The Start of the Ride and Lunch Stop
- With photos
Not so Terrible Two"
by Maury Cohen
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
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
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
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
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
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
Congratulations to Maury for completing one
of the toughest doubles anywhere.