Sunday, October 5, 2014

2014 Knoxville Fall Classic Double Century






This year I drove up with my friend John Clare. He picked me up on Friday morning for the long drive up to Vacaville, Ca. where the event starts in Pena Adobe Park.

When we arrived there were thunderstorms in the area so we were wondering how the weather was going to be on Saturday.

T-Storms on the way up. Interstate 5
We checked-in, talked to friends for a while and then headed off in a caravan for a nice dinner with friends.

We had a bunch of friends being inducted into the hall of fame so we planned a “party on wheels” ride, all staying together as much as possible with our group.
My Triple Crown tandem stoker and good friend Teresa Beck was being inducted so John and I, along with Teresa and many others started out together. 

The Quackcyclists put on an amazing event.
As you can see from the map above, the course is a large figure 8. We ride up over Mount George to Napa, then make a nice run through a section of the valley before climbing Howell Mountain into the Pope Valley. Then we climb out of the Pope Valley to Lake Berryessa. 

From there we climb the infamous Knoxville road for 22 miles before the water stop. Its then up some more to lunch in the Clear Lake area.
After lunch its over Cobb Mountain and back to the Pope Valley before climbing back around the south side of Lake Berryessa for the return to Vacaville.

We rolled a little after 5am.

In the dark we went as we made our way out of Vacaville, through Fairfield before starting the climb over Mount George to the Napa Valley.

The following video is of our roll-out toward Fairfield in the wee hours of the morning.


The temperature was very mild and not as cold as it had been in years past. This first stretch seemed almost effortless on my single bike. 
Last year, as many of you know, I did it on my tandem for the 3rd time. On that occasion it was my first time doing a double century with Teresa stoking the fire in the back. We had a great time last year and did very well.

Over Mount George we went and into Napa at sunrise with the hot air balloons rising in the air as usual.

It was gorgeous!!
Rolling through Napa at sunrise. Hot air balloons rising.


Still dressed for the cold in Napa                                                   Photo by John Clare

Check point one, Napa River park

Teresa with Kenny

Sunrise at Napa River. Mount George off in the distance
On this day we just all decided to enjoy the ride. We all took more time than usual at the Check Points visiting and talking to friends we have not seen in a while.

Our group got larger as we rolled out of the first stop and through Napa Valley to our next climb to get out of the valley, Howell Mountain.

Karen, an amputee and amazing triathlete, doing one of the toughest doubles on the circuit. We all have great respect for this woman. I have seen her on a number of double centuries.

Napa vineyards and Sunrise


Ken, Teresa and Mark rolling toward Howell Mountain. I first met Ken many years ago on one of the first Bass Lake Double Centuries. We camped in our construction vans next to each other in the parking lot.

Howell Mountain Road was a beautiful climb as usual. The sun rising through the trees, unusually cool temps this year and good friends. Who could ask for more! It’s a long climb but so nice. After the climb there is a very steep descent into the Pope Valley, our next vineyard laden area. Another beautiful area.
Normally on Howell Mountain you get a first taste of the heat conditions of the day and it can be quite hot with the sun rising to your right while climbing the mountain. This year it was nice and cool. In the low 50’s, perfect for climbing. 

Climbing the west side of Howell Mountain

Climbing the west side of Howell Mountain

John Clare and Teresa Beck climbing Howell Mountain


We cruised through the valley and onward to check point #2 at Lake Berryessa. We were just about there when we ran into my friends Linda Bott, Julie Stokes and Kerin Huber. Linda was being inducted as the second woman in the 100 double century club. She did her 100th double century this year on The Grand Tour with a huge entourage of friends all wearing cycling jerseys commemorating her accomplishment.

We ran into many, many more friends when we reached Lake Berryessa at mile marker 70.5.

Check point #2. Lake Berryessa

We all stayed for quite a while at the stop before heading up the infamous Knoxville climb to Lower Clear Lake area and lunch.
Knoxville is a very tough, long and rough road as usual but much, much cooler than normal. In fact, in all the years I have done this awesome and challenging event, I have never seen it this cool on this climb. We even had a nice cool breeze in our face on the way up. Amazing.


Lake Berryessa                                                                           Photo by John Clare


Terry and I on Knoxville Road with Lake Berryessa in the background.       Photo by John Clare


Our group climbing Knoxville grade

Kerin and Julie on Knoxville grade. Almost to the water stop after climbing this beast for 22 miles. It always seemed like we were going up. Some grades at 12-14%



Our group climbing Knoxville grade.              Photo by John Clare
 We rolled to the water stop near the top of Knoxville grade but still had a considerable amount of hills to climb before lunch. When we got to the first good descent toward the lunch stop, Teresa just bombed down the hill and I could not even stay close to her. WOW....she was going over 50mph in a pro style, top tube, tuck. I only wish I had my GoPro mounted on my bars so I could have documented that descent. (Time to get a new helmet or handlebar mount. This hand-held thing I have been doing is fine on some things but I have been missing some great descents.)

We rolled into lunch at Lower Lake County Park, feeling very good.

I told many of my friends who have never done this ride before to make sure that they did non stuff themselves at lunch. This comes from experience due to the hills that come after lunch. It is usually very, very hot and becomes a cramp and stomach upset-fest on the climb over Cobb Mountain.

This year we got a respite. It was nice and cool so it did not make much difference. I had a small burrito and a coke and that was it. I felt great on the climb over the mountain after lunch!

We rolled in a huge group out of lunch up Siegler Canyon and slowly thinned out as the climbing began and headed toward Cobb Mountain.

Siegler Canyon


The "Triple Crown Guy", Chuck Bramwell leading the group up Siegler Canyon on the foot of Cobb Mountain

The big guy, John Clare leading Mark, Teresa and I.

Teresa and I grunting up Loch Lomond grade. 17%
 Loch Lomond Road on Cobb has a grade from 14-17% and maybe a little more in some places. (My Garmin would register anything over 17%.)

Now the majority of the climbing was done. We still had some passes to climb but nothing like to this point. Everything that you have to climb at the end of an ultra-event is a pain though.

We had a blazing descent down into the town of Middleton before check point #4 at the beautiful Langtry Winery. We got there a little after 4pm and again stayed way too long.



View from Check point #4, Langtry Winery. Looking South                              Photo by Stefan Dragoshinov

I really enjoyed doing this ride in a leisurely manner. I have done too many events pushing myself and not “smelling the roses”. I really had fun on this one even though it was 202 miles. It seemed very easy after doing the Hoodoo 500.

We left check point #4 to a spectacular sky of puffy cumulus clouds and we all knew it was going to make for a beautiful sunset. There is nothing like experiencing natures sunsets and sunrises on the bike. It is the whole reason that my favorite time to ride is either at sunrise or sunset. I feel one with God and nature out there at those times.
Leaving check point 4                                                               Photo by Stefan Dragoshinov



Leaving check point 4

Leaving check point 4



Leaving check point 4

After leaving the valley with the lake where the check point was, we climbed over Butts canyon into the beautiful Pope Valley for the second time. As I said earlier this event is somewhat of a figure 8. We went through the Pope Valley in the morning right after descending off of Howell Mountain and before reaching Lake Berryessa.

We rolled down Pope Valley. We had another minor climb through some of the area that had been burnt out in a fire. On the way we passed a place I like to call “Hub-cap Ville”.  A whole ranch with the entire front fence and entry gate covered with Hub-caps. It must have been about a 2 acre ranch or more.

Stefan admiring the hubcaps

Hub-cap monument?
We rolled down a great descent after this little climb. We flew down that climb before a small minivan passed us and really held us up. He passed us even though we could descend way faster in the curves than he could. It was reminiscent of the semi-truck that passed Teresa Beck and I on the tandem on the same descent last year. John got mad at the guy because he kept slowing way down at the turns and almost causing us to rear end him.

Into Check point 5 we rolled, Moore Creek Park (the hot dog stop), just before sunset.

I filled my water bottles and had a great hot dog with lots of mustard. Others in our group had soup, chili or many of the other concoctions that the Quack-cyclists had available.

We rolled out with a really big group including our friends Tony and Rick who were on their fixed gear bikes. WOW……I have so much respect for people who do ultra-events on fixed gear bikes. Just amazing.
Tony was our crew chief on “The Race across the West” this year. An amazing rider and support crew for many, many ultra-riders. He is a legend in my book!! Here is a video of us all rolling at sunset.

The sunset was spectacular. A blazing red sky as we rolled passed Lake Hennessy before our turn onto Hwy 128 toward Lake Berryessa Dam. It was beautiful on this climb from sunset into darkness.


John Clare climbing out of the Lake Hennessy area

Lake Hennessy at sunset                                                           Photo by Stefan Dragoshinov
 
 I climbed this section with Teresa and Mark. When we got to the descent, about halfway down, they backed off some and I went on by myself to the next check point in the dark. It was spectacular. I caught up with Tony and Rick on their fixies on the descents.  
You cannot coast on a fixed gear bike so your downhill speed is delegated by the gear you have on the bike or how fast you can peddle to keep up with that gearing. (It’s insane to watch these guys going downhill on a fixed gear. It looks too painful to me).

I rode into the final check point at mile marker 188.7 and waited for all my friends to regroup. Many had stopped to take pictures of the sunset on that sunset climb so they ended up behind me.
I had a cup of soup while we re-grouped, sat down and got a little neck massage (thank you to the incredible massage therapist there).
Mmmmm!!

Our little group headed out for the final 13 miles.             

This final stretch kicked my butt the first time I did this event years ago. It is not hard at all but has a few hills in it that can bring you down if you are tired. The more I got to know this final section, the easier it got. I rode some of it with my longtime friend Chuck Bramwell who runs The Triple Crown Double Century Series. While talking to Chuck, I got a little ahead of the group so I dialed it back to wait for them. I waited at the final turn to the finish so I could video the finish and ride in with everyone.
We finished at Pena Adobe Park back in Vacaville at around 10pm.

Here is a video compilation of the event I made for YouTube 




We had a great dinner at the finish catered by Pietros Italian Restaurant. Great food.

Here is the Garmin GPS data from the ride:    http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/601384979



The next morning I again helped cook breakfast for the Triple Crown Awards Breakfast.

It was a great weekend with lots of friends and making new friends.

Below are a few pictures of the awards breakfast on Sunday morning.


Chuck and I with new 100 Double Club inductee Linda Bott

Tony was inducted into the Hall of Fame

New Hall of Fame inductees Teresa and Tony. Congrats to my good friends.

New 100 double club member Jeff Dewey, John Clare and I slinging scrambled eggs for the masses.

Hurry up and scramble those things John!


Teresa being congratulated by two of her mentors. Big ring Dave Evans and Ron Hansen. Both in the 100 double club.

Thanks first and foremost to the awesome Quackcyclists. You guys always put on an amazingly well supported and fun event.
Thanks to all the volunteers who, without, these events would not go on.

Thanks to John Clare for giving me and my steed a ride up to the event and putting me up in your room. I owe ya big time!

Congratulations to all those who were recognized by The Triple Crown for doing “The Triple Crown”.

Congrats to all the new Hall of Fame Inductees, my good friend and double century tandem stoker Teresa Beck and crew chief and friend Tony Musorafite as well as Reve Ramos, Jim Pettett, Jack Klebanoff, Jack Joseph, Bryon Ho, John Hopkins, Paul McKenzie, Robert Choi, Mike Erwin, Foster Nagaoka, Greg Olson, Jeanine Spence, Stanley Tsang, David Jeong, Art Cruz, Jennie Phillips, and John Hoenigman.

Congratulations to the new “100 Double Club” inductees, Linda Bott, Mike Sturgill and Jeff Dewey.

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