Tierra Bella Worker’s Ride 200K Plus

| April 11, 2009 8:22 pm

by Vince Cummings

I decided to make the Worker’s Ride my big training ride prior to  doing the Davis Double in one month.  I knew I needed to get an early start so I could have time for breaks and still finish 140 miles or so before the barbeque ended.  So I decided to start near Bernal Ave. at 4:00 am and ride to Los Animas Park to meet whoever was planning on doing the 200K route.

The alarm went off at 2:25 am.  I did have enough time for a cup of coffee and some breakfast and to put the air in my tires etc.  At 3:40 it was time to drive to Santa Teresa.  I got to Chantilly and Santa Teresa at 3:50 which gave me some time to put the bike together and lock up the car.  I was riding at exactly 4:00 am.

I had my ipod and a new light so I wasn’t too bad off for the 20 mile ride in the dark to the park.  Only one car passed me going south for the whole ride.  I was even able to ride away from the bike lane in the road to avoid all the flat tire causers that pile up in bike lanes near busy streets.  I thought I was moving pretty slowly but when I got to the park and checked my average speed it was 16.1 which surprised me since I was going more slowly than I would have in the daylight so I didn’t run into a skunk or something.

I haven’t been to Los Animas Park for a few years so I forgot where the parking area was and had to ride around the lawn of the park a few times before I saw a couple cars with racks on them.  John and Clyde were almost ready to go at 5:20 when I got there. It wasn’t that cold where I parked my car but by the time I got to Gilroy it was quite chilly and my feet hurt.  As I stood there talking to John and Clyde I noticed that I was starting to shiver as well. I was mighty happy when 5:40 rolled around and we were ready to take off.  At that point the ride leader pulled up but we were just too cold to sign in so we let Brian and John get ready and the four of us took off.

John, Clyde and a woman whose name I’m sorry to say  I was too preoccupied with the cold weather to ask for took off for the official ride start which is at Gavilan College.  Clyde knew some pretty cool back ways to the college which made for some fun night riding.  Once we hit the real route though I was in a hurry to get some miles in so I took off up the first hill.  The unknown lady kept up with me while John and Clyde hung back and saved some energy.

Once we hit Highway 152 I had an emergency that needed to be taken care of so I went ahead.  The emergency took about 20 minutes to take care of but I felt much better after.  For some reason my average speed was now down to 15.3 which is a little confusing.  I guess riding around the park and going a little slower with John and Clyde took eight tenths of a mile off.

Once I got back on Watsonville Road I felt a little sluggish.  So I had to push my heart rate to plus/minus 150 just to keep a decent pace.  Near Uvas Dam my speed started to pick up and I soon caught the three riders I originally started with.  My plan was to ride the 6 mile round trip off the 200K route to my car to eat some breakfast and take off the warm clothes I wore for the chilly morning.  I explained this to the other riders and pushed on to Bailey.  By the time I got to Santa Teresa I was banging out a decent pace.

It was  about 8:00 am and my odometer said I had ridden 51.7 miles. I didn’t feel at all guilty as I munched down an entire 1100 calorie Baja Fresh Shrimp Burrito. I knew I would need those 1100 calories for the next 100 miles.  I was finished with breakfast and changing clothes and ready to roll at 8:30 am.  My ipod was blasting the Stones and I was banging out a really good pace, still flirting with a 150 heart rate. I covered the miles on Santa Teresa to Morgan Hill much faster in the daylight than I had earlier in the dark.

The half hour breakfast break had a very nice unintended benefit in that the Anderson Rest Stop was just opening up when I got there.  I was able to stuff some food in and talked to Holly and Jeff for awhile.  The food was good and I ate quite a bit even though I had just had the big burrito.

Once again I took off and my pace continued to be satisfactory.  I hit Thomas Grade and my climbing legs were not great though.  On a scale of 1 to 10 I would say I was climbing at about a 5.5.   Henry Coe was a longer version of Thomas Grade and I struggled to push the 34/21 that I usually climb Henry Coe in.  Time wise my climb was good  but I think it took a lot out of me that I would pay for much later in the ride.

The flowers are just amazing after the late rains we had this year.  Everywhere along the route were fields of Calfornia poppies and purple flowers that I think are mostly lupine.  That is one thing that makes the Tierra Bella such a popular ride I’m sure.

I saw Rick McCaw coming down Henry Coe.  Then I saw Deb and Deb but they were focusing on the cattle grate and didn’t see me and flew on down the hill.  When I got to the headquarters Patrice, Peggy and Chuck Shultz were getting ready to leave.  It was so cold up there that I quickly decided to do the same.  The hills that interrupt the descent of Henry Coe were a welcome sight as it gave a break to the cold downhill.

I got back on the flats, heading south, and my speed picked up with the wind at my back.  At the next rest stop were Deb and Deb, Clyde and John and many others.  My average speed for the whole ride was 15.3 (riding time) with about 55 miles left to ride.

Shortly after turning left on Dryden I saw Chuck taking off his windbreaker.  He caught and passed me and I got on his wheel for a quarter mile, the only wheel I sucked all day.   Chuck and I hit the Leavsley climb together and my trip miles hit 100 miles for the day. Chuck was trying to catch the woman he was riding with so he was keeping a good pace.  I was glad when we finally caught her near the intersection with Roop because he slowed and so did I.  I didn’t slow much though as I was able to actually pick my average speed up from 15.3 to 15.4 from the rest stop to the end of the Canada Loop.  The flowers were amazing on the loop especially near the last summit.

Once the loop was done the party was pretty much over for awhile.  It was time to head into the wind for about 25 miles and I was feeling the thrashing that I had given my legs on Henry Coe.  Now the ride got hard for me.  I took a break at Mercado School to eat a cliff bar but it didn’t go down very well.  I was getting a little frustrated when I turned on Oak Glen and was barely able to maintain 15 mph on a section that I usually hit 20 mph on.

Where Oak Glen turned on to Uvas I made a call to Deb who I didn’t  think would still be waiting at the park.  At this point I could have gone right on McKean and called it a ride since it was about 15 miles back to my car from there.  My phone had no reception though so I decided to head to the barbeque.

Now I was heading south (I think) but the wind was still in my face.  The ride around Uvas lake wasn’t that much fun.  Once I got past the lake it wasn’t too bad though and I made fairly good time to Chitkat Park.  Now I had cell reception and Deb was still at the park,
patiently waiting.  The food was good at the barbeque although I couldn’t stay long since the ride had taken much longer than I thought it would and Deb was running out of patience. So we packed up the bike and headed out.

Final stats were 150 miles in 9:23 and a 15.6 mph average.

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