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  • Saturday, February 23, 2019 6:36 PM | Paul McKenzie
    Nobody showed up for my "C" ride today... Don't get me wrong, there were 10 riders present, but none of them wanted to ride at a "C" pace!

    In round numbers, 2 Climbs, 66 miles, 5,000', 4-4.5 hours moving (depending on rider), dry roads, rushing creeks, no mishaps or flats (other than Jens' Di2 battery starting to run low).

    7 riders rolled out from Howarth at 9:07 AM. Darrin, Craig, Carl S, MarC, Sam, Nick, and your fearless, if slow, rider leader. In short order, Miguel rolled up on the rear. On the Calistoga Rd. climb, Jady rolled past us at a good clip. I was leading the climb, with my ducks all tucked in behind me in a neat, single file row. Everyone was in warm up mode, so didn't take the bait —  this time. Jens met us at the top of the climb, having ridden from Calistoga, so we were now 10 strong, pun intended. With the addition of Miguel, Jady, and Jens, the roster wasn't exactly deteriorating ;-)

    On the St. Helena/Spring Mt. climb, I was a good ride leader and led from the rear. I wish I could say it was by choice. The only rider I could keep in sight was Craig H. I was able to claim the Lanterne Rouge on Spring Mountain without competition.

    Spring Mt. featured dry pavement this time around, with only a few wet spots. The creek was still rushing, and again provided a beautiful distraction on the climb. The descent was much safer this week vs. last with more or less dry pavement.

    Once on Silverado, the pace heated up, and I was immediately dropped. This meant a solo ride into Yountville, where the group waited patiently. Knowing they wanted to stick to the knitting, I made my stop brief, with a Coke and a quick snack.

    We then headed for Trinity via Dry Creek. The ride along the frontage road was civil, and we all stuck together, but the pace heated up again on Dry Creek, and the group was completely shattered, every man for himself. Dry Creek was far from dry, and the rushing water was again an enjoyable distraction on the long drag toward Trinity.

    On Trinity, I thought my Lanterne Rouge status was safe, until, near the top, I slowly reeled Craig in. Desperately wanting to hold onto my LR status, I eased up just a bit to ride behind Craig. But I eventually lost my resolve, and pushed a bit toward the summit, gaining a small gap on Craig going over the top.

    We regrouped again at the bottom of Trinity, and I snapped a group photo. MarC, Miguel and Darrin broke off and took Sonoma Mt. to their respective destinations. Jady, Nick, and Sam powered ahead, and we were unable to match their pace, and did not see hide nor hair of them for the remainder of the ride. Jens, Carl, Craig, and I, finished ride together, safely back at Howarth at 1:50 PM.

    Rider of the day is Craig H. Not because he did anything spectacular, but he was largely the only rider I could keep in sight all day, and he let me nip him on Trinity, so he's on my radar. Oh, and he did take that little bump of a climb at the end of the ride going into Spring Lake toward the bike paths!

    This ride was pretty shattered, with riders going at different paces, and some getting dropped from time to time. But I wouldn't have it any other way. I think everyone enjoyed this ride very much, and got a great work out on a perfect Winter cycling day. A big thank you for those who came out today and rode safely. It's a pleasure to lead a ride with such a competent group. Stay tuned for the Three Hill!


  • Saturday, February 16, 2019 6:33 PM | Paul McKenzie
    The One Hill Winter Trainer ride finally happened today, after several weather delays.  7 riders, 62 miles, 4300', 4:06 riding time, wet roads, roaring creeks, snow capped peaks, a few sprinkles, and one downpour.

    Darrin J, MarC M, Dave S, Richard A, Carl A, and Sarah S, a.k.a. "The Usual Suspects," rolled out with me from Howarth Park at 9:10 AM, under dry skies, and over wet roads. Spring Mt. was quite wet, with several places where water was running across the road. The creek along the road was rushing with water, and was an enjoyable distraction during much of the climb.

    The group was well matched (with MarC taking it easy and riding a mt. bike), and there was little separation over the summit. We regrouped at the bottom after an extra careful descent of the treacherous East side of Spring Mt.

    We formed a pace line up Silverado, and stopped briefly in Calistoga for water, then were treated to an incredible view of Mt. St. Helena, well covered in snow, as we headed toward Hwy 128. After descending the County Line climb, some light rain fell as we rolled by Ida Clayton Rd, and looked up to see more snow on the ridge top.

    The rain subsided as we tackled Chalk Hill, Faught Rd, then Mark West, to Riebli, and back toward Howarth. At the final stop light, I noted to the other riders that the sky looked terribly dark. With about 200 meters to go, the sky opened up, and we experienced a heavy downpour. All riders made a mad dash to their cars seeking cover from the heavy rain. While we didn't get a chance for a proper goodbye, I am confident in saying that all present had a wonderful Winter ride experience, in beautiful conditions.

    A big thank you to all riders who made the effort to attend the One Hill Trainer. Rider of the day goes to Dave Smith, who, after recovering from a serious injury, is back riding again, as strong as ever. Dave crushed the climbs, and also put in some very strong pulls at the front on the flats. Welcome back, Dave!

  • Sunday, April 29, 2018 11:30 AM | Paul McKenzie
    16 riders (12 men, 4 women), 121 miles, 10,000', 3 flats, a few sprinkles, tacky dirt, lush green grasses, wildflowers, 1 cougar skeleton. That's the short story of the Three County - Four Hill Ride.

    The Four Hills climbed are Geysers, Old Toll, Hopland Grade, and Mountain House.

    Dave left the start in Healdsburg one hour before our group to get a head start. At 8:00 AM 10 more riders left the start, heading for Geysers. Conditions were beautiful, with a mix of bright sun, puffy clouds, light fog, and also some darker, threatening clouds.

    The temperature dripped as we climbed Geysers, but the cool weather was comfortable given the effort. Jennie pretty much dropped the entire group on the first Geysers climb, but the male members of the species faired just a little bit better on the second hump.

    Descending Geysers, Jennie was laughing at the contrast of road conditions on that stretch, from smooth, wide pavement with center double yellow, to narrow, potholed single lane, to bumpy dirt, with a few significant slumps in the pavement thrown in for good measure.

    At Geysers and River Road, we picked up the "Cloverdale Crew," Trudi, Catherine, and Nick. And we lost Steve, who'd had enough after Geysers. But wait... there's more. Up the road, also starting in Cloverdale, was Darren.

    Despite closed lanes for repair along the 8 mile stretch of Hwy 101, it wasn't really any worse than usual, and not too unpleasant on the bikes. Unfortunately, one rider got a flat on this stretch, followed by a second, unrelated flat. The bulk of the group carried on to our stop at the store in Hopland... no sense in having the entire group waiting along Hwy 101. Darren was waiting for us at the store. At this point it began to rain lightly, and skies were looking ominous.

    After a regroup and a break in Hopland, we tackled Old Toll Road, a beautiful old road, with a mostly dirt surface. Fortunately, the sprinkles were short lived, and we were treated to absolutely perfect conditions on Old Toll, the best I have ever seen. The descent featured none of the loose dirt normally seen, as the light rain left everything nice and tacky. I caught up with David on the descent, so he was making good progress, holding off the group to about the half way point. Many riders commented on how much fun the dirt descent was — no argument here, I had the time of my life!

    Once back on to pavement, we had another regroup planned, but several riders were a bit chilly and wanted to continue on. I let them go and we formed a second group. Unfortunately, the chasing group experienced another flat tire (different rider this time), so this put the "C" Group a further behind the "C/D" group.

    The final regroup in Hopland resulted in a similar strategy. With the C group behind, the C/D group wanted to forge ahead and finish the ride. I sent them forward and rode in with the C group. We caught David again on Mountain House, and he was able to finish the ride with our trailing group.

    The Cloverdale Contingency finished where they started, while the Healdsburg Homies were all in safe and sound by 6:15 PM. It turned out to be a perfect day for this amazing ride, with just a few sprinkles and dramatic weather. We never got soaked, and while a few riders complained of being a bit chilly while stopped, most were quite comfortable during the day.

    Thanks to everyone for riding safely, being social, and accommodating the requirements of riding efficiently in a group.

  • Sunday, March 04, 2018 8:49 PM | Paul McKenzie
    Another great day on the bike if a little cool. We assembled at Howarth Park at 9 AM for this 107 mile adventure. Looking around, it was clear the field represented the who's who of "D" riders in the club... for this supposed "C" ride. The group that left Howarth, right on time, totaled 16, and the group swelled to 20 by the time we got to Pope Valley.

    The specs:

    20 riders, 106.4 miles, 8500' elevation, some ice, some sand on roads, 7:06 riding time, 7:52 Elapsed time. 15.0 mph average speed, which I would call a C/D pace, no flats, no crashes, one minor mechanical that was fixed quickly. Hundreds of noisy croaking Toads.

    At the rider meeting I stressed two points. First, being careful on the wet, slippery Winter descents. Second, asking the D riders to hold back a bit when in a pace line to accommodate the C rider pace that was advertised. The first point was heeded by the group, however, the second, not so much. Asking these thoroughbreds to hold back in the pace line turned out to be a fool's errand.

    The group split up nicely going up Calistoga road, allowing cars to pass. Ice was visible at the edges of the road, but the tire track was free of ice, and we didn't experience any slippage. Descending Calistoga Road and on to St. Helena Road, it was evident that the County had sanded the roads heavily, as there was black ice last evening and early this morning. Again, clear for us, but frost still visible at the edges of the road.

    Everyone set their own pace up St. Helena Road, and descending Spring Mountain, I found myself behind John E and John M. These guys are two of the most competent, experienced riders I know, and to watch both of them dissect this tricky descent at a safe but efficient pace was quite a joy!

    We regrouped in St. Helena, and it didn't take long for the large group of 16 to reassemble.

    As we headed out of town, I'd heard that Matt had a mechanical, so I sent the group ahead while I returned to find Matt. He and Michael came rolling along with the issue already resolved, and we chased to catch the group. The group had stopped at the Porta Potties left on the side of the road by the Marathon that was happening today. Craig had told me about the Marathon event on Silverado during the pre ride meeting, and I thought to myself... "This could be interesting." As it turned out, the only inconvenience was later in the day when the trucks were stopping on Silverado to pick up the Honey Buckets, and we had to swerve into the traffic lane to avoid the trucks.

    At this time, just before ascending Howell Mountain, we picked up Eduardo and Gilberto, two nice Irish lads (just kidding), who'd ridden from Napa to meet us. Following the climb up Howell Mountain, we stopped for supplies at Pope Valley, where we picked up Jady and Nick.

    As we left, and Jens was setting a swift pace at the front, I suggested, "I sense there will be a split in this group."

    Heading out Pope Canyon Road, the likes of Marc, Jens, Jady, Michael, and several others, lit up the pace big time. The speed varied between about 20 mph to 35 mph over the rolling terrain. The pavement was terrible, and I found myself going into race mode, fighting to stay near the front so as to stay out of danger, and not get dropped should there be a split. Sure enough, the group did split, and when we came to the final little climb before Lake Berryessa, I cried "Uncle" and let the front group go.

    Jennie Phillips was with me at that point, and we found ourselves in no man's/woman's land. Dropped from the front group, but ahead of the chasers. The good news is that we worked very well together splitting pulls on Knoxville Berryessa Road. The group was pretty shattered at that point. We later encountered Chayan and Eduardo, who'd stopped for a break, and they later passed us again. We also picked up John M and Gilberto, who'd been shelled by the front group, and Jennie and I towed their carcasses into Yountville. Jennie and I worked together for the entire stretch from Lake Berryessa to Yountville trading equal pulls. Thankfully, Jennie is still recovering from a broken wrist sustained in November, so I was able to match her pace, and we worked together like a well oiled machine.

    We had a quick lunch stop in Yountville, and the main group was ready to go, though the later riders had just arrived. I elected to go with the main group, knowing the riders left behind could find their way.

    The last obstacle of the day was Trinity, and I, along with a few others, struggled to turn the pedals up the steep climb, running on fumes after bouts of riding very hard throughout the day.

    When clouds blocked the sun, it was quite cool, but at other times, the warm sun and gorgeous clouds were comforting. Every time we passed a pond, we could hear hundreds of toads croaking so loud it was almost deafening. Apparently they are enjoying the aftermath of the wet weather!

    For the final stretch back to Howarth, the group had dwindled to 9. Some were ahead, several broke off to head back to Petaluma or Napa, and a few were behind. The group of 9 arrived back at Howarth a few ticks before 5 PM.

    We didn't have any takers for Pizza and Beer at Mary's, but Jennie and I went there anyway, to enjoy some well deserved food. As we finished up, Jay came in to let us know that the riders behind were in safely. They'd finished at about 6 PM, a long day, but still in daylight. Jay was in good spirits, and I was relieved to find there seemed to be no hard feelings about the ride leader leaving a few riders to fend for themselves.

    Overall it was a fabulous, hard, training ride, with many competent riders. It was a large group for such a difficult ride, and I am very pleased with the turnout.

    We'll up the ante again with the Four Hill ride in April. This one will include Geysers, Old Toll, Hopland Grade, and Mountain House. Although not for the faint of heart, the Four Hill is by far my favorite of the series. I think I'll call this one a C/D ride, knowing it'll attract mostly the D crowd again.

    Thanks to all riders for heeding the warnings and riding safely, even if you ignored the pacing request ;-)

  • Saturday, February 10, 2018 6:20 PM | Paul McKenzie
    The Two Hill Winter Trainer was a smashing success today! 12 riders showed up for the ride, and the weather could not have been better. There were several ride options today, including the Kroecks' popular Valentine's Sweeheart ride, so I was pleased to see the good turnout. We even had a nice tailwind on Silverado. The specs... Two climbs, Spring Mountain and Trinity, 12 riders, 66 miles, 4700', Riding Time 4 hours 16 minutes, Elapsed Time 4 hours 58 minutes, average speed, 15.3 mph.

    We rolled out of Howarth at precisely 9:10 AM with a competent group of a dozen riders, 10 men, and 2 women. As we approached the first climb up the short, but steep, Calistoga Rd., Joyce announced that she and John would be on their own, so I should not worry about them. Of course I didn't, as they are both experienced riders, and I appreciated that Joyce informed me of her plan.

    When the road kicked up, Chayan and Sam hit it hard, and a good bit of the group followed. I kept a tempo pace until the top, put in an effort, and caught the group right at the summit, though Chayan and Sam were already waiting. Descending, I was in second position behind Sam, and I stopped at the right turn on to St. Helena Road to make sure the group made the turn. I waited for all to pass, except for Joyce and John, then began the long chase to catch the group.

    I thought it would be an easy task to catch the group on the long climb, and I slowly caught Del, Jim, and Craig, but Walt, Steve, and Trudi remained elusive over the summit. Craig announced as I passed, that he is a BC rider trying to be a C rider. Looked to me like he was doing a very good job working toward his goal. I was able to reel in the speedy 3 on on the descent, and the four of us found Sam and Chayan patiently waiting at the regroup point at the intersection of Madrone St. in St. Helena. All riders were together in short order and we proceeded over to Silverado Trail.

    We organized a nice pace line to cover the 10 miles to Yountville efficiently. Coincidentally, we had 10 riders, and after each of us had done exactly one pull, we arrived in Yountville, having enjoyed a tailwind for a good bit of the stretch. We could not have planned it better. What a great group!

    After a leisurely snack stop in Yountville, Joyce and John showed up. At that point Del announced that he planned to join Joyce and John for the remainder of the ride.

    We tackled the next flat stretch over to Dry Creek at a moderate pace, then the pace picked up on the gradual climb, and the group split again, with Sam and Chayan ahead, and the rest of us chasing. We found Sam and Chayan waiting at the intersection of Trinity, where Trudi announced that she would go ahead, as we'd catch her on the climb.

    The group left shortly after, and everyone put in a good effort on the very difficult Trinity climb. As it turned out, Chayan was the only rider to catch and pass Trudi, while Walt barely caught her at the top. I decided to exercise my authority as ride leader and revoke Trudi's "I'm going to start the climb early cuz you'll catch me" card. Quite frankly, even with the new rule enforced, most of us are still going to get chick'd, but this will make it official ;-)

    We watered up at the fire station, and began the descent, where Jim demonstrated his descending prowess. At the bottom, I suggested a moderate tempo pace line back to the start, and the group complied. Once again, this group, now 9 strong, worked very well together, and we arrived back at Howarth Park in under 5 hours total elapsed time, tired and satisfied, but not too knackered.

    A huge thank you for everyone in this group. The group rode strong, safe, obeyed traffic laws, and socialized and communicated well with one another. Thank you! I can't wait to do it again. Stay tuned for the Three Hill Winter Trainer in March. The Three Hill will add a level of difficulty, but is still manageable as our Spring fitness improves.

  • Wednesday, February 07, 2018 9:55 PM | Joyce Chang

    Thirteen riders started with me at Piner High School, en route to the Santa Rosa Creek Trail where we were to rendezvous with Susan Noble’s crew that started at the Trail House.  Ten minutes before we started, Dennis Prior showed up at Piner HS from his house in Windsor and told me he’d soft pedal; he wanted to keep going so he wouldn’t get cold.  That’s the last we saw of him until Wohler Bridge!  These warm February days often start in the low 40’s so there was ample reason for Dennis not to want to stop.  On my drive to Piner HS, I had heard on the radio that it was -3 degrees in Minneapolis, where they were playing the Super Bowl.  40-degree mornings here?  No complaints.

    As most of you know, it’s often a challenge to figure out when and where to meet another group.  There’s always the possibility of a late start or a mechanical issue that prevents a well-coordinated meet-up.  Today was no exception.  Several of the faster riders wanted to forge ahead, so a few of us stopped oh-so-briefly to text Susan to let her know we were on the Creek Trail and that we’d be soft-pedaling ahead.  Soon after our brief texting stop, Luke Scrivanich caught up with our group.

    Baptiste, Gabriel, and Peter of the Petaluma Wheelmen were on the ride. We regrouped in Occidental for the 5.4-mile Coleman-Joy-Bittner loop.  Most everyone knew the route, but the two in the back Baptiste and Peter apparently did not.  When everyone completed the loop and regrouped back in Occidental, I didn’t see Baptiste and Peter.  Gabriel said that Baptiste knew the area, so we shouldn’t worry about him. I’ll get back to this later.

    Most of the folks had already taken off: Michael “I rode 70 miles yesterday so I’m tired” Barnes, Karen “89 miles is a stretch for me right now” Steele, Doug “I’m gonna shortcut it today cuz I’m not in shape” Wagner, Nancy “I’m gonna ride ahead and not wait” Vallance, Gwen “I might ride the Davis Double so I need to ride a ton of bonus miles” Hall, Luke “I like to gossip with you, Joyce” Scrivanich, Eduardo from Napa and Steve from Napa.

    As we were descending the 16% downhill on Covey, I received a text from Baptiste: they were on their way, having missed the Bittner turn. I knew where they ended up -- oh Joy!

    Steve Spitler, Del Bogart and I rode together until mile 32 at Wohler Bridge, where Dennis was basking on a rock in a beam of sunshine peaking through the tall redwoods.  We filled our water bottles at the Sonoma County Water Agency building and rode with Dennis. At Madrona Manor we picked up Gwen who stood there waiting for us.  Nancy had ridden into Healdsburg to shortcut the route.

    Now our group of five headed over Dutcher Creek where at mile 56, the turnaround point, we headed south to Geyserville, our long-awaited food stop.  Some coffee, pastries and string cheese freshened us up.  Here at last, Susan Noble’s group pulled in: Susan, Robin Rothrock, Bob Dahlstet and Steve Piezzi.  They had gotten to the Fulton and Creek Trail intersection a few minutes after we had, but for whatever reason it took until mile 62 to cross paths with them.  Dennis wanted to head straight home to Windsor from Geyserville, so he peeled off on his own along Geyserville Ave.

    Gwen, Steve, Del and I stayed on the prescribed route on Hwy 128 and Chalk Hill, totally unmolested by traffic as most of the yahoos in pick-up trucks were swilling their beer and smothering their chips with guacamole at their respective Super Bowl parties.  What a glorious day to be out on the bike riding a near century!  I take it back, Steve and Gwen rode well over 100 miles each as they started from their houses in Windsor.

    When we returned to our cars at Piner HS, everyone’s vehicle was gone except Baptiste and Peter’s.  Within 15 minutes, Baptiste and Peter rolled in.  Just as I suspected, they had missed the Bittner turn off Joy Road and stayed on Joy until Bodega Hwy, Freestone, Bohemian Hwy and back to Occidental.  They continued on the prescribed route but turned into Healdsburg rather than continue north on WDC to Dutcher Creek. They ended up riding something like 79 miles.

    Luke later told me that he, Eduardo and Gabriel rode the entire route.  Karen, Michael and Doug turned south at Canyon.  I don’t know what happened to Steve from Napa, but presumably he returned safely.

    Of fifteen riders, seven completed the entire ride.  Way to go!  Herding cats.

  • Sunday, September 24, 2017 9:31 PM | Dennis Prior

    Well we did the second King Ridge ride for beginners today and had 47-50 riders show up.  I lost count after all my fingers and toes were counted but someone with better adding skills got up to 47 at the start but I think a few more joined as we left the parking lot in Duncan Mills.

    21 of the folks were from the Mountain Goat group to help the new folks navigate the hill climbs and also give some of the other folks company going over the ride as the groups got spread out once the hill climbing began.

    We cruised up Cazadero canyon in groups of 5 with about 100-200 yards between the groups so as to allow the cars to get around us as best as possible and that seemed to work pretty good although there were a few folks who didn't seem to get the concept but such is life with 47+ riders.  The folks who have done the ride before just went off the front and I didn't see them again after that which was part of the plan.  There was probably a group of about 12-15 that were at or near the back at one point or another.  The new folks doing this ride for the first time did a great job and were real troopers and had a great attitude to the experience just like the group from last year.

    When we started the first big climb up King Ridge Sarah Schroer and the C/D riders coming from Healdsburg passed us as they were headed for Tin Barn and Skaggs and then about 20 minutes later Miguel Sanchez showed up chasing down the C/D riders and the rumor had it that he caught them at Tin Barn and Skaggs so he must have been really moving after he said hello  to us and started the chase.

    Once on the ridge of King Ridge where the fields are open and the cattle are roaming around with the clear weather the new folks got to see what everyone has been talking about.  You could even see the ocean at the end of the ridge before you drop down to Parameter's pond and vineyards.

    Everyone made it down Hauser Bridge rd. to the bridge safe and sound.  We had 3 of the goats lead the new folks down the hill with me at the back just to make sure no one picked up too much speed on that last 100yds as there is now a crater at around the 100yd point with only a sliver of asphalt to the left that we chose to take as a line(this wasn't there a month ago), but going only about 1mph really helped keep everyone safe and the bottom was a bit tore up but going slow it wasn't all that bad at all and no one really complained about the descent.  We did our best to keep everyone's sphincter's somewhat relaxed on this portion of the ride!  :-).

    We climbed up to Ratna Ling where we filled up our water bottles and had a rest and snacks and then made the ride to Meyers Grade where the views on this clear day were once again breath taking heading down towards the coast.  Once on Highway 1 we encountered a fair amount of Sunday traffic but made it back to Duncan Mills safe and sound.  

    11 of the original rides opted to head south on Highway 1 at jenner and add in Coleman Valley to make a 70 mile and 7,000' day of it!

    We had only one mechanical and that was a flat on Seaview that we fixed but it kept losing air so we were able to every 4 miles or so to add some more with C02 cartridges to get the guy back to the start.  He had a kevlar liner on the inside of his tire so I'm thinking that was the cause of the problem at least that  would be my first guess.

    A lot of happy faces after the ride and a huge thanks to those that showed up for the ride and helped the new folks on their first loop around King Ridge!

    Enjoy the day,


  • Wednesday, August 02, 2017 9:23 PM | Steven Aquilino

    We had an excellent day on the bike and a beautiful, challenging and fun ride.  We had a total of 12 riders.   Most of us started at Fort Ross, however the ride was apparently not challenging enough for Dave L. and Karl B., as they started from Cazadero and met the group at Fort Ross.  The main ride was from Fort Ross, up the coast to Timber Cove Road up to Seaview.  The debate is still on as to whether riding up Timber Cove or Meyer’s Grade is more difficult, with the consensus leaning to Timber Cove being a bit “less difficult.”  From there we headed down Seaview and up Hauser Bridge Road, which is still a mess, especially the first part right after the bridge.  Fortunately we all made it up safely and then proceeded down Tin Barn Rd. to Skaggs Springs Rd, down the Rancheria Wall and over to Annapolis Road.  We took Annapolis Road to the coast which was a beautiful part of the ride with very little traffic and overall fairly good quality pavement.  It got a little hot on this section, but once we got down to Hwy 1 the marine layer cooled us down quite a bit.  We stopped for lunch at Stewart Point Store where most of us stayed inside to get out of the cold ocean breeze.  From there it was a nice jaunt down the coast back to Fort Ross,  When we finished we had ~52 miles and  6,000 ft. of climb, that is except for Dave and Karl who went back up Fort Ross road from the coast to Cazadero (with a side trip down to the Black Mountain Retreat Center) for some more bonus miles and climbing, finishing up with ~84 miles and 11,400 ft.!  I can’t wait until I’m as old as Karl so I can be as strong a rider as he is!

    Thanks to Dave M. for suggesting this ride on our 1st "wild ass adventure" last week, and to all the goats for a truly enjoyable day!

  • Saturday, May 13, 2017 8:12 PM | Sarah Schroer

    In 2007, Marc Moons led the inaugural edition of the Fearsome Five. Eleven years later, this iconic ride still brings out a solid group of tough riders. Marc and Rita are visiting friends and family in Belgium, and I was recruited to organize the event in their absence.

    Twenty one riders turned out for this year’s edition of the Fearsome Five. For some people, completing three or four of the climbs was enough for the day. Others had their eyes on the big prize – seven riders finished all five peaks!

    Special thanks to Paul McKenzie, who set up a much needed water and snack stop at the base of Pine Mountain and still managed to bag three peaks this year.

    Here are the results:

    First Time Finishers, and recipients of the coveted Fearsome Five beer mug:

    Sam Addison – this young rider set a blistering pace from the very beginning of the day. A flat tire on Ida Clayton’s rough pavement slowed him down a bit, but he still finished strong. Sam is on a mission this year!

    Doug Schrock – Doug chose a good day to earn his beer mug; not too hot, just a little windy. He kept a steady pace throughout the long day.

    Tayler Hockett – not a member of SRCC (yet), Tayler has had his eye on the Fearsome Five for a few years. He showed up with a mountain bike cassette on his road bike – a great choice for the tough climbs on this ride!

    Returning Champions:

    Doug McKenzie – Doug completed the Fearsome Five in 2010, then took a long hiatus in order to pursue his musical career. He joined us again this year, and was finally awarded his beer mug.

    Miguel Sanchez – Miguel must have stayed up late on Friday night, or just figured he could ride fast enough to catch the leaders even if he did start an hour late! This was Miguel’s fifth Fearsome Five finish.

    Carl Sanders – in training for ultra-distance events this year, Carl flew up (and down) the mountains for his fourth Fearsome Five finish.

    Sarah Schroer – as substitute ride leader, there was no way Sarah could stop short of finishing all five peaks this year. This was her sixth Fearsome Five finish.

    Four Peakers:

    Jay Abraham

    Firouzeh Attwood

    Nicki Boyd

    Karl Burkhauser

    Don Graham

    Greg Goto

    David Levinger

    Hunt Moore

    Three (Plus) Peakers:

    Joyce Chang and daughter Juliet Daniel

    Scott Duncan

    Kris Jones

    Paul McKenzie

    Robert Thompson

  • Monday, May 01, 2017 8:24 PM | Joyce Chang

    The Devil Made Me Do It

    Back in 1999 when I finished the TT, I had heard about the DMD, but it never occurred to me to attempt it.  Since it comes so early in the year, it seemed daunting to train for it, and I also was afraid of night riding.  For slower riders like me, the shorter days in April would necessitate some night riding for a hard double century like DMD.

    How things have changed!  I equipped myself several years ago with a 1400-lumen Exposure Race handlebar-mounted light, a Light and Motion headlamp, a backup handlebar-mounted Cateye that can also strap onto my helmet, a 75-lumen taillight, and a motley assortment of reflective items.  A few years ago, I had ridden a couple of double centuries in the autumn, and I became comfortable with night riding.

    Sherry Adams agreed to shepherd me on my maiden DMD voyage.  Sherry being Sherry met me at the corner of Deer Park and Silverado Trail in St Helena on the Friday afternoon before the DMD after a day of working (and riding her bike) somewhere near Howell Mountain.  Sherry showed up with all her necessary gear for the weekend stowed in her rando bag.  Incidentally, just my stash of electronics alone (lights, cords, transformers, spare batteries, Garmin, etc.) could have filled her rando bag.  I loaded her bike onto my car rack and off we went to the Marriott San Ramon.

    Weather forecast for the DMD was favorable: mild winds and highs around 79 degrees.  Our 5AM mass start meant that riders would need their lights for about an hour in the morning. The faster riders could start at 6AM, no lights needed.  The Quackcyclists modified this year’s course to eliminate the portion along Morgan Territory Road and the return on infamous Sierra Road, due to road closures from the rainy winter.  As a result of the route change, the course dropped 8 miles and eliminated about 3000’ of climbing: DMD Lite.  Only 86 riders came to ride this year’s course.  For me, the drop in climbing was a bonus: the only way I could ever complete this ride is the year when they dumbed it down.  I’m hoping they don’t sell a 2017 jersey with an asterisk next to the ride stats.

    A beautiful sunrise emerged from behind the silhouette of Mt. Diablo on what would be a perfect day for the ride.  Other than high winds at the top of Diablo, the remainder of the course was relatively calm and cool.  Veteran DMD riders commented on how comfortable the morning was on Mt Diablo; usually folks shivered down the Mt Diablo descent.

    After the out-and-back on Diablo, we meandered along the flatlands of Livermore suburbia towards Altamont Pass.  A local rider came upon our small group of DMD riders and wanted to verify what our event tags meant.  He asked us if we really were riding 200 miles in a day.  After I confirmed this, he muttered something about his being an underachiever, using some self-deprecating term of “genetic garbage.”  I’m glad we made his day!  He peeled off as we approached Altamont Pass.  Who would’ve known that just north of Interstate 580, a quiet frontage road ran parallel to the freeway over a cul and down into the next valley?  We climbed with Manny D from Union City. Two other guys we rode with, Travis and a guy whose top tube was too short for him we dubbed Short Stem, were rather humorless.  (Rider names were written below the rider number.) They pretty much ignored Sherry and me, despite several overtures to engage them. 

    I was relieved to arrive at the next rest stop (mile 64), as I worried about not having eaten enough at the previous rest stop at the top of Diablo.  A local Filipino cycling club, headed by Jerry, the elder of the Filipino cycling group, manned this rest station.  He and his buddies checked our bikes for us while we helped ourselves to fruit, bagels, PB&J, Hammer nutrition and bars.  Throughout the day, Jerry and his Filipino crew leapfrogged us to the following rest stop and offered us yummy homemade Filipino food: stir-fried noodles, fried rice and chicken adobo.

    Normally, riders would be climbing the exposed Patterson Pass climb much later in the day, but by eliminating Morgan Territory Road, we approached the summit before noon.  Next was the 91-mile out-and-back up to Mt. Hamilton.  Along Mines Road, we passed somebody Sherry knew from the Silver State 508, another humorless one we dubbed “Big Hair.”   Sherry managed to get only one word out of Big Hair.  Mines Road seemed to continue for an uphill eternity until we reached the Junction Cafe rest stop.

    Sherry and I unexpectedly ran into speedy Carl Sanders at The Junction.  Sherry correctly deduced that the only way this could’ve happened was that Carl was on his return leg through the rest stop, whereas we were on our outbound leg to Mt. Hamilton!   We rode 18 miles to arrive at the top of Mt Hamilton: an 8-mile stretch of uneven terrain preceding the true climb, 5 miles of gentle climbing, and a final 5 miles of serious climbing to summit at 4185’.

    The top of Mt. Hamilton provided terrific views of the Bay Area, but we didn’t linger long since there was no food here.  During our return leg from Mt. Hamilton to The Junction rest stop, Sherry commented to me that she thought we would finish around midnight; I had been hoping for 10:30.  In her matter-of-fact way, she said that I burnt up a lot of time at the rest stops, so far using up 1 hr, 20 minutes of time off the bike.  Her prediction was that if I continued such inefficient behavior at rest stops, we might finish even later than midnight.  Well that lit a fire under my ass!  I swear that I wasted a good 5-10 minutes at each rest stop just waiting for dudes to do their business in the single porta-potty that each rest stop had.  Not my fault...waaah!

    Along Mines Road we picked up Andrew, a San Franciscan with a British accent.  We descended down Mines Road in the dusk, still having enough ambient light to feel comfortable descending briskly.   At the Mines Road rest stop (mile 165), I choked down a Cup o’ Noodles while Sherry patiently waited.  Then it was onward to the next rest stop in 21 miles.  When you’re tired and not thrilled about riding late into the night, what to do?  Laugh and gossip!  Sherry wins Shepherd of the Year: she always pulled, pacing me perfectly.  She hardly needed to work when climbing at my speed so she belted out some songs:  Rolling on the River, Say hey, we’re the Monkeys (even laconic Andrew chimed in), Good Day Sunshine.  We laughed at our social faux pas (Is that guy’s name really Dung?  I’ve been calling him that the entire ride!), and poked fun at Short Stem, Big Hair, Team Travis and Genetic Garbage.  After the final rest stop at mile 186 and just a little climb up Norris Canyon, we rolled in at 11:15. 

    Total ride time: 16 hr 15 min.  Time off the bike 2 hours.

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