Archive for August, 2008

The Clear

| August 28, 2008 1:19 am

by Guy Neenan

No doubt some cycling associates will be interested in the recent toning of physique and surge in cycling performance they’ve witnessed in me.  There is some caveat in the story of getting a prescription for betamethasone ointment and using it while maintaining an athletic lifestyle.  You must pay dues of searing muscle pain, infernal prickle, itch, and oozing disfigurement of the skin, appalling medical haste, baulking pharmacological service, and side-effects that include virtual sexual impotence.

In tangent is a story of de-rigging.  When you raft the Colorado River thru the Grand Canyon, you must “Rig to flip”.  My prescription followed a chain of events beginning with a calf injury that enabled me to do some sunbathing while my 15 rafting companions spent about two hours de-rigging our five rafts on the last day of our 16-days rafting and camping along 220 miles of that magic canyon.

“Rig to flip” means lashing or attaching everything on the four oarboat rafts and the paddling raft with friction buckle straps and carabineers.  Ammunition cans, drybags, food boxes, groover (toilet), six-gallon carboys of water, etc. must be lashed tightly to the frame of the raft.  Even the oars have retention lines.  Only paddles and people are untethered.  Flipping is a real thing.  Our captain, Ed King had three rafts overturn in the Crystal Rapids on his previous trip.  “It won’t happen again.” is his promise.  Each day begins with more than an hour loading the rafts and lashing everything.  Although this trip is sans flip, the list of items that need to be retrieved from the river includes one 5-gallon pail, one can of (floating) beer, a baggie of gorp, an oar, an ammo box, a frisbee (several times), several paddles, and six or seven people.  Yes, a can of beer will “float” on the Colorado River because of the viscosity and upwelling of the red slurry.  The Canyon is gorgeous for many miles.  “Gorge” means less than 100 ‘-wide, up to 100′-deep, and roiling with the energy of 15,000 cfs of silty red water.

I was lucky to be drafted to serve as boatman for the Captain.  I would ride the raft while Ed oared.  I’d help navigate, spot, signal, hand-up water, gorp, or a fuming cigar to him, spell him by oaring on flat stretches, and occasionally steer thru some of the easy riffles.  Often Captain King would command, “Tie-down that thing”.

One day I lapsed and failed to securely strap the ammo box carrying the “Kitchen Scrubs”.  This was a small 50 caliber ammo box containing handwashing, dishwashing, and chlorox solution.  It was indispensable at every lunch stop and camp.  It was very accessible on the deck, lashed with the can that carried our emergency satellite phone.

A large motorized commercial party boat attempted to pass us as the river bent around cliff of red Tapeats sandstone.  The party boats have 55-horse motors and up to 24 tourists who spend about 8 days on the river.  One to three motorized commercial parties would pass us each day.  The power boats usually give rafts plenty of time and adequate space when passing.  This time the commercial guide lapses.  He fails to realize the speed of the water, attempts to gun-past us on the left.  The soft-sided boat gets swept directly toward our left baffle.  He cuts the motor, rudders full left, shouts “Sorry”, and belts us like a giant bumper boat.  Ed and I brace and duck.  The little raft is punted down the river and the loose box of Kitchen Scrubs flops into the ruddy drink.

The little ammo boxes are perfect for boating.  They’re painted white.  They’ll bob on the water for a while.  “I got it”, shouts a party boatman.  With a little backing, he reaches into the river and retrieves our scrubs.  My lesson’s learned.  Now I’ll always rig to flip.

Actually it’s my inability to de-rig that has led to my enhanced cycling performance and lost sexual capability.  I suffered a pulled gastrocnemius (calf) muscle while derafting at the beach at the camp below Matkatamiba camp.  I was derigging when a companion, Ramon asked for my assistance.  Ramon’s on Chef team # 3.  Tonight, team 3 will prepare a meal for 16.  He’s our star grilling specialist by acclamation.  He’s a very strong paddler, a good singer-songwriter, and a mature attorney with a strong command tone in his voice.  He’s gathered several dinner items in his arms and cannot deraft at the moment because the bowline of his raft has slackened and the raft has drifted a little offbeach.  He’s in a hurry to prepare dinner, and doesn’t want to take the time to drop the goods and pull his raft to shore.  “Hey Guy, come over here and pull this boat to shore or your dinner will be a half hour late!”

With unthinking haste and excess energy, I take a hero’s leap from the baffle of my raft onto the beach.  I’ve miscalculated the landing.  The beach is inclined 45 degrees and I pivot over the ball of the left foot before the ankle is fully extended.  The searing pain is at the top rear of the calf.  I stagger to the raft, pull Ramon home, and begin to whimper and limp about camp.

Pam’s a nurse.  She’s right with me and prescribes cold water soaks, elevation, and ibuprofen; 800 milligrams every 4 hours.  We find a bottle of ibp in one of the medicine boxes and the dosing begins.  For the remaining seven days, I’ll be the poster child of the party.

The dream trip continues.  I miss the hike up Havasu Creek.  But I’m able to hobble-up Elve’s Chasm, swim, oar, paddle, cook, continue my functions as Groover Captain, and thoroughly enjoy the odyssey.  Sometimes I’ll ride the raft with my left foot inside a pail of 70 degree river water or lay on the deck with the left foot elevated on the side of a pail.  I leave the heavy lifting to my stalwart companions.  I’ve got a good reason to lounge-around on the beaches with one leg in a bucket of water and one foot in the sand while everyone’s rigging and derigging.  Every day I dose 2.4 grams of ibp.

Now if I’d been mobile on our last day of derigging, I would have joined my friends to unstrap everything, remove the frames from the rafts, deflate, and roll-up the rafts in preparation for loading all onto the trucks at our disembarkation at Diamond Creek landing.  But I’m still hobbled.  I feel it’s better for me to stay out-of-the-way of my busy companions, pull a paco pad aside, and finish tanning for my back and chest.  I have no idea that there’s a common side effect of ibp; sun-induced skin rash.  With final physical effort, I watch my friends load each 20 mm ammo can of solid human waste onto the tommy gate of the truck.  There’s one, two, three, five cans of solid product that I needn’t lift.  Probably 300 pounds of it.  The load of off.  The Groover Captain has retired.

I can’t wait to see my dermatologist.  You don’t want to know about that hideous purile eruption that began on my lower back.  Now a rash of vesicles has spread to my chest with a prickling itch that intensifies at night.  Serous yellow-tinted puss erupts from tiny ulcers at the tip of rosy-red bumps.  I google scabies.  I feel crawling on the skin.  I’m ready to incinerate the sleeping bag.

“You have a rash affecting the trunk.  That’s not the pattern of scabies. What medicines are you taking?” asks the Doctor.  “Ibuprofen, aspirin, and exercise supplements.”  She follows-up with aspirin and supplements, but doesn’t ask about ibp.  She diagnoses “unspecified dermatitis” and prescribes a “strong ointment”.  “If that doesn’t take care of it in 10 to 14 days, we’ll have to do a biopsy”.  OK, give me ointment, quell this rash now, I’m thinking.  I don’t care if we have to drill my body later.  I’m so miserable I’d consent to a lobotomy.

Later, I’m thinking.  It’s wonderful I’m not infested with ectoparasites and have a note for the clear.  Why was the doctor so interested in medicine side-effects?  I google “skin rash ibuprofen”.  Holy moly.  I’ve been taking 2.4 grams for 16 days now.

What’s flustrating is to wait on the pharmacy on Monday.  “We don’t stock this item.  We’ll order it and have it for you on Wednesday.  The cost will be $138 (for 2 ounces).  No, there’s no generic form.” I’m told.  I’m tough.  There’s a callous over my brain.  It’s been 8 days of hell already.  I’ve got some topical diphenhydramine gel to get bye.

On Tuesday I’m preparing to do the weekly Metcalf Mauler bicycle ride. My calf is still sore so I won’t really hammer up the hill.  I check my voicemail.   It’s the pharmacist. “This medicine is no longer manufactured.  We have no substitute.  Nothing works like this medicine.  It’s very unusual.  Your doctor will have to prescribe something else.”

Joan shows up for the Mauler ride.  She’s a DVM and knows about medicine.  We regroup at the eucalyptus grove and Jim mentions he’s got some prednisone medicine left-over from a treatment he had for raging poison oak.  “That’s for me!” I insist.  I explain my struggle to get the treatment for ibp toxicity.  My cycling associates are skeptical.  They think I’m just exaggerating to amuse them and begging for dope.  I unzip my jersey and show them the incontrovertible stigmata oozing from the chest.  Everyones’ appalled.  Joan exclaims, “Well that’s a common side-effect of ibp and other NSAID’s.  Tell your dermatologist you’ve got a sun-induced ibuprofen rash”.  Raft, leap, hurt, dose, sunbathe, itch, maul, and learn.  Thanks, Joan.

Wednesday, the doctor has straightened-out the pharmacist.  I pickup a tube of clear ointment containing 0.05% of the hard-to-get anabolic.  Let the healing begin.  And let my Mauler buddies be forewarned.  Soon the swelling will go down, the quads will appear blocky, the sprints snappy, and the homers more frequent.  But lest I be envied, google “side effects topical steroid”. Holy moly.  My voice is breaking.

Tour of Utah – 300 Warriors

| August 22, 2008 9:48 am

by Franz Kelsch

Last Saturday I finished, along with a limited group of 300 cyclists, stage 4 of the Tour of Utah, called the 300 Warriors. It was a great experience to ride a stage of a pro race on the same day when all the route signs were up (such as “KOM 5K”), and some of the people who had assembled early for the race cheering you on. Although the roads were not closed for us, we had a police escort for the first 15 miles.

We were the citizen riders so we started at 6 am on Saturday, 4 hours ahead of the professional riders. The 99 mile course started the 14,788 feet of climbing in Park City, Utah, traveled over to Midway, down Provo Canyon, then up over the Alpine Loop. We went down American Fork Canyon, over Suncrest to the Salt Lake Valley, took local roads over to Little Cottonwood Canyon, then the last big climb, up to Snowbird Ski Resort.

The 300 riders started in the dark. Even though it was August, it was cold, around 42 degrees. The route took us from Park City over a hilly course to Kamas then to Midway. After making one climb we had a very fast descent. It was too dark to see my speed, but when I checked my HRM later, it was 41 mph in the dark! I was hanging with the lead riders then, but the group was growing smaller with each climb. I stayed with them for about 25 miles. I was too far back in the peleton on a climb when I noticed a gap was opening up ahead of the riders in front of me. I made my way around the riders who were dropping off but I could not quite catch the leaders before they went over the crest. From that point I rode the course mostly sole, occasionally getting with one or two other riders for a few miles. After 33 miles I made it into Midway.

Ann drove SAG but I didn’t feel she needed to follow the course. After taking us to the ride start, she headed over to Midway where she was was waiting when I arrived. I made a very quick stop, just long enough to fill my water bottle and remove some of the clothes I had been wearing due to the cold temperatures at the start. Since we had been advise to not have the SAG’s try to go over the Alpine Loop, she then was able to head home for a short period then head over for the second meeting place at mile 70 on the route.

I was able to catch two other riders leaving Midway. Since we had 11 miles on highway 189, with a lot of traffic, I was hoping to ride with others to be more visible, but I eventually went ahead of the others. The ride from Midway to the start of the Alpine loop was more rollers. The climb up the Alpine loop (an ACTC Billy goat) took me 1:05. I was keeping my heart rate down to the mid 150’s, knowing we had a lot of climbing ahead. After reaching the summit, at over 8,000 feet, we had a fast descent down American Fork Canyon. We were being held up by some cars driving down and had to make our way around some of them when we had a clear view. A few miles after reaching the valley, I arrived at the second meeting place where Ann was waiting.

She filled my water bottles and handed me a PBJ sandwich, which I ate as I took off again.

I felt I had enough to finish from there and so she headed to the finish at Snowbird. I turned right up Suncrest and reached the summit in 31 minutes. It was then a steep downhill to the Salt Lake Valley. Once I reached Wasatch Blvd, it was the start of a lot of climbing as I made my way to Little Cottonwood Canyon.

From there it was a very difficult climb. The grade was a bit steeper than Metcalf, and it seemed to go forever.

Maybe it was the miles at speed on my legs, but I had to grind it out. It took me 1:15 to reach the finish.

I finished in 6:29, which was 30 minutes faster than my goal. The pro winner of the race came in at 4:15. Some other well know pros were Oscar Sevilla at 4:17, Tom Danielson at 4:19 and Tyler Hamilton at 4:27. Danny Pate, Will Frischkorn and Freddy Rodrigues did not make the time cut. I was happy I was able to complete the 98 miles and 14,778 feet of climbing under 6 and half hours.

After eating lunch, we headed back to the finish where Ann and I waited for the Pros to arrive and so we could take their photos.

High Sierras Tour June 2008

| August 16, 2008 7:22 pm

by Jerry Schonewille

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This ride grew out of an idea of joining Donnie’s 3-Day Ride to the Start of Sierra to the Sea and then doing “something” after that. That something turned out to be 1-week of riding self contained in the High Sierras. Originally the plan was for me, Ranger Rick, and Dick to do the tour beyond Bear Valley but in the end I ended up doing it solo. Rick had to drop out due to an early departure for his annual summer stay in New York. Dick had to return home from Bear Valley after learning of a family emergency.

Preliminary maps (which need to be updated) can be seen here.

Thu Jun 12: 44 mi, 250 ft

Donny’s group would start in San Jose and ride over Mt Hamilton to Patterson the first day and to Columbia the second day. We (Dick C, Paul M, and me) started from the Manteca ACE station instead.

I had taken the bus from Sacramento to Stockton the day before and rode my bike to Lathrop where I spent the night at the new Best Western. The next morning I rode to the DMV office in Manteca to renew my driver’s license. My appointment was at 9:00 AM. I arrived 8:50 and was out by 9:10. After returning to Lathrop and checking out of my motel I rode back to the Manteca ACE station to meet Dick and Paul who had taken the train from San Jose. We then rode about 30 flat miles to Oakdale and spent the night.

Fri Jun 13: 53 mi, 3000 ft

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Dick and Paul near Knights Ferry

Starting from Oakdale meant we had a much shorter ride to Columbia than the folks starting in Patterson. We got an early start anyway to beat the heat and anticipated getting to Columbia well before Donny’s group. Arriving early wouldn’t do Dick or Paul any good since their camping gear was in one of the sag vehicle accompanying the main group. I was riding self contained and had my camping stuff with me.

Just before Knights Ferry a solo rider heading the other way turned around and asked us where we were going. She was pleased to see us on back roads (River Rd) rather than busy Hwy 108. When we explained our plans she said it was possible to get to Jamestown from Knights Ferry on back roads avoiding Highway 108 on that stretch.

We got to Knights Ferry too early and the store was closed, so we went across the street to the fire station to get our water bottles and camelbacks refilled. I fired up my computer and analyzed the alternate route suggested by the local rider. We saw it would add about 10 miles but not much more climbing so we decided to go for it. I really enjoyed this Hwy 108 bypass. We saw no cars the first 10 miles. Eventually we got back on 108 just 3 miles short of Jamestown and hated it. This is a good route for future rides that start in Oakdale. I think the extra 10 miles would be too much for rides starting further upstream.

Columbia was hot – it was still in the 90’s at 8:00 PM that night. The next morning it had cooled to 62 degrees.

Sat Jun 14: 31 mi, 4900 ft

We had now joined up with Donnie’s group and I did my duty by driving one of the three SAG cars from Columbia to Murphy’s. That left us with a 40 mile ride with about 5000 ft of climbing from Murphy’s to Bear Valley.

I got a head start from Murphy’s but most everyone caught and passed me by the time I got to Arnolds for lunch at the Blue Coyote. This was a regroup point and everyone on the tour (about 45 riders) stayed until Russ and Sheila presented Donny with a thank you card and cash gift contributed by the riders.

This was my first ride up Hwy 4 and I didn’t particularly enjoy it, remembering a much nicer ride up Hwy 88 two years ago. There was some confusion at the final rest stop before Bear Valley and I was happy to offer my services to drive one of the sag cars to the end. By then most of the climbing had already been completed, and I was ready to call it a day.

The camping situation at Bear Valley was pretty dismal, made worse by thirsty mosquitoes and huge ants. I crawled into my tent after dinner to escape the buggers and fell asleep not long after. Packing up the next morning added another dozen or so skeeter bites.

Sun Jun 15: 28 mi, 2100 ft

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Jerry at Ebbetts Pass

Seven of us remained (Donny, Kim, Eric, Jeff, Holly, Jan, me) to ride on to Grover Hot Springs State Park near Markleeville. I offered to drive one of the two remaining SAG cars from Bear Valley to Hermit’s Valley. This would knock off about 12 miles but I would start riding at the same elevation as Bear Valley.

The character of Hwy 4 completely changed above Bear Valley. The centerline dissapeared and soon it became a winding mountain road about 1.5 lanes wide. There were some very steep sections, specially going down Pacific Grade. This was more like it and I was looking forward getting back on my bike.

I parked Donny’s van at Hermits Valley (one of the riders behind me would later drive it forward) and proceeded to climb the back side of Ebbets Pass – 1700 ft over 4 miles, an average of 8% grade. Normally this would be pretty difficult for me but the combination of perfect weather and spectacular scenery and no automobile traffic made this a very special and enjoyable ride. Also, it has been my experience in previous tours that I usually don’t get up to full strength until after 3 or 4 days. I think I had reached this point now – indeed, the next morning I stopped after leaving camp to make sure I had everything because my bike felt so light!

When I got to the top of Ebbetts Pass I found 4 other riders who offered me ice cold water from bottles they had previously stashed in snow banks that still remained even in June. Within 5 minutes the two sag vans arrived. I rode down to Markleeville seeing many riders climbing up, no doubt training for the upcoming Death Ride. We each rode down the mountain at our own pace and regrouped for a fine lunch and ice cream the deli in Markleeville. Then we rode mostly uphill to Grover Hot Springs State Park about 4 miles away. We were lucky to have reservations for site #24 which proved spacious and level and near restrooms/showers.

Later we all squeezed into Donny’s van and drove down the hill to Markleeville for dinner and then returned to camp for campfire, marshmallows and later, a game of cards.

I was the first to call it a night, having stayed up way past my usual bed time of dark.

Mon Jun 16: 42 mi, 2700 ft

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View from Luther Pass

Everyone except me went on a hike before returning home. From this point on I would be riding solo.

I said my goodbyes and rode down to Markleeville and then on to Woodfords for a breakfast sandwich. Then to South Lake Tahoe by way of Hope Valley and Luther Pass.

When I got to top of Luther Pass I saw 4 riders coming up on a dirt trail on road bikes. They told me there is an alternate route from where Hwy 89 splits from 88. I haven’t found this on any maps but they assured me it is a paved road (until the last ¼ mile) with lots of shade and no traffic. I’ll look for it next time.

I had initially planned to camp at Bliss State Park just north of Emerald Bay but decided to stay at Camp Richardson instead. This would put off some steep climbing around Emerald Bay until tomorrow plus give me more time to be a tourist. Also, Camp Richardson was close to town and made it easy to get beer and food. The camp was okay but pricey ($30 for up to 2 tents) and overrun by loud families. It was obvious that school was out and vacation season had begun.

Several campers came by to ask me about my trip. This would happen the next night too. It seems people are just more curious when you are traveling solo as opposed to traveling as part of a group.

Tue Jun 17: 49 mi, 1600 ft

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Emerald Bay

Had breakfast at the Cafe right at camp then rode north on Hwy 89 along the west (California) side of Lake Tahoe. I noticed studying the AAA map that doing a full ride around Lake Tahoe takes you through 5 different counties as well as two states.

My decision to stay at Camp Richardson rather than Bliss State Park proved to be the right choice. Riding around Emerald Bay was pretty special and I stopped at every lookout and information center along the way. Plus there were some pretty steep climbs – not a problem early in the day with fresh legs but not much fun at the end of a long day. There is one stretch on Hwy 89 that is scary, with Emerald Bay on the right and Cascade Lake to the left with no shoulder and sheer drop-off beyond the edge of the road on both sides. I’m sure riders who have ridden around the lake know the spot.

After Meeks Bay I saw a bike trail to the right and followed it. It proved to be bizarre, crossing Hwy 89 several times and just disappearing at times then re-appearing out of nowhere. I finally abandoned riding it. In Tahoe City I found the trail that leads along the Truckee River down to Squaw Valley and it was very nice.

I stopped at the American Bar in Truckee for a beer and to contemplate my next move. I was scheduled to spend the night at Donner Memorial State Park but frankly I was tired of my blood being sucked dry by mosquitoes and I decided to check out hotel options. Even mid-week there was nothing available for less than $120 (plus 10% tax) so I abandoned that idea. Went back to plan-A and ended up spending just $3 for a very fine hiker-biker site at Donner Memorial State Park (plus 50 cents for a 5-minute shower). No charge for yet more mosquito bites. I had the campground pretty much to myself. Very nice park, other than being close to Hwy 80 and traffic noise.

I carry quite a few battery powered electronic gadgets and am always on the lookout for power outlets to charge the batteries. There were none at Donner, not even in the restrooms. Still, I spent time surfing the internet inside my tent using my laptop computer and a new broadband modem from Verizon. I was still within the 30-day trial period for the modem and this trip convinced me to keep it. I can now get fast (DSL speed) internet connection anywhere where I can get a Verizon signal – which is just about everywhere. Many times it is faster than wifi. I’m definitely connected!

Wed Jun 18: 52 mi, 3100 ft

The plan today was to ride from Donner Lake to Sierra City and camp at the National Forest Wild Plum Campground. This would be my sixth consecutive day of camping but this time at a primitive site with no showers. I did not fancy yet another night of dealing with mosquitoes so I decided to check out motels before resigning to camping again.

The ride from Truckee to Sieraville along Hwy 89 was nice with light-to-moderate traffic that thinned the further I got away from Truckee. At Sierraville, which is basically the junction of Hwy 89 and 49, I turned west. Hwy 49 was great. It was pretty flat going west from Sierraville for about 4 miles until the Hwy 89 split. Then the climbing started leading to Yuba Pass– about 1700 ft over 6 miles so the overall grade was pretty gradual. By now the traffic had died to almost nothing other than occasional motorcycle tourist. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced more friendly waves and horn toots than on this section. Around here folks are very much into outdoor activities and the phrase “get off the road idiot” is not part of the local language.

After the summit is was 12 miles of sweet (30-35 mph, no brakes) downhill to Sierra City. This was fantastic riding, surrounded by pine forest and perfect warm weather the entire way. I missed not sharing this with my buddies Dick and Rick but at the same time I was very happy to be here doing what I enjoy so much.

I passed the turnoff to Wild Plum Campground and continued on to Buttes Resort in Sierra City about 1 mile downhill. I took the last remaining cabin (#10) without hesitation. It had a private patio overlooking the Yuba River and was secluded from the other dozen or so cabins. At $85 it was also the lowest priced cabin available. This place sells out even during mid-week. Sierra City is a great getaway location and everything is within short walking distance. No cell phone or internet coverage up here.

I had not eaten lunch today, snacking instead on trail mix and pop tarts and fruit. So I walked about 150 yards to the local market and got a sandwich that would also serve as dinner. Much later, about 8:00 PM, I walked across the street for a night-cap and met a woman who is a schoolteacher at Nevada City (my destination tomorrow) and for many years has a tradition of booking a 2-day stay at Buttes Resort immediately after the school term ends, just to unwind. She has tried all the cabins and now always books #9, reserving it eight months in advance. She, along with others, cautioned me about the terrible climbs facing me tomorrow but I assured everyone I’m up to it.

Thu Jun 19: 57 mi, 3600 ft

I had a fine breakfast at the same establishment that served me beer the night before, arriving promptly at the 8:00 AM opening and having the outdoor garden all to myself. Yes, even at 8:00 AM, sittng in the outdoor garden was delightfull.

Today’s ride would start with 25 miles of downhill, continuing the great 12 miles of downhill that ended yesterdays ride but now loosing 2500 ft in elevation over twice the distance. This is bicycling heaven and the weather could not have been more perfect. Light traffic and friendly waves from by passers continued.

Unfortunately, after nearly 40 miles of downhill over two days dropping about 5000 ft, there are now canyons to climb out of after each of three river crossings (different forks of the Yuba River). The first two are moderate with about 700 ft climbing at 5-6% each but the last is the most difficult with a climb of 1700 ft over 5 miles, much exposed directly to hot sun and automobile and truck traffic. It was getting hot and I pulled over several times when shade provided relief from the sun. Traffic increased noticeably but drivers continued to be courteous and respectful. All in all the climbing was about as I expected and I patiently plodded along knowing I would eventually reach my destination.

Once in Nevada City the climbing did not stop and actually got pretty steep in the residential streets as I looked for the Outside Inn. Interesting that homes and commercial buildings are interspersed on the same streets rather than residing in different zones. I found the Outside Inn, got their smallest room at $70 AAA rate, and called it a day. I was pretty much running on fumes at this point. The historic downtown core was just a quarter mile below my motel and I walked down after having sufficiently recovered from the day’s ride. A bit too commercial for my liking – I found Sierra City to be more genuine.

Fri Jun 20: 80 mi, 2400 ft

I faced the final day of this tour with still no plans on what to do afterward. I decided to stay three days in the Folsom area to unwind and figure out my next step. I got on Priceline and was able to get the Residence Inn in Arden, but this meant the last day would be about 75 miles of riding, the longest day of the trip. This did not concern me since I knew the last 35 miles (after Auburn) would be gradual downhill or flat.

I saw on the television news that temperatures were predicted to be over 100 degrees. I hit the road 7:30 AM and already the temperature was over 80. I found a great route by searching the internet that would get me from Nevada City to Auburn on back roads. Lots of rollers and a very enjoyable ride, much of it on a road called Dog Flat. I stopped in Auburn at 11:00 AM for breakfast. This was about half way into the ride and I had completed almost all the 2000 ft of climbing that would occur today. The last 35 miles, though downhill (the last 20 miles along the American River Bike Trail) proved difficult due to extreme heat. It was well over 100 degrees now and the water I kept drinking didn’t provide much relief as it too was at about the same temperature. Once I got off the bike trail and rode toward my hotel on city streets it really hit me just how hot it was. It was unbearable to stop at traffic lights and be hit with the heat radiating from the asphalt. I pulled over at a fast food place and must have gone through three 32-oz cold drinks. Air conditioned room and lots of ice water helped me recover when I reached my hotel, but I was still pretty wiped out.

Averaged 50 miles, 3000 feet of climbing per day. Can’t wait to get back to the Sierras. I’m already planning a tour to Yosemite and the Eastern Sierras for early September.

— jerry schonewille (aka vagabond jerry)

Utah Ulcer Century Ride

| August 9, 2008 3:21 pm

by Franz Kelsch

Franz and Ann finished the 111 mile Ulcer Century today.   This century is put on by the Bonneville Bicycle Club starting at Thanksgiving Point and going around Utah Lake.  It is a very big event with a lot of riders.  Unlike the Tierra Bella, it is rather flat but fast.  It has a team time trial option for those teams that want to compete.  The teams that were doing the team time trial went off at 7:20 AM and we left soon after that. Unlike last year, this year we saw a lot of riders go down. One rider was down at mile 5 as we passed by.

We initially stayed in a big pack and found it took a lot of concentration because some of the riders were less than experienced riding in a pace line than they should be for those 24 mph speeds we were going. One of the riders to the right of us hit a cone in the road when going through a round about and swerved to the right nearly going down and taking the rider to his right down too. It is a good thing that we left some extra distance and stayed on the side of the pack because at about mile 20, several riders went down at the front of the peleton we were in. We heard later that the front rider thought there was a right turn but then then suddenly corrected himself to go straight and someone touched a wheel.

We had enough of that so we decided to only pull, ride by ourselves or draft with a small group. We started to pass a lot of riders, including the teams and a large peloton formed behind us. We kept pulling for many miles until the rollers convinced us to slow the pace down and the riders went ahead. We saw a couple more riders who had gone down as we passed by. A bit scary.

Our first 62 miles was faster than last year, averaging over 22 mph hour up to the lunch stop. I think we went out too fast because we had to slow the pace after lunch, but still finished with a total time of 5:52, so we met our goal of doing it under 6 hours. We arrived at the finish line at 1:14 pm, compared with 1:37 pm last year. Ann had some cramping starting at around mile 70, but she kept working through it.

Franz’s average heart rate of 148 was significantly lower than last year;s 155, showing that Ann had really improved.

This table shows a comparision with last year.

Ulcer Century

Distance: 110 miles, Climb: 1,320 feet
Avg. Speed
Max HR
Avg HR
7:22 am
1:14 pm
7:26 am
1:37 pm

Deathride Ride Report – 2008

| August 5, 2008 6:56 pm

By John Pugliese

This past Saturday was the 2008 Deathride (, which is comprised of 129 miles and 15,000 ft of climbing over 5 passes.

Although I didn’t get a ticket until May, I had been doing a lot of climbing and distance rides with ACTC.  I was questioning the ride during my climbs up Jamison or Bohlman.  Fortunately, ACTC riders encouraged me and mentioned that the Deathride would not be as steep (grade).  The best advice that I received was from a colleague who said to get there by Wednesday to get acclimated. I was able to get there on Wednesday and rode this cool one-lane road called Upper Truckee, which was my type of ride.

I wanted to take it easy,  but during my ‘just a 40 mile ride’, I decided to ride around Lake Tahoe for 72 miles, this turned into 110 miles as I ended up going around the whole lake, then getting lost and going past Squaw Valley and north into Nevada. It turns out that was better preparation for me than the ‘tapering’ that people speak of.

Thursday I was able to register early, below is the Alpine County Chamber that was ground zero to the Deathride, welcoming the 3-4000 riders.

During this first Deathride of mine, I felt like a kid in a candy store.  There were cyclists from all over the state and country, The Deathride itself basically consisted of up and over Monitor, back up Monitor, up and over Ebbetts and back up Ebbets and up and back down Carson Pass. Flying downhill without cars was worth the price of admission by itself. I think this picture below is the climb back up Monitor

And below is the picture of where we are going.

Below is proof that I made pass #3 at the top of Ebbets:

I pulled over to take a photo at the return climb up Ebbet’s and saw the Rolling Bones guys go by. They pull a trailer that looks like a coffin with a skeleton in it holding a beer bottle for the Deathride.

Oh, at the start of the final climb, there is a traditional hose-off, typically due to the heat, but I didn’t participate and started to climb Carson, the final pass. I heard thunder shortly thereafter and hoped for no rain, but realized that there was mention of thunderstorms.

It didn’t rain, but within ten minutes I heard the crackle of thunder followed by HAILSTORM which accompanied me for FORTY minutes. I was in shorts with no jacket or gloves, getting pummeled. I had never ridden in heavy rain before and was now enduring the tap dancing of ice on my helmet.  Below is the picture from the top of Carson Pass, the peak of the 5th pass.  With numb hands and face I accepted my my celebratory ice cream and wore a garbage bag they gave me and tried to dry off.  Others were preparing to get picked up, but there was still a final descent off of Carson to make it official.

The top of Carson was a shanty town of riders and tents with riders trying to stay dry. Then applause erupted as the downpour stopped and the sun came out.

Finally, I was able to sign the 5-pass poster.

The Death Ride was a fun cycling event, due to the size, number of riders, challenge and speed range (5 to near 50 mph).    I had seen a few other ACTC members, other friends and many of the usual suspects of local areas (Alto Velo, etc.).  Riding with Don ‘Mad Dog’ Axtel, Patrice ‘Wonder Woman’ Carney and Mike ‘Hammerhead’ McGough provided excellent physical training, but the rest is psychological.  As Henry Ford said, ‘whether you think you can, or you can’t, you’re right.’