Terrible Two

The day started quick as usual from the start at Analy High. We were moving 20+ towards Santa Rosa. This was my 5th start for the TT, so I am starting to get used to the feeling. I was on my back-up bike that I have not ridden once since January giving me doubts about the day ahead. How I managed to break my fork on the way up to the ride is still a mystery to me. Somehow, a blast of wind managed to knock my bike over and snap the carbon drop out probably on Hwy 380 towards San Francisco. Some drivers were signaling to me and it took me a while to figure out the bike was sitting on its side, half way hanging off the car. The carbon drop out was still attached to the rack while the bike lied limply to the side. Luckily the damage was just to the fork and I can get that replaced before RAO. After driving back home to pick up the backup bike, I took back off for the ride. I had to adjust my goals on the fly as I knew it would be tough riding a bike I have touched since January and close to 4000 miles ago.

Riding down Bennett Valley Road with the top 20 or so, I managed to get dropped by the group on the descent before Trinity Grade. I started the climb alone and got passed by a few guys half way up. It was pretty cool out compared to last year, and I was climbing ok, but noticing that I was not climbing as well as with the Scott bike. The Trinity descent went ok and the little climb before Oakville Grade was with a decent group, but again, I got gapped on the descent as they took of at about 50 MPH down that hill and I hit the brakes. It was me and one guy trying to gap up the big group on Silverado Trail. I pushed it hard and managed to catch up, but was so tired from the effort I let them go and hung with a couple of guys trading pulls in the 22 MPH range. I felt like quitting for a minute as I was really feeling tired, unable to hang with the groups I felt I normally would be able to, and was just burned out. But, I kept pushing it into the first rest stop at mile 55 in Calistoga. I hit this in less than 3 hrs total time, at almost 20 MPH for the day, so things were ok. Was in and out of the rest stop in one minute and out to the Geysers. I managed to find 4 guys to work with towards the Geysers and we hit the base at about 19 MPH for the day. I was not feeling too snappy on the climb up the Geysers, but my overall fitness is much better, so even though I felt crappy, the first summit came pretty easily. The aid station was quickly dealt with and the descent down Sulfur Creek Canyon was as bumpy as usual. I remember hitting Mile 100 in 5:50 riding time, so things were ok. I did not get passed once on Sulfur Springs which surprised me. A couple of guys did pip me before lunch though, but I let them go. I treated lunch like a rest stop and was out in 2 mins. Skaggs was the coolest I have had yet in 5 attempts. I thought it was going to be toothless, but it still had bite and I methodically pedaled towards the top aid station never cranking too hard, but never stopping either. The second summit did not go too great for me as hot foot was coming on and I got passed by at least 5 guys. The descent to Gualala was typical for me as I took it easy. Near the bottom I got passed by Eric House and his brother and the #1 woman, Donna Nice. After taking a huge slug of Hammer Gel, I got a big energy surge. Note to self, remember to eat more on the RAO. I quickly took off from the aid station and headed to the dreaded Rancheria Wall. But this time, I was thinking of Summit Springs in Woodside and how much harder that climb is. This seemed to help as I really attacked the wall and felt the most aggressive I had all day. To that point, I felt like a survivor, but it was great to hammer that climb. Stewart's Point Rancheria at the top always interests me as I pass it. The Kashia Pomo Native American tribe were placed on a 40 acre tract on the top of Skaggs right before the drop to Hwy 1 and I am always shocked to see people living up there.

The descent to the coast was nice. We had a good tail wind to Ft. Ross and I managed to push it pretty hard, but I was not feeling particularly strong. I hit Ft. Ross at 4:33 PM and knew that a sub 14 hour finish was possible. I got out fast and attacked the climb like I did Rancheria Wall. It was damn hard, but I got to the top w/o resting and managed to keep the pressure on. The second climb of Ft. Ross before the descent to Cazadero was hard as usual, as you always think your done earlier. I got passed by some crazy descenders on the technical descent to Cazadero. But by this point, I was being extra careful as I needed to just keep moving to hit my goal. I pulled into Monte Rio at 6:20 leaving me 1:10 to get back to Analy High to break 14. Could I pull it off?

The ride towards Graton road always has more rollers than you remember the year before. I pushed hard and finally hit the left turn up Graton. I knew this would be one more small climb before the descent into Analy. The descent was a fantastic gift as it was fast, fun, and taking me home. I pulled into the end at 7:18 PM a bit surprised I made it by 12 mins. 13:48 for me was great considering where I started on this ride as a DNF and then two non-official finishes after 10:00 PM. Last years 15:01 in the heat was great, but today was a good breakthrough for me. I would like to do even better, but I achieved my goal that I did not want to jinx myself with by putting to paper before the ride, and managed to do it on the backup bike. Anyway, this was all about RAO, and I am thinking that stacking up Alta Alpina and the Terrible Two in 8 days was a good block of work. I got almost 500 miles in those 8 days and 40,000 feet of climbing. So it was a virtual RAO in a week. Two of my competitors in RAO were in the TT and Bruce Carroll beat me by 12 minutes and Laurence Kluck was behind me by about 30 minutes. Will be great to compete with them at RAO.

Total Time: 13:48
Ride time: 13:18
Off Bike: 30
Total Climb: 17,600 (TT has more than it advertised ;) )
Average Speed moving: 15.1 MPH
Average Speed overall: 14.5 MPH


nrmrvrk said…
Nice write up. I forgot to look At the full results to see if Brian beat mr. Arrogant again this year.
Chris O'Keefe said…
Brian won again. He takes it easy until Skaggs then crushes everybody on the steep stuff. Apparently the guy is a monster climber.
mthead said…
wow, good job, what a week (well, 8 days)!
Mike said…
Nice work, Chris.

I see that you beat Donna by 5 minutes. Was beating her your motivation for the super fast pace at the end? ;)

She'll be crewing for Joan at RAO; along with me and Joan's sister. I'll be sure to forward her your blog so she can read it...

See you in two weeks!
Chris O'Keefe said…
beating Donna mildly entered my consciousness ;) But not much more than anybody else out there. She is a solid rider. I chatted with her for a couple of seconds on the TT before the rest stop in Gualala. Is Joan in good form? Any time goals for RAO? Based on her 508 time, I would expect to see a lot next month.
Joan said…
Chris - I can't believe you did Alta Alpina and TT back to back - wow! Don't think you'll be seeing much of me at RAO - I'll be waaay back there trying to survive! My goal is just to finish - I hear this is a whole different kettle of fish compared to the 508, plus I've been feeling extremely run down the last month and haven't seemed to have been able to feel rested/recovered yet - less than 2 weeks to go, so hopefully a miracle will happen between now and then! Also hoping for good weather at RAO after all the crazy weather at most of the other events I've done this year. See you (briefly!) in Oregon - I'm sure you'll do great!
Chris O'Keefe said…
Looking forward to seeing you and Mike at the RAO. I am a bit surprised we still dont have an official route sheet yet, but I guess its not that big a deal. I am really hoping we avoid the heat they had in 06 when it was 105 or so degrees. I can handle 90 or so, but hoping hard its not 100+. This ride does look pretty tough, but I have no idea how steep the climbs are. I am hoping there is no Skaggs Springs like climbs or Sierra road equivalents. Not knowing is 90% of the fun I guess.