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.