Mount Tam Double Century Report #2
— Carl Sanders
The Mount Tam Double Century was run on August 2. We previously posted a report from first-place finisher Marc Moons. This report is from Carl Sanders, whose Mt Tam day was equally successful in its own way…
As a kid, I used to painstakingly build these incredibly fragile balsa wood model airplanes. Hours of work would go into cutting, gluing and assembling these delicate little projects. After carefully winding the rubber-band powered propeller, I'd hold my fragile model aloft, release my grip on the tiny aircraft and watch it take flight into the unknown.
Holding a strong second after the first two CTC Stages, I could feel the current third place contenders, Cal, Max and Rod, breathing down my back. I assumed that Joel's huge lead in first place was out of my reach. On August 2nd, after a full season of dedicated training and racing, I stood in the dark atop my trusty Trek Madone, waiting at the start to let go the stored energy and effort needed to fly high on the last of the California Triple Crown Stage Races at the Mt. Tam Double Century.
Wound too tightly, the intricate model would implode into shards of soft wood and shreds of gossamer paper. Not wound enough, or assembled poorly, the model would crash to the ground.
Feeling confident, but somewhat off my stride, I planned to keep my trailing competitors in sight so as to not lose my strong lead.
Let go, my model plane would sputter quickly into the air, rubber-band buzzing the tiny dream skyward. Once my plane was aloft, its course was somewhat subject to chance. Had I considered the wind direction, the nearby trees or power lines? With just the right conditions, these chattering little contraptions could stay aloft for quite some time.
Skyward, my legs spinning freely and easily up Tam, I held tight to Rod, Max and Cal, letting Marc chase down Joel toward the summit. Rod fades off our group near the top.
Over the top and back down solo toward Muir Woods in the dense fog, I nearly had an out-of-bike life-changing experience. Glasses covered in dew, I entered a wet, sharp left turn a bit hot, locked the brakes and considered my options: lay the bike down or ride out the skidding wheels across the road into the far hillside. I opted for the latter, glad for my mountain bike handling skills, as I left the greasy roadway and came to a jolting stop in the muddy ditch, still clipped in and standing upright. Then, I simply tipped over into the wet hill, more embarrassed and dirty than hurt.
Back on my bike, I knew my limits and how to moderate my pace. I had gotten the fueling and hydration dialed in for these ultra-distance races. Catching up with Marc prior to Petaluma was a surprise. Later, riding out of Valley Ford with Joel was even more unusual. Getting passed by Tour Legend Chris Froome, dancing on his pedals up the steepest section of Coleman Valley, was surreal.
Often, my flying toys would meet a disturbing end, nose first into the ground, cartwheeling into pieces across the hard black top.
For this flight, I had to hold the assembly together long enough to keep my second place lead intact and not disintegrate into sweat, lycra and carbon across the roadway. My legs ached down Hwy 1 and up Marshall Wall. I struggled to stay focused at mile 170. Joel, Glen and I still kept trading leads and friendly chatter past Nicasio.
On our final methodical approach up Lucas Valley, we first overtake Max, then Scott. This growing train slowly picks up speed over the last real bump at Big Rock Ridge. Out of power, my spring completely unwound, I slip off the back, watching Joel, Max, Glen and Scott pull away from me.
I push on, gear down, wind at my back down Lucas Valley, pulling off a clean landing at the finish with a 10:50 time, just minutes behind the lead chase group, maintaining by a healthy margin my overall second place CTC Stage Race position.
Congrats to Marc, landing a perfect ride at 10:44, taking the course record!
Time to rest and relax.