Category Archives: Century

First Century of the Year … and Start of Double Training

So I unofficially came up with a New Year’s resolution … It’s been about 6 years since I last attempted a double century (and even more when I last completed the Triple Crown).  I decided that no matter what obstacles come my way with work, and interrupting my training schedule, I am just going to schedule the double century, and if I’m ready, I’m ready.  If I’m not in shape, and can’t finish it, so what … I’m not concerned with DNF’s any more.

With that in mind, I went out and did my first century of the year.  I actually surprised myself, thinking I would return in the dark … I actually finished by 4:40 pm.  I guess I’m not as out of shape as I thought I would be?  One thing that did help was having the Crystal Springs Dam road go through, without having to do the Ralston Bridge detour.

I was hoping to make it to the Cliff House, or Land’s End before noon … I had delays getting out of the house, and wanted to leave by 7:30 am, but didn’t leave till 8 am.  Oh well

Pressed for time, I scarfed down the sandwiches that I brought with me, then headed back the same way I came. I didn’t even want to look at the time … I just wanted to keep on moving.

I could feel the burn in my legs on the way back, by the time I reached Millbrae. At that point, I was sure I would be arriving in the dark. When I saw it was 4:40 pm when I got home, I was surprised. I made pretty good time. Time to keep it going.

Primavera Century 2018

I was originally going to do Primavera Century in 2017, but from all the rains, there were so many roads blocked, or closed, that they couldn’t do it last year, and it was cancelled.  I used my 2017 registration, and applied it to 2018.  It’s my first organized century ride in a long time (last year’s Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge didn’t count … I did a modified metric century plus).

Met up with a number of my old friends, and it was good to see them.  However, due to timing issues, I never did get to ride with them on the century.  I ended up riding on my own.  It was okay, as with any organized ride, you end up riding along with complete strangers, who are at the same level as you are.  In some cases, that works out best.

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Climbing Calaveras

One of the most advertised points on this ride was riding Calaveras all the way through.  Normally, the road is closed half way through, but through a special arrangement, they allowed Primavera riders to go through.

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It was nice to be riding without worrying about cars breathing down your neck.  However, as I ride through there, I couldn’t figure out why the road is still closed.  It looked like everything was all ready to be opened, and yet it’s supposed to be closed till September?

Sometimes when you ride a century, you seem to be riding all alone out there.  You start wondering if you are on the right route … and I happen to lose my route sheet.  Oops … well, at least I have the direction markers on the road.  Eventually a few caught up to me, so at least I know I’m on the right track.

 

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Lunch was at a winery, and it was cool to have bikes in the middle of a winery … Cool shot, eh?  The 100 mile ride went on a loop, to go towards Patterson Pass (but not ride through it) … instead, we took a little loop through Flynn Road, and pass by a few windmills.  The tourist in me just marveled at the fact that I am riding past some gigantic windmills.

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The way back was pretty much a sprint back.  It’s one of those where you try to keep up with the small pack you are in.  Unfortunately, when you get caught at a light, you may get dropped from the pack.  That didn’t stop a few others though, despite the fact there is a red traffic light there.  Oh boys … it’s not worth running a red.  Besides, it makes cyclists, as a whole look bad.

Anyhow, about 7 hours total, and I got my century in.  I felt good at the end of the ride … didn’t feel like I was fatigued or exhausted, and that’s a good feeling.  It was 100 miles, and 6323 feet of climbing.  At least I got a century in the books.

Finally Got My First Century of the Year In

Solvang Double is coming up really soon and I haven’t gotten any long rides in.  It’s starting to freak me out, so I had to get at least a century in today.  I hasn’t gotten one in due to fitness, and when I felt I did, I got into a bike crash on my commute a couple weeks ago.  That probably set my training back a few weeks (in fact, I took one week off the bike).  So with these facts, I was a little bit nervous about being able to complete a century.  Maybe it’s too soon after the crash?

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I decided to go up to SF, and Ramon came with me.  He’s done this route regularly, so he knows the ins and outs, I don’t.

I started from my house at 8 am, and we wanted to get through Foothill Expy through Canada before the Spectrum riders came through.  That’s the weekly huge pack ride that comes screaming through, and in many times, bike crashes occur.  So we wanted to ride ahead of them, and avoid that stupid thing all together.

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Approaching Sawyer's Camp Trail at 30 mile mark

We made pretty good time and we did end up avoiding them.  First stop was at Sawyers Camp for a bathroom stop.  So far, no shoulder pain so all is good.

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At Pacifica around the 40 mile mark

Continuing on, the temps were fairly warm. It was warm enough for us take off arm and knew warmers, but we’ll see how it is when we get to Pacifica. We went northbound along Skyline, but did take one detour through residential section of Pacifica to avoid some ugly parts of the route. Otherwise, if it was just me, I would have just continued straight on Skyline.

My shoulder felt a little pain at this point, bit figured let’s just ride on and see how it feels. We made it to the Cliffhouse and onto Land’s End, and this is our half way point on our out and back. This is the scenic party of the ride. Now you can see why I wanted to do this route.

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At Land's End Mile 52

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After a break, refueling, we head back. Shoulder pain is gone, but my lack of fitness is settling in now. Started to feel some lower back pain, indicative of weak core. I can’t blame this on the accident, and now it’s just a matter of fitness. At least I’ve got my body to get used to the long distances. It’s funny how you could do all these hard hill rides, which total less than 70 miles, but it doesn’t prepare you for the long distance training.

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Caught up with Marco on the road.

Around the 75 mile mark, we hooked up with Marco on the road. It’s been a long time since the 3 of us rode together, so this was sweet.

I think my body settled into the pain around the 85 mile mark. Interesting how the human body can react to certain levels of pain and adapt to it. Although we did take a few stops (Sawyer’s Camp and Robert’s Market in Woodside).

Made it home, 102 miles and 6000 feet climbing later (http://app.strava.com/activities/118877440). Now my body knows how it feels so I a little better about my training. One more like this next week, and I think I’ll be ready for Solvang.

Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge with a modified 3 Spur Option

Saturday, we did the Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge.  The original plan was to do the 200k, with 3 spurs (basically additional loops), which was supposed to have a total elevation gain of < 15,000 feet of climbing.  However, with lack of long rides leading up to this (2 weekends prior were shot), I didn’t have too much confidence that I would last.  I rode with Karen and Ramon, and we pretty much stayed together the whole ride.

Started the day leaving at 6:30 am, and on the way over, we drove through a bunch of fog, so it was still misty at the start, and a little chill in the air.  I only brought a vest and arm warmers, and that should be sufficient, since we are doing a bunch of climbing.

This is one of my favorite rides (can you tell?  I’ve only done it the last 4 years consecutively).  The views are spectacular, with lots of tall trees, but you pay the price with steep 15-20% grades.  Of course, with the fog bank, it was kinda hard to see much of a view.

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The first spur was a loop out to Hwy 17, straddling Old Santa Cruz Highway, then up Summit Road.  We seemed to be the only ones doing the spurs, until a few of them came up and passed us a bit later on in the spur.  Then, we saw more come up … they must have been the 7 am starters.

There is one thing about doing the spur … the rest stop comes at mile 33 … that’s a pretty long stretch to go without a potty stop, especially at the beginning of the ride.  It might have been good to include a potty stop at Old Santa Cruz Highway, after making that long descent down Bear Creek Road.  It was easy for me to just pull over, but for Karen, that’s a little more of an issue.  We got to the corner of Bear Creek and Skyline, and saw a porta potty there … but unfortunately, it was locked.  Oh, how cruel.  Guess we’ll have to hold it, but there’s another 1000 feet to climb before we descend into Saratoga Gap for rest stop 1!

First Rest Stop

First Rest Stop

After a few rollies, we finally rolled into rest stop 1.  We probably spent a bit too much time at rest stop 1 … Looking back at Strava, we were there a good 20 minutes.  Dang .. we should have a rest stop timer, especially since the next 10 miles or so is a downhill descent.

Fresh faces before climbing China Grade

Fresh faces before climbing China Grade

We descent down Hwy 9, and we break off to the 2nd spur, while the rest of the group continue into Big Basin.  Actually, we end up taking a different route to the same rest stop, then doing the climb up China Grade, for the 2nd spur.  Karen kept urging me to do at least the 2nd spur, so I caved in, and said I would.

China Grade

Once again, we were the only ones out there, until we get passed by one big guy … and I mean big.  Later on, we find out he’s 250 pounds, and he was on a 58 or 62 cm frame.  I end up later passing him.  I was stuck trailing, and then I saw him, and that was my target.  He was a good uphill climbing target, and that kinda helped me up the hill.

Ok, back down the hill, back to the same rest stop before we started the climb.  However, we had a big wake up call.  They were starting to tear down the rest stop!  One of the support workers asked us “is there anyone behind you”?  Wow, are we that slow?  We started thinking about whether or not we should cut short the ride, should we do the last spur … but then I said, we still have to do Jameson!

Re-fuel, then get on the road, and do this Jameson climb.  Since I had done this as a training ride about 4 weeks ago, I figured I’m prepared.  It was all business, just concentrate on smooth pedaling, getting efficient power into my drivetrain.  I notice the switchback that every falters on, and just power from the heels.  I felt pretty good about this climb, and I was averaging around 5 mph, dipping at the lowest at 4 mph.  I still didn’t beat my PR from the 2011 SCMC, but at least finishing it felt good.

Lunch came after Jameson, and by the time we were about to leave the lunch stop, it was about 2:10 pm.  I noticed the sign saying lunch closes at 2:30 pm.  Wow, we are really behind.  Now if we went straight back on the 100k route, we would get in only 90 miles, so we decided to continue onto the 3rd spur, then finish off with the 100k once we got back to Felton.  Sounds like a good plan, right?

It was a long descent down before we hung a right onto Smith Grade.  I think Jameson plus lunch did me in, and my legs had no strength for Smith, which really is not that bad, if your legs are fresh … mine weren’t.  I was way behind Ramon and Karen, and when I finally re-grouped with them at Bonny Doon, “I’m all spurred out”.

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Still a few climbs more before we get to Ice Cream Grade.  Before getting there, we cross over the charred remains of a fire from a few years ago, and the charred remains are still present.  Kind of eerie coming through here … reminds me a little of Yellowstone when I toured there after their big fires.

Ice Cream Grade is the last significant climb we do before we make the descent down Felton Empire into the town of Felton.  We did get the ire of a local, who didn’t like the idea of cyclist being on the road.  Just can’t please everyone.

We got into Felton, and it was about 4 pm.  At this point, we were at the 94 mile mark.  Now if we continued on the 200k route, we would climb up Zayante (a long 18-ish mile climb), going over to Summit, loop around on Soquel San Jose Rd, before coming back to the school.  That would be a hard climb, especially since my legs felt like jello, with no zip in them at all.  We decided to take a more direct route, climb Mt. Hermon Road, before getting onto Scotts Valley Road.  This was a direct route back to the start.  However, Karen’s Garmin had 1-2 miles less than mine, and she had to get at least 100 miles (because she was advertising to everyone she’s doing the 200k).  So we ended up doing a few extra miles, before I ran into some thorns, which flatted both my front and rear tires.  At that point, after fixing both flats, I just told them go on ahead, and I’ll just ride back to the school.  It turns out, I would end up with just over 100.

More importantly, we got back, just in time to take advantage of hand rolled burritos back at the school, and a couple scoops of ice cream too.  You can’t climb Ice Cream Grade without having ice cream at the end!

It was a long, hard, painful day, but it all felt good.  This is one reason why I prefer the long hard ride on a Saturday, instead of a Sunday.

Links to more pics: https://plus.google.com/photos/107775104280723216283/albums/5908256887341515889?authkey=CNvg7JbC3bXbkgE

Strava data : http://app.strava.com/activities/71996600#

Sequoia Century … lucked out without a spot of rain

Western Wheelers put on the Sequoia Century Sunday, and it is one of the tougher centuries around.  But the one thing about doing a hard ride, like a century, or double metric century on a Sunday, is the recovery.  You end up limping and walking like a handicapped in the office on Monday.  I guess this is one day where I won’t be riding into work.

Over the weekend, they were anticipating 1-2 inches of rain, in California, in June!  I mean summer is supposed to officially start at the end of the month, and we are talking rain like it’s January.  It was pouring heavy Saturday morning, and hopefully it will just dump all morning and clear by the afternoon … and that’s exactly what it did.  Whew!  But just to give you an idea, San Jose, which normally doesn’t see a lot of rain, got 0.78 inches on Saturday alone.

Saturday, I went out to buy a small light rain jacket (had to shop 4 different places till I found it).  Then, I put on fenders on the bike.  I also planned to ride with my fleece long sleeve Cervelo jersey, so I went ahead and pinned the bib number on that, and planned to wear weatherproof boot covers on my shoe.

When Sunday came around, there was no threat of rain, so I ditched the long sleeve jersey, and went instead with short sleeve, and arm warmers … removed the bib number from the long sleeve, and re-attach to my short sleeve … that’s quite an ordeal at 4:30 am.  I didn’t go with boot covers, and went with just toe warmers, and I didn’t bring the rain jacket that I shopped around all day Saturday for … and just used my normal jacket that I have been using for couple of years.  I also ended up removing the fenders.  So much for preparation, huh?

I got to the start at 6 am, but couldn’t find my other riding buddies, so I decided to just go on the ride.  I did receive a tweet from Ramon saying he is running late, but I couldn’t find Richard.  Oh well, maybe I’ll see them on the route.

I rode out at moderate pace, keeping my heart rate at 130-140 bpm.  Get to Redwood Gulch, and I felt good … but little did I know that I completed this in my fastest time ever.  I posted a personal best of 14:39, about 1:16 faster than my previous best.  How did that happen?

A right up on Hwy 9 to Saratoga Gap, and the sun does make one of few appearances through the rest of the day.  We have a rest stop at the firestation on Skyline.  That’s only 18 miles into the ride.  Well, I guess considering we have done Redwood Gulch and have about 2700 feet of climbing in already, that’s a pretty good clip.  I waited some more for my friends, but to no avail.  Time to move on.

This is not the high point of the climb, as we go southbound on Skyline, we climb just a wee bit more to the highest peak, a little past Castle Rock, at 3100 feet.

We get a really nice descent before passing Black Road, and into the christmas tree farm area.  This is nice, because that’s where the two line highway ends, and you feel like you are in the rural forests.  The descent here can be tricky, with sharp turns … and oh, by the way, a few more short climbs.

A right on Bear Creek Road, and after a little climbing, we get a nice fast descent before coming into Boulder Creek.  Now this would be ideal to get into a paceline to charge onto Hwy 9 again, either everyone was too fast for me, or they were too slow.  Oh well, I guess I’m time trialing this.

The climb on Hwy 9 is slow and lonely, but the grade is not too bad.  It averaged about 5-6%, so not too bad, but just long.  Then, we get to the top of Skyline, then make a left turn, back on the same route we were on before the first rest stop.  The rest stops were in abundance, and I didn’t feel the need to stop at this one, so I went on ahead.

We have a fast descent down Alpine en route to La Honda, where lunch is.  Now I’m considered a slow descender … but today, others treated me like I was a bomber on the descent.  But maybe it’s because this is my backyard, and others may not be used to the terrain.

I caught up with Ramon at lunch.  I wasn’t feeling up to the full double metric, so I decided to just go on the 100 miler, and head up Tunitas.  Once we got to Hwy 1, I noticed a lot of cyclists heading the opposite direction … they were the Aids riders … Oh, I forgot .. they start the same day Sequoia is put on.  Very colorful, and very flamboyant outfits they have.  I wish them luck … some of them didn’t look too good, and this was only their first day.

I really did try to go as hard as I could up Tunitas (but how hard can you really, at mile 81, and 8000+ feet of climbing).  It does help having done this climb so many times, but it still took me 1:12:00 from Hwy 1 to Skyline via Tunitas Creek.  Tough 9.4 mile, 2047 foot climb.

Totals … 102 miles, and 9375 feet of climbing, with a total time of 8:53:02.

Cool Breeze Century … A Fun Century

I took an extra day off on Friday, and drove down to Ventura to do the Cool Breeze Century.  This is a really fun century, and is really well supported.  It’s less than 4000 feet total climbing, so make no doubt about this … this is a fun, social century.

Getting to the ride start, directions tell you to exit on Stanley Ave. off of Hwy 33.  However, when I get there, it was jammed.  Took me about 15 minutes to get off the freeway, and into the parking lot.  Wow, that’s the first time I’ve had a traffic jam like that for an organized ride.  This is just like trying to get to a Dodgers game or a concert.

Finally got to the start to meet up with Herb.  It’s great to see Herb, and ride with him again.  Also met up with his friend Mike, and on queue, we roll at 7 am.

As we roll, we could see more people waiting to get off the freeway … Maybe the organizers should recommend taking California Ave off-ramp as an alternative.  I heard someone in the parking lot trying to guide their friend in … that traffic jam was just terrible.  We even waved to some who were just coming in.

As expected, there were a ton of riders on the road.  The beginning of the route had a narrow bike path, so it was hard to get past some of the slower riders ahead of us, so it was a relaxed easy pace for the first 10 miles or so.  The first rest stop was at 15 miles … jeez, hardly enough to get my heart rate above 110 bpm.  So we skipped this, and headed onto some climbs.  Once we got onto the climbs, the sun pops out, and perfectly timed too.  By the time we got to the peak of the climbs, we were treated to great views.

I was feeling really good out there … maybe part of it was the relaxed pace early on.  As soon as the hills came out, I decided to flex my legs, and powered it up the hill … getting my heart rate up to the 170’s.  Nice!

One famous landmark on this route was mailbox in the form of a cyclist.  I later found out this is the property of Theodore Roosevelt Gardner II, who has a number of interesting sculptures throughout his property.  And where is the mail stored?  Out his rear end, where else?

It’s a good thing I was riding this for fun, otherwise I would have missed this.  I just had to stop and take a pic of this.  Too many times, we are so focused on riding, that we never notice interesting sites as we zoom passed.

Michael was having some mechanical problems while on the climb.  It seems that there was some issues with his hub.  We definitely have to have it checked out when we get to the lunch stop.

On to the lunch stop.  Who do I find there?  Shai !!! … It was good to see him.  For once, he’s not doing a 200 or 300 mile ride, but he was doing this on a fixie … what?

While at lunch stop, we also caught up with MarkAJ … another from socalbikeforums … it’s so cool to come down to SoCal, and meet up with friends.  This is the social aspect of riding … yay!

Mike’s rear hub definitely has issues, and will probably have to get it looked at when getting home.  We rolled on, but soon after leaving lunch, Mike still had some issues.  The wheel still locked up, and eventually he had to give in and sag it in.  That’s so sad, as this is his first century.

Herb and I carried on, and we bypassed the next rest stop, and will hold off until we get to the Rincon rest stop.  When I got to Rincon, I was pleasantly surprised to see Mike there.  He got sagged to another rest stop, where he ran into a cycling version of McGiver.  They were able to jerry-rig the hub back to life, and he was then able to ride on.  So he won’t get a full century in, but at least he’ll get in a good 80 miles or so.

Cool Breeze is famous for having the popsicle stop at Rincon … so I just had to have a picture with me and my popsicle.  Other rides will have their signature (Davis Double for their chilli bowl), and Cool Breeze has its popsicles.  It’s a terrific backdrop too, with the pacific ocean in the background.

Ok, now on for the final stretch .. 15 more miles and another century will be in the books.

The route back to the start begins with a little stretch along Hwy 101, and it straddles along the ocean side as we approach Ventura.  For some reason, traffic was really slow along this stretch.

(Update:  I later found out two women got caught in an accident along 101 on bike path (perhaps got caught by turbulence of the tail end of a big rig).  They had to stop traffic and airlift the cyclist.  Shai took a short video of this, and you can see this at http://picasaweb.google.com/shprung/CoolBreeze82010#5508009791741519346

Got back to the finish, and logged in 101 miles, 3971 feet climbing.  This was a great ride, a fun ride … This may be my new favorite ride.

100 miles is still 100 miles … and yes, it aches!

I did the Marin Century this year.  I figured with the commercial we see on Versus during Tour of Cali, which prominently featured the Marin Century rides, it must have a lot of funding, and decided to participate in it this year.  It’s actually Marin/Mt. Tam all rolled into one.  They had Marin 50k, 100k, 100 miles, and the Mt. Tam 100 miles, 200k, and 200 mile routes.  So this was an extremely huge production.

Weather wise, it was cool … very cool.  In fact, the sun didn’t come out until the last 20 miles of the century route.  For this reason, I decided to not take any pictures.  All day, we were greeting with overcast skies, and for a while, we got foggy mists.  It wasn’t cold enough to put a jacket on, but I did have arm warmers on most of the day.

As always, in the beginning of a ride, there is a lot of enthusiasm, and lots of energy …. perhaps too much energy.  We got our first hills on Lucas Valley Road, and that’s where I started passing everyone.  We were maintaining a pretty high pace, even though we were climbing (but it wasn’t steep hills … they were gradual).  We were zipping through Nicasio in about 1 hour.  I saw the 50k rest stop at the 12 mile mark, and decided to duck in there (I really didn’t need any food, but used it as an excuse to slow up my pace).

Next climb was a right turn on Pt. Reyes-Petaluma, which is another gradual climb, but it is a long climb.  We pass by the cheese factory, but it was still early, so no one stopped there.  I kept passing, and being passed up by the same two female riders … one very strong … strong hill climber … very aggressive on the climb, but could sustain it.  The other was not as strong, but a good long distance rider.  I hooked up with them, off and on for the rest of the ride (I mean why not … they are athletic, strong, and pretty good looking women).

We rode through Chileno Valley, and this is where I got caught by myself.  I didn’t want to stay too long at rest stops, so when I left, everyone else was still at the rest stop.  For a while there, I was wondering if I was on the right route, but eventually I saw someone up ahead, and I reeled them in.

Definitely, the toughest part of the ride was Marshall Wall.  I normally do this from Cheese Factory through Hicks Valley, then onto Marshall … but we did this the other way.  I haven’t done Marshall Wall too much, but I think this way is much tougher.  I think this broke everyone, and it did tax me a little bit, but I was still able to forge through with it.

Fatigue started settling in even before Marshall, so I just had to grind it out.  Earlier in the day, I was climbing out of the saddle, and perhaps that spent a bit of energy early on … but if I don’t try to push it, I’ll never get better, right?  It’s a give and take.

By the time we finished Marshall Wall, we got to the last rest stop, and the sun decides to come out.  Well, at least we didn’t have to contend with heat and hills today, so that was nice.  Must be nice for the double century riders too.

We didn’t do Pt. Reyes Station, or Mt. Tam.  This was reserved for the Mt. Tam Century.  The majority of the riders did Marin Century.  In fact, I think there were a smaller number of Mt. Tam Century riders than there were Mt. Tam Double Century riders.  I didn’t see anyone do Mt. Tam … kind of odd.

One thing about Marin … they did a really good job of marking the course.  I heard some complain about not chalking the road.  They used the route arrow stickers, which I think is fine.  I do think they could have used more arrows, just to indicate you are on the right road.  There was some confusion at one point on the ride, where we saw Whittaker Bluff, and Whittaker Road … not sure which one we were supposed to be on.  But other than that, the marking was great.  They had what looked like authentic road signs, with an arrow pointing in the right direction.  It was great to see those on the street poles, and it was very clear to see.  They had that, and the route arrow stickers on the road.  They did have one turn that wasn’t clearly marked though … the left on Chileno Valley Rd.  Not sure what happened there, but for everything else, couldn’t ask for a better organized ride.

One more problem … some of the rest stops were too well featured.  It made me want to eat more and more.  Oh well … I guess that’s a good complaint.

I was hoping to finish this ride in 7 hours, but I just missed that.  I got about 103 miles, and 6400 feet climbing.  Pretty good day, but man, I am aching … this wasn’t even a 7000 foot climbing ride.  Regardless, no matter how many doubles I do, 100 miles still is not easy.  100 miles is still 100 miles, and since I really did push it, it aches.  We’ll see how I do on Cool Breeze in Ventura later this month.  Still undecided on 100 miles or 200k.