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Backroads and Breakaways, August 2014

  • Wednesday, August 06, 2014 1:29 PM | Bill Oetinger (Administrator)

    Mount Tam Double Century Report #2

    — Carl Sanders

    The Mount Tam Double Century was run on August 2. We previously posted a report from first-place finisher Marc Moons. This report is from Carl Sanders, whose Mt Tam day was equally successful in its own way…

    As a kid, I used to painstakingly build these incredibly fragile balsa wood model airplanes. Hours of work would go into cutting, gluing and assembling these delicate little projects. After carefully winding the rubber-band powered propeller, I'd hold my fragile model aloft, release my grip on the tiny aircraft and watch it take flight into the unknown.

    Holding a strong second after the first two CTC Stages, I could feel the current third place contenders, Cal, Max and Rod, breathing down my back. I assumed that Joel's huge lead in first place was out of my reach. On August 2nd, after a full season of dedicated training and racing, I stood in the dark atop my trusty Trek Madone, waiting at the start to let go the stored energy and effort needed to fly high on the last of the California Triple Crown Stage Races at the Mt. Tam Double Century.

    Wound too tightly, the intricate model would implode into shards of soft wood and shreds of gossamer paper. Not wound enough, or assembled poorly, the model would crash to the ground.

    Feeling confident, but somewhat off my stride, I planned to keep my trailing competitors in sight so as to not lose my strong lead. 

    Let go, my model plane would sputter quickly into the air, rubber-band buzzing the tiny dream skyward. Once my plane was aloft, its course was somewhat subject to chance. Had I considered the wind direction, the nearby trees or power lines? With just the right conditions, these chattering little contraptions could stay aloft for quite some time. 

    Skyward, my legs spinning freely and easily up Tam, I held tight to Rod, Max and Cal, letting Marc chase down Joel toward the summit. Rod fades off our group near the top. 

    Over the top and back down solo toward Muir Woods in the dense fog, I nearly had an out-of-bike life-changing experience. Glasses covered in dew, I entered a wet, sharp left turn a bit hot, locked the brakes and considered my options: lay the bike down or ride out the skidding wheels across the road into the far hillside. I opted for the latter, glad for my mountain bike handling skills, as I left the greasy roadway and came to a jolting stop in the muddy ditch, still clipped in and standing upright. Then, I simply tipped over into the wet hill, more embarrassed and dirty than hurt.

    Back on my bike, I knew my limits and how to moderate my pace. I had gotten the fueling and hydration dialed in for these ultra-distance races. Catching up with Marc prior to Petaluma was a surprise. Later, riding out of Valley Ford with Joel was even more unusual. Getting passed by Tour Legend Chris Froome, dancing on his pedals up the steepest section of Coleman Valley, was surreal.

    Often, my flying toys would meet a disturbing end, nose first into the ground, cartwheeling into pieces across the hard black top.

    For this flight, I had to hold the assembly together long enough to keep my second place lead intact and not disintegrate into sweat, lycra and carbon across the roadway. My legs ached down Hwy 1 and up Marshall Wall. I struggled to stay focused at mile 170. Joel, Glen and I still kept trading leads and friendly chatter past Nicasio.

    On our final methodical approach up Lucas Valley, we first overtake Max, then Scott. This growing train slowly picks up speed over the last real bump at Big Rock Ridge. Out of power, my spring completely unwound, I slip off the back, watching Joel, Max, Glen and Scott pull away from me.

    I push on, gear down, wind at my back down Lucas Valley, pulling off a clean landing at the finish with a 10:50 time, just minutes behind the lead chase group, maintaining by a healthy margin my overall second place CTC Stage Race position.

    Congrats to Marc, landing a perfect ride at 10:44, taking the course record!

    Time to rest and relax.

  • Wednesday, August 06, 2014 1:26 PM | Bill Oetinger (Administrator)

    Mount Tam Double Century Report #1

    — Marc Moons

    The Mount Tam Double Century was run on August 2. As of now, we have yet to see final results posted, but we do have a couple of very good reports from near the front of the field, beginning with this one from Marc Moons...

    "Get the fuck out of here!", yells starter with French accent. Off we go chasing CHP on flashing motorbike. Dark Lucas Valley Road flooded by white and red lights. Last event of CTC Stage Race, so cream of doubles are present: top 3 Joel Sothern, Carl Sanders and Max Mehech, 4-legged Paul McKenzie & Paul Chuck, joined by 300 more.

    Guy decked out in Levi GF kit takes off on Lucas Valley climb, we catch him downhill. Same go-&-catch game on climbs towards Fairfax ... GF dude too much coffee this morning?!

    At base of Mt Tam, a group of 25 survivors. GF dude hits eject button again! I decide to make jump. Like Chris Froome, he spins at insane high rpm up Mt Tam, barely can hold his wheel. Joel joins the party. While GF dude stops at first rest stop. Joel & I keep going.

    Joel is a stud who crushes everyone from the start not to be seen anymore. On lush climb from Alpine Dam to crest, he sets pace, like pit bull, I put teeth in his rear wheel.

    At Ridgecrest, sun rays break dense fog. Ocean below blanked by puffy clouds ... skin cooled by damp morning air ... heavenly!

    Just before Mt Tam top, GF dude makes it 3 in front. Check in and down we go. Noticed on steep downhills near top that both Joel & GF dude are a bit shaky. 13 miles of fast downhill to Hwy 1, my time to get them out of their comfort zone! Give gravity a few strong legs, bomb down damp foggy pavement. Turn on Hwy 1. Two others out of sight, keep pace steady and let them burn some coffee to catch.

    Stinson Beach, GF dude passes me without a look and starts pulling like a freak. Every climb towards Pt Reyes Station he accelerates, and I dig deep to hold that wheel. During one man show along Hwy 1, noticed GF dude is traveling light: one tiny bottle of fluid and flask of gel. So he needs every pit stop for refuel, he's going to pay cash for that!

    Pt Reyes Station, he turns into rest stop, I turn towards Petaluma. A 20+ mph pace will keep pressure on pot sans overcooking it, meanwhile others can slowly catch me. Plan works perfectly: near Petaluma, train of usual suspects catch me.

    Between Petaluma and Valley Ford, front group shrinks with every climb. 5 left at Valley Ford, GF dude, Max, Carl, Glenn, me. While others need refuel, I pick Max's wheel, who doesn't stop. On Bay Hill Max can't keep pace, so back off ... no need for solo adventure.

    Coleman Valley climb. GF dude does it again catches, passes me ... and sprints for KOM. Not interested in Polka Dot jersey so let him go. Another guy passes me and says "hi". I greet and look at him. Black & blue Sky team jersey, that's bloody Chris Froome ... how cool is that! Not interested in Yellow jersey so let him go.

    At Coleman Valley rest stop, excited, I tell a volunteer "hey man, that dude who passed in black & blue ... that's Chris Froome!" He replies with a who's that look: "well he didn't stop and tell us his number so he will be DQed" .... funny.

    After Coleman Valley, GF dude is fading slowly. Sits in my wheel and doesn't kill it at climbs. Pull him into Valley Ford rest stop. He comes to me: "Hi, I'm Scott, you're riding strong man… sorry I couldn't share a pull" ... funny: that guy grilled me all morning!

    At Middle-Dillon Beach T, CHP is holding traffic and makes fun of angry cars who need to wait for spandex on wheels .... like it!

    Scott knows that Marshall is last big obstacle towards finish, so he hits me with all ammo left ... I'm digging trenches again. Remember words of former running coach: "in the end when everyone is fatigued, it turns into a mental game. That's when you attack!" Last steep pitch to top of Marshall I attack ... Scott hangs in ropes. Keep throwing punches at him. Scott throws in towel at final rest stop in Nicasio.

    Quick look a time, only past 3 pm! Course record is 10:50, set by friend and ex-pro Steven Cozza (he did it solo from start-finish!). Look at legs: "can we do it?". Punch Lucas Valley climb, ignore "slow down" signs on top, fly down and TT to finish like Tony Martin. Clock ticks so fast, legs are screaming and mind shouting go faster!  At Vallecito Elementary, clock freezes at 10:44.

    Lucky me that Chris Froome DQed.

    --MarC

    P.S. Congrats to fellow SRCC member Carl Sanders on 2nd overall in CTC Stage Race!

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