Sunday, June 22, 2008

I lost the race on day one

We, that is Dorit and I, got up to Willows on Friday night and checked in one the motels. Saturday morning I was awake early and ready to go, but I wanted to stick with the published 9am start time (which turned out to be a big mistake).

The town of Willows was ready for the race: Black Bear Diner welcoming the racers and their fans.

So there I was at the starting line by Denny's. Nobody else showed up, so it was just between me and the race course.
The legs were looking OK. The issues was the heat. As I figured later, the temperature was around 100 degree (about 36 Celsius). But I started in good spirits and moved at a speed of 15 mph (24 km/h) through the slightly rising and rolling section to the bottom of the first climb, Mendocino Pass.

I stopped for a few minutes at the bottom of the climb, sat in the shade. Here I felt problems with my stomach for the first time. The main issue was that I just couldn't take in enough liquid. But otherwise I felt OK and I pressed on. So I climbed for about 3 miles (5km) stopped for a little bit and kept going. Eventually I reached the parking lot and vista point at 850 m (2800"). By now my stomach issues had developed into some more serious hydration problems. I lay down in the shade for 20 minutes or half an hour. But I still couldn't drink enough.

I kept going and had to stop after another mile or two. While I was sitting by the road, a car stopped and the driver handed my a bottle of cold water. What a relieve! The water went down much better than the sports drinks and the ice tea I had in my bottles.

The fresh water kept me going for another mile or two. When I had to stop again, I realized that I was in serious trouble. I got my sleeping bag out, lay down in the shade.I thought I could just rest to later in the afternoon and then continue somewhat recovered and without the blazing sun directly above my head.

After an hour or so, I still felt like puking and previous experience told me that I would need at least a night's rest to recover. I was also concerned about the lack of fresh water and the distance (45 miles / 70 km) to the next town. So I throw in the towel and started rolling down the hill. I wanted to call Dorit to pick me up, but it turned out that I wouldn't have a cell phone signal before Willows was in sight.

Getting down the hill was easy enough, but then I still had to cover 20 miles including a 500" (150 m) climb which wouldn't be a problem, but in my situation is presented a serious concern. I had to get off the bike twice to over that hill and and few more stops before I made it back into Willows.

I got some cold Coke (which I could get down) and some more water, next back to the motel and 10 minutes later I was asleep for the next 12 hours.

So this was all VERY disappointing, but it was mostly my ignorance of the weather conditions (the Ardennes and the Alps didn't prepare me for this, but I shouldn't have forgotten the taxing 90 miles on a super hot bike-to-work day).

Now I will focus on track racing (flying 200m and match sprints) and the Master States Championships in August. But I think I will give the Northern California Loop another try in late August.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Euro Training Camp - May 29 to June 15

I had to go to Europe for business and I decided to do some cycling on the side.

I started off with a quick ride across the German-Austrian border near the Plansee and a quick loop around Ulm to Blaubeuren and back along the Donau river.

Next stop was Switzerland: first pass was Col de la Croix de Coeur (2174m). The climb starts in the Rhone valley and goes up for 1700 m. Since I took a wrong turn in the beginning (hoping for a short cut) I added another 500 m to it. The final third was on dirt.

The second pass was: Les Agites (1558 m)
, starting in Aigle and climbing up 1113 m. From the top, there are
beautiful views of the Rhone Valley and the Lac Leman as shown on the left.

This clim and view got me over the fact that the UCI didn't let me ride on their track in Aigle.

Then I was off to the North: I didn't have time for a ride in the Netherlands. Same in Brussels, but I found some interesting traffic signs.

Eventually I got back on the bike myself, spending a weekend in the Ardennes.
Saturday I rode around 220 km through clouds and mist following the roads of Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Fleche Wallone, specifically the Mur de Huy. Sunday I was a bid in a rush (and my ass hurt) so I only logged some 60 km.

I met surprisingly few fellow cyclists in the Ardennes. during a weekend at home I would have seen orders of magnitude more cyclists. Oh, and Belgium drivers may brake for frites but hardly for bike riders.

Then I logged a few miles at the Bodensee on a beautiful summer day which was followed by an early morning ride through the rain criss-crossing the Black Forrest.

For my last weekend, I had to go to Italy. On the way, I stopped in Imst, Austria, for a quick climb up the Hahntennjoch before it got dark.

I stayed the night at Prad and the following morning I tackled the Stilfers Joch. During breakfast I had wild plans to go all the way to Bormio and climb both sides. A couples of hours later, reality had gotten me back: there were some snow flurries and the air got pretty thing above 2000 m which mad me stop now and then.

At the top, I put all my cloth on and bought some winter gloves. A fellow Italian hill climber pointed out that the green of his jersey didn't match the green of his wind vest. Well not everybody has the stylish Cyclingcalifornia.Com wool jerseys to wear.

On the way down, I stopped a few days to warm up. At one of the stops, I met a group of three elderly Italian men who did a Giro d'Italia on mopeds. One had a flat. I let them have my pump, but changing the valve with frozen fingers was quite an act.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


I was taking last Sunday the scenic route to Chico, so that I could check out some more details of the route and take some photos. Here's the summary:
  • photos of Laytonville (part I)
  • photos and route details for part IV
  • photos of part V
  • dismissed part V alternative - cycling is not permitted in the Trinity Alps Wilderness
  • tried to get details part VI, but all the dirt roads left and right of Hwy 89 were snow covered
  • some details and photos for part VII (Burney, Tamarack Rd)
While I was coming down on Cecilville Rd I hit some rocks and finished off my oil pan. I ended up cycling under the dim start light for 20 miles to the next motel. Monday I got the car towed and drove home in a rental. Now I have reason to go back soon.



Friday, February 22, 2008

Route change

I consider a route change in Part V which would go straight through the Trinity Alps on 12 km of trail. I put it up on the web page, but I want to check it out on the ground before finalizing the change making sure that's legal and possible to ride the trail section.

Start/finish location discussion

Willows is easily accessible by car, but there's no public transportation. If participants may rely on public transportation to get to the start line, Chico may be the better choice.

If we stay with Willows, Denny's right by the highway exit will be the location for start, finish and pre-start breakfast meeting.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The race is on

It seems to be about time to set a date: the last week of June 2008.
Start will be:

Saturday, June 21st, 2008 at 9am

Willows, CA
, at the corner of Wood St and Tehama St

I will publish a place for pre-race breakfast meeting when we get closer to the start.

Route information