1998 > Terrible Two > Lisa and KenS's Report
(as related mostly by Team Captain Lisa, with editorial comments by Acting Drill Sergeant Ken)
After successfully completing the Davis Bike Club PBP Brevet Series with the 600 km on May 23/24, Team Bikeaholics focused its training in preparation of "... one of the most challenging and scenic double centuries in the country": THE TERRIBLE TWO. El Niño had prevented many of us (but, of course, not Craig) from riding as many hilly miles as the previous year, so the weeks prior to the "TT" were spent climbing every mountain in the lower SF peninsula. Tuesday and Thursday club rides were augmented by quick sprints up Kings Mt., Page Mill or Parker Ranch Rd. Weekends were spent hammering up and down Skyline numerous times. Some of us were truly in a state of panic (the Tales from the TT were enough to induce nightmares for weeks prior to the event). However, double century veteran KenH, Ubermench Craig, and UltraTriathleteMikeS, already with several feathers in their helmets, appeared disturbingly cool, calm and collected.
Early in the season, Team Captain Lisa was cornered by fellow Team members and FORCED AGAINST HER WILL to sign a TT registration form. (Craig didn't seem too worried about her backing out: backup plans included administration of drug-laced UltraFuel and forged signatures.) However, in order to make the best of a horribly dismal situation and hopefully avoid a dreaded DNF, Lisa made critical bike modifications to relieve hand stress, including the installation of a Time carbon fork (or, as KenS puts it, new "cutlery"), aerobars, Cool Stop brake pads, and extra handlebar tape. These modifications not only eased a case of severe tendonitis, but also greatly improved bike handling, thus nearly doubling her downhill times!
One final TT training session up Page Mill and over to Bonny Doon was conducted on the Sunday prior to the big event. Disturbingly, it seemed that there was a break in the usual El Niño storm pattern, and the temperatures crept upwards of 90 degrees as we sweated our way over to Big Basin. Reports of temperatures in the 100's in the Calistoga area induced all-out panic, as we had spent the previous 6 months training under cold, wet and windy conditions. Shorter rides were required during the early part of the week in an attempt to acquire some heat training; however, we were desperately praying for a cooling trend!
The essential food and drug items, including Gu, jellybeans, various & sundry "UltraBars", NoDoze, asthma inhalers, pain attenuators, and baggies of Spiz and UltraFuel were carefully packed into humongous gear bags, along with the mandatory Team Bikeaholics jersey and enough cycling apparel to survive several weeks under desert OR arctic conditions. Friday arrived and we forged our way through the Bay Area traffic to the Center of Terrible Two-ness in Santa Rosa. Inspired by triathlon stories from UltraTriathleteMikeS, various team members engaged in a pre-event tune-up by attempting to swim laps in a small motel pool. After observing Morale Officer KenS flailing around with the dog paddle and side stroke, Captain Lisa made a note of scheduling a Water Safety Course for all Team Members wishing to participate in their first Triathlon. The rest of the evening was spent laying out clothes and gear. Captain Lisa experienced a repeated nightmare in which she successfully completed the ride three times, only to awaken and find herself still in bed, with the "real" ride still ahead.
Finally the dreaded moment arrived, and Team Bikeaholics members Craig Robertson, Tom Lawrence, Ken Holloway, Mike Schiff, Ken Straub and Lisa Antonino lined up for the obligatory "before" Team Photos (yes, we had remembered to bring at least three cameras this time). We saw a few other familiar faces - the infamous Eric House (this time on some sort of a hybrid bike with fat tires and a hub generator), TNTer Tom Zaharis and even TT-meister Bill Oetinger. Lorna Toyota, Craig's cheerful wife, was also there as a support volunteer. We'd be seeing her big smile at the top of the Geysers and at the Monte Rio rest stop. At the Team meeting at Una Mas on Thursday, Tom asserted that we needed to do "something silly" to break up the seriousness of the ride. Suggestions included wearing batman capes, helmet propellers, and affixing stuffed animals to bike or helmets. However, Captain Lisa was the only one who showed up with such an item, a small furry Tigger. (One can only imagine what humiliation that led to.) At precisely 5:30, the gun sounded and 200+ UltraRiders raced off into the early dawn.
The morning temperature was cool and pleasant. It seemed we were fortunate to get a cooling trend after all! The first warm-up was through Bennett Valley and onto Trinity Grade, although after all of our early season intense hill training, it hardly seemed like a climb at all. Early on, Craig, KenH, MikeS and Tom disappeared into the mist, while Lisa and KenS held up the back of the second pack (getting through the 20+ traffic signals in Santa Rosa was a problem). Early in the climb, Tom Zaharis of Team TNT appeared from out of a private driveway (Editors note: hey Tom, just what were you DOING in that driveway??) and accompanied Captain Lisa to the summit. Tom indicated that other TNT members were supposedly present, including Bob McIntyre up at the front somewhere, Duane (who was not seen at the start), and RAAM Rider Jeff Bell. It seemed Morale Officer KenS had decided to do some "sight-seeing", and had dropped off the back to take pictures or visit museums, or something. The Starcruiser was not brought for this event and "CaptainKen" and "StokerLisa" were not strictly OBLIGATED to ride together. However, a loose verbal pact had been made to sort of "try" to stay together as much as possible, so Lisa patiently waited at the top of Trinity for Ken to saunter up, the telltale camera dangling around his neck.
We made a brief rest stop in Calistoga, quickly packing away seasoned potatoes and fruit and filling up energy bottles. Before Lisa had the chance to put the bottle back in the cage, Morale Officer KenS suddenly morphed into Drill Sergeant Ken, who proceeded to bark a shrill "LETS GO!!!" and accelerated off down the road. (Editors note: Drill Sergeant Ken had in fact been monitoring Team Bikeaholics' split times, comparing the numbers to last years times, and was starting to become extremely alarmed! He kept thinking of Bikeaholic Thomas Maslens famous dictum: Death Before DNF!, and decided at that point to use Whatever Means Are Necessary to keep the team moving). Before long, we made the turn that led up to the Geysers. The road was steep in places, about like Page Mill or Monte Bello, but nothing to worry about. The air temperature was pleasant and the valley was still shrouded in a misty fog. On the way up to the first Geyser summit, Lisa met Steve from Arcadia and engaged in pleasant conversation that helped to pass the time up to the second summit, where Lorna was waiting with the camera. Lorna wrote down our times and informed us when the rest of the Team had rolled through. She commented that TriathleteMikeS had an especially good time up to that point, but she predicted he would soon back off, probably because he was expecting to have to run 26 miles after the bike portion of the event. Rumors floated around that he had, in fact, swum up from the Bay Area earlier that morning.
The descent to Cloverdale was not too bad. Parts of the road were pretty beat up, but nothing unmanageable, and with the new carbon fork, the road felt smooth as glass. On the way down, we met Bill from San Diego County, who commented favorably on our webpage. We reached the lunch stop at Sonoma Dam at around 1:00. Up until this point, the day was going very well and appetites were up, as evidenced by the rapid disappearance of several turkey sandwiches. Drill Sergeant Ken had a look of total dumbfoundedness as Lisa efficiently packed away the calories, and after only 15 minutes picked up her bike and started to roll out without him.
The first part of Skaggs was not too steep, and with the extra calories starting to be absorbed, Captain Lisa was full of energy. Several riders jokingly commented about the stuffed Tigger affixed to the top of her aerobars as she sped up the hill. Several minutes later, Ken finally showed up and proceeded on ahead.
Then it HIT. The WALL. The WALL lasted for the REST OF THE RIDE. Skaggs got steeper and steeper, until all gears had run out. One of the biggest problems at this point was trying to keep the bike upright while still attempting to pedal forward. Captain Lisa began to get a glimpse of why this ride was called what it was, whereas before this point, she was sure without a doubt she'd be into the finish with a decent time. Revised calculations with later and later arrival times began to swarm her brain along with heat induced hallucinations. Steve caught up and tried to talk to the brain dead captain of Team Bikeaholics with very little response. When the first summit was reached and Ken was nowhere in sight, Lisa decided to continue on. At the last second, she spotted Ken in a lawn chair under the awning at the rest stop, chewing on ice and calling out, "MANDATORY ICE STOP!!!". He looked like he'd been there for hours, and two minutes later he barked out a familiar "LETS GO!!! A handful of jellybeans was rapidly consumed. It was about at this point that the demonic nature of the "forked" morphology of each and every climb on the ride became evident. The long descent before the second Skaggs climb was truly awesome in its beauty. The second climb was as gruesome and steep as the first, although the presence of the redwood trees, more northern coastal vegetation and a slight breeze was a pleasant relief. On the second descent, Lisa experience severe drowsiness that necessitated a two minute stop to take a NoDoze and several jellybeans. A short while later, she met Ken at the Camp Gualala rest stop, who was lounging in a lawn chair, munching on pretzels. Lisa checked in with the rest stop volunteers and proceeded to the food table to devour as much as possible in the allotted time. Two minutes later, Ken yelled, "LETS GO!!!", and took off.
The next climb out from Camp Gualala to the coast was even steeper than any of the previous ones. Thoughts of walking were annihilated by the reality of actually attempting the deed with Time cleats. Meditation and relaxation techniques were virtually useless. La Maze training was mildly successful in easing some of the burning muscular pain. Then, the alarms sounded. Heart monitors pegged off scale, beeping annoyingly and triggering an automatic 911 call. Unfortunately, there was no one around to here the alarms, and we briefly considered using Night Rider battery packs as an emergency defibrillator. Just when things seemed truly desperate, the grade evened out, and yet another climb was over.
The coolness of the off-shore ocean breeze revived us once we arrived at Stewart's Point, and we continued in a brisk paceline to the Fort Ross Rest Stop. TT Veteran Tom Zaharis had assured us that if we left Fort Ross by 7:00, we'd make it before the 10:00 cut off, so only a scant 2 minutes were allowed to gulp down a boiling hot cup-o-soup, two bites of a peanut butter sandwich and a few jellybeans before Drill Sergeant Ken sounded the now all-too-nagging "LETS GO!!!". Lisa then had to quickly bungey cord-strap the extra clothes and junk she'd shipped to the Fort Ross Rest Stop onto her aerobars. (Editors note: extra clothes??? more like entire alternate wardrobe + camping gear! Ive never seen so much stuff piled onto a road bike!). Shortly after departure, while negotiating a particularly treacherous uphill cattle guard, the Cateye light popped loose and fell to the ground. An impatient Drill Sergeant Ken glared at Lisa and shouted an annoyed JUST STICK IT IN YOUR POCKET--- LETS GO!!!" and disappeared, not to be seen for the remainder of the ride. (Editors note: NOT TRUE! "Advance Scout" Ken was only about a minute ahead, scouting the route, making sure the course was clearly marked and free of obstacles, etc.).
Feeling extremely miserable, Lisa contemplated pulling off the side of the road, crawling under something and having a good cry. In fact, her lower lip began to quiver, but nothing seemed to come out of her eyes. Drawing on what little inner strength was left, she began to chant, "I CAN DO THIS! (pause ... huff! ... gasp! ... sigh!) I WILL DO THIS!". The climb was painstakingly slow, to say the least, but eventually, and without stopping, the exhausted, spent, Team Captain made it to the top of the second summit. It was getting colder and darker, but neither tights nor lights were required at this point.
The remaining distance to Monte Rio was a breeze, and she arrived at 8:54 - well within the course closure time of 10:00 pm. Lorna was there with the camera, smiling and with words of encouragement, and assisted in getting the helmet mount Night Rider all hooked up with the battery pack in the Camelbak netting. One tube of Gu and several jellybeans later, Lisa was ready to go. It was a relief not to have to endure the Drill Sergeant's cackle at this point. Ken, according to Lorna, had taken off just a few minutes earlier in an attempt to complete the ride with an official before-10:00 pm finish. (Editors note: Advance Scout Ken made it in at 9:54, a near-death experience!).
With a 9:00 pm departure from Monte Rio, Lisa knew she wouldn't be able to make the 17 miles before 10:00. However, with the anticipation of actually FINISHING the ride, the exact finish time no longer mattered, and she focused on enjoying the remainder of the ride in the serenity of the night. The helmet mounted headlamp functioned especially well, as the side of the road could be scanned for TT markers and the light could be aimed at oncoming motorists. (She also had fun playing "train headlight" at one point.) There were more hills on the Bohemian Highway than last remembered from a couple of bike touring trips in previous years. Perhaps the previous 190 miles and the darkness had something to do with this illusion. At one point, a small squirming rodent was spotted with the helmet light.
About 7 miles from the end, a lightless rider was spotted on the side of the road. It was Jolene, as was later found out, and with whom Lisa had played catch and pass for about half of the ride. She had drafted Lisa from Cazadero Rd. to Monte Rio, and left the final rest stop a couple minutes before. They rode together for the rest of the ride, slowly so as not to get separated and to see all the obstacles in the road, and also just to talk. At this point in the ride, she found it was truly fun to have a lighthearted conversation with another female rider. They talked about the previous double centuries and other Ultra rides they'd done over the past couple years and rolled in together with an official ending time of 10:33 pm.
The rest of Team Bikeaholics was waiting at the finish line! (Because of the late finish, most of the other riders had since eaten up most of the food and gone on home.) After the proper words of congratulations, Team Captain Lisa was ushered to the Jersey table to buy the coveted clothing item. Coming to the realization that she'd not eaten anything substantial since lunch, she remarked that she was "absolutely starving". Seconds later, UltraTriathleteMikeS appeared with a heaping plate of pasta and bread.! It was very well received!
SummaryDon't do this ride unless you absolutely have to! If you are forced to do the ride once and actually make it through alive, don't even think of doing it again!