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· Old School
1,036 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
It's 4am. I'm awakened by a spousal kick in the shins. I guess that annoying beep in my subconscious is actually my alarm sounding. After finding the right button, I shut it down.

'WTF am I doing?? Am I COMPLETELY stupid?' Apparently, yes.

Last March I picked up a road bike. I've only ridden it roughly a dozen times. My longest road ride to date was approximately 30 miles. I've ridden it so few times because every time it's nice, I choose to hit the dirt.

One of my arguments for getting the roadie (a nice Trek 5200) was to participate in organized long distance rides - Centuries and such. I really enjoy seeing new places, being catered to, and just showing up and following the arrows - no fiddling with maps and stuff.

Anyway - This past week I received an email from a Topica list I subscribe to, with the message, 'Hey, any of you guys going to do this road ride?' with a link to the website for the 'Santa Cruz Mountains Challenge' hosted by the Santa Cruz County Cycling Club.

I followed the link and the klink of gears began churning in my head. I love Santa Cruz. I'm open this weekend. WTF? OK. Well now, there are three options - 40 mi., 100K, or 100 mi - with the added distinction of climbing 10K'.

I'm such a dumb @ss - I gotta try the 100 miles with 10,000 feet of elevation gain, right?

I show up at 6:30am and do the 'Day Of' registration. I'm filling out the waivers and come to the point where I must indicate what option I intend to do. I freeze. Just staring at the form. Thinking, 'this really goes against my better judgment.' I mean, I haven't even trained for it for chrissake?! As I'm staring blankly at the form, the lady across the counter asks, 'Need help?' 'Yes - I'm gonna need a lot of help. I'm about to circle the 100 mi. option and I've never ridden my road bike farther than 30 miles.'

Such a sweet lady. We talked a bit and she assured me that there were plenty of 'bail out' options along the way. I draw my circle, get my wristband with emergency phone number illegibly completed by the registration assistant, stuff a lousy powerfood bar in my pocket, and unceremoniously hit the pavement alone at 7am.

I've still got the preride jitters as I head for the first climb. I know how to pack and prepare for a mountain bike ride. I know nothing about preparing for a road bike ride. How many tubes do you carry? Where do you carry them? (Camelbaks on roadies are a dead giveaway). I hate tons of shi# in my jersey pockets - bugs the hell out of me for some reason. Will I need food between rest stops? What if my CO2 doesn't work? What the hell am I doing? What if I die?

I arrive at what appears to be the first turning point marked by a sign with the words 'Mountain Charlie'. I see two riders ahead of me stroll past the marker and continue forward without turning. I circle momentarily thinking, 'Hmmm...Mountain Charlie? Is this a hill-billy birthday party sign, or am I supposed to turn here?' As I complete my little 'lost loop' a rider approaches from behind, correctly assesses my stupor, and confirms, 'yep - this is it.'

I hook up with my new friend and together we climb, climb, climb. We chat. He is a Santa Cruz local and he's ridden several of these rides. He's wearing a 'Death Ride' jersey. We talk about the route. I tell him my fears, concerns, how I'm new and all. My new buddy gives me his best tips, 'Pace yourself. Drink plenty of water. Carry food'. We ride together for the first 35 miles or so. We have our rest stops together, and my new buddy makes sure I have everything I need. He's looking after me and I appreciate the company and assurance. After about our third little break together, I realize that we're spending too much time at the rest stops for my preference. I gotta keep moving. I decide we need to go at our own pace and we part ways on the climb up Jamison Creek (1400' over 3 miles - ouch) to the lunch stop at mile 50.

At this point I feel pretty good. It's 12 noon, I've ridden 50 miles, climbed just over 6,000 feet, and I feel like I'm ready to continue. I'll tell you what I'm thankful for though - I'm thankful I opted for the triple chainring drive train. A purist roadie may scoff at the added thing-a-ma-jiggy - but I kissed mine. I passed several 'walkers' climbing up Jamison Creek. They looked miserable.

A ping of concern enters my brain as I depart from the lunch break. The course is supposed to be closed at 5pm. (How the heck do you 'close' a road bike course anyway?). I've been on the course 5 hours, spent about 30 minutes at the lunch stop, I still have 50 miles to go, and I have about 4 hrs and 15 minutes to do it. To finish before 5pm, I need to ride the second 50 miles faster than the first 50 miles. I knew I was wasting time at the earlier stops! Oh well. I feel good as I hit the pavement spinning along with a nice extended downhill ahead of me.

The next rest stop is at mile 77 after an additional 2500' of elevation gain. My knees are barkin' as I pull in to fill water bottles. I force myself to eat even though I don't feel hungry and nothing looks good - gotta fuel the motor though. I momentarily allow my knees to recover, stretch a little, and hit the pavement again.

We cross over Hwy 17 and head south on Summit Rd. 'Hey - we're headed toward Demo! Yea!!' Oooops, wrong bike for that ride. We turn and fly down Soquel-San Jose Rd - feeling good and airing out. Sweet. Doesn't Sabine live over here somewhere? I hook up with some guy traveling at roughly the same pace and we commiserate together.

Cowbells ring as we approach the final aid station. With bottles full, we depart for the final stage. 8 miles and one more climb to go, and I'm still feeling pretty good. As we spin along the last few miles, I notice two different 'SAG' wagons that keep passing us from both directions. They're circling us like turkey vultures. WTF? Do we look like we're ready to drop? According to one driver, it's nearly 5pm and we're the last two. Again, WTF!? There were a ton of people behind me at the lunch stop. I left a huge group behind me at mile 77. No one has passed me since. I can't figure it out. People have got to still be riding. We must just be the last that will finish before 5pm when the course 'closes.' I justify by surmising the others must have done a shorter route. ;)

I finish right at 5pm. 10 hours for 100 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing. Nice round numbers. Too bad I was nearly DFL. Next time, I'll manage my time better. It's my only regret. Back at the start/finish point, they're feeding everyone with beautiful fresh-made chicken or veggie burritos, sodas, ice cream, and a few side choices. I'm not even hungry but I shove that burrito down with no problems. It was a great time, a fun ride, and now I'm not scared anymore!

Here's a rough description of the route for those interested:
Starting point: Scotts Valley high School -- NorCal
From Scotts Valley, up Mountain Charlie to the Summit (atop hwy 17).(climb #1)
North (left) on Skyline to Saratoga Gap (hwy 9/35 junction).
West (left) on 9 down into Big Basin.
Hwy 236 to (and up) Jamison Creek to Empire (climb #2) (lunch at CYA Camp)
Down into Felton
Up east and west Zayante back to the Summit and crossing over hwy 17 (climb #3)
Summit Rd to Soquel-San Jose Rd
And north back to Scotts Valley.

I gotta throw in a product recommendation here too:

The SaddleCo Flow saddle
I went out on a limb just to purchase the road bike. At the time, I figured 'what the heck' - I'll give this new age whacky saddle a chance too after I talked to the developer during Veloswap at the Cow Palace last November (coming again this November).

SaddleCo Link

I have to say, I rode the entire 100 miles without the slightest bit of discomfort. It feels like your sitting in a hammock. Your weight is evenly distributed/supported over the entire contact area. I also like that the edges are thermonuclear plastic so when you lean it against a tree or brick building it can't be torn. You can see clean through the darn thing so it's supposed to allow good air flow too.
Some draw backs - it's not cheap or particularly light, and has a rider weight limit of 200 lbs. And if you check the reviews, not everyone is as satisfied as I am - but many are.

Cheers, and maybe I'll see you at the next Century.

· Registered
4,754 Posts
Excellent Passion hit.

It seems that most of the old Passion hits have been replaced by BS and rants recently. Glad to see someone can still write and give us a long story to boot.

Thanks. As a "beginner" roadie lots of what you said hit home.

· Ride what you want!!
2,201 Posts
I've done one century. At it wasn't bad. After you're write up, I'm now thinking about hitting the local century hear in Oct. It really helps to break up the ride with those rest stops though doesn't it?


· Registered
705 Posts
Sweet write up Joe! To be honest after seeing the way you flew up Union Flat I would have expected no less from you on the ride. Let us know if you want to come down and hit the TRAILS in Santa Cruz.


· Registered
1,061 Posts
I've been thinking...

of entering a road event in Auburn in September, and your write-up was very helpful. I think I will give it a shot. It should be fun.

I haven't ridden more than 45 miles this year so I think I will give the 75-mile option a shot. As I don't have a road bike, I'm a little reluctant to try 100 on the mountain bike.

· Registered
561 Posts
Right on Joe! It was good seeing you out there.

I was pretty stiff Sunday but my wife and I managed to still head out to Demo and do a quick dirt spin. Lot's of peeps out there! We were originally going to hook up with a group of other TWW'rs, Velo Bella's, Roaring Mouse and Trailhead Cyclery people, but instead we opted for an earlier ride. It was a good recovery ride.

Any plans to race BillyCross and/or Howell Mtn this coming weekend?

If you're ever up for another century, I ride one most Saturdays. Dirt on Sundays. (Except for race weekends and special occasions.) :)

· I like Squishy Bikes
1,099 Posts
as a two time 100 mile circler

A very hearty Congratulations!

I've fallen short of the 100 mile mark twice :eek:
62 & 52 is all I've had in me (62 miler was done on a Mtb!)

· Old School
1,036 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks Dave,

D.Ambrose said:
Any plans to race BillyCross and/or Howell Mtn this coming weekend?

If you're ever up for another century, I ride one most Saturdays. Dirt on Sundays. (Except for race weekends and special occasions.) :)
It was good seeing you out there too.

I gave up racing -- I just take up space in the middle of the pack. :cool: I like to do the 24 hr relay races though. But I still just take up space in the middle of the pack!

I'd like to do the 'epic' on 8/22 with you guys, but I'm tied up with family. I do appreciate your notices though. I'm hooked on the centuries so I'll give you a call. Are you doing the Surf City Century in September?
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