Knoxville Reconaissance Ride – #30daysofbiking

With Knoxville coming up at the end of the month, I thought it would be a good idea to ride part of the course, so that when we do the ride, we will know when to expect the hardest part of the climb.  I met at Dan’s place, along with Curtis and Tricia.  The four of us were about to embark on this epic ride.

We started out at Pope Valley, which is a very small town.  We were trying to find the post office, and it was very hard to find.  Funny, we could see the ice machine from street view on Google maps, and that was the only way we were able to find this.

Sleepy Little Town of Pope Valley

How small is it?  Well, the same shop, is the post office, store, and probably a few other things, but was only open from 10 am – 4 pm.  I guess just being open on a Sunday is considered lucky.

Team NorCal Bikeforums

Rare Shot of Me in the Picture

It was a gorgeous start to the day, and it wasn’t that hot … YET.  We started out on a very easy pace.  Some of it was due in part to Dan having already done 100 miles, and 70 miles the previous two days, so it took a little time for his legs to get loose.

Group Shot with Lake Berryessa in the background

Not too many turns on this ride.  First turn was a left turn onto to Knoxville-Berryessa Road.  Off to the right, we saw a great view of the lake, over a bridge, and we just had to stop for a few pics.

Ok, we are now on this road for 38 miles, and with no establishment anywhere along this stretch.  That meant our two bottles of water had to survive that entire stretch.  Who knows how much climbing this has too, and the sun will most likely be beating down on us.  Should have brought my platypus bladder.

The gradual rollies kinda reminds me of Morgan Territory.  Nothing back false flats that seem to go on forever.  Plus some of the rough road starts getting you fatigued.  Big strong guy like Thor would love those .. come to think of it, Dan was saying the samething.

About 19 miles into this, the climbs start ratcheting up … up to 11% for a while.  I get to the top thinking we have summited.  I see this tunnel, but not sure what to think.  What do I see on the other side???

What? More hills?

This is where the hills start playing mind tricks with us.  We would climb for a while, and then turn the corner, getting ready for a descent, until they throw us more hills.  I keep telling myself this is good training … heat and hills … gotta keep dreaming.  Just to add to this, there is no shade at all, so gotta htfu.  About 28 miles past the lake, and about 2000 feet climbing later, we finally summit, and head into the town of Lower Lake, for much needed water and other refreshments.

I’ve been psyching myself out all day, knowing that we have to climb Loch Lomond.  I remember climbing that several years ago on Davis, and I had to stop in the middle of the climb.  This time, I didn’t have to, and felt really good climbing this.  I felt much better than the previous climb on Knoxville – Berryessa.  To me, the Knoxville-Berryessa climb was tougher than Loch Lomond, which topped out at 16%.

After descending Loch Lomond, we have a few slight bumps up Cobb Mountain, then a long 7% descent, then a steeper 11% descent.  I didn’t realize how high up we were until I saw the scenic overlook … wow, it’s a lot higher than I thought it was.

Now Dan’s route slip had us going on Hwy 175 all the way to the end.  One problem … Hwy 175 ended at Hwy 29 in Middltetown.  Uh oh … time to bring out my Droid X, and look it up on the map.  Wow, an actual emergency being solved my the map program on my Droid X.  Chalk one up to technology.

It turns out we had to make a left on Hwy 29, then a right onto Butts Canyon Road … yup, you got it … the road is called Butts Canyon Road.  Ok, I have a juvenile sense of humor.

This was a really nice road, with very little traffic on the last 13 miles of the ride.  I think there were 5 cars passing, and the road was pretty smooth.  It was mostly flat, or slight descent, and that’s when Dan started time trialing ahead of me.  I then started getting into a nice rhythm, keeping my cadence high, and eventually caught up to Dan.  I seriously thought he soft pedaled to wait for me.  It was a nice chase.  I felt really good at that point, and when we got to the final 11% climb, I just shifted down to my lowest gear, powered up, burying all the pain I was suffering through the day, and just let it out on the road.  That was a nice stretch … not sure if I’ll have the same energy on the double.

Finally got back to the cars a little before 6 pm.  Now that was a good tough ride.  Major kudos go to Tricia … hanging out with the boys.  She’s not even doing Knoxville Double, and doing this training ride with us.  Tough ride in mid-90 heat … she definitely htfu.  Congradulations Tricia … you did a great job.

Not sure if I’m ready, but it felt good being able to complete that loop with still some energy left over.

Strava upload of this ride can be found at

I was going to do Mt. Diablo the following day, but my old friend is meeting me for lunch in Palo Alto … oh darn, looks like I’ll have to miss that climb.  Some recovery ride, eh?  Still, even though it’s  a flat 30 miles, it was still 30 miles and with heat … was 95 F.

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