TLDR: caught up with old friends, made new friends, had a great ride – I’ll be back next year.
Well, the ride, the weekend, and the experience are over, and as I type this I don’t know how it could possibly have gone any better.
Drove up Friday, traffic sucked, but when I got there I called our old family friends Mike and Lindsey and basically invited myself over – they were incredibly gracious and we ended up chatting past midnight, catching up on 4 years of family news on both sides, as well as lots of good old home town gossip.
Up Saturday, and over to the park where I got to meet our team leader Elden Nelson (www.fatcyclist.com), his wife Lisa, and several other members of Team Fatty, then back to Mike and Lindsey’s for a most excellent salmon dinner with grilled zucchini . In case you are wondering, Rombauer Chardonnay goes really well with Salmon (hint hint).
Then it was back to the hotel for a bit of sleep (slept well, which often isn’t the case for me in hotels, until somebody decided to raid the ice machine at 4:10 in the morning – ya gotta love those pre-ride rituals).
Up at six, checked out of the hotel, bought an egg/cheese/ham bagel, which I won’t repeat again although it didn’t cause any issues – it just wasn’t what my body wanted pre-race (oops! ride). Then down to central park in Davis and lined up for the start. There was a neutral lead out of about a mile, led by a couple of guys pedaling carts with kids from camp Kesem (http://campkesem.org/ucdavis) in the back – they turned left as we crossed 8th street heading north on F, and then Fatty and the other strong riders on the team dropped the hammer and took off. We headed out of Davis at about 24 mph, and headed north and west towards Woodland, averaging about 21.5 mph over the first 25 miles, on a somewhat technical and really badly surfaced route. There were some early casualties in the form of a couple of pinch flats from hitting potholes. The Caletti responded super well – handling the rough surface and allowing me to maintain contact with the lead peloton all the way up to Woodland and then back south to the Putah creek time trial course.
OOOOOOOklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plain. Well, Davis and Winters did their best to reenact this broadway classic. After every slowing and turn for the first 25 miles, the pack had surged back to 24+ mph, and while I had answered all of them so far, I could tell this wouldn’t last forever. As we headed south and then east a bit, we hit a cross wind which did the trick and I fell off the back. I was hurting from the pace and answering the repeated attacks, so I popped one of my emergency gels and eased up a bit to recover before settling into my endurace pace for the rest of the ride. Although from this point my average speed tended to go slowly and steadily down, I was able to maintain a solid pace, and only a group of about 14 riders from Folsom Cyclery and a few other solo riders passed me. We hit the third power stop (rest stop on steroids, with a mechanic on duty) and I saw the strong riders on Team Fatty heading out. I briefly contemplated skipping the stop and trying to hook on again, but decided that answering the call of nature and refilling my water bottles was the better plan – and I think my effort over the rest of the ride supports that – a quick stop (all of my stops were as quick as I could make them) and I set out – I refilled water / gatorade frequently through the day and I think that effort really paid off.
I went past Winters and to the north of Vacaville, where we did the small bit of climbing on the ride – 1250 total feet of climbing, with really only two small climbs. At this point one older but clearly strong rider and a young guy riding a track bike caught me, but on the downhill I collected both of them and the three of us rode into the 50 mile point together.
Solo Time Trialing
After another rest stop, I found myself alone again and started playing a simple mind game that worked pretty well – I was at mile 52 for the ride, and knowing that meant I had 45 or so miles to go, I said to myself ‘ok, I can ride 45 miles, I do it all the time’, found my endurance pace (between 18 and 20 mph, depending on terrain and wind) and just settled in for the rest of the ride. I stopped very briefly at every rest stop to top up water bottles, rode with people as the opportunity came along, and carried on the mileage game as needed. This carried me out of the hills around Vacaville and onto the flats south of Winters where I again encountered stiff headwinds. Somewhere around mile 80 I was at my lowest – speed was down to sub-16 mph, feet, rear, and stomach were all complaining, and the mileage head game momentarily stopped working. Worse, the course turned east, which I *knew* was in completely the wrong direction – it was tough not to go off course and just head for home. Fortunately, this only lasted for awhile – eventually I turned out of the wind, started passing some of the riders doing the 65 mile route (ok, this is probably kind of lame, but I got a nice adrenalin kick every time I passed someone, even though they clearly weren’t strong riders). This allowed me to pick up the pace and work my way over towards Dixon.
Gallant Century Rider Comes to the Rescue
As I reached Pedrick road, there was a young lady riding the 65 mile course who was talking to the CHP officer stationed there to make sure traffic was handled properly – in fact (at who knows what cost) there was a strong police presence out – at each of the more interesting intersections – letting the riders cruise through if it was safe and directing us otherwise if not – this was a nice touch given that it was an open course. It allowed the ride to flow a lot better than it might have otherwise. In any case, our damsel in distress was worried that she had gone off course, not realizing that the 100 mile and 65 mile courses were the same for the last 20 miles or so. I was able to assure her that heading south over the overpass was the right thing to do (although I knew very well that I could have instead taken a left and gotten back to Davis a lot faster). Sure enough, just a mile south was the last rest stop. At this point I knew there were only 8 miles to go, and from here I found a final surge of energy, got through the last section heading into the wind, and turned for home. I was still able to hit 20+ when not fighting the wind and was generally feeling far stronger than I deserved to at this point in the ride.
In through the south side of UC Davis, a few turns, and I was done. I managed to summon up a pretty nice finishing sprint. Mike and Lindsey were there, so I parked my bike and we chatted for a bit before they headed home, and then I joined the rest of Team Fatty to eat some phenomenal Guacamole and find out how everyone else had done. And for those interested: Strava
Flats, We Got Flats, Get’cher Flats Here
The speedy people had had an interesting day. Although a couple more dropped off over the course of the ride, they’d finished up in less than 5 hours total time (so 45 minutes ahead of me) in spite of 3 different riders (4 total on the team) EACH having two flat tires. I think there are some people who are faster at changing flats than I am. There are lots of other stories to tell, but I’ll hold off on those for now until others get a chance to post. For now I just want to say how amazing all of the Team Fatty members are, whether they’re strong riders or just recreational – the support and camaraderie across the whole group was amazing.
I’ll update this over the next few days as pictures and further thoughts settle out.
For now, let me close with a few personal thoughts. First – miles 80-90 or so were as tough as I’ve had riding this year. One thing that carried me through was passing a lady with a ‘riding for’ tag (like our numbers, some people had several) that read simply ‘Mom’. Yep, I had to dry my eyes a bit, but that really got me motivated to push on some more. Second, the new bike really worked well – the roads were pretty rough in sections and I simply had no issues with hand numbness or fatigue. I may need to look into alternative saddles, as I can’t say the same for my rear. Finally, I’m concerned for the Livestrong organization – ridership and fundraising were down a lot from last year, presumably as the fall out from the Lance PED stuff. Everyone I’ve met who’s needed the services of Livestrong has been just effusive in their praise for the organization, its people, and its mission – I really hope they’re able to bounce back from this. Its too important to lose.
Additional Thoughts #1 – Others Ride As Well
I can’t believe I forgot to mention this. Saturday, as I was hanging out in the team Fatty area, Sunnyvale friends Liz and Steve walked up to say hi. Both cancer survivors, this is their second year of riding together on a tandem. They were with us at the start, but got cut off at the surge after the neutral lead out, so I didn’t see them out on the course, but with team Fatty staked out next to the beer tent, we got to have a nice chat post-race. Their riding time was an awesome 5:15, finishing at around 6:15 total.