Hi - I'm baack... I emerged from a self-imposed deathmarch to deliver some software, just in time to take off for a few days and ride the Knoxville Double Century, in Napa Valley. I made it - riding, as usual, with my friend Mark Burson - and enjoyed it very much. It took us about 16 hours overall, 13:30 riding time.
The course has about 12,600' of climbing, and it is deceptive; unlike other rides where there are a few well-defined big climbs, the course spreads the climbing over the whole ride, virtually all of it was up and down on rollers. I don't think I've ever shifted so much, and managed to drop my chain about ten times with badly timed shifts from the big ring. There were few opportunities to really crank, it was more just staying focused and adapting.
I had one really scary moment; at about 175 miles I was barreling down a descent in the dark when I hit a bump, and my headlight shut off. Wow, instant darkness, and I was still moving at 30mph. I managed to come to a stop without hitting anything, and just sat there in the dark, my red taillight blinking its eerie glow without providing much light to see. I had to wait for another rider to come along and then jumped on their wheel, and followed riders all the way to the next rest stop. At which point, the headlight began working again. Ah, Murphy, you're so much fun.
Adding to the pleasure of the ride, Friday night we had dinner with my friends Tim and Kathy Marshall, who have a beautiful property near Lower Lake, at the extreme North end of the ride route. Serious amounts of excellent salad and pasta were eaten and Pinot Noir was drunk, including a fantastic wine called Six Sigma made by one of Tim's neighbors (an ex-GE guy, of course :)
Tim and Kathy live right along the race route, so we saw them during the ride, too - wow, fans! Their 70-acre property is not quite the middle of nowhere, but you can see it from there.
One of the real pleasures of this ride was the isolation, we were on back roads most of the day, with little car traffic. The scenery was amazing. It is always such a joy to realize how much wilderness still exists in California, even after all the development that has taken place.
And then today we attended the annual California Triple Crown breakfast, where we were formally anointed as triple crown winners (as well as 1,000 mile club members). I was able to tell Mark's story - he completed six double centuries this year on an artificial hip - and everyone was appropriately appreciative. Among the highlights of the breakfast was the introduction of the 100 double century club, yes, that's right, these people have each ridden at least 100 double centuries in their lives:
The guy second from the left in the picture above is Dave "big ring" Evans, who at 70 is still riding doubles, he completed the ride yesterday. I can't even imagine that, but it is good to have goals :)
And speaking of goals, next up is the Furnace Creek 508! Scary, now just two weeks away...