FoxVelo rider Luke Scrivanich rode 200 miles while climbing 16,000 feet during the Terrible Two, the second of three rides making up the California Triple Crown!
Luke narrated the following due to being too weak to actually type the words himself :)
A road report from the June 18th Terrible Two double century ride. Objective: Finish the ride before 10pm to procure an 'I Did It' t-shirt and get credit for California Triple Crown series.
This epic ride was billed as the most challenging of the double century CTC series and it met all expectations. Several experienced long distance specialists commented during the event that the TT difficulty surpassed the Devil Mountain Double (2 highest paved peaks in San Francisco Bay Area) and the notorious Death Ride.
I barely slept the evening before, anticipating the upcoming event and the 3:45am alarm. Out of the house by 4:15am, registered , and ready to roll at 5:30am with early morning cool temps in low 50s. We started with 251 riders, including 3 tandems. This ride started innocently enough in Sebastopol, which also happens to be home base for left wing of N. CA and where many of the Haight Ashbury hippies gleefully retired.
The course crossed through Santa Rosa, a short ascent on Bennett Valley Rd and then first major ascent (at 25 miles) of Trinity Grade, which was featured in the old Coors Classic stage race and more recently in the Tour of California. I lost contact with the lead group on the Trinity ascent, never to be seen again. The descent off the back side of Trinity is steep and twisty, and is followed by a short ascent over Oakville Grade and then a quick descent into Napa Valley.
The next 40 miles roll through the picturesque vineyards and meadows of Napa and Alexander Valleys. We formed a 10 person paceline near St. Helena, which swelled to almost 25 riders by the time we hit the first rest stop in Calistoga (mile 55). The next major climb began at Geysers Road, with the twin-summit peaks at miles 81 & 84, topping out at 2700'. The Geysers is in the Mayacamas Mt range, and contains the largest complex of geothermal power plants in the world, with naturally occurring steam field reservoirs just below the earth's surface.
The descent off the backside of Geysers begins with an extremely steep drop of about one mile, then a gradual downhill through Sulfur Creek Canyon with steep, unstable terrain. After passing through Cloverdale, a short climb and a descent into Dry Creek Valley led us into the midway lunch stop at the Lake Sonoma Dam (mile 110). It is now 12:30pm and 7 hrs into my ride. I'm thinking I should be able to finish this thing in under 14 hours, right? However, this was WISHFUL THINKING . . .
That's because after lunch is when the Terrible Two gets truly terrible. The first half of the TT climbs 7500' in 110 miles. The second half climbs 9000' in 90 miles, 5000' of it in the first 30 miles after lunch. We headed out onto Skaggs Springs Rd which is a 35-mi road the Army Corps of Engineers built to bypass Lake Sonoma in 1981 and access the coast. It has a classic saw-toothed profile, with endless series of steep, sun-baked climbs and false summits. Temps rose to the high 80s at the summit of the first 2000' monster. This was followed by a very steep descent into a deep canyon, followed by another 2000' grinder. Along the way I passed at least a dozen cyclists pushing their bikes up the steepest grade. I was thanking the lucky stars that I recently changed out the 11-25 rear cassette to a 12-28. I saw one guy throw his "*#$&ing-bike" into a ditch, announcing his day was done! There was carnage in the back of the field and it was time for me to move forward to catch some of the folks who actually had a chance of finishing this ride!
After a long descent into coastal region with towering redwoods and coveted shade, we hit the final assault prior to the coastline with a wicked 1.7 mile, 900' wall. After a rest stop at the crest, we did a tricky descent followed by a short climb, then down to the coast at Stewarts Point. The course turned south on the Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy 1) and we caught a slight tailwind as we headed down the coast along the phenomenal scenery of rugged rocky cliffs and pounding surf for 15 miles. Although this Hwy 1 section is considered easy, it actually added nearly 1000' of climb to the total before reaching the next rest stop at Fort Ross (mile 162) at 6:30pm. At this stop I learned that 50 of the 251 cyclists had already abandoned!
The climb on Ft. Ross Road is 2.6 miles and climbs 1500' - it averages 11%, but has sections over 15%. At this point I could barely keep the pedals moving, but vowed not to dismount and push my machine. Fortunately it was shady most of the way, and I actually started to cool off approaching the summit. This peak was followed by a bumpy, narrow descent, a more gradual climb up Black Mt, and a then a long, technical descent into Cazadero. During this descent my front tire flatted - I was unable to find any embedded road debris and hoping this was simply a pinch flat from the densely pot-holed road.
I rolled into last rest stop in Monte Rio (mile 184) in a small group at 8:20pm, where I installed lights that were pre-delivered to the stop, and was urged to get back on the road quickly or lest I may miss the 10pm cutoff. I had come so far and was certainly not willing to surrender my main objective! However, I couldn't afford another flat, as it was getting dark and I would lose time trying to repair in the dark STRESS!
I found a riding buddy as I headed up the Bohemian Hwy towards Occidental and the group eventually grew to 3 musketeers desperately trying to find our way, with limited visibility, back to Sebastopol. Fortunately, I know these roads well and we didn't miss any turns. We finally finished at 9:43pm, with 17 min to spare! The final 90 mi had taken me over 9 hrs!
This ride ranks at the top of my list for most physically demanding events I've ever engaged in. My total time for the 201 mi and 16,500' was 16:13, with 14:04 in the saddle for average of 14.3 mph. Not exactly a blistering pace, but considering this was my first TT and second double century ever, I was immensely satisfied with the result!
Overall I finished 144th out of the 251 registered. 178 actually completed the ride.