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.