2002 > Winter Solstice Double Century > Craig's Report

2002 WSDC: Not Quite as
Cancelled as Advertised

Despite the official cancellation, a few intrepid (deranged) souls decided that, rain or not, they were going to do the ride. Backed up by SAG driver Thomas, riders KenH, Ish Makk, Graham Pollock, TandemRonLavalle, and myself departed from Ken's house at about 5:15 on Sunday morning.

I had planned to ride the tandem with Bill, but the more severe rain that shows up in Rio Nido required him to stay home. The night before I tried to beg off doing the ride, but Thomas told me that I, of all people, couldn't bail. To do so, I had to get a bike ready to go. Interrupted by a power outage, I had to set up my newer (non-broken) Merlin. I had to put tires on the wheels, change the rear wheel to 10 speed from 9 speed, rig lights, and hope that the newly re-installed rear shifter worked. I hadn't ridden the bike since early October. I think I finally got to bed about 11:00 prior to a 3:40 wakeup alarm.

It didn't take long after the start to get wet. It was drizzling, the wind was blowing in our faces, and the roads were damp. We wandered the first few miles through residential neighborhoods, and then entered the higher priced neighborhoods in Saratoga, before emerging onto Saratoga-Los Gatos. The signal lights in Los Gatos were out as it seemed PG&E hadn't been able to get the power back on yet.

On the climb up Kennedy, there was some assorted debris and one corner that was full of mud, gravel, and debris. Fortunately the descent on the back side was clean. We continued out on Almaden but just short of reaching McKean, we lost Ron and Lavalle. Thomas went back with the truck and helped them fix a flat, while the rest of us continued out to the reservoirs.

Graham had been using KenH's post Furnace Creek training program (12 ounce deadlifts and finger exercises on the TV remote) so we were spared the usual suffering experience when Graham gets to the front of the pack. In fact, I noticed that he was avoiding the front, but Ish seemed happy to spend long periods up there.

Other than some intermittent drizzle and a bit of a headwind, things were not that bad on the way to the first rest stop. Once it got light, the pace picked up to something more reasonable. The rest stop was moved to the gas station on the south side of town as there were indoor bathrooms. With only a few riders, we weren't going to overwhelm the facility.

On the way south from Gilroy, the wind showed up at full force. We were now facing a 20 mph+ headwind that we were going to see until we turned around. We met up with Thomas when we returned to Hwy 25 about halfway on this leg. He told us that the tandem was 45 to 50 minutes back of us.

By this point Graham was showing the results of his training program and was struggling to stay on. Being merciless, we would pull him back up and make him ride with us. No letting him ride into the wind by himself, we made him draft us.

As we got closer to the turnaround, the rain increased so that we were pretty much soaked when we got to the Pinnacles. We hadn't seen Thomas in a while and I was discussing our options with Ken (turn around and ride back toward Gilroy until we see Thomas?) but about a mile from the store, the RAV4 with Thomas showed up and almost all was well.

Thomas never did see the tandem. They had turned around at about mile 65, and returned to Ken's. We didn't know the details at the time, so we continued to worry about where they were until we got back to the start. They were thoughtful enough to leave phone messages at Ken's so when we got finished, we knew what had happened and didn't have to spend the evening chasing them.

By the time we got to the Pinnacles, Graham was cooked (and cold). We ate sandwiches, filled our bottles and tried to convince Graham to go with us so that we could torture him further, but he decided hanging out with Thomas was preferable. Ken and I were particularly keen to inflict suffering upon him to make up for the punishment we've absorbed trying to stay with him.

The ride back to Gilroy was a big improvement. The wind that slowed us on the way out was pushing us on the way back. By the time we got back to Hwy 25, we were rolling along at 25-27 mph. We were getting some payback for all the work earlier in the day.

At another long stop at the gas station in Gilroy we harassed Graham and speculated about the location of the tandem. After putting the lights on we headed out. 5 miles later on Burchell, Ish and Ken both flatted at the same spot. Ish had picked up a goathead and Ken was playing with beer bottles. Ish's repair was typical, but Ken had apparently been experimenting with making his tube a permanent part of the tire. I helped him remove the tube (it took two people to pry the flat tube out of the tire) I was afraid at times that we were going to tear the tube removing it from the tire casing.

By the time we got back moving it was getting late. Further along Uvas it got dark and when we got to Almaden it was fully so. The tailwind was still with us so the trip after the flat tire had been quite rapid. After seeing the debris that morning on Kennedy, we were catious on the descent of Shannon, expecting to see the same, but all was well (other than the road being wet)

As we entered Los Gatos, the rain picked up. We climbed out of Los Gatos and then turned on Quito. In the combination of rain (now getting heavier) and car traffic, it was a bit hard to see the white line on the road. Ken then got a flat in his rear tire to make it a complete job, so we borrowed a driveway to fix the flat in the rain and darkness. From there it was 7 miles back to Ken's.

At that point I was ready to finish and set a brisk pace (slowed by a few traffic lights) back to Ken's. We got to finish around 7:00 P.M. I had a total distance of 198 miles, the riding time was a hair under 12 hours, and the elapsed time was slightly more than 13:45.

Thomas and Graham were there at the finish and had retrieved Ron and LaValle's phone messages. They had warm food waiting for us. We were really dirty. I hosed off both the bike, which looked like it was growing bark, and myself, before putting the bike in my vehicle and letting myself into Ken's. I left my shoes and socks outside to minimize the debris I would be tracking into the house. After a shower, some hot food, and a large piece of chocolate cake, I felt well enough to eventually head home.

All in all it was an interesting experience. We had a good time. It was a little slow for several reasons (rain, wind, flats, and general putzing around) but I don't remember doing any more suffering than on any other WSDC. The rain wasn't that cold and if you'd keep moving you'd stay warm.

Three of us now have bragging rights for doing the 2002 Winter Solstice Double. The rest of you have to wait until 2003 (January) and it still might rain. KenH has now tied KenS with 5 WSDC completions and Ish has joined the ranks. Graham owes me a few more miles. We also demonstrated that one can ride the WSDC in bad weather. This would be an issue if the event were more formal because then we would not have the current schedule flexibility.

Much thanks to Thomas who helped make the whole expedition reasonable [This is a use of the word "reasonable" with which I am unfamiliar - dpb] . It was nice to see a familiar vehicle when we'd approach the stops. Graham sure liked having SAG support. Hope everyone else had some fun this weekend.


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