I think I would have loved this ride... on a sunny warm day with the usual northerly wind. No way I could have done that. Major kudos to everyone!
Never use your face as a brake pad.
My Garmin died from the rain at the Butano airstrip but I patched Zen Turtle's track from that point and this is what suffering looks like...
I needed all 150mm of travel in that front fork when I dropped into one of those steeper rock chutes. Hope you can join us for the next trip down
Originally Posted by redmr2_man
Awesome ride, big thanks to JMS for being our tour guide on the grade!
Everything was fun and giggles until mile 75, I flew up Butano and set my PR up it, dropping a pretty consistant group of folks.
Problems started going down china grade, my front brake pads got down to the spring clip (not sure how, but I guess the grit of the previous miles did it) and my hand started to freeze.
The last 2 miles on 236 to Big Basin I was shivering beyond reason. Brake levers slipped from my frozen fingers and I was not braking when I thought I was....
When I got to Big Basin HQ and realized the rest stop was 6 miles down I panicked: got in the store and tried to regain core body temperature.
Ratpick and two others got there and we spent maybe 20-30 min in front of the fireplace, while thinking how/if to continue.
We rolled to the bottom of Jamison, where we saw ambulance attending a crashed rider (hope is ok), and firefighter talked to us.
Abig bunch of bikes was sitting there, and the riders who bailed, waiting in the store.
We got some shots of whiskey and headed up Jamison. I never enjoyed so much riding uphill, as my body started to feel warm again.
From the top of Jamison I could smell the tri-tip and beer gravity did the rest. I decided not to brake, since there was no point (my rear brake was doing fine)
So Miles 75 to 90 really sucked, after that it was fine.
Disc Brakes are the shiz!! I think both Ratpick and I agree.
Gloves are f'in important! My fingertips still numb this morning.
Michelin Jet Tires setup tubeless on Stans rims Heck^Yeah. Those tires are amazing on wet pavement and do well in mud. (amazingly)
I got a bunch of video from my Countour camera (which drowned in the rain )
Editing it now, will post soon.
This stuff is dangerous, margin for error is very small and I feel lucky for bringing all of my skin home (should I say 'fat' skin, John? )
Bailing was very tempting, I wish I was smart enough to do that sometimes..
Nice job Marco. I thought about you all day, since I was supposed to be there. From the reports, I'm glad I didn't doing this on my road bike, and you would have dropped me on the road portion if I tried a mountain bike.
Originally Posted by Zen_Turtle
CX bike with disc brakes in on order Hope to suffer another time.
Ahhh, makes total sense. Thanks.
Originally Posted by jms
I had neoprene gloves on wool liners, but once these became soaked through, I lost feeling in my hands. I didn't make it past Big Basin: stopped in the Park station w/ 16 others. Should have added latex to my glove stack, but I didn't anticipate < 40F...
Data from Garmin via Strava:
These are hard men.
Were there any hardcore womenz?
Temperature out of my Garmin
Damn: that's impressive. I always feel bad about DNF, but in this case, I don't regret missing Empire Grade...
One of my strategies in cold or wet events is to make friends with an energetic fat guy and wheel suck the life out of them. LOL! Good work!
The only problem I found with this strategy was having your face slammed with water like a pressure washer from the guy in front of you's rear wheel throwing water up into your face. At one point I thought I really don't even need to reach for my water bottle I can just drink of the water from the guy in front of me,
That is pretty amazing. Rest assured, the real Spring Classics were ridden in the San Francisco Bay Area this weekend.
Originally Posted by Zen_Turtle
Gent-Wevelgem and E3-prijs Harelbeke on the other hand were raced in balmy and sun-soaked mid-60 temperatures back home...
SF Spring Classic - South Recap
Here it is, in 3D, taste-the-grit detail! My camera is waterproof but once my gloves, jersey, shorts - well, everything - was muddy, there was no way to wipe it clean, so photos aren't the cleanest!
The story begins with Zen Turtle posting about the ride and looking for fellow sufferers. I had just completed the Coe Monstercross with ElHombre and Modbog so was eager for more big "monstercross" rides. I paid my $75 immediately and counted down the days!
One of the funny comments in the leadup was a Quadzilla racer who said, 'I'm going to do a dirt ride rather than a boring road century" - we "laughed" about that often during the ride!
Start your engines!
Interestingly, Murphy had kept the route (somewhat) secret. Turns out many knew the route and some had even pre-ridden it. We had figured out the likely southern portion but the San Francisco part was still a surprise.
I'm very used to riding with the route in my Garmin, disliking having to pull out maps and figure out the next turn. But I did enjoy the mystery this time, especially since I was familiar with everything south of Linda Mar.
As usual in cold weather, I was very unsure what to wear. Go too warm, and I suffer with heavy clothes and overheating, but too light and my fingers and toes suffer. With a forecast of 100% chance of rain all day and temps barely touching 50º maximum, I decided my warmest jersey was the right choice (and it was!). Long leg warmers (can't believe how many wore knee warmers only, or nothing on their legs) and a cap under my helmet to keep my head warm and rain off my glasses. I also added some toe covers, figuring it might help prevent my toes freezing on the fast Hwy 1 segment.
I took very little food. ZT also commented on this at the start - we both are used to taking (nearly) all the food we'll need on a century ride so it felt weird to ride out with nothing. Since the first refueling spot was 33 miles away, I did take some food for that stretch.
On the drive up to San Francisco, I spotted a familiar bike so sat in behind Marco, as I expected to do for much of the ride!
I had cleaned and prepared my bike and somehow contaminated the brake rotors so the brakes were loudly squealing. I went for a ride around in the rain and found out that the squealing stopped once the pads were warm. I hoped it would stop altogether eventually!
At around 8:50am, with the rain very constant, Murphy rounded us up and gave a very funny speech and directions about the tricky parts of the route. There was, as there always is, much excitement. It was obvious that this was a particularly strong pack of riders!
At checkin we received a well-produced route sheet with all turns and a map. I studied it for a bit, but figured I'd follow the pack on the start so didn't bother to try to memorize it. I had a course loaded in my Garmin but it had the wrong route up until Montara Mtn.
Rolloff - 9:10am - 0 mi
We gathered on the streeet and Murphy led us through the wet and treacherous MUNI tracks for the first few miles.
Lots of funny jokes being called out: "on your left", "passing", "slowing", mocking the protocols of club rides! I took note of the route, as I often ride back down 3rd St from rides up north and Murphy had found a much more interesting route south through backstreets.
Eventually, although I'm not sure when, Murphy pulled away and we were on our own. We remained in a pack, ZT & I trying to stay close to the leaders in case of a split.
The route took us around Candlestick Point, which was a surprise since we were ultimately trying to head west. In the comfort of the pack, that turned out to be quite fun. I noted here the large assortment of bikes, from old beater "rain bikes" to s-works carbon road bikes and a few cyclocross bikes. Many commented on Marco and my disk brakes, saying what a good choice they were for this ride - yeah, they were!!
On Tunnel Rd, the lead group took a wrong turn to the left which I immediately figured as wrong, knowing that we were destined to climb Sister Cities Blvd. I pulled out my map to check but someone else had already corrected and the whole pack did a u-turn. The leaders were no longer trusted and new leaders ("locals") were elected to guide us!
Go west - 9:44am, 8.7 mi
We hit Sister Cities Blvd, a steep but short climb off Bayshore Rd and a sprint was on. I didn't want to lose contact with the leaders just yet - neither did ZT - so we stayed with them. I was cautious about missing turns at this point, so watched for Chestnut.
No problem this time - we descended Chestnut and began the climb up Westmoor. Here I wish I had studied the sheet a little closer as I thought, and was preparing myself for, a longer climb up Westmoor to Skyline. But we actually turned on Junipero Serra and took some very steep backstreets up to Sneath Lane and Skyline. Here the climbs were taking their toll and the pack began to disintegrate.
I was quite lost at this point, wondering where the route was taking us. I had no idea how good it was going to get!
Sweeney Ridge - 10:15am, 15.5 mi
At the top of Sneath, we dropped into Sweeney Ridge, a national park on the west side of San Andreas Reservoir that I've been wanting to ride for ages after seeing Stanley's youtube video of the climb. So I was stoked!
Also confused, as I thought Sweeney was an out-n-back, but that mystery was quickly solved!
The rain had been falling/drizzling constantly. I was warm and dry enough that it actually became quite pleasant. That would change later when we began riding at speed and dealing with spray!
We climbed the paved section of Sweeney. I admired the view of San Andreas Reservoir, which I so often see from the other side. After a steep but short climb, we reached an intersection with trails and it was clear from the skinny tire tracks which we way were headed.
The rain had soaked the trail and there was a layer of mud over the top making it hard going. Hard going unless, of course, you had knobby CX tires. I was loving this as I passed roadies getting bogged down in the mud and I floated over the top. Awesome!
The wide trail rolled along the ridge, passing the "Bay Discovery Site" where europeans first spotted our glorious bay and eventually came to an intersection with the Baquiano Trail. This was to be the highlight of the whole ride for me..
This singletrack trail dropped down to Linda Mar, taking a winding route. It was very muddy and thoroughly sliced up by the bikes that had preceded us. It was virtually impossible to keep a straight line but I got very used to just riding the side-to-side sliding down the hill. So.. much.. fun!!
I had to try capture it, so I stopped to grab some video. People were still in high spirits and having fun [vid] and ZT, as was I, was very much enjoying [vid] having disk brakes that worked perfectly in the mud!
Awesome, awesome descent.
The whole way down I could feel mud being sprayed up on my face, all over my jersey and loved every second!
Once we dumped out on the street, the roadies found a house with a hose and began hosing down their bikes. ZT and I scoffed and took off - our brakes were just fine
On the streets of Linda Mar, we had a couple of miles to ride to the base of Montara Mtn (Old San Pedro Rd). ZT took off fast - stretching out his legs and perhaps shedding some mud! I gave chase, trying to find water puddles to spray some water and clean mud off my frame.
Montara Mtn - 10:50am, 22mi
Approaching Old San Pedro Rd, some riders around us started joking about taking a detour to descend Crack and Boy Scout, and hoping that Murphy's route took us there. Not likely, I thought!
At the start of the climb, ZT's front derailleur cable began to rub randomly on his tire so we stopped quickly to bend it out of the way. I was having shifting issues with all the mud in my drivechain and used my water bottle to spray much of it off.
The Old San Pedro Rd climb is mellow, only slightly technical because of the old broken road surface creating potholes to avoid. The grade is very easy and we took an easy approach rather than sprinting to the top.
20 minutes later we summited and immediately continued to the descent. I pre-warned ZT that this was prime pinch-flat road, with fast speeds and sharp edges in the broken road. He, of course, was running tubeless, so it was more a warning to myself to be careful!
I took off down the descent, having fun. I was particularly pleased that my wrist was not painful at all, having injured it back in January. On my last ride here a few weeks ago, on this bike, it had jarred enough to be quite sore.
I caught up with a roadie having trouble on the descent and patiently waited to pass. It eventually turns into a fire road, still with broken road surface to be negotiated, but allowing much faster speed. The roadies were being very cautious but my CX bike was handling the conditions fantastically, so I let fly.
There's an intersection where you can continue down the broken road or take a steep dirt fire road descent to the bottom. Last time (in dry conditions), I opted for the steep road and had a blast! This time, the road was muddy but I quickly realized that my bike ate it up! So I blasted down at almost full speed (my Garmin says I averaged 25 mph down here hitting a max of 31), slowing only to safely pass some roadies taking it very gingerly.
If you can't tell, I thoroughly enjoyed out-riding the roadies here - they were all way stronger than me, and would have their chance to blow past me later, but for now I loved showing off what my bike could do in these conditions!
I reached the bottom with a huge grin on my (muddy) face and stopped to wait for ZT to catch up.
My bike actually wasn't too dirty, although my water bottles were covered in mud. I washed down the drivetrain again and once ZT arrived, we headed out to Hwy 1 and began the long, long road ride south.
Highway 1 - 11:20am, 27 mi
It was immediately obvious that we were going to have to ride into a strong headwind. On a good day, the wind would be at our backs, but as jms points out, in bad weather it often blows north.
As awesome as my bike is in the mud, it's not quite so awesome on the road. It's not bad, but I'm generally 2 mph slower on any given road. ZT took the lead and quickly got us up to 20+ mph. I jumped in front to take a pull and found it very hard going into the wind - ZT was making it look easy!
We had gathered some other riders that we passed and they cycled up for a pull but slowed the pace way down so ZT and I jumped back up front. Eventually, we pulled into the first rest stop at El Grenada.
El Granada Rest Stop - 11:35am, 32 mi
I could tell ZT was eager to make this a fast stop. I would like to have lingered and recovered but getting moving, rather than getting cold, was actually a good plan.
Murphy had stocked the rest stop with delicious potatoes, PBJ sandwiches, bananas and, most importantly, hot coffee. That coffee was simply awesome. ZT looked so reinvigorated that he was going to jump for joy!
Murphy was at this stop, and reminded us that nearly all of the climbing was yet to come, with a couple of big climbs at the end of the ride!
In under 5 mins, we were back on the road, motoring at ZT's amazing pace. I was feeling some fatigue, having to work hard to just to stay on ZT's wheel so ended up letting him do most of the work. I think I took only 2 or 3 pulls, both fairly short compared to ZT's and much slower. I consoled myself hoping that it was just enough to give ZT some rest to keep the pace up and get this highway riding overwith fast!
We picked up a few riders who jumped on ZT's train, but none of them could hold on for long. I was very impressed and humbled!
After crossing Tunitas Creek, our turnoff to Stage Rd approached. I pulled next to ZT as we climbed and we were chatting about something when my front wheel went off the lip of the road and I crashed. It was a slow motion crash but I almost brought down ZT as well - credit to him for staying upright! No damage at all to me or the bike - just felt kinda stupid
Stage Rd - 12:26pm, 45mi
After the climb up from Tunitas Creek, we turned onto Stage Rd. I looked forward to a bit of an easy descent for a few miles and a chance to enjoy the way the CX bike handles corners and sticks on the wet road.
We rode past the San Gregorio store, a normal stop on any other ride, and straight onto the rolling Stage section. ZT hadn't ridden this before, so I tried to describe it. He was expecting a steep climb, like Lobitos Creek Rd, but it was really two quite mellow climbs.
Once past the final climb, he amped up the power for a ZT-special into-the-wind pull and I attached myself to his wheel. We rolled into Pescadero to find the next rest stop there (which I wasn't expecting).
Pescadero Rest Stop - 1pm, 53 mi
I was ready for a longer break, but we had caught up to a fast pack of riders who had lingered here and ZT was eager to ride out with them. So we filled our bottles, grabbed what food we could and were out in 4 mins.
The roadies didn't know the route but this was all very familiar territory for me so I pointed out where to go and they yelled, "yellow.. follow yellow" I got them onto Cloverdale Rd and gave directions that the gate was in 3 miles.
The gate to Butano Fire Road is not signed and is very easy to miss. The pack stayed together, mostly, I think, because the roadies weren't sure where to turn and wanted to stay close to me. Nevertheless, there was some paceline fighting for position, which was kinda fun
Butano Fire Road - 1:17pm, 57 mi
Knowing from Skyline35's rides where to go, I led the way up the road. At the bottom, we found some roadies milling around seemingly lost!
I was wondering how the conditions would be on the road and it quickly became obvious that we would be seeing a layer of mud on the trail that would make the climb hard going.
I settled into a comfortable pace, wondering when the roadies would pass me. Eventually I realized my heart rate was way too high, close to anaerobic, so I tried to back the pace off even more. It felt so slow, which is typical on trail climbs on the CX with the harder gearing than my MTB.
But no matter how slow I took it, my heart rate remained high! After some time, I heard someone approach and ZT came by. He was running full-steam and disappeared very quickly up the road. I knew there was zero chance I could hang with him, so settled in for the climb.
It was cold.. really, really cold. I was climbing, so I didn't really feel it that much but was aware of it. A few miles into the climb, my legs began to cramp. Weird cramps in unusual parts of the muscle. I had no idea what was going on given the easy pace I was taking but my mind began to analyze.
Was I dehydrated? I hadn't been drinking a whole lot, for sure, but my mouth felt quite wet and I had no thirst to speak of. Seemed unlikely. Perhaps my legs really were toast from the Highway 1 ride and Stage Rd climbs, but I knew I was in good enough shape to handle all that. With the rushed rest stops, perhaps I hadn't eaten enough?
Finding no definite answer, I took some Endurolytes hoping to feel their magic restorative powers. But it just got worse. I stopped at the point on the climb where there is a great view and stretched out my legs gingerly (even stretching was causing cramps). It helped stop the cramping for a few minutes but they returned soon after.
I'd never had cramping like this - ever. It finally dawned on me that it must be the cold. It had to be in the low 40s, if not 30s. I'd never thought cold could hurt my legs while actually climbing.
As I approached the airstrip, I hoped that ZT had gone on. He was clearly super-strong and I was feeling guilty at holding him back. I knew the route so resolved to encourage him to go on while I suffered up the climb. I was sure the road descents to come would restore my strength to finish the ride with him.
The Airstrip - 2:05pm, 62 mi
ZT was waiting for me as I crawled onto the Airstrip. It was kinda humiliating to be riding so slowly and I felt much guilt that he had to let a bunch of roadies that he'd demolished on the climb pass him by to wait for me.
About the time of the airstrip, the rain must have picked up and my Garmin got wet. I really should have put it away much earlier - once water gets in, it goes nuts and quickly drains out the battery. I was so disappointed that I wouldn't have documentation of the suffering remaining!
I took a quick opportunity to stretch the legs out again, I think I ate something, then in just a couple of minutes we took off. The rest of the road starts with a descent, which felt very good, but then a series of climbs that get quite steep. It was such a weird sensation to feel strong in my legs but have them randomly cramp up. I resolved that I was going to have to walk many of the climbs and ZT rode with strength on ahead.
Some of the climbs I pushed a little too hard and ended up unable to even stand for all the cramping going on. Horrible. I learned quickly to just give up on any I couldn't pedal up super-slow rather than initiate more cramps.
And I wasn't alone.. some roadies came by having very similar issues, walking most of the same hills I walked. That actually made me feel much better - misery loves company!
The trail itself had quite a few muddy spots, and I watched where the tracks of those who had preceded me went to find the most firm ground to ride on. Often, I found, it was actually in the water flowing down the trail.
After a seemingly endless muddy climb, I reached the Scout Camp and a properly graded road. Bliss! Of course, my legs were still unhappy and I had to climb gingerly but I was able to stay on the bike. Pushing sucks!
As painful as the climb had been, it was very, very cold up here and I was very worried about the descent. I thought about the possibility of continuing down China Grade, across 236, taking a short-cut to Jamison Creek Rd. But I wasn't sure where (if) ZT was going to wait so I stayed with the planned route.
China Grade/236 to Big Basin - 3pm, 67.7 mi
Fairly quickly, the fire road dumps out onto paved China Grade and begins descending. Yay for no more painful climbing. But I immediately began to worry about the cold. My gloves were soaked and I'd lost one of my toe covers while pushing up the fire road. I would be descending into increasingly colder air.
I recalled that there is a visitor's center and a gift shop, both of which have fires, so I figured the sooner I get down there, the sooner I can warm up, and with a climb out of Big Basin, I should stay warm enough for the remainder of the ride.
5 miles was all I had to survive, and nearly all of it downhill. Ordinarily I love this twisty, fun descent but today I was worried. I shook out my hands to try to regain some feeling in my fingers for braking and cornering, only partially successful.
On the way down, I passed a lot (5-6) riders stopped by the side of the road trying to warm up their hands. I later heard that one rider crashed here from being unable to brake! I passed one rider who was running his bike down the hill to try to stay warm!
It was a very scary situation.
Every minute that passed, my fingers became not just numb but freezing. I could barely move them. I couldn't use the drops any more as I couldn't be sure if I was on the brake levers or not. From the hoods, I could wrap four fingers on the lever and make them work.
As cold as it was, I knew getting it over with quickly was key so let my speed go as far as I could. Again, my CX bike was awesome. The disk brakes required hardly any effort and my 33mm tires were gripping the wet road perfectly and soaking up bumps.
Weirdly, I passed two roadies I recognized from earlier riding back up 236, presumably abandoning under their own power. That seemed a weird decision!
The whole descent, I was checking my feet and hands and trying to see if there was any feeling at all left and despairing as feeling in both completely disappeared, replaced by a dull ache of being frozen... just a few minutes more! Going through my head was advice from a great friend who said, "don't do it" when I described what I was getting into. Why didn't I listen?
By the time I reached Big Basin State Park, I was very cold but hadn't yet started shivering. Shivering will slow you down because you cannot keep the bike pointed straight (I had this on the Death Ride after a cold rainstorm on Carson Pass).
Big Basin State Park - 3:20pm, 73 mi
All I could think about was the fire.. If I just made it there, everything would be ok. I saw the smoke from the store and went straight there. A rider who followed me asked where we go next, and I could barely talk to say the route went straight but I was going in to warm up. I'm not sure anything actually came out of my mouth.
I dismounted my bike, felt immediate pain in my back which seemed to have seized into a bent over position on the descent and went into the store.
So much pain. I couldn't stand straight but there was nowhere to sit. The shivers came on so strongly shaking me all over as the water dripped off my clothes. My legs were randomly cramping up again. I just couldn't move.
Another rider came in and we soon discovered that there was an open fire. It was down a set of stairs but I couldn't move to get down there. I somehow willed myself to straighten out and stair-by-stair got down to the fire. Some people were sitting in a sofa in front of it, so I tried to stand off to the side. I couldn't yet work my fingers to get my helmet off!
They saw what terrible shape I was in and encouraged me to stand in front of them. Oh sweet relief. The shopkeeper came over and gave us some towels and offered to put our clothes in the dryer (I wish I'd taken her up on that!)
Instead we stood in front of the fire for about half an hour, slowly unbending, shivering slowing and stopping and feeling returning. So much steam coming off our clothes!
ZT came in not too long after I arrived. I realized he was probably waiting for me outside somewhere but I was powerless to move to find him. Fortunately, he found me!
The store served hot chocolate, coffee and hot dogs.. I figured a warm drink would help recovery and I definitely needed to eat. So good.
It was hard to imagine leaving and going back out into the cold! But eventually, when our gloves were dry-ish, and bodies warm we decided to head out. We talked about the possibilities for shortcuts (such as going straight down Hwy 9 to Santa Cruz). ZT was adamant that he was going up Jamison Creek Rd and completing the route. I talked myself into it since we would be climbing out of Big Basin, so it should warm up, and my legs were feeling quite good now that they were warm.
So, with some trepidation, we ventured out into the cold and started riding. The cold air hit with a shock, making it hard to breathe! Crazy.
We had picked up another rider at the fire who couldn't decide what to do from here but mostly wanted to ride with company. He had a road bike and his brake pads were almost gone.
Actually, that was an interesting side story of the day - nearly everyone had brake issues. While beginning the ride out of Big Basin, I realized that my rear brake was gone. ZT's front brake, a more serious situation, was gone. Nearly everyone suffered wearing right through of their pads. I guess it was the rain and mud!
The climb out of Big Basin doesn't begin nearly soon enough so our new friend, clearly a very strong roadie, powered ahead to get warm. Once the climb began, I tested my legs trying to stay with ZT. The cramping was completely gone, but they were definitely weary. Jamison was going to hurt!
At the top of the climb, we had a fast descent down 236 to the final rest stop.
Final rest stop and Jamison Creek - 4:32pm, 80 mi
We rolled into the rest stop and were amused to see a stack of bikes on the ground. Evidently, most riders were choosing to abandon at this point and headed over to the golf club bar to drink their pain away!
This was very, very tempting but feeling rejuvenated by our Big Basin stop, we were ok to go on. ZT, in particular, was planning to go on no matter what we decided. Why not, thought? I'll be slow up Jamison, and it's going to hurt without my usual road climbing gears, but I felt that taken slowly and deliberately, I could get up there and then it would be fairly easy riding down to Santa Cruz.
And imagine being able to say that we finished when so many abandoned?
This rest stop featured one of the best, most appropriate refreshments ever - large shots of whiskey! So, so, so good.. immediate internal warmth and strength of resolve
Our new friend decided he would join us up Jamison so we had a trio to finish the ride!
We spent 6 mins at this stop, eating and mentally preparing. I didn't take any extra water which reminded me that I had not been drinking much during the previous cold section (I don't think my hands were capable of holding a bottle!)
Rolling out with the excitement of one of my favorite climbs ahead was fun and at 4:42pm, we turned onto Jamison Creek Rd. ZT immediately took off ahead! Knowing that it starts out easy before turning up to the sky, I took it easy. I had already said that I was going for a personal worst time with the goal being simple survival.
Since my legs were feeling ok, I added a goal of riding the whole climb. The walking up Butano was discouraging (I don't like to push) and above all I wanted to ride this beast.
My Garmin had somehow come back to life but was beeping away annoyingly and uselessly. I usually rely on it on these climbs to know when the summit is coming and it was quite unpleasant to climb without that knowledge.
Our friend was clearly very strong, although complained of being very slow, but often leap-frogged up ahead of us, then stopped and waited for us to pass.
The climb was painful. But I was actually feeling pretty good at this pace. No PR or KOM for me, for sure, but I felt that riding the whole thing was definitely possible.
And I was slowly reeling in ZT. After his initial burst, he slowed to his sustainable pace and began, I believe, to suffer a bit of cramping. He and our friend walked sections but I was resolved to ride, so slowed my pace and "delivered the mail" to stay with them.
Eventually, the stop sign came into view and we rode to the end letting out several shouts of accomplishment.
ZT let the road know exactly what it could do with its steep grade!
Empire Grade - 5:16pm, 83.3 mi
Of course, the reward for climbing Jamison is more climbing on Empire Grade, but it's relatively easy in comparison. I had stopped at the top of Jamison to also pay my respects to the sign, and eat something, so fell behind as the other two took off up the road.
They were fortunately soft-pedaling so I was able to reel them in by the time of the Calfire station which marks the summit.
ZT had said that he was going to take it easy on the descent of Empire Grade being worried about his brakes. I was hoping that would allow me to suck his wheel on the descent as I had during the Santa Cruz Mountains Challenge last year.
But it was not to be.. he sprang to life and disappeared off in the distance. I'm not sure if it was the food, but I eventually found some strength and began to reel them in, particularly on the short climbs. I knew I had a chance to catch them on the tight twisty parts of the descent as I was confident to carry more speed there.
I did catch them right there, passing ZT figuring he'll catch me on the climb above Smith Grade and I can suck his wheel to the end. But he powered up that 10% climb with more speed than I could muster and was gone.
No matter - it was still downhill and I was feeling pretty strong so I pushed hard, knowing I had nothing left to save energy for and there was beer, food and dry clothes waiting!
At the Empire Grade/Bay St intersection, I wasn't 100% sure which way we should go but Bay St seemed right so we turned down there. We were a little worried, as our friend had fallen way behind on the descent, worried about his brakes. We hovered a minute or so and decided to continue on.
Eventually, we hit Mission St and a few flat miles to Ibis!
The End - 6:20pm, 103 mi
As we approached, we were encouraged to ride right into the warehouse to the cheers of many and a high five from Lambert and Peter, who looked incredibly warm and clean compared to us!
Done.. unbelievably, done. 103 miles, 10,000' of painful climbing. I've done some epic rides and some epic suffering rides and this one was right up there with the best of them.
Immediately once I stopped, the shivering began again. I grabbed a beer but that didn't help So I went to clean and change into warm clothes, only to find that I had forgotten to pack a jacket. I figured I could hang under the heat lamps until the bus and I'd be fine, but ZT took pity and gave me one of his layers.. thanks!
I expected to sleep, exhausted, on the bus trip back to San Francisco, but found that I was wide awake. Very unusual. I tried to find sleep but couldn't. In fact, I didn't manage to get to sleep until about 1:30am. I guess it's something to do with the hypothermia!
Fantastic ride.. just the right amount of organization and self-sufficiency. It would probably be much more fun without the cold weather, although the rain and mud actually made it feel very authentic.
Apparently, of the 140 starters, only 20 completed the full course!
Big thanks to Murphy for making it happen and Zen Turtle for inviting me and dragging me around the course!
Last edited by ratpick; 03-26-2012 at 12:16 AM.
awesome write up, thanks for sharing!
Working on the full movie
Definitely a few hardcore womenz started and many at the end.. can't comment on the in-between!
Originally Posted by francois
So awesome man!!
Originally Posted by Zen_Turtle
Excellent write-up Patrick. Well done on an impossible task. I could feel the pain for sure! I can't imagine being out there in those conditions. You seem to finish difficult rides in threes.
There are no bad rides, but some rides are more fun on the bike and others are better during the post-ride beers recounting the ride.
Whoa...ride report of the century!!! You guys are tough sob's.
Wow. Just wow! Great job, guys! Kudos for toughing it out, ratpick.
Super job Pat and Marco, I am missing all the fun, but Indian Ocean is great too.
Awesome movie. The only thing missing are mud-sprayed face closeups of the main characters (Scorsese style, cfr final scenes of Cape Fear). Makes me want to see (or ride?) the sequel...
Originally Posted by Zen_Turtle