Centuries & such:
2002 Knoxville Double Century Ride Report
(Saturday, September 22 in Vacaville, CA.)
(Click here for my photo album from this ride)
This was to be my third double century for 2002, and, if successful,
completion of my second California
Triple Crown. I was much more relaxed about the ride this year than last year, as I'd already completed the triple
crown once before, plus I knew what to expect from this pretty demanding
Before the ride:
I took a short day at work on Friday, and headed up to pick up my friend
Kristin in Berkeley at around 2:30. Traffic wasn't too terribly bad getting
there, but the drive from Berkeley to Vacaville was pretty darned slow. We
passed the time talking about various bike rides, and I jabbered on endlessly
about how much I enjoyed this ride last year (and how difficult I found it!).
After a couple of hours, we finally passed through Fairfield, and went to the
ride pre-registration at Pena Adobe Park, just west of Vacaville. We checked
in without incident, got our goodies (including a really excellent T-shirt),
and went to the Best Western in Vacaville. On the clerk's recommendation, we
went to a little Italian cafe buried in the myriad strip malls that comprise
Vacaville, and had a pretty tasty pasta dinner. Kristin's friend Pat arrived
at the hotel at 8'ish, and after spending a little while getting our stuff in
order, we set the alarm for 3:30, and retired.
The hotel alarm clock was about as un-relaxing of a wake-up call as we could
have imagined, and after cursing at it for a few, we blearily got ourselves
ready and hit the road. We got to Pena Adobe quickly enough, and after a
little fussing about, were cycling by 4:30, 20min earlier than I'd started
last year. It was 73° when I parked at Pena Adobe at 4:10am, which
forecast an extremely warm day! I was wearing a windbreaker and carrying leg
warmers "just in case" - both would prove quite unnecessary.
Pena Adobe Park to Napa Ecological Preserve (36.5mi, 2h 24m):
Kristin, Pat, & I rode out, and soon caught a group of other riders. We
pacelined along at a very moderate pace towards and through Fairfield, not
wanting to go too terribly fast in the dark. We soon started climbing Mt.
George and Pat poured on the gas. That woman is fast! After about
20sec of hanging on her wheel, I gave up and let her go up the road. This
would be the last I would see of her on this ride. It was a lovely climb up
Mt. George, with a bright full moon, and no sounds to speak of other than
Kristin and I. It was starting to get even warmer, so I pulled off and
removed my windbreaker. Mt. George is an easy climb, and the sun rose as I
summitted, then descended Mt. George behind Chuck Bramwell (the organizer of
the California Triple Crown) and his friend. We zigged and zagged on a couple
of Napa side streets, then caught the Silverado Trail. A pair of tandems
passsed, I hopped on their tail, and we cooked along at around 25mph until we
arrived at rest stop #1 at
the Napa Valley Ecological Preserve (36.5mi).
Napa Ecological Preserve to Lake Berryessa (34.3mi, 2h 56m):
One of the SAG vehicles was blaring "Brown Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison - nice!
They had a good selection of muffins and the like. This was a gear drop-off
stop, so I ditched my windbreaker and leg warmers, sending them ahead to rest
stop #5. I ate a bit, refilled my
various liquid foodstuffs, and stretched for a while. Kristin arrived soon
after I did, and we soon prepared to leave, when
Berit arrived. We chatted
briefly with her, then went on our merry way.
The course went along some gorgeous side roads for a little ways before
rejoining the Silverado Trail. I pulled Kirstin and another woman along for a
good ways here, as the road is exactly to my liking - relatively straight,
relatively flat, and well-paved! The easy roads weren't long to last,
however, and we soon turned off on Howell Mtn. Rd. The climb up Howell
Mountain is long'ish, but not particularly steep, and the scenery is fantastic
as one climbs above Napa Valley. Kristin and I eventually crested Howell
Mountain, and enjoyed the fast, somewhat technical descent. Alas, a car soon
got in my way, impeding my speed, although it wasn't going all that much
slower than I'd have gone anyways. I hit around 45mph - wheee! The
organizers' admonitions to take extra care on this descent are perhaps
overstated, but should be heeded nonetheless - a crash on this road could be
quite serious! Once we were off of the mountain, we continued on lovely Pope
Valley and Pope
Canyon roads, past many vineyards, and finally,
alongside Lake Berryessa to rest stop #2 (70.8mi).
Lake Berryessa to Knoxville Rd. water stop (23mi, 2h 24m):
We spent a little bit of time at this stop, again refilling our
bottles with Spiz, and I used my last bag of Accelerade, glad to be rid of the
plastic baggies in at least one of my jersey pockets. Kristin was very happy
that they provided Sustained Energy, E-Caps, and other non-food nourishment ;-)
I contented myself with a bagel, and more muffin pieces. After a little
longer than I'd have preferred, we hit the road.
I knew the next leg, 37 miles of more-or-less climbing, would take us a long
while, and so took it easy for the first 10+ miles while the going was easy.
This early part of Knoxville Rd. is lovely, going alongside Lake Berryessa. It
was starting to get genuinely hot, but the views made for a fine distraction.
Knoxville Rd. is one of the most remote roads I've ever travelled. One goes
for miles and miles and miles without seeing a single sign of human existence
other than the road itself and the occassional passing car. As the road went
upward, the temperature rose. Near the (geological) top of Knoxville Rd.,
the temperature was later estimated to be around 105°, and it sure felt
like it! I found the climbing a good deal easier than last year, but the heat
was definitely making me work for it. After the true "summit," we tackled one
final push to a very
welcome water stop. This was a rather exposed climb, but mercifully short.
We arrived, tired and really quite overheated, at the rest stop, glad to be
off of our steeds, if only for a few minutes.
Knoxville Rd. water stop to Lower Lake (14mi, 1h 19m):
This was a water stop only, but we stayed a few anyways, enjoying the shade,
and filling our bottles with nice, cool water. What was left in our bottles
when we rolled in (which wasn't much) was quite warm - yuk! As we cooled off,
my friend Felix pulled in
for his account of this ride), and, true to form, was soon on his way.
Kristin's friend Wendy also arrived, then left, as we prepared to leave
The heat must've been getting to Kristin, as she rode off without her helmet
and didn't realize it until a quarter mile later! There was a bit more
extremely hot climbing on Knoxville Rd., and then a sweet, but short-feeling
descent. I hit 49.3mph, 0.7mph slower than last year. This is a super fun
downhill, with good visibility and sweeping turns. I'd forgotten from last
year that the posted speeds on the curves are very conservative - maybe I'll
remember next year and do it no-brakes :) There was a bit more climbing in
the baking sun followed by a short descent into the town of Lower Lake, and a
quick jog on a side road to the lunch stop at Lower Lake County Park (107.8mi).
Lower Lake to Genuoc Winery (25.4mi, 2h 21m):
Felix was pulling out right as Kristin and I arrived. Wendy and her friend had
arrived well before us. Unfortunately they were out of their famous tuna
salad, which I'd enjoyed last year, as well as V8, so I settled for a turkey
sandwich, some chips, and cans of iced tea and soda. There was plenty of shady seating, which was most
appreciated! Kristin was cramping a little, and went to take advantage of the
free massages being offered. After about 20min, I was ready to leave, but
Kristin wanted to stay a bit longer. She said I should just go on ahead, so I
did after refilling my bottles with ice water.
It was cooler than it had been on Knoxville Rd., but not by much, still in the
high 90s, as I headed out along Morgan Valley Rd. The next 30-some-odd miles
of the ride is the same as the Davis Double, but in reverse (I prefer it this
way to the way Davis does it). I soon turned off on Siegler Canyon Rd., a
lovely, but sun-baked road. I saw very few riders on the road, nor much of
anything else alive. My iced water was already warm by this point, just a few
miles past lunch! I rode alone for a while before turning onto Big Canyon Rd.
There was much more shade here, and I saw a number of other cyclists sitting
in the shade under trees, and one lying down on the side of the road,
spread-eagled! I rode past the place where my seatpost broke on this year's Davis Double, and soon was at the top of
Big Canyon. I'd forgotten how short this climb is, and I was happy to start
down the long, gradual descent towards Middletown. The road surfacing is
pretty awful on Big Canyon Rd., but in this weather, it sure beat climbing!
After some small rolling hills, I arrived in Middletown. I thought about
stopping at a store to get some water, as I didn't have a great deal left, but
there weren't any other cyclists around, and I didn't want to leave my bike
unattended, plus it was only 6 miles to the next rest stop, so I continued
onwards on Butts Canyon Rd. This, too, is a lovely road, going by some
vineyards, and Detert
Lake. Soon enough I climbed a half mile gravel driveway and was at rest
stop #4 at the Guenoc Winery (133.2mi). As I pulled in, Felix was again
leaving, never to be seen again.
Guenoc Winery to Old Lakeside Market (32.4mi, 2h 56m):
The rest area at the winery was wonderfully shaded, and I stayed a little
while, enjoying a cold soda and a peanut butter sandwich. I stretched and
waited a bit to see if Kristin was going to pull in. With an hour left until
the rest stop closed, I scribbled her a note on the side of the check-in sheet
and hit the road.
I continued along Butts Canyon Rd. for another dozen or so miles, and rode for
a while with two nice fellows, Steve and Russ (I think), from the Tri-City
Triathlon Club, with whom Felix rides. We rode through Pope Valley, past Hubcap Heaven,
retracing for one mile the morning's route, enjoying the nice scenery and
many, many vineyards. There was a water stop at the intersection of Pope
Valley and Lower Chiles Valley, and I stopped for a minute to get some cool
water, as it was still quite warm. While stopped, my bike computer somehow
reset itself - hmmph. There was a bit of a climb up to Hwy 128, nothing
difficult, but Steve and Russ went up it faster than I cared to, so I hung
back, not feeling any need for a large (or even medium-sized) effort for the
time being. The ride along Hwy 128 to the 5th rest stop is pleasant enough,
on a well-surfaced road, which was a nice change from the previous 60 miles!
There was more auto traffic, but only relative to the very small amount that
we had previously. It seemed to take a really long time, but eventually I
arrived at the Old Lakeside Market (165.6mi).
Old Lakeside Market to Pardesha Store (16.2mi, 1h 44m):
This was a gear pick-up stop, and I reluctantly took my windbreaker and leg
warmers, knowing they wouldn't get used. At 9pm the previous night it was
still around 80° in Vacaville! I had a hot dog, V8, and some other
munchies here, stretched, and stayed here a little while, hoping
Kristin would arrive, but decided to ride on as it was getting dark. I left a
final note on the checkin sheet saying I'd meet her at the end. I was pretty
sure she'd finish unless she was dragged off of the course, as she's a
The ride requires riders to ride in groups after dark, a sensible enough
policy, and I rode with a nice fellow from Salem, Oregon. We continued on
Hwy. 128, over the easy side of Cardiac Hill (which felt really easy this year
- training really helps!). Its a good thing the road is nicely paved here, as
neither of our lights were super-bright. Knowing that the road is in good
condition, I went pretty fast on the downhills. When I later looked at my bike
computer, I found I'd hit 43mph somewhere on Hwy 128 in the dark! My riding
partner was having a tougher go of it than was I, and I tried to be
encouraging, but probably wound up just annoying him by being chipper ;) It
seemed to take longer than it should have, but we eventually arrived at the
Pardesha Store (181.8mi).
Pardesha Store to Pena Adobe Park (13.4mi, 1h 38m):
There were a handful of other riders at this stop. The staff were very
friendly, and we talked a bunch, while I ate a cup-o-potato-soup, drank some
V8, and generally consumed whatever else they had handy. I was still feeling
pretty good other than a sore bum, but my Orgeonian riding partner wanted to
stay a while, so I relaxed and did some longer stretches. When he was ready,
we hit the road for the last leg of a rather long day.
Its basically a straight shot from the Pardesha Store to the finish along
Pleasant's Valley Rd. The moon was bright and full, illuminating the way
nicely. We caught up to a rider who had apparently taken a spill when his
lights went out and he hit a pothole. He was uninjured, but wanted to ride
with us, as our lights were holding out, which was, of course, fine by us.
After a few miles, only my headlight remained useful, and when it started to
fade, I pulled over to change the batteries. The fellow who'd crashed didn't
want to wait the whole whopping 90 seconds it takes to change the batteries,
and continued onwards in the darkness - very foolish if you ask me, especially
since he'd already crashed once due to lack of lights! We soon caught him
anyways soon after, and proceeded to drop him. Before long, I heard the
freeway and knew were were just minutes from the finish! I pulled in at
around 10:10pm, thus completing my second California Triple Crown - woohoo!
They had great food at the end -- chicken breasts, pasta with marinara sauce,
pasta with alfredo sauce, caesar salad, and bread, with sparkling cider -
excellent! Kristin pulled in at around 11:00, completing her 1000-mile club -
way to go! We looked at the sign-in sheet, and Pat had finished shortly after
4pm, the first woman, and the 3rd or 4th finisher overall - wow!
Again, this was a wonderful, lovely ride! The heat was very oppressive, but
the scenery, support, and company were first-rate. This remains my favorite of
the 4 double centuries I've completed so far.
||4 - challenging, but not too much so
||4 - they were out of a few things here and there, but what was
available was tasty!
||2 - too damned hot!