Terrible Two Results
It was 99 degrees at my hotel in Sebastopol at 7:30 PM the night before the Terrible Two. The local news forecast predicted similar temps for the following day. Facing the Terrible Two with 3 1/2 weeks of training seemed insane, but when you add the heat, my odds were dropping quickly. The start of the TT is different from any other Double with a more serious feeling to it. The TT has more grizzled looking cyclists that look in great shape. Not a lot of big guts squeezed into spandex. We started at 5:30 sharp and the peleton was moving 22-25 MPH on the flats into downtown Santa Rosa. This was the first time the pack held together as I managed to keep with the front pace group through downtown and towards Bennett Valley Rd. A guy started running beside the peleton in his tighty whitey underwear wearing a motorcycle helmet carrying a big white flag similar to the crazies you see on the Tour de France. The amount of fan support at the beginning of the TT separates it from any other double. About 3 miles outside of town, a woman was cheering us on and her bull dog jumped out of her car into the middle of the pack causing 2 or 3 riders to go down hard. The riders were immediately attended to and the pack kept moving towards the canyons. I was able to keep up with the main group to the base of the Trinity climb for the first time. The Trinity climb is pretty steep, but being so early in the ride, it never seems that bad. Was riding up with a 508 Veteran, Hare, who rode in 07 the exact same time I did in 06 (46:30). It was already getting hot on Trinity and felt muggy which was a bad omen. I summited and dropped down the other side and cranked hard down to Napa Valley. After hooking up with a group of 4 or 5 guys, I could see 5 more up front maybe 200 yards ahead so I took the initiative and quickly joined our groups. The next 12 miles or so to Calistoga were in the 21-25 MPH range and I took a few pulls breaking my personal pact of staying on the back and letting others do the work. For some reason, I can't help but do a hard pull with a big group. We puleld into Calistoga in just over 3 hours which was fast for 55 miles. I loaded up on hammer products, jammed ice in the camelbak, and got back out their. I managed to hook up with a 8 man peleton and we jammed hard into the base of the Geysers. I started the Geysers climb by 9:30 AM which was way earlier than previous years. The good thing about the Geysers is you can get into a decent rhythm once you get over the shock of the climb. It had to be in the 90's on this climb and my stomach was starting to act up. Their was plenty of support on the climb as the organizers were great in insuring we had access to water on such a hot day. I crested the top before 11:00 AM and quickly scooted out of the aid station. I did not mind the descent into Cloverdale this year and while attacked by a minor case of hot foot, was able to crank very hard on the descent and flats. I hit 100 miles in 6:05 riding which was close to 16.5 MPH which was good considering the 7,000+ feet in this century. I was riding hard alone towards the lunch stop enjoying a slight tail wind. I pulled into lunch at 110 Miles at 12:30 which was great for me. The race leader pulled in at 11:15 AM. I was in 72nd place according to the aid station guys which shocked me as I have never been this far ahead in the race. While feeling shocked and happy to be doing so well, the heat and general anxiety made me fear it could all somehow go wrong.
The TT is such a great ride in part because the route is so varied, dramatic, and capable of tearing you apart mentally and physically. No matter how many times I face Skaggs Springs Rd., I have not figured out a way to handle it. The climb started ok, but I slowly started cooking and feeling miserable. Their is this wicked section that shoots up like a maniacal "S" that is completely exposed to the sun. I had to stop a couple of times as the heat was killing my. I was popping S-caps and enduralytes like candy to keep the cramps at bay by this point. I was realizing that my fantastic performance on the first half of this ride would have zero influence on this diabolical second half as I was feeling like rotten lunch meat on this climb. I was standing by the side of the road and they asked me if I needed a SAG. I was thinking.. Wow I must look pretty crappy. Their was no way I would SAG in though. I knew from experience that you just had to get to the top of the 1st summit of Skaggs as the second part is not as bad. I began to crest the hill. Their is an exposed flat on the top of Skaggs that gives you a break and sure enough the aid station showed up. I was pretty wobbly, but able to get ice loaded up in the camel bak and slam a coke and get out of their quickly. The second summit of Skaggs was not that bad as I remembered. Once you hit that hard right hand hair pin its all over and I summited and jammed quickly down to Gualala river aid station. The descent was quick and I pulled into the aid station before 4:00 PM which was great for me. I hit Rancheria Wall and realized what a cruel joke it is. Its so steep and relentless. I had to get off the bike a few times as I could not gut it out in the heat w/o stopping. I finally summited it and hit the Indian Reservation at Stewart's Point Rancheria. Their would be one small climb and a quick descent to the Ocean. We had a nice tail wind down Hwy 1 which I attacked hard and was quickly riding 20-25 MPH on the flats. Lots of hills slowed me down, but I pulled into Ft. Ross at 5:15 or so. I avoided the chairs at Ft. Ross and quickly departed and hit the nasty Ft. Ross hill. It was tougher than I remembered it and I slowly climbed it. Near the top their was an exposed little wall and I hammered it standing up showing I still had juice in my legs. Ft. Ross is a stealth double summit as you always forget the second hill. This second hill after a small drop is tough mentally as you are cooked by this point. I managed to grind this hill out and drop into Cazadero. I ran into Eric House who was riding in a single speed. Jason and I did Eric House's self supported double to Yosemite in 06 and I always wanted to thank him for posting his ride report. He is a very humble guy and would not admit to breaking 30:00 hours in the Furnace Creek 508 which I know he did, but he seemed to forget his feat. He also was wearing the oxford dress shirt that he is famous for making him stand out in sea of spandex. I have no idea how he can climb these hill with that single speed bike, but he is one of a kind. Anybody that could ride to the Terrible Two from Palo Alto on Friday, win the race on Saturday, and ride home on Sunday is permanently in my book in a world I cannot comprehend. I cranked into Monte Rio at 7:35 or so. Only 15 miles to go. If I could do it in sub 55 mins I could break 15 hours. I hammered down the Bohemian hwy towards Occidental barely noticing the climb. Having done this section in the dark before, it was a new experience during the day. The left turn to Graton came really quickly and I hammered towards home. Having gotten lost hear before in 05, I was a bit tentative, but being able to see the TT markers made it alot easier. I finally hit High School Road and rode hard into the stop. My official time was 15:01.
It was great finishing during the daytime, especially on a hot day like this. I was surprised that I pulled it off with 3 1/2 weeks training, but it shows you that quality is more important than quantity. When you factor in weight loss plus 1000 miles of running the results make more sense, but it was a great day over all.
I found out their were more than 90 DNF's on this day and the official high was well over 100 in Cazadero, Santa Rosa and Cloverdale. No wonder I had to pop 50 S-Caps and Enduralytes. The cool thing was the usually understated official race report called it one the Cruelest TT's in history which makes me feel good for getting it done.