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Backroads and Breakaways, July 2014

  • Wednesday, August 06, 2014 3:58 PM | Bill Oetinger (Administrator)

    On Saturday, July 26, 46 SRCC members (including support staff) converged on Ashland, Oregon for the club’s second tour of the summer: the Southern Oregon Tour. We've run approximately this same tour before at approximately ten-year intervals (1996, 2005), and it was as good this time as it had been in those earlier iterations.

    It's a relatively long tour at about 570 miles for the week, riding for nine days straight. Several ambitious riders added bonus miles here and there and easily exceeded 600 miles. It was also a bit hot. Five out of the nine days topped 100°. But in spite of the miles and heat, most of the riders felt it was quite manageable, and we usually finished each stage with plenty of daylight to spare and at least a little energy in reserve. No one ended up trashed…at least not in the exhausted sense of "trashed." But two riders visited hospitals for crash-related injuries (painful but not too serious), and a few more were tormented by saddle sores. But most participants got through the long week in good shape, and the general consensus at the end was that this tour was about as close to perfect as a tour could be. In spite of those few hot afternoons, the weather was generally pleasant. The logistics unfolded smoothly, with nary a glitch from start to finish. Best of all, the chemistry of the group was great: no friction, no stress…just cheerful folks enjoying good rides and happy times in the camps along the way.

    Stage 1. Ashland to Howard Prairie Lake: 22 miles, 3500' This was our prologue ride, knocked off on the afternoon of our drive day from Santa Rosa. (Our excess car pool fleet was left at the Ashland YMCA for the week.) Not too many miles, but plenty of climbing on one long slog into the Cascades east of town.

    Stage 2. Howard Prairie Lake to Crater Lake National Park: 70 miles, 4000' First a rolling, up-and-down run through the mountain forest, with modest climbs and long, fast descents. Then a mildly rolling meander among the wetlands and ranches around the NW corner of sprawling Klamath Lake. Finally, a long but gradual climb into the national park, following pretty Annie Creek up the flanks of the old volcano. A thin scrim of cloud kept the heat down for this marathon climb. Camp in the woods at Mazama Village, below the rim of the famous crater.

    Stage 3. Crater Lake to Horseshoe Bend: 66 miles, 2500' up, 7100' down After a long, not-too-hard ascent to the rim of the crater, we arrived at one of the marquee attractions on the tour: the deep blue jewel of Crater Lake. The clouds had blown away overnight, leaving the lake bathed in bright sunshine (which shows off its sapphire blue color to best advantage). Most folks stopped off at the grand old lodge perched on the rim of the caldera and also stopped at vista points along the rim, soaking up the panorama of one of America's most impressive sights. But that was only the beginning on this epic day. After dropping off the rim (hight point of the tour), we schussed downhill for most of 40 miles, heading north and west down the canyon of the Umpqua River, with the endless downhill broken up by visits to pretty waterfalls along the way. Several hardy riders circumnavigated the lake, ending up with a century for the day. We camped in a shady Forest Service camp on the river.

    Stage 4. Horseshoe Bend to Camas Valley: 79 miles, 3000' Long, hot, and hilly pretty well sums up this run across the valley and up into the coastal hills west of Roseburg. The stage began with a fast and furious descent along the canyon of the river, but soon settled into a long, mildly downhill cruise, with the beautiful river almost always in view, next to the highway. A pretty side road through farm country delivered us to a rest stop in a shady city park in Roseburg. Four climbs and the descents between them wrapped up the day. The final two climbs were long and hot, making this perhaps the most challenging day of the tour. Overnight: the lawns (and showers) of a small town school.

    Stage 5. Camas Valley to Sunset Bay State Park: 75 miles, 2500' Now over the first ridges of the Coast Range, we headed west down the canyon of the Middle Fork Coquille River. We began with another screaming downhill--same as yesterday--that eventually eased off into a mellow glide along the river. After a regroup in the town of Myrtle Point, we explored some tiny roads along the river. Unfortunately, a number of riders went off-course here and logged some bonus miles…a lot of bonus miles in a few cases. (Whether the riders got lost because of operator error or faulty route slips is something we will try to determine with a review of the maps and slips.) Eventually everyone made it to camp and to the wonderful final miles around the Cape Arago peninsula on the rugged coast, complete with beautiful gardens, barking sea lions, and spouting whales. We camped in a gorgeous, private group site on the cliff overlooking a spectacular rocky cove.

    Stage 6. Sunset Bay to Powers: 65 miles, 2500' Probably the easiest full stage of the tour, with just a few climbs. The hilly Seven Devils Road to begin, then a cruise through the Bandon Dunes Resort (a lovely new alternative to riding on Hwy 101), and a rest stop in Bandon. Then a run back to and through Myrtle Point and south along the South Fork of the Coquille to a pleasant county park along the banks of an old mill pond. Nice showers and a snazzy kitchen-and-dining gazebo.

    Stage 7. Powers to Glendale: 71 miles, 6000' One of the most challenging but also most beautiful days of the tour. Heading south, then east, upstream along the South Fork Coquille through a nearly perfect cycling paradise. A total of five passing cars in the first 50 miles, climbing and descending amidst firs, alders, and endless walls of ferns, with the rocky gorge of the river never far away. After two tough climbs over the Coast Range ridges, the road descended (almost endlessly) into the canyon of Cow Creek and the way out to the small town of Glendale. These last hillsides were burnt out in a forest fire exactly a year ago, so looked a bit bleak…plus, it was hot again (after the cooler days near the coast). So the final miles dragged a bit. But that did little to erase the golden glow of the preceding miles…a stretch that ranks near the top of any list of great rides.

    Stage 8. Glendale to Cantrall-Buckley: 83 miles, 3700' The longest stage of the tour, and a hot day to boot. Some thought it was not too hard but others wilted in the afternoon heat. A short climb and another screaming descent to begin, then lumpy, up-and-down miles in wooded creek canyons leading down to Hellgate Canyon on the Rogue River. After several miles along the scenic river, we meandered along a series of quiet lanes skirting the city of Grants Pass, eventually ending up in the pretty Applegate Valley, rolling along near the river of the same name. Camp was a county park along the river, where diving in at the end of the hot day was a popular option.

    Stage 9. Cantrall-Buckley to Ashland: 37 miles, 3000' A short ride ahead of our drive back to Santa Rosa. After a few mellow, downhill miles, we had to grapple over the stiff climbs along Sterling Creek Road, then bounce up and down among the wooded foothills west and north of Ashland…all nice miles. The last several miles were along the Bear Creek Greenway, a very nice trail leading right into Ashland. After showers at the YMCA, we piled into our car pool fleet and headed for our various homes around the west.

    Thanks to everyone who participated. These are called cooperative tours for a reason: everyone helps…with everything from the prepping of meals to the shifting of luggage to the cleaning of camps, and especially including the prep work before the tour and the clean-up afterward. The positive energy of all the participants turned a good tour into a great tour.

  • Wednesday, August 06, 2014 1:41 PM | Bill Oetinger (Administrator)

    Hills, Valleys, Bay and Beer (Sunday 7/13/14) - Ride Report

    — Laura Stansfield

    Today was another beautiful day to explore the areas west of Petaluma. The group of cyclist gathered at Walnut Park, and it was nice to see the group wasn’t overly intimidating. We had 13 riders total, mostly C riders with a few D's. We did have 2 visiting riders and 1 rider who is a member of SRCC but has only participated in a couple club rides over the last couple years...so there were a few new faces.
    We had a good ride that to the best of my knowledge went smoothly, with no mechanical problems or issues. It was a beautiful day to be riding, with comfortable temps along the water, clear skies and very little wind. The temperatures heated up as we headed back inland but were still pretty comfortable. Three riders went back a shorter way, cutting out Marshall, and two went a longer way.

    I want to say thank you to those who came out. Special thanks to Nikola and Nathan for their help in shepherding those who dropped back from the front group. When I realized there was going to be a split, and at least one rider was unfamiliar with the area, I asked Nikola if he would be willing to be a sweeper and he agreed. I then told the guest rider if he lost the front group to make sure he didn’t lose Nikola, and he wouldn’t get lost or, if he did, he would have company. This made my job a bit easier because I didn’t worry so much about somebody trying to navigate unfamiliar roads alone. Also thanks to Matt and Miguel, who helped keep an eye on riders and actually retraced our tracks on a couple of occasions to check for riders who ultimately weren’t too far behind. Also, I know some of the riders could have been riding D pace but scaled back to what I would consider C pace, which enabled us to keep the group pretty much together for most of the ride. We did have one rider who went ahead, but he was very thoughtful and left a note on my car letting me know he'd gotten back safely.

    It is always great to ride with SRCC and, as noted above, when leading rides getting help and sometimes cooperation from other riders makes leading rides much less stressful…and that means there is a good chance I will lead another one.

  • Wednesday, August 06, 2014 1:38 PM | Bill Oetinger (Administrator)

    Petaluma Multi-Tempo Ride(s)

    — Hunt Moore

    We had a great bunch of club rides on Saturday, July 19…rides of all tempos out of Petaluma. One of the ride leaders, Hunt Moore, sent in this report…

    Hello Good People,

    We had a cast of thousands on Saturday, as SRCC came south to join PWCC for the John Mills Multi-Level ride, in Petaluma.

    This wasn't a CG crowd, either--real live cyclists, little cats A, B, C & D.

    Scot Castle & I led the C group. Liz, the high priestess of the event, gave the  benediction in the church parking lot, and we were off.

    Pretty fast start heading out to Nicasio.
    Hmm, wonder why? Mein Gott, is that Georg up front? Thought it was Tony Martin, ha!

    Stop to gather forces in Nicasio. The bar looks tempting. Oh, it's only 9:30. Time to move on, with this strong group.

    It felt good to hold off the D riders until Pt. Reyes, where Marc & Micheal Barnes arrived. Miguel, cool.
    Back Pt. Reyes-Petaluma Rd., combined C/ D flotilla, where on the climb right beyond the Nicasio turn-off, we had the usual selection.
    Hicks Valley, Wilson Hill, with visions of a nice church lunch pulsating in my brain.

    In by noon, from an 8:30am start.

    Thanks to all the riders who showed up.
    Thanks to all the new faces, who I believe were impressed with our little clubs. Some really hard core speed burners.
    Thanks to Scot, for creating our route, and then having to endure a bummer of a mechanical and having to ride back from Pt. Reyes solo.
    Thanks to the great pot-luck providers, who created an endless nirvana of salads, some so exotic that I didn't know what the hell I was eating. Yum!
    Thanks to Richard Burger, for that kick ass Texas cornbread. I mean I love that.
    Thanks to Matt Muldoon, for the great support he offered on the PWCC end.
    Thanks to Bridgette and Ramona for their guidance, tea & sympathy.
    The volunteers in the kitchen & the folks who set up stayed to break down.
    And to John & Patty Mills for getting it all together, and of course, Liz, who made me write this report.
    No just kidding, it's all good. Thank you, Liz!

  • Wednesday, August 06, 2014 1:36 PM | Bill Oetinger (Administrator)

    Alta Alpina Double Century Report

    It seems as if all we're reporting so far in our new Backroads and Breakaways blog are outrageously long, grueling rides. That is not our intent. We would be happy to publish reports from any other club rides, if only the ride leaders would send us the reports (either directly to me--Bill Oetinger--or to the chat list). But for the time being, the reports are all about big rides, and here's another one, this time from Doug McKenzie...

    200 miles, 20,800'... at altitude.


    Sherry Adams tells me she'll be camping up there so I try to hook up. I see her at the campground and we wish each other luck. I'm thinking Sherry has a better chance of finishing than I. Queen of pace.

    Early start Saturday, 5:05. Managed to get my ass to the start in plenty of time. No warm up, but hey, no need for extra miles. A good friend, Andreas, was at the start. He is a very strong doubles rider. The type that can average mid-20's on the flats all day. Nowadays, he can drop me on the climbs; he's gotten a bit stronger, me the other way.

    We start off at exactly 5:05 and Andreas sets the pace (no one to start us, self start). The pace is way too hot for me. We are at 5500' and I can feel the lack of air. I tuck in behind him and settle down a bit. Andreas wants to chat a bit, but I can only ride beside him for short periods before I start overworking.

    We get to the bottom of the first climb and there are only 5 out of the dozen 5:05 starters. (Most start a lot earlier, 3 or 4 AM.) I have to pee so I let them go. As I climb, I can see them about a minute or two ahead. I'm not catching them. As the air thins on Kingsbury Grade, I'm not speeding up. I give up the chase. An Alto Velo rider catches me about 2/3 of the way up, setting a nice pace. I grab his wheel. He decided our early morning pace was too hot and did his thing and caught me. At the top, it's been renamed "Queensbury" grade. About 4 drag queens in full makeup and dress are "manning" the rest stop. I had my vest on at this point, still early. "Unzip, bend over and I'll stick it to you" one says. You get a sticker for each pass, they stick it on your number. Good stuff. You have to laugh.

    I'm about to head out...no wait, something else has to "head out". My body is now awake. After taking care of some porta potty business, I'm off, lighter and happier. Fast descent. I try to catch onto some draft from cars but it's too dicey, 45+ mph, bumpy road. I solo down without a draft and pass some of the later arrivals from our 5:05 group.

    Next up: Luther pass. Two guys pass me going up Emigrant Trail, I grab on. Good team of two, 30-year old youngins. Once we hit the Hwy 88 climb, I let them go…too fast. It's a long day and my lungs want more air. I have a good climb up Luther and now am passing more people who started earlier and some doing fewer passes (you can pick and choose how many passes you want to complete).

    Fun descent, 50+ mph. Next up: Carson Pass. Beautiful scenery, a bit dicey toward the top, no shoulder, moderate traffic. By this time, Andreas is about a half hour ahead of me. I see him descending as I climb. Also, I see Sherry heading down and she is singing. At the top, I see John Marengo, a guy who I've raced against, and his buddy Cal. They get the jump on me at the rest stop. Again, fun, fast descent to Blue Lakes. At the turn, you have 12 miles of rolling up. I see them, John and Cal, catch them. But then John punches it on a climb and I let them go. We regroup at the rest stop. On the descent, Cal takes off and John is left behind. He passes me on the big climb out but I catch him on the descent. We work together to catch Cal, then group into a fast, fun paceline back to 88.

    Next up: lunch stop at the start point, then the real fun begins. I do a quick in and out at lunch, drop off extra clothing and off I go. I'm ahead of John and Cal. I hook up with Adam Barker out of Reno, a young 32-year old. He likes my pace and grabs on shortly after Markleeville. As I start the climb miles later I see he's still on my wheel. "You like this pace, huh?", Yep, he replies. Then as we climb we start to chat, which makes the climb go a bit easier. Talk about music, etc., good stuff. I tell him I'm feeling the altitude and to take off when I slow. Sure enough, around 8K', he's gone. Somewhere along here I finally catch Sherry.

    At the top, I'm feeling funky... should I go on? Sherry comes in and is out before I decide to head on. You go down the west side 5 miles of steep as crap road, then turn around and back up. At this summit rest I see Andreas. He's been there about 40 minutes. He says he's done. "No way," I say. "You're killing it!" He says he'll join me for the next one and see how he feels. Again, fun, fast descent. At the bottom, get the West Ebbetts pass sticker and back up. Andreas has to slow for me, which I appreciate. And we blow past the top rest stop. Apparently Sherry was there. Super long fast descent again and we are picking people off. I pass John and Cal again. They came and went at the top of Ebbetts.

    We refill at the bottom of Monitor and off we go. Andreas warns me of the extended 10% section. I suffer up. The 8-mile climb takes about an hour. Both John and Cal pass us on the way up, Cal is kicking some ass, flies by me! Get our sticker and off we go, John and Cal are still recovering from that effort.

    As we descend the E Monitor pass, I'm thinking I may not be able to make it back up. 11 miles and 3300', taller and a little shorter than Pine Flat to the top! Luckily no 20% sections! At the bottom, I'm feeling dicey, shaking and doubtful. I refuel as best as possible, gels and liquids only. John and Cal get there and are in need of some recovery. Sherry comes in, refuels and reloads and off she goes, steady, steady. They have hot dogs and Andreas wolfs one down. What a nut We head up the climb and Andreas has a front flat. I tell him I'll ride my slow pace and he'll catch me. I catch Sherry and two riders. After hearing Sherry has been serenaded with "Sherry Sherry" too many times already, I decide to sing a verse from "Tie me Kangaroo down, Sport." One in the group remembered the song...good fun for a long day.

    Andreas catches me, after some effort. He slows and we are going at a steady pace. Now we are racing daylight. We have about 2 hours until dark and the climb can take 2 hours. We wick it up as much as possible and I find I've recovered some. I'll drop Andreas, slow, he catches then I'll do it again. Towards the top, Andreas calls out for me to wait. That hot dog has no business in his stomach and he expels it. ep, I watched, up and out it went. "Andreas, should we stop at the final rest stop?" "No way, we are almost there," he says. I tell him that's the way to HTFU: launch everything in your gut and say fuck the last rest stop.

    We again fly down the descent, almost 50 mph and then off towards the finish. One last climb to the finish and I'm doing OK. I take off and pass a half dozen others. I've gapped Andreas toward the top, but for the last steep pitch, he comes flying by me. The guy is a monster. I wick it up and we ride in together. 15.5 hours out there, 13.5 hours ride time. John and Cal come in about 20 minutes later.

    The Death Ride is for pussies! Hardest ride to date for me.

  • Wednesday, August 06, 2014 1:33 PM | Bill Oetinger (Administrator)

    Adventure Series 600-K brevet

    — Tony Lee

    Here is my ride report for the Orr Springs 600-K which three of our club members (Sarah Schroer, Megan Arnold and I) did this past weekend.
    The SF Randonneurs have created a unique set of brevets called the “Adventure Series” which intend to challenge even the strongest rider by adding increased climbing and dirt roads to the route. This year they offered for the first time a 600-K version. When I first read the ride description (see link below), I knew I had to do it. For one, I saw the large but invisible word “EPIC” written all over the description, and for two, the route clearly has some of the most beautiful and remote roads our area has to offer, and all in one ride!
    As the ride approached, Rob Hawks of SFR sent out a final roster. There were only 20 riders listed (2 of whom were no shows). SRCC was well represented though, particularly with two of our powerhouse women, Sarah and Megan, on the ride. In fact, Sarah and Megan were the only women on the ride.  
    Max Poletto, who I believe is the creator of this ride (and possibly the entire Adventure Series), completed the ride as a pre-ride the weekend before in a little under 37 hours. Max, who is a strong and accomplished brevet rider, sent us a GPS track of his ride as a guide for us, but also as a warning that finishing this ride in the 40-hour time limit was not going to be easy. By the way, he slept only 2 1/2 hours during the ride: in the Ukiah Safeway store, in an aisle behind the expired foods section. Max sent us this following warning.
    Warning: “This is a difficult course that will challenge even the strongest riders. A Garmin 500 recorded as much climbing (~6200m/20300ft) in the first 350Km as in the full Fort Bragg 600-K. Total climbing (~9500m/31000ft per Garmin) is on par with many 1200-Ks.  The course also has three stretches of dirt, totaling 23 miles. This should not be your first 600-K (unless you have a strong track record on doubles, running ultra-marathons, etc.).”

    Game day: We met on the Golden Gate Bridge at 4 am. Max was there to send us off with a slice of sourdough bread with Nutella hazelnut spread (a tradition of the Adventure Series) and to give some final warnings, such as don’t try and make up time on the descents and don’t ride alone, if possible. He also mentioned that it was on this day 100 years ago that the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated, which started WW1…and with that we were off! 

    My riding partner: Sarah and I were ride partners on this ride. When I first asked Sarah a few months ago if she wanted to join me, she said no.  I asked her again a month ago on the Eastern Sierra Tour, after she had completed a full brevet series and was about to do her 2nd 600-K the following weekend. This time she said yes, but that she would need to borrow a bike to do it. Having not done a lot of riding with Sarah, I was not sure how this would play out, but my gut told me she was the right person to partner with. In a nutshell, Sarah was a true champ. She amazed me with her strength, endurance and determination, and as for her organization and planning, I can see why she is the President of our club. She sent me an Excel spreadsheet before the ride, listing all the target ride times and rest times we needed to adhere to in order to finish in the 37 hours that we had set as our time goal. During the ride she was great company, and at each stop she politely reminded me when it was time to go, even if I was midway into a sandwich, slowly rubbing a fatigued muscle, or just staring blankly into the distance, glassy-eyed and exhausted.

    Bike choice: I don’t have a cross bike and road bikes with skinny tires were strongly advised against for this ride. I therefore chose to use my 29er hard tail, a Salsa Ti mountain bike with 32 mm slicks. Max wrote a few days before the ride that a mtn bike was also not the right choice but my decision was made. I figured with me on the mtn bike and Sarah on a borrowed bike we would be a good match. I ended up being the only one with a mtn bike. 

    The ride: I will not go into detail here, but suffice it say those invisible words “EPIC” that I saw on the ride description were indeed visible on this ride. The rising of Venus early Saturday morning near Muir beach: Venus to our right and the Pacific Ocean to our left and our journey stretching ahead into the darkness.

    King Ridge, the first tough climb: at the top of Rancheria we are over 100 miles into the ride. I am tired and recalling a similar feeling I had the week before on the TT. Only this time I have 268 miles still to go. The Pacific coast from Stewart’s Point to Gualala: the tailwinds that we had last week on the TT are instead headwinds, but the sapphire blue ocean, accented with its bright white caps and waves, is as spectacular as it was last week, along with the yellow wildflowers carpeting the roadside.

    The first climb up Fish Rock Road: a brutal climb, that will not be easily forgotten, up a rough dirt road with a continuous grade of 9% for 2.9 miles. So steep and relentless that if you stop, your only option is to walk.

    Orr Springs road: after biking nearly 200 miles with almost 20,000 feet of climbing, I am exhausted and slowly creep up the last climb before descending to Ukiah. The Milky Way shines brilliantly above, as if to say “stay here and enjoy this view,” but down below the lights of Ukiah beckon us to come down for a rest (brief that it will be). Overnight stay with friend and fellow SRCC club member Sky George: Sky had two sleeping cots in his garage and a plate of cold sliced watermelon waiting for us. Although we were the first riders to reach Ukiah, it was still after 10 pm. Sky waited up for us, and as excited as he was to see us and hear our stories, we had to cut the visit short, as we had to sleep and be ready to ride again in just a few hours.  

    Old Toll road:  a 16-mile dirt road from Hopland to Kelseyville. Venus rises brightly again over an eastern ridge, and the early dawn light illuminates the grass and oak-covered hills of Lake County. Cobb Mountain and Mt. Saint Helena stand tall in the distance…the last two large climbs of the ride.

    Chileno Valley: Bob Redmond rides out to greet us on his bike and joins us for a short distance. He had been out looking for us and Megan and had dropped water off on Chalk Hill for thirsty riders.  

    The Golden Gate Bridge – a bridge that I’ll never grow tired of looking at, but in this contet it was even more beautiful and majestic, as it marked the end point of a long and intense two-day journey.  Sarah and I finished in a little over 37 hours, successfully making our time goal and arriving 9 minutes behind the first place finisher (not that anyone was counting). 

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