, while Walt barely caught her at the top. I decided to exercise my authority as ride leader and revoke Trudi's "I'm going to start the climb early cuz you'll catch me" card. Quite frankly, even with the new rule enforced, most of us are still going to get chick'd, but this will make it official ;-)

    We watered up at the fire station, and began the descent, where Jim demonstrated his descending prowess. At the bottom, I suggested a moderate tempo pace line back to the start, and the group complied. Once again, this group, now 9 strong, worked very well together, and we arrived back at Howarth Park in under 5 hours total elapsed time, tired and satisfied, but not too knackered.

    A huge thank you for everyone in this group. The group rode strong, safe, obeyed traffic laws, and socialized and communicated well with one another. Thank you! I can't wait to do it again. Stay tuned for the Three Hill Winter Trainer in March. The Three Hill will add a level of difficulty, but is still manageable as our Spring fitness improves.



  • Wednesday, February 07, 2018 9:55 PM | Joyce Chang

    Thirteen riders started with me at Piner High School, en route to the Santa Rosa Creek Trail where we were to rendezvous with Susan Noble’s crew that started at the Trail House.  Ten minutes before we started, Dennis Prior showed up at Piner HS from his house in Windsor and told me he’d soft pedal; he wanted to keep going so he wouldn’t get cold.  That’s the last we saw of him until Wohler Bridge!  These warm February days often start in the low 40’s so there was ample reason for Dennis not to want to stop.  On my drive to Piner HS, I had heard on the radio that it was -3 degrees in Minneapolis, where they were playing the Super Bowl.  40-degree mornings here?  No complaints.

    As most of you know, it’s often a challenge to figure out when and where to meet another group.  There’s always the possibility of a late start or a mechanical issue that prevents a well-coordinated meet-up.  Today was no exception.  Several of the faster riders wanted to forge ahead, so a few of us stopped oh-so-briefly to text Susan to let her know we were on the Creek Trail and that we’d be soft-pedaling ahead.  Soon after our brief texting stop, Luke Scrivanich caught up with our group.

    Baptiste, Gabriel, and Peter of the Petaluma Wheelmen were on the ride. We regrouped in Occidental for the 5.4-mile Coleman-Joy-Bittner loop.  Most everyone knew the route, but the two in the back Baptiste and Peter apparently did not.  When everyone completed the loop and regrouped back in Occidental, I didn’t see Baptiste and Peter.  Gabriel said that Baptiste knew the area, so we shouldn’t worry about him. I’ll get back to this later.

    Most of the folks had already taken off: Michael “I rode 70 miles yesterday so I’m tired” Barnes, Karen “89 miles is a stretch for me right now” Steele, Doug “I’m gonna shortcut it today cuz I’m not in shape” Wagner, Nancy “I’m gonna ride ahead and not wait” Vallance, Gwen “I might ride the Davis Double so I need to ride a ton of bonus miles” Hall, Luke “I like to gossip with you, Joyce” Scrivanich, Eduardo from Napa and Steve from Napa.

    As we were descending the 16% downhill on Covey, I received a text from Baptiste: they were on their way, having missed the Bittner turn. I knew where they ended up -- oh Joy!

    Steve Spitler, Del Bogart and I rode together until mile 32 at Wohler Bridge, where Dennis was basking on a rock in a beam of sunshine peaking through the tall redwoods.  We filled our water bottles at the Sonoma County Water Agency building and rode with Dennis. At Madrona Manor we picked up Gwen who stood there waiting for us.  Nancy had ridden into Healdsburg to shortcut the route.

    Now our group of five headed over Dutcher Creek where at mile 56, the turnaround point, we headed south to Geyserville, our long-awaited food stop.  Some coffee, pastries and string cheese freshened us up.  Here at last, Susan Noble’s group pulled in: Susan, Robin Rothrock, Bob Dahlstet and Steve Piezzi.  They had gotten to the Fulton and Creek Trail intersection a few minutes after we had, but for whatever reason it took until mile 62 to cross paths with them.  Dennis wanted to head straight home to Windsor from Geyserville, so he peeled off on his own along Geyserville Ave.

    Gwen, Steve, Del and I stayed on the prescribed route on Hwy 128 and Chalk Hill, totally unmolested by traffic as most of the yahoos in pick-up trucks were swilling their beer and smothering their chips with guacamole at their respective Super Bowl parties.  What a glorious day to be out on the bike riding a near century!  I take it back, Steve and Gwen rode well over 100 miles each as they started from their houses in Windsor.

    When we returned to our cars at Piner HS, everyone’s vehicle was gone except Baptiste and Peter’s.  Within 15 minutes, Baptiste and Peter rolled in.  Just as I suspected, they had missed the Bittner turn off Joy Road and stayed on Joy until Bodega Hwy, Freestone, Bohemian Hwy and back to Occidental.  They continued on the prescribed route but turned into Healdsburg rather than continue north on WDC to Dutcher Creek. They ended up riding something like 79 miles.

    Luke later told me that he, Eduardo and Gabriel rode the entire route.  Karen, Michael and Doug turned south at Canyon.  I don’t know what happened to Steve from Napa, but presumably he returned safely.

    Of fifteen riders, seven completed the entire ride.  Way to go!  Herding cats.

  • Sunday, September 24, 2017 9:31 PM | Dennis Prior

    Well we did the second King Ridge ride for beginners today and had 47-50 riders show up.  I lost count after all my fingers and toes were counted but someone with better adding skills got up to 47 at the start but I think a few more joined as we left the parking lot in Duncan Mills.

    21 of the folks were from the Mountain Goat group to help the new folks navigate the hill climbs and also give some of the other folks company going over the ride as the groups got spread out once the hill climbing began.

    We cruised up Cazadero canyon in groups of 5 with about 100-200 yards between the groups so as to allow the cars to get around us as best as possible and that seemed to work pretty good although there were a few folks who didn't seem to get the concept but such is life with 47+ riders.  The folks who have done the ride before just went off the front and I didn't see them again after that which was part of the plan.  There was probably a group of about 12-15 that were at or near the back at one point or another.  The new folks doing this ride for the first time did a great job and were real troopers and had a great attitude to the experience just like the group from last year.

    When we started the first big climb up King Ridge Sarah Schroer and the C/D riders coming from Healdsburg passed us as they were headed for Tin Barn and Skaggs and then about 20 minutes later Miguel Sanchez showed up chasing down the C/D riders and the rumor had it that he caught them at Tin Barn and Skaggs so he must have been really moving after he said hello  to us and started the chase.

    Once on the ridge of King Ridge where the fields are open and the cattle are roaming around with the clear weather the new folks got to see what everyone has been talking about.  You could even see the ocean at the end of the ridge before you drop down to Parameter's pond and vineyards.

    Everyone made it down Hauser Bridge rd. to the bridge safe and sound.  We had 3 of the goats lead the new folks down the hill with me at the back just to make sure no one picked up too much speed on that last 100yds as there is now a crater at around the 100yd point with only a sliver of asphalt to the left that we chose to take as a line(this wasn't there a month ago), but going only about 1mph really helped keep everyone safe and the bottom was a bit tore up but going slow it wasn't all that bad at all and no one really complained about the descent.  We did our best to keep everyone's sphincter's somewhat relaxed on this portion of the ride!  :-).

    We climbed up to Ratna Ling where we filled up our water bottles and had a rest and snacks and then made the ride to Meyers Grade where the views on this clear day were once again breath taking heading down towards the coast.  Once on Highway 1 we encountered a fair amount of Sunday traffic but made it back to Duncan Mills safe and sound.  

    11 of the original rides opted to head south on Highway 1 at jenner and add in Coleman Valley to make a 70 mile and 7,000' day of it!

    We had only one mechanical and that was a flat on Seaview that we fixed but it kept losing air so we were able to every 4 miles or so to add some more with C02 cartridges to get the guy back to the start.  He had a kevlar liner on the inside of his tire so I'm thinking that was the cause of the problem at least that  would be my first guess.

    A lot of happy faces after the ride and a huge thanks to those that showed up for the ride and helped the new folks on their first loop around King Ridge!

    Enjoy the day,

    Dennis

  • Wednesday, August 02, 2017 9:23 PM | Steven Aquilino

    We had an excellent day on the bike and a beautiful, challenging and fun ride.  We had a total of 12 riders.   Most of us started at Fort Ross, however the ride was apparently not challenging enough for Dave L. and Karl B., as they started from Cazadero and met the group at Fort Ross.  The main ride was from Fort Ross, up the coast to Timber Cove Road up to Seaview.  The debate is still on as to whether riding up Timber Cove or Meyer’s Grade is more difficult, with the consensus leaning to Timber Cove being a bit “less difficult.”  From there we headed down Seaview and up Hauser Bridge Road, which is still a mess, especially the first part right after the bridge.  Fortunately we all made it up safely and then proceeded down Tin Barn Rd. to Skaggs Springs Rd, down the Rancheria Wall and over to Annapolis Road.  We took Annapolis Road to the coast which was a beautiful part of the ride with very little traffic and overall fairly good quality pavement.  It got a little hot on this section, but once we got down to Hwy 1 the marine layer cooled us down quite a bit.  We stopped for lunch at Stewart Point Store where most of us stayed inside to get out of the cold ocean breeze.  From there it was a nice jaunt down the coast back to Fort Ross,  When we finished we had ~52 miles and  6,000 ft. of climb, that is except for Dave and Karl who went back up Fort Ross road from the coast to Cazadero (with a side trip down to the Black Mountain Retreat Center) for some more bonus miles and climbing, finishing up with ~84 miles and 11,400 ft.!  I can’t wait until I’m as old as Karl so I can be as strong a rider as he is!

    Thanks to Dave M. for suggesting this ride on our 1st "wild ass adventure" last week, and to all the goats for a truly enjoyable day!

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