Or the heading could read:
"Hill Slug Attempts defy Gravity (Trying to do everything in one season)."
Yes, folks, after 14 of these suckers, she finally DNFs. I missed the cutoff at lunch by two minutes. But I don't feel ashamed. It was bloody hot and I haven't been targeting the Terrible Two as THE RIDE (which you pretty much have to do, unless you are one of those hill mutants). The TT has taken out many experienced, fit, and resourceful riders. There is a reason for the name.
The roll out from the ride start was fun! We were paced by a mini. Lots of friends and fast women there. It was going well until a dog ran out into the peloton and caused a crash right in front of me. It's always good to focus on your line around and try not to look at the people tumbling on the pavement. Our friend Tim helped me make sure that Dino was okay. He must have seen the look on my face. We had a Shlug running in motorcycle helmet and underwear and someone kept singing Boy George's "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" Good times.
I forgot how steep that sucker is. I tried not to think about it when lots of people passed me. "No, you're not the very last one on the course." The chalk from the tour of California was still there. My favorite chalk sign was "I want my mommy." It was cool to imagine the pros racing up it including the 40-something Cippo in the lead group. On the twisty technical descent I sped ahead of Dino who got his first front flat of the day. I kept riding, not knowing what had happened and knowing that he would catch me soon. I was in and out of Rest Stop 1 in 9 minutes.
When I did this ride back in 2005, the Geysers was completely engulfed in fog which was probably good because I didn't see how steep, long and exposed it was. I was feeling really sick to my stomach which I was concerned about (if you don't replenish the calories it's game over). I kept drinking and crawling up the hill. The Santa Rosa Bike Club had three sag vehicles up the climb, filling our water bottles and pouring water over our backs. They give incredible support. Dino was waiting at the top and found out that there were 50 riders behind us.
You can't go too fast through the up and down section from the top of the Geysers to Lake Sonoma. There are gravel sections worthy of Cyclocross, cattle grates, and blind corners. It's one of the maddening aspects of the ride. You can't make much time on the sections between the climbs. That's were Dino got front flat #2. We weren't feeling too confident in his front wheel, especially since he had a front flat at the Nevada City Bike Classic the week before. I knew we were cutting it close to the time cut off at lunch. They rang the bell right before we got there. Drat!!!
Cut off Ride
I still felt fine, and my pride kept me from getting into a sag vehicle. We opted to ride back to Sebastopol after having sandwiches and letting Dino take care of his flat issues. The ride back was incredibly gorgeous, going through the rolling hills and vineyards of the Alexander Valley. It made me feel better. I was having a nice reflective ride until we stopped understanding the map, ran out of water in the heat and Dino got front flat #3. I felt like we were lucky that it didn't happen at high speed coming down one of those technical descents later in the ride.
We eventually made it back with a three mile detour and a pit stop at a gas station for water and Gatorade. We ended up with 147 miles and lots of climbing. At the finish line we saw some of the first people come in at around 12 hours and 20 minutes. Absolutely incredible to finish 200 miles, 16,000 feet of climbing in 100 degree heat in that time. We had a little food then high-tailed it back home.
Time to Re-evaluate
Okay, so maybe you can't do it all and expect results. I'm still figuring out what I can be successful at and what are my limits. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained," right? Dino had a challenge fitting everything in when my training goals were to race on the road, track and ultra-distance. Cycling is always an experiment of one and I'm happy I gave it a shot. I still think I need variety to avoid burn-out, but realize I need to make more specific targets.