Tag Archives: Tunitas Creek

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.

Viewing Amgen Tour of California Stage 3 – Tunitas Creek

This year, I am viewing the Tour of California as a spectator.  Last year, I volunteered to be a traveling Course Marshall, and that was a lot of work.  But what I noticed was I wasn’t really able to enjoy the race as a spectator.  This year, I decided to be a spectator.

I decided to wait until the tour comes to our backyard, so Stage 3 comes to Tunitas Creek.  They climb Tunitas Creek, before descending King’s Mountain, then head towards the coast via Hwy 84.

This year, the tour is held in May, in an effort to avoid the rain, and avoid the cold … well, that was a nice plan.  Guess what … it’s mid-May, and we have rain and cold.  As luck would have it, I would get a flat, on a cold and wet day.  I eventually got to the base of King’s Mountain, and as soon as I get onto King’s Mountain, there is a constant stream of cyclists climbing up King’s Mountain Road.  One thing I found odd … I saw a bunch of riders going in the reverse direction.  Now that is the direction in which the racers will be going, so maybe they just wanted to ride the same route as the racers?  I just found that curious.

The rain wasn’t too hard, but it was constant … like a heavy drizzle (hmmm, is that an oxymoron?).  In any event, I was getting more damp, and more wet, and how I wish I had brought my rain shoe boots.  Now my feet are soaking wet, and I’m still climbing Kings.  You never realize how much rain and cold will drain you until you actually try climbing it.

Most of the hard climbing is not at the top of the hill, but actually 3 miles down from the top.  So the KOM for this climb is not that significant (in my opinion).  Heck, I can actually pick up some pretty good speed in the final 2 miles of the climb.

It seems the further I go down the other side, the colder it gets.  Finally, I see my friend Steve, from Alto Velo, at about the last steep section of Tunitas Creek, where it makes a sweeping right hand turn.  This is where I would stake my spot.  This is a nice spot, not just because of the view, but also the way the trees are, it is sheltering me from rain drops, in the event the rain does start getting harder.

Some of the tour vans/trucks will throw out freebies to the crowd.  I was anticipating they would hand out a bunch of cow bells, or thunder sticks or something like that.  Last year, LiveStrong handed out a bunch of chalk where fans can write messages to their favorite cyclists (but I think this created too much chalk dust when they pass by).  This time, they threw out something, but we couldn’t tell what it was.

Ok, how many cyclists does it take to decipher a freebie?  Four seems to be the magical number … and what was the freebie???  a stinkin’ patch kit.  I guess economic times are tough, aren’t they?

This spot was getting more and more popular.  We had some marine boot camp stop by our same spot … I think they knew about this spot, as later, I saw a big bus at the top, and they just ran their boot camp down 3 miles just to view the race.

More and more marines were coming down, till we had almost 40 marines there.  Looks like we won’t have a security problem here.  Looking for a few good men?  How about a few good cyclists?  Sorry, I had to throw that one in.

We even had the Kings Mountain elementary school pay a visit.  I met my friend Alan (aka SesameCrunch, from bikeforums.net) there.  His kid is in the elementary school, and they were there to cheer on the likes of Lance, DZ, Levi, George, and other American cyclists.  This was truely becoming an awesome venue.

It’s a good thing we had all this much going on where we were … otherwise, we’d be bored out of our gorge.  Being cold and wet is one thing, but suffering through that with nothing to do???  That would be pure torture.

The riders finally come … yippee!!!  However, due to my ineptitudes with doing action shots with my camera, most of the shots didn’t come out (and those that did came out really blurry).  Since this is the first KOM (King of the Mountain), there wasn’t a big split in the group.  There was a small group of 5 that charged up ahead … but the rest of the pack stayed intact on the climb up Tunitas.  I have never before seen a 100 rider pack, all ride together up Tunitas.  I heard one report they were going up Tunitas at 16 mph …. that’s 16 mph.  I’d be lucky if I maintained 6-7 mph.

Ok, that is it … now to get off the mountain.  Since it is so wet and slick, I’m not in a real hurry to get down the mountain.  I had made it down without incident, but about 500 yards from the bottom of Kings, we see a rider down.  That is definitely not what I wanted to see.  It turns out the cyclist was riding a touring bike, with panniers on both sides … he was carrying some road cones … what the heck is he doing carrying road cones on his bike?  Perhaps this caused some inbalance, and he lost balance?  He was a little cut up, but what drove me crazy was that he was on his back, and he kept trying to roll around, move, and do everything that someone injured should not do.  We kept telling him not to move, but he wouldn’t listen.

I waited long enough for CHP, fire trucks, and paramedics to come.  Out of respect, I chose not to take any pictures … these are scenes I do not want to take.

As soon as I got out of Woodside, and closer to Palo Alto, I see sun, and shadows … where the heck was this while we were freezing our asses off on Tunitas Creek?

Just to add insult to injury, I get home to watch the live coverage, and they are on Bonny Doon; it is nice and sunny there.  I bet you anything that the sun popped out right after the pelaton headed towards the coast.  Just our luck.

Hopefully Stage 4 will be clear and sunny.  I definitely don’t want to be sitting in rain while on Sierra Road.