I rode the Primavera metric century this past sunday (that’s 100 Kilometers for those no up on the lingo). My riding buddy Rich had signed up for it and encouraged me to join him. I was a bit unsure of the wisdom of this endeavor, as my previous longer rides (a solo metric last fall and a 59 miler back in early march) had left me feeling pretty drained. However, I’ve been riding consistently and feeling stronger, and it was now or never time, especially if I’m going to be doing 100 milers in June.
We headed over to Fremont about 6:00 am, arrived, checked in, got ourselves together and were about set to head out when I got a call from another friend doing the ride, Jay – but there were so many people there that although I could answer the call it couldn’t connect. I called him back, same issue, but left him a message saying we were heading out and we’d look for him on the route.
Off we went. It was a bit chilly but promised to be a great day once the sun was up. The first 10 or so miles is flat-ish with some easy rollers. We took it easy at first getting warmed up, but then started to pick up the pace. No mass start for the event, but lots of riders out as the 100 miler, 100K, and 70K rides share the same route for the first 30 miles or so. Just after we started Jay called again and we could connect this time. He was back at the start but we expected him to catch us before the first rest stop. At about 11 miles the route takes a left and hits the first climb. I was fresh, pretty amped up, and nicely warmed up, so this first climb really felt great.
About half way up things level out for a bit at ‘Ed Levin’ county park, and there was rest stop one – at first I was thinking ‘wow, that was an easy climb’ – but it was only half done. Silly me. We stopped there, expecting to see Jay, but I think he didn’t stop at this first rest stop, or was just a bit further behind us. I never did get that straight. In any case, after a short potty break, a half a banana and a quarter bagel, we set off again, finishing the climb. The last section of this climb is affectionately known as ‘the Wall’ – and indeed it is rather steep at
about 13%, but coming this early in the ride it just wasn’t that tough. Rich of course beat me to the top, where I found him chatting with another Serotta rider (Rich has a really nice custom Serotta). In any case, we set of for the next leg of the ride which would take us up Calaveras road, past Calaveras reservoir, to Sunol and rest stop #2. This stretch of road was really fun to ride – easy rollers wrapping around the hills above the reservoir, followed by a long steady downhill into Sunol. We ended up in our only long lasting pace line of the day on the run in to Sunol, moving along at 22-25 mph. Just before we hit the rest stop we passed ‘the guy on the unicycle’. I’ll have to work on getting pictures for future rides – this guy was amazing – not going that fast (single
speed unicycle, duh), but he had music playing on a seat mounted console, a huge wheel, maybe 35 inches in diameter, and was just chugging steadily along.
Rest Stop 2
In Sunol, we hit rest stop 2 – just after passing under 680. There were a couple of really clear signs, 50-70 bike riders stopped there, but just to be safe they had some youngster out at the street waving us into the rest stop. Actually, the ride was (in my limited experience) really well supported – great food at each stop, water and energy drinks to refill water bottles, really good signage on the roads (we never had to consult our route sheets), and a nice post-race meal. After we’d been at the rest stop awhile, I saw Jay – I’m pretty sure he beat us there – perhaps by not stopping at rest stop 1, but like I said earlier, I never did figure that out. He looked impressive in his purple ‘Death Ride’ jersey – definitely got some respect from some of the other riders. And so, after another short break, Rich, Jay and I headed out. We only rode with Jay for about 4 miles, before he turned off on the 100 mile route, but it was a nice chance to chat a bit – we were still feeling fresh and it was still early and wonderfully cool. After the 100 miler turn off, Rich and I were mostly alone for the rest of the ride – we weren’t the fastest riders doing the 100K route, but we were up there in the top 20 or so. In any case, we followed Foothill road (no, not Foothill expressway, that’s in Los Altos, but these roads have a lot in common with each other – multilane, nice paving, wide shoulders…) up to Dublin / 580, where we hung a left and hit the Dublin grade. This
was a pleasant climb – at about 4-5% grade over a couple of miles, with a nice easy downhill after, where we then turned onto Paloverde road, and hit rest stop 3. One tip for future rides – make sure the lid on the gatorade water bottle is tight. I didn’t do this, and rode with sticky fingers for about 10 miles till I could stop first to rinse my right hand, then again to rinse my left hand, and then a third time to rinse off the hand grips and breaks. That third rinse did the trick.
Rest Stop 3 – Surprise Rest Stop with Chickens of Doom
We were moving along pretty well at this point, on level ground having just come off the Dublin grade downhill when there in somebody’s front drive was the rest stop. It wasn’t crowded at all yet, and everyone there was in great spirits. I was wearing my Fat Cyclist jersey, and a couple people stopped by to say ‘I read that blog too’ – so it served as a great ice-breaker. This was a rural setting – with a chicken coop on the way to the restrooms and the chickens were squawking up a storm, scaring some of the riders. After a quick break for some grapes and a water bottle refill we were off again – and I made my only serious tactical mistake of the day – I didn’t use the restroom, and as there wasn’t another till the finish I’d regret that a bit later on.
Just past the rest stop, was the turn onto Palomares road, and the last climb of the day. It was still pretty cool in the shady parts of this stretch, although out in the sun it was heading up to 90 for the day. This stretch went by fairly smoothly, although I was certainly at my weak point for the day at the end of that climb. Regrouped with Rich at the peak, and headed down. This downhill section – running down to Niles Canyon road, was amazing – in a canyon, green and cool, and on a mostly empty road so we could really stretch out. Between the Palomares summit and the end of the ride we swapped places with a couple of other pairs of riders, I suppose if we were smarter we could have grouped up and made it easier, but Rich and I were hitting the downhill stretches pretty hard, and I was lagging a bit on the uphill parts, so we tended to pass and then in turn be passed by the same people. We also started seeing some of the people out on the 25 mile and ‘family ride’ courses. At this point, the ride was over – if we’d taking a strategic wrong turn the first time we hit Mission Blvd. we could have shaved about 4 miles off the ride, but then it wouldn’t have been a full 100K. So we made our way through Fremont, arriving back at Mission High at just about 12:00, 5 hours running time, 4 hours 18 minutes riding time. I had expected 4-5 hours riding time, so this was at the fast end of my estimate and as neither of us felt like we were completely out of gas I’m counting it as a very successful outing.
I Win (sort of)
Although the results are unofficial, I believe that I’m the winner of the 50+, hybrid, 100K route division of the Primavera Century. I saw two other hybrids on the course the whole day, one I’m sure was on the 100 mile route and was for sure under 30, the other I’m not sure about, as I didn’t see the rider, but the bike was still in the rest stop at rest stop 1 as we left. Even disregarding these unofficial and somewhat suspect results, it still goes down in my book as a win. Hydration and fueling for the ride, which Rich and I were both a bit concerned about, worked out well – no bonking, no cramping, just a great ride. Next up for me is the 100 Miles of Nowhere, which I expect to ride Memorial Day – still contemplating the route, and then Rich has talked me into joining him on the Sequoia Century 100K ride, June 2nd. May will be spent continuing to focus on my Climbing, the Sequoia route climbs highway 9 to Skyline, goes down to the coast, and then comes back up Tunitas Creek – 7700 ft of climbing. I think we can do it, but it’ll take longer than 4:15.