Dough Rollers

Dough Rollers
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Monday, October 6, 2014

King Ridge Highs and Lows

To my adoring populace, all two of you that read this pap, the King Ridge Gran Fondo is finally in the rear view mirror. A series of unfortunate events prevented ME from riding in 2012 and 2013, expounding the pomp and bluster about the "Epic-ness" and grandeur of this particular ride to a level that crowded out reason.

Training for this beast commenced in earnest around May, with intervals focusing on tempo and above. More River Hills repeats than should be legal. Fitness? Check.

This was a Dude trip. Challenge declined by the Ticket (#neveragain) but accepted by Ullrich, Ty, the Yeti and me. Given that the Ticket has punched this ride 3 times, his lack of attendance is completely understood. Even more clear after completing the ride, actually. Uneventful trip to Oakland via SWA (no charge for the Bike!) and Tetris Premium packing job got us on the road to Santa Rosa around 8pm Thursday night. Dinner in Petaluma at Hector's Pizza provided an opportunity to sample some unusual food combinations. Greek salad with green grapes and Kalamata olives. New olfactory experience #1! Tuscan Combination Pizza with ingredients that included pico de gallo and taco-flavored sausage. New Olfactory experience #2! Thanks Hector for reminding ME that California is Weirder than Austin! Drive from Petaluma to Santa Rosa was about thirty minutes of Ullrich rolling the window down just after exposing the car to New Olfactory experience #3. This one wasn't so good.

Checked into the world's most expensive Hilton on Thursday night. Bed was comfortable. For the price, the toilet paper should have been gold-gilded. It wasn't.

Friday morning breakfast at the Hotel. Gold-gilded again, but pretty tasty. Bike assembly/shakeout ride was fun. A little warmer than expected. Drivers in California are pretty crazy. Buzzed at 80mph by a crap-Camry. Felt like home.

Lunch at Riviera Ristorante was a highlight. Great pasta (gluten-free on request) hit the spot. With the shakeout behind us and pre-ride anxiety settling in, we decided to scout the climbs. Off we went on the KRGF course. Here are some pics for your entertainment.

 Smile fellas, it's about to get real!

An average grade on King Ridge

Dead Tree in background was alive until Ullrich rolled down the window....

Post-recon, the mood was a little somber. The enormity of the effort drove us to early bed. Starbucks for breakfast at 5:15am exposed us to some quirky Santa Rosa natives. One in particular shared a fascination with the Anniversary Blend. "Is it Medium?" "Is it Medium?" "Is it Medium?" and so on. OCD is a beeyotch. Before you have your first cup of java. As I prepped my daily joe, I noted this on the wall:


No wonder the poor guy was agitated. Starbucks is peddling carcinogenic coffee AND delectable but deadly scones. Only in California can inconclusive research lead to government-mandated, useless over-communication. I digress...

On to the ride. We assembled outside the Finley Center, ME and about 5,000 of my closest friends. The announcer entertained us with hyperbole. That dude must have the key to happiness. At every ride he calls, it's the best day ever! Every day better than the last! And who is riding today? BARRY BONDS! IT'S AMAZING PEOPLE! PUT YOUR HANDS TOGETHER FOR THE ALL-TIME HOME RUN LEADER*!!
you just can't make this stuff up...

Anyhoo, Barry may have hit 762 more bombs than ME, but he rode the Medio. We did the Gran. With no chemical assistance, for the record. OK, Finally. 

THE RIDE
First 10 miles we coasted. One bump at mile 12 started the stampede to the base of King Ridge. On that stretch we saw the TRG swarm pass us in a fury. Those guys alternate between full-bore hammering, and smelling the roses alongside Ferdinand. Kudos fellas! "TRG STOPPING!!"

First SUFFERING
At Mile 35, the King Ridge began to assert its gravitational dominance. One mile straight up, a break then another five/six miles of climbing so slow that my Garmin got bored and paused about 5 times. Oooof that was hard.

Screaming descent down to a metal bridge straight out of a Freddie Kruger movie got ME past what is considered to be the most dangerous part of the ride. Not long after I got thru there, a cyclist overcooked a turn, flying twenty feet to a sudden, unconscious stop. In all 3 riders were heliported to Hospital, 11 total cyclists broomwagoned to the infirmary. No fatalities. Break out the Silver Linings Playbook!

Mile 48 to Mile 53 were marked by prolonged suffering and rapid descent. My scary moment for the day arrived at Mile 53. Screaming downhill at 44mph on a country road meant for cows and pot farmers is not the place to meet an ONCOMING AMBULANCE. Brakes locked, gravel engaged, air attained. At this point the ride really should have ended for ME. Not sure how I DIDN'T go down. The force of my fat @$$ re-engaging the saddle both knocked  the chain off AND forced the saddle nose about 20 degrees toward the sky. Without a hex tool or a friend in sight, the next 4 miles to the lunch stop were a painful, slow slog. I counted myself blessed to be upright.

At the lunch stop, regrouping was the order of the day. The guys all made it to lunch in one piece, each with harrowing stories about other cyclists not so lucky. As the mechanic helped fix my saddle, at least 3 folks around me dealt with taco-ed carbon rims. It was hot out there, by the way. And getting hotter by the minute.

The bomb to PCH was spectacular, and a little hair raising. The smell of burning brake pads filled the air around ME, as the strategies of the day reduced to survival. The breeze off the Pacific was heavenly, and masked the heat about to rain down on Coleman Valley.

COLEMAN VALLEY 
Yea, though I walk [pedal] through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me (Psalm 23:4)

The first two miles of Coleman was brutal. 55rpms, heat that must have come straight from the furnace of Hell, and grades of 14%+, all 75 miles into the ride. This is why the Ticket said #neveragain. Todd, I get it. #neveragain.

The ride from Coleman into town was a challenge (Joy Road was named on opposite day), but as the barn grew closer, the desire to finish pushed the efforts a bit.

Finally finished, beer earned. Will I go back? #neveragain

POST-RIDE NOTES
Note 1 - Russian River Brewery stop for some Pliny the Elder resulted in a run-in with a fully inked fireplug who must be named Pliny the Asshole. "Make some room for the Table?" Kiss my double IPA dude.

Note 2 - When the German is hungry, don't make him wait.

Note 3 - When the Yeti has more than a whiff of post-ride beer, he goes off the rails.