Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hoodoo 500 4 weeks away

Did Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge today in about 6:20 riding time for 100/11000 which felt pretty good. I started a bit after 6:30 and was the second or 3rd guy in, which surprised me, but I never really saw anybody all day. I expected a peleton to pass me, but it was like I was in a break away all day. Good ride. Jamison Creek TT was fun. Did that in about 25 minutes which felt ok as I did not over-cook the effort. The climbing felt pretty easy today over all. Left knee a bit sore by end, which sucked. Hopefully this goes away. Feeling good for the Hoodoo Voyager. Very tough competition this year.

Sean Nealy, the ex-pro and last years winner will be very tough. Russell Stevens was 3rd in DMD and is super strong. Joel Sothern did the solo Hoodoo in 33 hrs and change and owns the 50+ year record for solo. Rick Jacobson was first finisher in Eastern Sierra double and was 5th or 6th in the Triple Crown Stage Race this year. Steve La Chaine is tough and riding well having done 1200 miles in July. Its great the voyager is drawing such tough competitors. Its such a mental game for the Voyager anything can happen. Somebody might have a great day and throw down 34 hours or less this year I think. I just want to finish. I dont care about what time I take. I dont want another DNF. If I am feeling good, I can push it, but I need to remember the race does not begin until Loa, mile 270.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Mountain View to Austin Nevada

Been dreaming of a hard ride for a while. The idea of doing a voyager style ride to Salt Lake City became the winner and I even talked my buddy Martin to give it a shot. We left at 11:00 PM and headed over the Dumbarton Bridge. The road was peppered with broken glass and we luckily avoided a flat as we crested the bridge and dropped into Fremont. Fremont is a big city and it took a while to get over to Niles just as the bars were closing. We hammered hard up Niles Canyon and the thought of those drunks leaving the bars sneaking down Niles Canyon to avoid the cops put extra power in my pedaling as we did the section in short order. We then hammered up to Pleasanton at a fast pace and into Livermore. To save weight, I had a cheap non breathable jacket on and was absolutely soaked due to it. I yanked it off and we head over to Vasco road in the dark to Altamont. We got the perfect tail-wind down Altamont and road easily up the hills and flew at 40 mph down the hill. We kept the momentum down Grant Line road. Our average pace was over 18 Mph as we hung a left on Paradise road. We made an incorrect right turn in the outskirts of Tracy at Canal road and hit a dead end. We ended up getting turned around and ended up riding on the shoulder of Hwy 5 for a couple of miles until Hwy 120 which we escaped on. It was not as bad as it sounds riding on Hwy 5, but I would not recommend it to anybody. I was just glad we did not get pulled over by the CHP as they probably would have written us up and tossed us in the pokey. We hit airport road in Manteca and flew into Stockton. Stockton is my least favorite city as the roads are all trashed, the place pocked with random industrial hell-holes, burned out houses, tweakers roaming the street, falling down McMansions, and angry drivers even at 5 AM when we road through. We made it out of town and crossed Hwy 99 into Lockeford at about 100 miles in less than 6 hrs riding. Martin was starting to look a bit wiped out as he has not had the chance to ride as hard this year, but he kept solidering on. The ride up Hwy 88 from the valley to Ione would be nice w/o 18 wheelers and heavy traffic, but it was a work day, and we had to keep our eyes open. We caught some rollers into Ione and I noticed Martin dropping back. We finally hit Jackson where Martin called it in. His wife picked him up, but he agreed to come back and give me some pacing on the next couple of days. I left him in Jackson and I started the 60+ mile climb up Hwy 88. Its hard to imagine a 60 mile climb, especially when your carrying a bunch of junk like a spare tire, chain, tools, 6 tubes, etc. It reminded me of climbing when I first picked up riding in 2003 carrying too much weight. Slowly, I picked off little foot hill towns like Pioneer, Pine flat, (every road has Pine Flat on it) and other random mountain towns. I kept climbing and stopped at the little stores along the way to resupply. This went on for hours until I finally hit Silver Lake which was gorgeous and then hit a nice steep climb up to Kirkwood. Right as I was pulling into Kirkwood, the skys turned black and I got hit by a nice thunderstorm which had some pretty strong hail. I called it a day at Caples Lake resort with 200 miles and 14,000 or so of climb. This felt like a tough double considering the weight. Martin showed up later that night and I took off in the AM looking forward to some support. The ride up to Carson Summit was much nicer sans gear and I ripped down into Minden NV. I was making great time in the aero bars into Carson City and hung a right onto Hwy 50 and the Great Basin. The desert is overwhelmingly immense and I tried to keep focused. We passed Dayton, and into Silver Springs where we almost ate at a smoky casino restaurant, but smartly pulled out and got some pizza. The road is flat and goes on forever and I passed a guy walking on the road. I think he might have just gotten let out of jail as the prison was right there. It got really hot as we finally hit Fallon NV as my computer was topping 100 degrees. I was keeping cool as every 15-20 miles Martin would give me some water. The road gets more remote past Fallon and more beautiful. I was cruising at about 20 MPH down a nice road when a climb showed up. While hot as hell, I was feeling great until the winds started kicking up on the climb. By the end of this climb, it was a very strong head wind that I had to fight for the next couple of hours into Middlegate NV. We called it a night at the Middlegate Station motel. It was a bunch of single wide trailers converted into a Motel and it was paradise for me. I was really wrecked after a hot day w/o any shade. I was losing the momentum to push hard at 200+ miles a day, as this was vacation after all, and I found myself unable to get a really early start the next morning. Leaving Middlegate, we hit the famous Shoe Tree with hundreds (thousands?) of shoes tossed up in the tree. I fought early head winds again and finally summited at Cold Springs Summit and got a nice descent into some incredible open desert. I would recommend this section to anybody as its some of the best desert riding I have ever done. I started a climb up to Mt. Airy Summit which was a typical 2000+ foot desert climb that never got about 6%, but took forever. The next descent was 10 miles of 2% drop which was great in the Aero bars. This led to a real climb into Austin NV, an old mining town.

I decided to change the plans here as I was not going to make Utah in the tight schedule I had and was done with desert having no real incentive to keep pushing it. I ended up with 430 miles and 20,000 feet of climbing in 2 1/2 days which was a great effort. I had almost no issues with my butt having learned to over do the Assoss chamois cream, no knee pain, no achilles aches, or anything. The heat was pretty tough, but nothing unexpected. Martin was awesome to switch his plans out from a ride to support, but I achieved every goal I had for getting some real tough hard work in for the Hoodoo 500 Voyager, and it was time to do some other stuff.

We decided to head out to Owens Valley and do the "hardest" climb in CA, Onion Valley according to The Complete Guide to Climbing (by bike). The drive over was a lot of fun as we got to see Tonopah NV and the infamous Clown Motel If I knew they had crazy stuff like this in the lobby, we may have had to crash there. We got a nice simple clean motel in Independence and started the climb the following morning. It started really slowly and not that steeply. Since it climbs 5200 feet in 13 miles and averages 8%, we would pay later for anything easy now. Martin jumped in the first stream he could find as he is that kind of guy. I avoided this and wondered and waited for him to get back on the bike. We climbed up and up to a camp ground or two and up endless switch backs until we hit the summit at 9200 feet. When I say the climb was not that hard, dont take it as arrogance, but it held a consistent grade the entire way and I never felt that tired. It took a bit over 2 hours to climb it and maybe 25 minutes to drop down to the 100 degree heat in Owens Valley. We headed up to Sonora Pass hoping to grab a place to stay at Kennedy Meadows. We managed to get a cabin which was pretty surprising, as the place was packed. They had a signed picture of Rush Limbaugh at the front desk. Had no idea we were staying in a right wing resort and was worried we might get sniffed out as limp risted liberals, but it was a risk we had to take. While shorter than Onion Valley at 3100 feet, it has two nasty cruxes of sustained 13% grade that hurt alot, but managed to get over ok. It was great seeing the summit at Sonora Pass as well as 3 through hikers on the PCT. Unfortunately, Martin broke his chain and could not finish the climb. He tried to repair it and then managed to trash his derailleur in the process. Bummer. Did about a mile of coasting down the river to console this problem and the water was freezing and the river was swollen with a heavy snow year. Martin was wearing a Celtics Jersey and some Lakers fans taunted him. They almost came to blows, but luckily we managed to avoid the confrontation.

This ride really rises my confidence for the Hoodoo Voyager. It takes a lot of long painful hours in the saddle to give one the necessary respect for something as tough as this ride. I will not be trying for any course records, or winning, I just want to finish it. There is a reason so many have DNFd this ride and I think the 480 miles or so I got on this 4 days of riding was great prep in many ways.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Off to Salt Lake

Heading to Carson City. The thought of riding there seems a bit daunting, but based on the doubles and longer I have done, its not that hard. It just seems long based on memories of driving there so many times over a life time. Looking forward to the descent over Carson Pass in a 14 hours or so. The ride through the valley is actually nice if you can time it right. Early in the AM, you get a feeling of what it may have been like when John Muir did his famous walk from San Francisco to Yosemite. To me, nothing beats leaving your house and riding across the Bay and weaving your way into the Sierras and managing to make it to the top of the pass in the same day. We live in a big state, but its not that big on a bike.

The ride across Nevada on Hwy 50 "The Loneliest Hwy in America" should be a challenge. Multiple sections are 70+ miles between services, so the camelbak will be in play. The section from the Nevada border into Delta Utah is especially remote with nothing at all for almost 90 miles.