well, i lagged w/ my thank you note and Heather beat me to it, but i wanted to give a huge shout out to Chris Bailey, Rich Fisher AND Heather Johnson for the wonderful ride support at today’s Workers’ Century.
Everything was delicious and abundant. The oranges this year have been off-the-charts sweet and juicy and very much appreciated in today’s hottish sun. I especially loved having the Peet’s coffee touch at Island.. yeah, baby!!
started out from home a bit on the late side (6:20-6:25am), but poured on the pre-breakfast power just enough to arrive at Orinda BART before the 7:15 departure time. I had passed Bruce B on the bottom of Los Angeles heading toward Spruce, and i kept going, knowing he would catch me on the flatter stretches of Wildcat and then pass me on the descent… all true. Still, i’m becoming slightly more relaxed in my descending, so by the time we were coming into Orinda, I was only about 30 seconds behind and actually pulled into BART in front of Bruce due to him slightly overshooting the entrance. Signed in, got my socks & crisp, new $5, and patch (are you kidding me? what other ride can you think of that PAYS you to come!! so excellent, really..). Chris and Rich both had their SAG vehicles packed with fresh fruit, delicious quick breads, cookies, PB&J, and also the first aid supplies and sun block. That sunblock came in handy later at the last two rest stops (Port Costa and Briones)… THANKS, slather, slather, slather!!!
Albany/Berkeley had started out just cool enough to warrant a light pair of compression tights over my shorts, one pair of unlined lycra arm warmers (double-duty arm-coolers/sunshade for later), with a top layer of fleece-lined arm warmers on top of that, otherwise just a short sleeved GPC jersey. I’m starting to pay attention to those in the know (and also my own experience): Coach Ben and Eric Rydman regarding going lighter on the clothing to avoid overheating and the added exhaustion/dehydration that creates, but also the idea of double-layering the arm warmers (from Mark A) for the really efficient and portable/removable insulation that provides. Kept the fleece warmers and compression tights on until the last rise on San Pablo Ave before the turn onto Parker, then went with nice cool shorts and the thin arm-warmers alternately rolled up or down depending on whether I was climbing or descending for the rest of the ride. Good strategy… .Note to self!!!
From the start in Orinda, we set out in a nice little pod of four (Barb McQ, Bruce B, Ellen G & myself), and on the last part of Moraga Way and first part of Canyon, were joined briefly by Eric R, Giovanni M & Sabi… .we were clever to be able to latch on to that nice pace-line for about 30-seconds on Canyon before the first little roller allowed the three big kids to pull away…. I stayed with Ellen, with Bruce & Barb just a bit ahead the entire stretch of Pinehurst, and was able to keep up until the last rollers/descent to Fish Ranch…. almost caught up again on the climb of Grizzly Peak to the Steam Trains, but not quite, and then realized I had pushed pretty hard to make it to the start on time, and if i kept up that pace, i’d burn out too quickly…. and then the three of them were out of sight around the corners and beyond for the rest of Grizz/Wildcat to Island. I was also joined for about 2 seconds by Matt McHugh (and Patrick Gordis, i think?) on the climb along Grizz (before the steam trains)… then bye!! Something to see, i’m telling ya!!
Pulled into Island, Barb still there, and Ellen… then i took my usual sweet time, enjoying the oranges, bananas, the most delicious zucchini bread ever, cookies, and the aforementioned treat, the Peet’s!! Rich & Heather had everything nicely laid out, easy to grab, and even offered little baggies for to-go treats, if wanted. Estella was also there, and John A, and Steve Tracy in that spiffy white kit. Good company and excellent fare. Right, i forgot to mention the potatoes! so yummy!!
Since i stuck around Island Rest Stop so long, i knew i’d have my normal solo century from that point on…. (just for the record, i was also lagging because i knew our helpers were still waiting for other riders still out on the course behind me)… in Pinole, i called out to a rider in a Wrench Science kit who’d stopped and was adjusting something while standing over his bike. he was ok, and then he caught up and the two of us rode together until the last climb out of Hercules, talking about our wonderful Century last week, which he had ridden…. very nice to get those compliments in person about what a nice job we do and how great the ride is! I found myself slowing down again on that last rise, so he pulled away, and then i also decided it was time to lose the layers…
Felt pretty strong through Rodeo and the Tour-de-Refineries up to Crockett…. and felt especially strong between Cummings Skyway and also on the Carquinez Scenic Drive to Port Costa. Susan and David were still at Port Costa when i pulled in, and then i hung around with Chris who was staffing that rest stop solo. Also, thanks to Port Costa School for keeping the restrooms open! it’s such a welcome and civilized perk to have a real restroom in the middle of a ride! And Chris had the rest stop so well stocked, and i certainly ate my fill, also had an ice-cold soda, poured the rest of the contents of the can into one of my water bottles and was eventually on my way for the great climb up Reservoir and McEwen. Am i the only one who actually LIKES McEwen? not just the climb, but the beautiful, sweet rolling descent. I especially loved the fact that because I ate enough, and apparently also drank enough, i had no incidence of muscle cramping the entire ride!! (this was NOT the case a few years ago)….. Franklin Cyn seems a bit less bumpy than a few years ago when the asphalt had those deeply gouged ridges in the surface. Last year i felt sort of slow and bonky on Alhambra Valley Road up to Pig Farm, but today i felt pretty strong (note: (oops, don’t forget to leave the bottle valve “open” over that soda drink if you don’t want your fillings to pop out with that first drink 40 minutes later!) . I also made a point to check my avg speed (over elapsed time to that point) at various points along the course, and between Pinole (12.5), Port Costa (12.6), Franklin Cyn (12.7) and until Pig Farm (12.6) I was steadily improving over the course. Mama bear had me going slow and easy, so by the time i was on the last rise before the descent to Briones, I was in middle chain ring til the last 30 ft at the top. In Briones, once I located the rest stop (in my mind, i sort of remembered it would be in the little parking area near the outhouses, but my legs still took me to the place we had last year, but no despair and i figured it out….. Heather was just starting out on her ride, duty done for the day (thanks, again!) when i pulled up to Rich’s van, and we had quite the party, with Ernesto, his friend Alessandro visiting from Venezuela, Kristin, Estella, and both Rich and then Chris who pulled in with the 2nd SAG/supply car from Port Costa. The potatoes again were delicious, and i enjoyed the corn chips, oranges, bananas and a Mountain Dew!! Actually left there with a sore tummy (from the soda, more than anything else… not used to drinking it, then 2 in one day!)… Estella and I rode together the whole way to Orinda, with me pulling a bit on the flatter sections and Estella leaving me in the dust on all the climbs. We both decided to finish out the entire ride by returning to Orinda BART before doubling back for our final climb up Wildcat. On the flats from Orinda, I really had my strength back and waited for quite a while under the shade tree… but then Estella showed (i think she’d had a problem with her chain back there which caused the delay), and Estella began dancing on the pedals on the lower sections of Wildcat, leaving me far behind, and was up at Inspiration Point finishing up some stretches when I rolled by indicating I was going to keep on going. From that point, I was a home pony and just whaling the whole stretch back to Spruce/Grizz, where I waited a few minutes, then decided to head on down. Fun/clean descent down Spruce (i still remember the horrible patchy pavement from a few years ago and am thankful for the repaving every time i ride Spruce, nowadays!), down Los Angeles to Marin Circle, down my “one illegal maneuver” i do regularly (westbound on the one-way block of lower Los Angeles), and then my final stretch along the Alameda, down San Lorenzo/Washington and home. A few minutes unpacking my extra clothes from the bike, water bottles, wiping the tires, hanging up the bike, then in the house and noticed it was not quite 4pm. Longer than last year, i think, but still manageable. my cyclometer (which sometimes reads light lately) says i did 94.21 miles, 12.2 mph avg, 42.7 max speed (this number may be an anomaly, as I thought, when I arrived home it said 36.2 which is more believable and representative of my current riding style), 7:43:01 total time in the saddle.
Ciao, and thanks for the great time, GPC!!! Chris, Rich & Heather, you did a really fantastic job… this rider is very grateful for your thoughtfulness in putting the Workers’ Century together and taking care of us so well.
(Heather, i’m glad you didn’t end up in turkey-encounter-statistic land!!)