So, I rode the Grizzly Peak Century today, one of the harder century rides in the Bay Area. I “only” did the metric century – which was 71 miles and 6400′ of climbing by my GPS. I had harbored vague thoughts of attempting the 109-mile full century, but by lunchtime I decided that 71 miles would do. I could probably have completed the 109-mile version, but I wouldn’t have enjoyed it.
At any rate, it was a gorgeous day for a bike ride – I arrived at 7am, skirting the ruins of the 80-580 interchange (where the freeway melted down, remember?) via Powell Street in Emeryville. (By the way, I am impressed: Google Maps had the detours worked out and a corrected map up by the time I printed out my directions on Friday.)
Anyway, I checked in at 7:03am, and was off. The first twenty minutes were entirely downhill, then we went up a long hill to Skyline (a different Skyline from the one on the Peninsula), then we settled down for some more climbing. Lots of climbing. In toto there was more climbing than I’d done before, either on Mt. Hamilton or Mt. Diablo – Mt. Hamilton is about 5000′ of climbing, this was 6400′. Mostly shorter climbs, though – the tallest single climb was about 1800′, if I remember correctly. (Must look it up on my GPS.)
The ride should have been a fun exercise, but I actually found it rather depressing. People kept passing me, and passing me, and passing me. Probably about a hundred people had passed me by the time I passed my first rider, who casually mentioned as I went by that he was about to become a great-grandfather. Joy.
The rest of the day was pretty much like that as well. I guesstimate that about 300 people passed me. I passed nine people, all day long. (Yes, I counted.) On hills, on the flats, there were continuous groups of people going past me. It was very depressing, and made me seriously wonder what on earth I was doing attempting the Death Ride.
Now, I realize that there is a fairly simple mathematics to this. If you start near the beginning of the pack (which I did, arriving half an hour after registration opened), then the faster people will pass you all day long, while you’ll never see the slower people, because they’re all behind you. Intellectually I understand this. If I were really that slow, I would have been passed by every single fucking rider instead of merely a couple hundred – but it was still morbidly depressing. I seriously considered dropping out of the Death Ride.
At any rate, with those cheery thoughts in mind, I biked along for almost exactly six hours. The food in the pit stops was fantastic – home-made chocolate chip, peanut butter, and oatmeal raisin cookies; bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew, grapes, strawberries, and pineapple; banana bread and a bunch of different kinds of pound cake; and a wide variety of fantastic foods at lunch. If you like to eat, this is the century for you. It’s also not a particularly difficult century if you’re into hills – I finished it relatively uneventfully, anyway. I did enjoy the food.
I also managed to accomplish two things I’d been working on:
- I rode the first 2/3 of the way or so in my second chain-ring, not the smallest one (except for a few steep hills). Gaining strength is one of my big goals, because it means speed as well.
- I managed to ride with a minimum of breaks outside the pit stops, which is something else I’ve been working on – I tend to stop a lot and that costs time. Outside of the pits, I stopped only twice – once to take off my jacket and once because my butt was aching unbelievably and I had to get OUT of th saddle.
So I did achieve something despite my extreme frustration with the day.
I continue to have saddle issues – the new shorts seem to be helping somewhat, but it’s just a matter of spending lots of time sitting upright in the saddle. I’ve been working on getting up out of the saddle and standing more, which also seems to help, but pain continues to be an issue. The legs are willing but the butt is a serious problem. Not sure what to do about it, I may just have to practice standing more.
Anyway, I am not giving up on the Death Ride just yet, but I think it may be more realistic to narrow my goal to four passes instead of five. I’ll think about it over the next couple weeks – I really want to do five passes, but neither do I want to beat myself to death doing something that my body isn’t going to manage by July. We’ll see how it goes.
Next on the hit parade is the Davis Double Century, May 19. Stay tuned!