Sunday, April 21, 2013

Murph's 2013 Spring Classic

I first heard about the Spring Classic on the SF2G mailing list. After reading some of the EPIC ride report from the 2012 ride to Santa Cruz, I instantly knew I wanted to be a part of the next one. I had much trepidation about this ride. There were so many unknowns: the route, the weather, and the off road portions. I spent more time than I'd like to admit second guessing which bike, tires, and gear I should run. Fast forward to a few days before the event and the email arrives with start and finish locations. Surprise, the route isn't even starting in San Francisco. Good news, a late call says no dirt. So the choice is simple: take the good road bike with 25c tires.

The start: Trummer Pils Brewery in Berkeley. Weather is already warming up before the 9am start time. Start gets pushed back to about 9:25 I wisely ditch my full fingered gloves and leg warmers in the car. They would have stayed in my pockets the whole time. Just perfect weather... A some quick instructions we're promenading through Berkeley behind the pace car for a neutral start. The car peals off just before Marin Ave, and IT IS ON!

Marin Ave is was total madness. 0.8 miles with an average of 16% grade. several sections of 20-25% grade. This at about 1.5 miles into the ride. I managed to ride straight up, many others were zig-zagging all over the road. Sometimes into traffic. This completely shattered the pack and strung everyone out.

I started at the front and was still near the front after Marin. I hopped on a groupetto but they were super frisky, accelerating on the hills and braking on the downhills. I was still recovering from Marin Ave and I looked down and realized we were only 5 miles into a 117 mile ride and decided I wasn't going to survive this kind of riding, so I let myself get popped off the back and rode tempo to get my heart rate back to something manageable. Across Grizzly Ave and a fun decent, I was back on with this group that had grown in size. Soon after we were caught by a few more, and our numbers swelled to about 25.

This group rolled into Dublin for the first rest stop. The rest stop was already being swarmed by the first wave. I wasted too much time (30 seconds) finding a place to put my bike, filled my bottles, signed in, grabbed a bagel (which I ate as I ran to pee), grabbed a banana and a hopped on my bike. Just in time to grab the departing stragglers from the group.
Riding into Dublin
The pace had evened out a bit, we rode out through town towards Clayton.  We turned onto Morgan Territory Rd. (amazing!) that runs around the east side of Mount Diablo. About a mile or so in, someone at the front of our group spotted the pack in front of us, a couple riders attacked. I was right on his wheel and when I saw the rabbit, I too bit down on the bar tape and put in the effort to close the gap. Just as we were about to make contact the entire pack in front of us sat up to take a piss! One empty bladder later, I was at the base of the climb, totally shattered, and the pack had evaporated. It was everyone for themselves on Morgan Territory. This climb was done in survival mode (we where about 40 miles into the ride now). I made one more unscheduled stop at the top at the Morgan Territory trailhead to fill my bottles. Loosing a few minutes was better than getting dehydrated. After that a fantastic descent on smooth roads and a tailwind. I descended "conservatively" only hitting speeds of 35-40mph.

Cold Beer
Next was solo ride into Livermore to the next rest stop at about 62 miles (aka 100km). Just in time to see fragments of the earlier group finishing their beer (yes!) and shots of bourbon (really, yes.) Somehow I missed the grilled cheese sandwiches. I was in a hurry to have someone to ride with, rushing through sign in, bottles, peeing, back on the bike.... This is where I ran into Patrick  (we know each other through Strava) and I asked if he minded riding together. Maybe it was the beer he was drinking, but he said yes. I grabbed a two free GU packets and stuffed a peanut butter and jelly sandwitch into my face. I had brought Hammer nutrition Perpetum and was mixing my own, but now I was out. They had plenty of free Osmo brand drink and I filled up. No beer for me, that was the carrot that was pulling my to the finish. Beer is for finishers!

Rolled out with Patrick. At this point we had a group of 6 leaving the 2nd rest stop, but they wouldn't work with us. Patric and I pealed off from the double "paceline" and within about 3 minutes the group was shattered as no one pulled through. So Patrick and I went back to the front. Part way up Mines road the others (only 3 others at this point) pulled off to stop for some reason, and we soldiered on. Never saw them again until the finish.

Mines road had one big climb and then a series of rollers, twisting and turning though the valley that goes south out of Livermore on the east side of Mount Hamilton. Many miles, two empty water bottles, a cherry-lime GU (nasty!), and a lot of conversation later, we arrive at The Junction. No beer here as The Junction is a bar and can't complete with free beer. There was bourbon discretely hidden amongst the gels, Osmo, water, peanutbutter pretzles, and M&Ms.  No bourbon for me, bourbon is for finishers!

We're close now, this is about mile 90. Just another 27 miles to go. Just a little more climbing and then a 22 mile descent into Patterson where food and cold beer are waiting. It's still Patrick and me, riding tempo. Patrick was probably a bit stronger, neither of us was willing to test the other. At this point the battle had made us comrades in arms. The two of us against the wind and miles.
Mile 92 comes and goes and theoretically it's all downhill from here. Except Del Peurto Canyon has a killer headwind blowing straight out of the central valley and right up in our face. We're fighting to maintain 20mph downhill. We passed a couple who were doing the short course (70 miles starting on Morgan Territory Rd).

Finally through the hills I saw a semi truck moving along at speed. We were within sight of I-5 and the end of the descent. Another few miles across the flats into Patterson. Left at the McDonnalds. Right onto M Street, look for the park... Rolled into the school yard teaming with bikes, food and beer. Signing in was the only thing I did before getting a beer. Well earned and it tasted so good.

An amazing ride, I can't wait for next year.

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