100 miles and 7800 feet of climbing. Some of us have been talking about riding from Lincoln CA to Nevada City for several weeks. Today was the day. After a week of 107 degree temperatures, today's forecast was in the mid-80s.
We met at 7:00am, an hour earlier than usual. 60 degrees. To my surprise, there was a total of 14 riders, including 4 from the Hot Shot Group, which would push the pace. Only 3 of us were committed to the 100 miles, but the others left it open. The decision would be made at Higgins Corners, where a 60 mile option was available. Here we are leaving the neighborhood.
I just didn't have it. While my heart never entertained NOT doing the 100, my legs were saying "do the 60". At mile 10, we hit the first climb of the day, Baxter Grade. It's 1.3 miles at 10-11%. I climbed the hill OK, but was slow getting to the start. Most of the riders were already at the top, albeit I wasn't last up the hill. I'm in the front and center. See picture:
The next 8 miles is characterized by BIG rollers, many of them quite steep. It's beautiful country, but it doesn't help me much. Several riders are out of sight ahead (and didn't stop at any of our usual re-grouping spots) and a few are well behind me. I'm alone and thinking that maybe Sarah Palin resigned because there is an investigation that would have meant impeachment.
The first official rest stop is at the Starbucks at Higgins Corner at 23 miles. By the time I roll in, there is coffee being consumed. But four guys come in after I have my first sip of Coke from the mini-mart next door. After much discussion and clucking, EVERYONE but the three of us decide to do the 60 mile version. Wimps. Chickens. Wise ones.
Fred, Jean and I turn left, they turn right. I am riding in new territory. We start climbing immediately, but the incline is gradual and the riding is easy. I think my Coke helped. Fred is probably a little stronger rider than I am, but I am having no trouble keeping up. Jean falls behind on every hill.
We ride through the major cities of Spenceville, Airhill and Rough & Ready. The road is good and the landscape beautiful. Here's a little building in Rough & Ready.
I am really enjoying this ride. We are riding at a relaxed pace and hydrating and eating well. After 50 miles and 5000 feet of climbing we top out at 2750 feet (we started at 150) and we cross Highway 80 at Nevada City, our lunch stop. I had averaged 11 mph.
We stop at a Safeway for sandwiches. Our goal was to be out in 35 minutes, but the sandwich girls weren't real efficient, so we were there an hour. She did, however, ask Fred from where we had ridden. When he said, "Lincoln" she looked at him, looked at me. Looked at Jean. In disbelief, I think, that these three old guys could make that ride.
So, 5000 of the 7800 feet of climbing is done and we're heading home. Some easy rollers, and eventually we start what turns out to be a 10 mile downhill mostly on two roads, Rattlesnake Rd and Dog Bar Rd. By the way, Dog Bar Rd. is far to good a road to be called "Dog Bar". Much of it had been repaved and provided a very nice slalom ride. While there is always one more hill, nothing that is killer and there are a number of nice downhills.
Eventually, we're back in familiar territory and after a brief stop at a store, move at a good pace for the last 25 miles.
We arrive home at 5:10 pm. and my average speed had increased to 12.7, which is respectible for me on this ride. The extra 1/2 hour at lunch hurt our time, and, frankly, we probably lost 45 minutes to an hour, waiting for Jean at the top of hills. But it's OK. That's how we roll. Our motto is "In sight and Up right". No one gets left behind.
Once home and showered I discover that I feel just fine. I had consumed the equivalent of 4 large bottles of water (from my Camelbak), two bottles of Gatorade, two Cokes, 3 GUs, 3 Enegybars, one turkey sandwich/chips and two bananas. My legs aren't tired. In fact, they feel better than when I started out.
I'm ready to go again.