Category Archives: heat

Knoxville Double … Double #6 #30daysofbiking

I didn’t get much sleep the night before this ride.  Everything seemed to be in check … checked in before 6 pm, and finished dinner before 7 pm … so everything should be okay, right?  Well, for whatever reason, I just couldn’t sleep.  Perhaps it was due to all my excitement for doing this ride.

Curtis and Dan carbo-loading

I rode with Curtis and Daniel.  Here we are the night before, with a pre-ride carbo load.  We found a nice little mexican take-out place.  Note the happy faces are before the ride!

Ron and Curtis ... riding in patch black

We left Adobe Pena park at 3:45 am.  There were a few others that started before us, and I think we passed one of the groups … but most started around 4:30 am.  We wouldn’t see many riders till about 3-4 hours later, when they overtake us.

First climb was Mt. George.  We still didn’t get passed by anyone, so that was a good sign.  We started so early that they just barely had the first rest stop set up, so we just decided to bypass it.  Only one problem with that strategy … porter potties.  We’d have to go 62 miles before making a pit stop.  Well, as it turned out, we did an emergency road-side pit stop anyways, just before the rest stop.  Oh well.

The 2nd big climb is Howell Mountain.  We saw a bunch of locals out climbing this (many of them faster climbers … although they didn’t have to ride 200 miles!).  I went on ahead, feeling pretty strong (hmm … maybe I was going out too strong?).  What’s nice is they had a porter potty in the middle of the climb.  Sweet!  I definitely took advantage of this opportunity.  This is the point where we started to see the later starters pass us up (oh, sorry, pass me up).

The ride organizers were giving us a stern admonishment regarding the descent on Howell Mountain.  So I figure I should be taking it easy here, but I found the descent to be smooth, and switchbacks were fairly gentle.  I mean, if they really want to see a scary descent, try Page Mill in Palo Alto.  Anyhow, from there, we drop into Pope Valley, which is where we started our pre-ride on Labor Day Weekend.  Suddenly, we are in familiar territory.

Next up, is the long climb starting at Lake Berryessa, on up Knoxville Road.  What also made this difficult was the hottest time of the day.  It starts off with some rollies, then it kicks up to 10-12%, but when you add mid-90 degree heat, that really depletes you.  What’s also freaky is you will see some hunters up and down this road.  I saw a few of them, with rifle straddling their shoulder.  Hopefully they won’t be shooting at cyclists.

Around the 88 mile mark is when the climbing on Knoxville Road starts.  Even though I know the hill, and when to prepare, there’s nothing that will prepare you for heat.  In fact, there was a SAG wagon offering ice socks … oh how can I resist that!  That felt good, but I was still struggling.

I finally made it to the tunnel, but I needed the water stop now.  Two hill climbs later, then came the water stop.  My legs were really spent at this point, and just wanted to soak my head into the ice chest.  Ramon was here manning the stop, and had a nice refreshing mist … this is one tough hill.  Later, I found out everyone suffers badly on this climb.  At least I’m not the only one.

There were still a couple more hills to climb, so I just had to grin and bear it.  Curtis and Daniel had much fresher legs than me (they took a slower pace on the bottom, so maybe that’s what I should have done).

We made a very quick lunch stop (I had a really quick burrito), but maybe I should have just let Curtis and Dan go ahead.  My legs were still shot.

We continued on to Siegler Canyon, then Loch Lomond.  We grinded it up Siegler Canyon, and by the time we made the turn onto Loch Lomond, I had to rest.  Curtis and Dan came by, but they wanted to continue .. I still needed to rest.  Even after the rest, I was still suffering up Loch Lomond.  I was not alone either … many riders were hopping from one shady spot to the next.  I got to the point where I could not turn the pedal anymore.  I flagged a SAG wagon, and got then to fill my bottle with ice … but even that didn’t help me.  I had to walk the last 500 feet or so.  Even though I was at the summit, the road continued flat for about a mile until it descended to a general store, where Curtis and Dan were there … Curtis had a flat.

I let Curtis and Dan go on ahead … I had to take in some cool fluids.  I proceeded to climb up Cobb Mountain, and was really glad to see the road sign, warning trucks to use low gear on descent.  I ended up catching up with Curtis and Dan near the bottom of the hill.  However, my legs still didn’t have life in them.  Luckily, after going through Middletown, it was fairly flat.

The bad news is, after leaving rest stop 4, I started to get leg cramps.  Ugh, everything was aching here.  Saddle sores, toes numb (and they still are), and now leg cramps.  I had to put this in my granny gear, in fear of my leg completely locking up due to cramps.  I eventually got rid of my cramps by the time we got to rest stop 5, at Lake Hennessey.

Lake Hennessey at Sunset

Ok, now 40 miles to go.  But is this all flat coming back?  Of course not … first, we have Sage Canyon, which wasn’t too bad.  We go through some flat stretches … and at that point, it got pitch black, which makes climbing and descending interesting.  The next climb we face is Cardiac Hill.  Now we have done Cardiac Hill from the other side on Davis, but this time, we are climbing it in reverse.  This is definitely much tougher.  This was just sheer cruelty, throwing in this climb at mile 180.  This is the point where you are breathing hard, stating all sorts of expletives, and in general, just wishing this ride was over.

We finally got back to Adobe Pena Park at 10 pm.  Dang, this was a really tough ride … yeah, I know, it’s a double century, but this is still a very epic ride.

I’d like to say a few things about the support.  It was just great!  All rest stops were fully stocked with just about everything an endurance rider could ask for … Heed, Perpetuem, Hammergel, e-pills, Ibuprofen.  Then, they had SAG wagons, driving up and down with ice and water.  In fact, I saw them coming into a general store, just to stock up on ice.  The food layout was second to none … I love those potatoes.

The highest temp of the day was 106 F (most likely when I was finishing on Knoxville Rd).  I don’t think it was nearly this hot when we did our re-con ride 3 weeks ago.

Ok, 2 down … do I go for my third?  If so which one?  Bass Lake is in a couple of weeks … then there’s Solvang Autumn, and later, Death Valley Double.

Diablo in Heat … bad combination

So we decided to do Diablo repeats, as a trainer for the Death Ride.  No, I’m not doing the Death Ride … so why am I doing this?  Well, I do have the Grand Tour Double coming up at end of month … but I’ll probably have as much climbing on this as I would on the entire double.

We started from North Gate, and the plan was to climb to the summit, down to South gate, climb to summit, down to North Gate, then climb to summit one more time.  Just to add to this, the temps were going to be pretty high, in the mid 80’s.

The start of the climb felt pretty good.  Despite that, I was far behind everyone else.  Michael wasn’t feeling too well, but even he was able to pull away from me.  Chris was on a mission, and was time trialing this climb.  I just wanted to make it up the hill, and get to the summit.

I was making some pretty good time, but wanted to make sure I didn’t over do it (otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to climb up the South side).  I made it to the ranger’s station in ~ 45 minutes, which is respectable.  However, I still had another 4+ miles and 1500 feet more to climb to the summit.  The closer I got to the summit, the more my lower back started to strain.  My body is not in sufficient climbing shape, so I think I may need to do more Montebello rides after work … but that’s another issue … making sure I can get out of work on time.

The last time we did Diablo, I started seeing the group descend down the hill, one switchback before the final climb.  The same thing happened today.  But this time, I was determined to make it to the top.  I figure by the time I make it down the south side, I will U-turn when I see the group start climbing from South side.

At the summit, there was a swarm of bugs greeting me, just before the wall, and before the summit.  Damn, just what I needed … close my mouth, breath through my nose, while making the final push up the steep grade.  Really disgusting.

Finally made it to the top.  That felt good … back not feeling too bad, but now I can try to recover.  Come to think of it, I really wanted to get to the summit so I can get a refill on water.  Yea, that’s the ticket.

Down the hill, then over to south gate.  I didn’t make it all the way down … I saw Ramon leading the climb back up, so that’s when I make my U-Turn, at around the 1,000 foot elevation.

On the way up, I had an interesting encounter.  There was a coyote taking a stroll on the road about 500 feet ahead of me.  Sorry no pics, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one.  I deliberately slowed to a crawl, giving him space, to just continue his stroll to the other side of the road.  He proceeded over the hill side and I was able to continue my climb without issues.

I was aching, and was going to go slowly, with no intentions of making it all the way to the summit.  I see Michael at the Ranger’s station, and find he’s not climbing the summit, so I figure that’s good enough for me.  Plus, it’s hitting high noon, the hottest time of the day … we waited for the group to come down the mountain, and then went down with everyone.

I probably could have gone a little more, but the prospect of climbing from north gate one more time during the hottest time of the day did not seem very attractive.  Michael and I called it a day.  Everyone else continued on.

Some stats:

Distance: 34.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 4806 feet

More info at

First signs of summer … heat!!!!

Summer is here … how do we tell. Well, first of all, it’s end of June. Second, triple digit heat. But did that mean I’d stay indoors, and watch movies all day long??? Absolutely not!!!!

Well, on Saturday, I didn’t get any riding at all. But that’s okay … I spent it celebrating the wedding of my dear sweet friends, Marco and Ruth, who tied the knot on Saturday. But this blog is not about that day … it was truly a remarkable day, and I’ll leave the details to those that are closest to them. Although I probably should have gotten some phone numbers while I was there … hehehe

Anyhow, since I didn’t ride Saturday, I had to get in a ride on Sunday, right? Seeing that it was hot, temps in the triple digits, I figured if I wanted to do any riding, we should head over to the coast (just like every other Tom, Dick, and Harry). So Michael, Ramon, and I started from Gunn HS, and headed over Old La Honda, Haskins Hill, down to Pescadero, climb the 3 sisters on Stage Rd, then back over Tunitas.

We stayed together until any >5% grade hit us, and that’s where I went into my accustomed position in the back. They were pushing a fast pace going up Arastradero, and I just had to reduce my pace way down at that point. Plus, the heat meant any massive effort would be felt at the end.

OLH was a lot tougher today, and I’m not sure if it’s due to the heat, or the fact that I hadn’t really put on any real mileage (although I did get in a 60 miler on Baldy last week). My time up OLH? 35 minutes … ooh, not one of my best times at all.

Took a water break down at 35 and 84, and at that point, suddenly my trek decided to register that we are at altitude 12,000 feet. Whoa … I tried fiddling with it a little more, but couldn’t get it right.

Going down 84, I just had some boost of energy. I was feeling good, and sprinted up just so I can draft behind Ramon’s fast wheel. We were hovering around 36 mph, but I knew climbing was up ahead, so I left some reserve for that. It felt good, and I wasn’t feeling like I was spending too much energy.

Left on Pescadero, and I drop off to the back. It’s nice and shaded on this climb, and very scenic. Sorry, I didn’t take any pictures, as I was concentrating on climbing, and if I took my camera out, I would be taking even longer to reach the summit. The last 1/4 miles before the top is however open and exposed, and I could already feel the heat starting to get to me. However, we are treated to a fairly nice descent, and some of it is covered. When coming through here, it feels nice and cool, even better than having an A/C car. I am told that Paula’s house is somewhere along this road, but I had no idea where it was, otherwise I’d wave and say hi.

When we finally got to Pescadero, I was amazed to see I was only 1 minute behind Ramon. Lunch in Pescadero has better food than in San Gregorio, so we decided to have lunch here, then hit the 3 sisters.

Ramon’s battery for his Polar starts giving out here. He was really obsessed with this, as he no longer had a way to gauge how to proceed on this climb. It was his mission to find a battery … but much to his dismay, none in Pescadero. Ok, no battery, off we go.

As we start climbing, we notice one thing … it’s foggy! Wow, this is great. While it’s baking out in Palo Alto, it’s nice and cool out in Pescadero. My Trek shows it being 68 F. I was really enjoying that. Cool, but not enough to feel cold. But as we made the right turn on Tunitas Creek, and get to the Bike Hut, we feel the fog burn off, and it started getting hot again.

They re-paved a large section of Tunitas Creek, thinking this would be nice for cyclist. On the contrary, some of this new pavement started sticking on the tires. I hate that! There was a definite thin film of tar being spread on the tires, as it rolls on the road. Not only is it adding a thin layer of film, and possibly more drag, but I started to think it may jeopardize me getting a flat. Meanwhile, I’m struggling up this long hill. Much to my surprise, only a few people pass me on the way up. More people started passing me up near the top. When the grade started to level off, I normally get a second wind and start picking up the pace, but this day, I didn’t have it in my legs. Not sure if it’s just lack of training and conditioning, or the heat. I’m not going to blame the heat … that’s a lame excuse.

By the time I got to the top, it was about 92 F. Michael had gone down ahead to Huddard Park, to try to retrieve a canister he inadvertently left yesterday at the wedding reception. We would meet him later on down the hill. Down in Woodside, it was 98 F. It was definitely a hot one.

I decided to head back via Sandhill, and there was a couple stretches where it registered 102 F … but it can be pretty sweltering on Sand Hill, as it is widely exposed.

Now you must be thinking, I’m nuts, insane, for riding on such a hot day. Well, all I can say is that just like you train for hills, sprinting, pacelining, rain … you have to also train for heat … riding in heat is different, so I need to take every opportunity to ride in it, so that in case I get caught out there, I am prepared, not like what happened at Davis this year. Oh, and I did have enough water … carrying a 70 ounce camelback, fully loaded.