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Terrible Two

June 26th, 1999

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The Start of the Ride and Lunch Stop - With photos

"A Not so Terrible Two"

by Maury Cohen

Maury near the start of the TTThe Terrible Two 1999 dawned clear and cool with promise of the heat we've come to associate with the TT, but have escaped for the past several years.

I have, in the past, driven the "pace car" leading the peloton of riders out of Santa Rosa, but this year I chose to experience the event firsthand as a  participant. I tend to get pretty "mental" about double-century rides, so I'd talked to  many veteran riders as well as read articles about what to do and not do to have the best possible time. That in mind, I ignored the initial adrenaline rush and paced myself right from the start.

The group began to string out as we headed into Bennett Valley, and by the  top of Trinity Grade, I was riding by myself. It is a definite advantage  living right on the TT course, and I passed a number of riders on the  familiar descents of Trinity and Oakville grades. At the bottom of Oakville  Grade I joined a group of about 6 riders and we stuck together (more or less) the whole way up the Silverado Trail, a mostly flat stretch, to the  first rest stop in Calistoga.

My original strategy had been based on just finishing by the 10PM cutoff time, but as my training had progressed and my confidence increased I'd revised my goal to a 9PM finish. I was pleased to notice, as I refilled my bottle of electrolyte/carbo replacement drink, that I was exactly on schedule. I quickly strapped my backpack water supply on and joined one of my training partners, Joyce Chang, on the next leg up Highway 128 to the Geysers.

We held a comfortable 20'ish MPH pace up to the base of the Geysers where I again found my own pace and comfortably made my way up the double summit.  

I found a small bit of amusement listening to the cries of anguish behind me at the bottom of the first descent where the second climb begins with an abrupt wall of about 18%. At this point I was probably mid-pack, and at the second rest stop began encountering a dwindling supply of electrolyte/carbo fluid that would be the same at every rest stop for the remainder of the ride.  I was still on schedule as I sped down the backside of the Geysers towards Cloverdale.

The next stretch can be summed up in four words that are to be seen on countless signs all the way to Cloverdale: "Winding one lane road". It's a portion of the ride that, at least to me, seems much longer than it  is. I was pleased to see the familiar smooth and divided pavement that signals the turn onto River Road past Cloverdale towards Dutcher Creek Rd.  I got some minor cramps as I was passing by Cloverdale and fended them off with my practiced combination of drinking about 24 oz. of fluid immediately, breathing more deeply, and easing up on my pedaling for a while. By the lunch stop at Warm Springs Dam I was fully recovered.  My sweetheart and cycling buddy, Kathy Hiebel, met me at lunch with my requested 1/2 sandwich in hand. She helped me into a change of shorts and jersey while Martha Barton refilled my water and bottle of "Revenge". I was in and out of lunch within 10 minutes.

The stretch from Lunch to the first summit on Skaggs Springs is just plain gruesome. It was hot, steep, mostly exposed to direct sun, and goes on for a LONG time. I was very relieved to reach Sharon Bates' water stop at that point, and refilled my bottles before the screaming descent that follows.

My feet began to bother me around this point, but I figured I'd just have to deal with it. There is another long climb to Las Lomas, where Ron Stout was manning water station #2. I refilled again and was off towards Camp Gualala. 

By Camp Gualala I was about 15 minutes ahead of my goal time, so I got in and out quickly. The Cries of anguish from other riders began again at the base of the Rancheria climb. This climb, though only about 1.7 miles long, averages about 19% grade. I shoe-laced my way up and gleefully raced down the other side through the forest to Stewarts Point.

Since I hadn't brought any cash, I turned right past the Stewarts Point Store and grabbed the tailwind for the 16 mile trip south on Highway 1. I took advantage of the tailwind and rested (somewhat) all the way to the next rest stop at the base of Ft. Ross Rd. I was now about 45 minutes ahead of my goal so I took a longer break. I consumed a cup of "Cream of Sodium" soup, ate several slices of melon, refilled my bottle with Lemon-Lime soda, and took several more Ibuprofen, mainly for my sore feet. 

Kathy Kellison, another local rider suggested I loosen my straps on my shoes, but I told her I could wiggle my toes already. "Loosen your straps!", she repeated. I'll be darned if the pain didn't stop immediately. At this point Joyce Chang caught up with me again and I took off in lukewarm pursuit up the Ft. Ross grade. 

This is another steep, 2-mile climb up to a ridge where you drop down the other side towards Cazadero. Halfway up the climb Joyce noticed with irritation that she still had one cog left to shift into for a lower gear. That done she left me in the dust until several miles later on Black Mountain. For some reason many of the faster riders on this course end up walking this stretch. Maybe their gearing? At any rate, I just wormed my way up it as I'd done on all the rest of the climbs and made it to the next descent into Cazadero. 

Joyce got a flat halfway down and I stopped to help her change it as a number of cyclists passed by us. Re-invigorated, we picked up our pace and wound up to about 24 MPH for the last few miles into Monte Rio, the final rest stop.

Kathy met us again, this time with her bike, and after attaching a "just-in-case" light the three of us went on our way up the last gentle climb into Occidental. I had to ask her to slow down several times, even though it's not all that steep a climb. Despite all my pacing by this point on the ride I was getting just a little fatigued. The descent on Graton Rd. was a pick-me-up and after passing through sleepy little Graton we were soon on the final leg down Guerneville Rd. and right on Willowside to the finish line. 

I was greeted with smiles by my friends Bill Oetinger, Martha Barton, Bill Ellis, Wendy Page and others who had helped make my goal become a reality. 

My check in time was approximately 8:20 PM with an elapsed time of approx. 15 hours, five minutes.

I'm VERY pleased and will probably never do this ride again.

If I can make just a few suggestions to anyone considering doing the TT  they would be:

1) Train by doing rides that are progressively longer and more hilly. Once your rides get over a couple of hours, train yourself to eat at least 200 calories per hour. Drinking a beverage like Gatorade or Cytomax can supplement this. Also Drink lots of water regularly.

2) Eating and drinking AFTER training rides made a BIG difference for me. I was able to do successive rides over 2 and 3-day periods without soreness, and I attribute it to carbo and water RE-loading.

3) As suggested by Craig Robertson. Pace yourself to reach the Geysers fresh. The ride hasn't really even begun until the Geysers, and unless your a super-athlete you will need your strength and endurance mostly in the second half of this ride. You can always speed up later if you have the reserves.


Congratulations to Maury for completing one of the toughest doubles anywhere.
-- Editor




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