(122 MILES) CENTURY, JUNE 6, 2004
much Chain Reaction representation on this ride; just myself and
Todd. We also rode with Richard, a Chain Reaction alumnus, who
brought along one of his racing friends, Brian Ziegler. This
didn't bode well for me; one ex/has-been 48-year-old vs three guys
who currently race, but I don't think I held them back too much.
Missing in action from the shop was Dick, who'd intended to ride but
something apparently came up (we waited 15 minutes and then decided
we'd better get going if we were going to finish the ride before
The event started at the VA Hospital near Gunn High School in Palo
Alto, headed south to Steven's Creek Reservoir, up Redwood Gulch to
Highway 9, up 9 to Skyline, south on Skyline (which becomes Summit)
across 17 (where it turns into Highland) and then down Eureka Canyon
into Corralitos. It then did some sadistic meandering around
the local hills, culminating in an unusual couple of miles of paved
dirt (or was it dirt that was paved?) through Henry Cowell park for
lunch. From there it was up East Zayante (quite a challenging
climb) to Summit, which becomes Skyline as you head north, and then
descend Page Mill back to the finish.
About the photos- Yeah, I'm the guy with the Olympus D40 in
the jersey pocket, getting shots behind and from the front of riders
that I come across. I took about 175 photos in all, with the
hope that a few will turn out OK. The main problem with taking
photos while riding is holding the camera steady enough, which is
very difficult to do when on a steep climb (notice the fuzziness of
the 8:39am shot on Redwood Gulch), and very scary on a fast descent.
[You can also check out a few more photos
from the '05 event, which rode the same course]
about 8 minutes into the ride and Todd's demonstrating the fine art
of doing a track-stand at a stoplight on Foothill.
Some people start early, but we like a later start, which gives us a
lot of rabbits to chase (and decreases the chance of being passed by
and we're charging up Steven's Creek, past the reservoir.
Feeling good now, but it won't last...
...because, at 8:39am, we're struggling up Redwood Gulch.
Actually, I'm struggling; the rest of my group is a ways ahead.
up Highway 9, which always seems a whole lot easier when it follows
Redwood Gulch! The first rest stop is at the corner of 9 & 35.
9:11am at the
first rest stop and I'm eyeing the red stuff in the middle of the
photo- Mother's Iced Animal Crackers. Good but deadly!
9:59am finds us
on Summit Road, heading south. Summit's a real treasure;
narrow, twisty & rolling, with little traffic.
10:07am south of
Highway 17, where Summit has become Highland Way. Nice
descending Eureka Canyon on very poor pavement. So poor that it
knocked my computer off the bike.
11:18am at the
Corralitos rest stop. 50.8 miles and 4430ft of climbing so
11:30am on a
very nice day; low 80s on the Santa Cruz side of the hill as Richard
a woman reading on her porch in Corralitos.
we're finding out how they squeezed 10,000ft of climbing into the
route. It's all buried in little nooks & crannies.
11:52am on North
Rodeo Gulch, a nasty little climb with a real kicker at the very
end. The close-up of Brian Ziegler tells the story.
There were frequently times on this ride when the world seemed a bit
tilted on its axis, most often on short, nasty little climbs in the
middle of nowhere.
Icky Isbel Drive, where it's obvious that Richard is way
under-geared. 39/23 isn't for this ride.
A short piece of Graham Hill and then these guys flag you down
for a very unlikely appointment with...
...something called "Pipeline Trail" that meanders through Henry
Cowell Redwoods State Park.
Trail is really steep in parts, so steep that many are
walking down the hill! Several miles of this is a bit much
1:26pm At our
lunch stop in the park. This young woman has perhaps the
perfect bike for the choppy roads- a TREK Y-Foil (no longer made).
2:22pm We're on
East Zayante, next to Laura Stern's group of Super Women.
Laura was catching up to me very quickly at the top of the climb.
If you happen to pass Laura on the road before a climb, and didn't
introduce yourself, you'll get another chance shortly when she
motors by on the steep part of the mountain.
But you'll be too out of breath.
Laura Stern laughing at the climb... or the photographer, not sure
2:38pm But this
climb is no laughing matter, as Richard Brockie pushes up a steep
cruises to the top of East Zayante, a climb that deserves gears at
least as low as Tunitas.
Approaching the "water stop" at Bear Creek & Skyline. This
was going to have the usual watered-down Lemonade & water, but Chain
Reaction, with the help of Sal Contreras (who spent the day up there
for us), added 562 Cokes, Pepsis, Mtn Dews, Sierra Mists,
Diet Pepsis... plus 300 pounds of ice. It was well-received.
4:08pm on the
10-mile haul to Saratoga Gap (Hwy 9 & 35). It's not really
steep, but by this time you're not capable of much speed so it
becomes a 9-12mph grind.
4:19pm A short
break at Saratoga Gap, where someone's holding up a sign protesting
the "9-11 cover up."
4:37pm So close
you can almost taste it, as Nicole Honda crests a small rise on
4:47pm The end
of the climbs, as you approach the Page Mill descent, having logged
10,510ft by this point.
Riding with Terry Morse down Page Mill, on the upper section where
the pavement is near-perfect. His goal is 1,000,000ft of climbing
I stopped to get a shot of Nicole as she descends one of the
steepest sections, with a great view of Mt Diablo in the background.
With about half a mile to go, everyone's all smiles at this point!
the ride at 7:45 and finished at 5:20, with my computer (the one
that didn't get launched from my bike) showing 121.5 miles and an
average speed of 15.6mph. For a ride as hilly as this one, I
wasn't at all disappointed with the speed.
Overall impressions? The weather was absolutely wonderful,
with the nasty winds that had been forecast delayed by several hours
(it really kicked up around 6pm which, thankfully, was well after we
were up on Skyline). The route was... interesting. There
were some parts (such as Eureka Canyon) where the road was in such
bad shape that it would have made more sense to route people up it
instead of down. Rest stops had just about everything one
would want, and there were no shortages of either food or water.
Road markings? Great on the San Jose side of the hill, but
pretty poor in the more convoluted sections between Corralitos and Santa Cruz.
The food at lunch was good, with various cheeses & meats & pasta
salads etc. The usual century fare. And the usual
combination of grim determination and fatalism on the faces of the
riders, as seen on all tougher centuries. I should also
mention that it was Laura (shown in the "2:22pm" photo) giving me a bad time at the lunch stop
because I wouldn't remove my helmet; she harassed me last year about
this as well. There's a very good reason I don't remove my helmet; you
have never seen as bad a case of "helmet hair" as I
As for my own performance, I felt rather poor (OK, I sucked) on the
earlier climbs, particularly Redwood Gulch. But as the ride
went on I felt stronger and stronger, and by the time we got to East
Zayante (at 85 miles) I was climbing very well. I probably
overdid it a bit on that climb, as I developed some leg cramps a bit
further on, but y'know, sometimes it's a lot of fun to push yourself
and see what you can do. And, since the cramps this week came
at mile 100 or so, vs mile 60 last week, things would seem to be
Another major help this week was the installation of a "compact" FSA
crankset, with a 34/50 combo instead of the usual 39/53. On
this ride, there were several occasions to use the 34/27, and the
lower gear actually helped speed things up on the climbs, not slow
me down as you might think.
And finally, once more I'd like to thank Sal Contreras for his help
with our soda-stop at Bear Creek. Sal picked up the ice in the
morning, loaded it into our van (which was already full of drinks)
and drove out to the rest stop, where he spent the day taking care
of spent riders.
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