Saturday I rode my second Terrible Two, and the second time around wasn’t so bad. Sure it is a long day, 200 miles in 13 hours, but I finished in relatively good shape with my bike in one piece. This ride boasts lots of climbing (Trinity Grade, The Geysers, Skaggs Springs Road and Fort Ross) and the temperatures can be hot. Luckily, we left Sebastopol at 5:30 AM under the cool cover of coastal fog. I brought my video camera along hoping to capture some of the climbs and views throughout the day but so many riders were bunched together for the first hour that it was too dangerous to video and ride. Plus, I’ve never seen so many riders lose their water bottles. I’m not sure how many times a rider in front of my dropped their water bottle and we weren’t even a hour into the ride!
Leaving Bennett Valley, a power line was down and this caused some crowding on the road. Then, descending into Glen Ellen, I lost my tail light and had to pull over and make some adjustments. However, I lost my group and was riding alone until the Trinity Grade climb. I caught some riders on the climb and took it easy on the descent into Napa Valley. I could see a large pack of about 15 – 20 riders ahead of me but couldn’t gather enough speed to catch them. So I rode alone until the first rest stop in Calistoga.
I made a quick stop and grabbed a couple fig bars. Most of the morning, my stomach felt a little uneasy and I didn’t feel like eating much. But I was wearing my heart rate monitor and was watching my calories. I never realized how many calories I burn on a long ride. My heart rate stabilized around 68% – 70% MAX during most of the flats and easily rose to about 75% – 80% during the climbs.
From Calistoga I rode with a couple other riders until my seat bag started to come undone and I needed to make a stop. All day I seemed to deal with little issues like this which I really believe were caused by the very rough road conditions. So after a quick equipment adjustment stop again I rode alone until the climb at the Geysers.
The climb took a while but I was familiar with this section of the ride since I sometimes use it for my own training rides. Sections of the road have been removed so at some stages we were riding on gravel. Near the top of the first climb, we cleared the fog and started to enjoy the sunshine. If you have never made the climb, the views can be incredible. I grabbed a Hansens soda at the top of the second Geysers climb and headed down the backside and towards Cloverdale.
From the Geysers until Lake Sonoma, I had a small group of riders that allowed us to draft off each other and I talked with another rider from Santa Rosa (an ER doctor from Kaiser). Lunch was at the bottom of Lake Sonoma and I knew the second half of the day was going to be harder than the first. The grueling climbs of Skaggs Springs were coming up! I ate a turkey sandwhich, drank a couple of Hansens and ate some fruit, then jumped back on the bike for the climbs. Skaggs Spring can be brutal. The hills never seem to end and some the climbs are hot and steep. Whereas the first time I rode the Terrible Two, this time wasn’t so bad. Yes, it is tough but I knew what to expect. A couple hours later, I arrived at the ocean and enjoyed the cool ocean breeze. For a brief stretch, I had a nice tailwind and was pushing 30 MPH on the flats. That speed didn’t last long!
Before arriving in Fort Ross, my water bottle was emptying and I was craving a Sobe. Funny, because it’s not a drink I normally buy but for some reason that was all that I could think about. It’s like getting a song in your head, but I had this craving for a Sobe that I couldn’t let go. So I pulled into a mini mart and bought a Sobe as a couple riders passed by me! A few miles later, I arrived at the bottom of the Fort Ross climb, probably one of the hardest climbs of the day.
My biggest complaint is about this section of the ride. Not because of how difficult the climbs can be but the terrible conditions of the road. Awful! So many potholes, sections missing and lots of gravels and uneven pavement. The jarring caused my bag to fall apart and my spare tube wrapped around my rear rim. Lucky this didn’t cause a serious crash! I kept thinking my bikes was going to crack in half on hitting the next bump!
Finally, the road improved as I pulled onto River Road and headed toward Monte Rio and then onto Occidental. I pulled into Sebastopol alone, having riding by myself from Fort Ross until the finish. My watch said 12 hours and 56 minutes but I think my “official time” was 13 hours and 1 minute.
All in all, a good ride. It would be nice to finish under 12 hours and 30 minutes. Maybe next time. Nicole met me at the finish and we shared some clam chowder at Bodega Bay for dinner. My watch reported I burned almost 7,000 calories. Hard to believe I burned that many.