I started the ride with some apprehension: the climbs are steep, the descents rough and tricky, and the heat can really take its toll. I was also a little tired from having done the Alta Alpina double the week before. So my goal was to complete the ride, not necessarily finish by 10pm to get the "I did it!" shirt.
The ride began with a large mass start following a pace car. I had been intending to ride with ahmose, but I quickly lost him in the large group. The climb of Trinity was uneventful, but the descent was twisty and the fog felt cold and limited the visibility. I came upon a cyclist who had crashed moments earlier, and some had stopped to help and slow the oncoming riders. Also saw a fire engine going up the hill. This definitely puts a damper on the rest of the ride, and makes you doubly careful for the rest of the descents. I later on heard the cyclist had a bad concussion, but nothing terribly wrong.
After the first two hills, it's a nice rolling road that goes by a lot of wineries. I missed out on joining a fast paceline, so rode mostly solo to the rest stop.
By now, both of computers had stopped working, so I had only heart rate and altitude data available. After more flattish roads, we hit the Geyser climb:
The climb goes on for a long time. When you think you are done, you look up and see the second summit, and descend again before climbing. Looking down to the valley at the first summit:
The descent is long and bumpy, with a lot gravel sections, so it's hard to get up to any real speed.
I was pleasantly surprised to find ahmose resting at the lunch stop. We rode the rest of the way together. Start of Skaggs climb:
After an endless number of intermediate descents and steep climbs, we finally reach the top and descend into the valley under tree cover. Then we reach the dreaded Rancheria wall.
The grade is really steep, so the 14% switchback sections feel nice for a breather. Many were walking this climb, some tacking side to side. I realized at this point that I was getting dehydrated, as it's hard to reach your bottle when trying to stay upright in a 15% grade.
After a well deserved rest, we descend to the coast and I tack behind ahmose as we ride the rolling Highway 1 to Fort Ross.
The next and final big climb is Fort Ross. It starts hard, maybe around 15%, eases up, then there are a couple short but very steep sections. When we see this at the top, we think we are done:
But every climb in this ride seems to be some cruel joke. We find out that we descend 500 ft, then climb back again, with some steep pitches to boot. Nevertheless, we ride the next 30 easy miles and get in around 9:30.
Nice report. I was there for the first time, the climbs long and steep. I saw the person that crashed and almost crashed myself on same spot. I didn't know how sharp the turn was and fish tailed when I brake but was able to recover. Got in around 9pm
First, let me apologize for the length of this report.
If you don't have time to read it, here's the super short summary:
Tough cutoffs. geourgous and breathtaking scenery. Mostly mild temperatures. Super steep climbs.
Great Santa Rosa Cycling Club support. Got the "i did it" t-shirt. After ride meal was
This was my first time doing the TT. I've ridden Skaggs in the reverse direction before
(during the Bad little brother ride which was organized by SRCC a few weeks earlier), but every other section of this route was unfamiliar to me. This fact made the ride a lot more fun.
Doing the DMD earlier this year was great, but other than Palomares and Norris Canyon
i was familiar with all the climbs and i knew what to expect and how to pace for them.
I've tried to prepare for this ride by reading all the ride reports that i could find.
silentben's and djconnel's reports were quite useful as well as the Strava and Garmin connect sites.
But i digress, i planned to ride the Terrible Two with Ramon, Donald and Metin.
Ramon and myself booked a room at the luxurious Motel 6 in Santa Rosa (a few short miles from the school in Sebastapol), and Donald joined us later in the evening.
The three of us were planning to head to Starbucks in the morning for some breakfast and coffee at 4:30am, however it turns out that they changed their opening time to 5am. So we headed to the school and luckily were able to find some food.
At the school i found my number and pinned it to the jersey. Also i grabbed a couple of flasks of Hammer Gel. Since the first rest stop is at 55 miles, i wanted to make sure i have some sufficient calories on me.
The start behind the pace car was quite a unique experience for me.
We rode behind the car for about 13 miles. I tried to stay towards the front in order to
try to catch the green lights as the car trips the traffic signals.
At this point i lost track of Metin, but i did see Donald and Ramon a little ahead.
To be honest i was looking forward to the beginning climb, because even though riding with that huge group was fun for a bit, there were a few cyclists who were a little too unpredictable for my tastes.
I don't really remember the very first climb of Bennett valley but definetly the crowd started to thin quite a bit on this climb.
Finally we reached the Trinity grade climb, i thought it was a nice climb with some decent steep
pitches. The group started to thin out even more at this point.
I felt pretty good during this climb and was enjoying the beautiful views of Napa Valley with the sun
burning off the morning fog that was surrounding the valley.
Next came the descent, and i was glad that there was an SRCC volunteer in a skeleton custome
warning riders to be careful on this section of the road.
It was a very technical descent, road was a little wet and it visibility was hampered due to the fog.
The next section of the route was the Silverdo trail and Hwy 128 i was glad to find a paceline going at a decent pace.
We were going at a speed of 19-22 mph and we managed to pickup up many riders on the way.
By the time we reached the next major climb which was Geysers, we were 15+ riders in that paceline.
Geysers is a beautiful 9.1 mile multi-summit climb. The weather was starting to warm up a little,
that made me worry a little bit about how hot it will be on Skaggs which i've heard and
read horror stories about.
Back to the Geysers climb, the surrounding views were breathtaking with picturesque views of the many
vineyards and meadows of the Napa and Alexander Valleys. There were several residents who were
cheering us on. I recall this guy parked his car and was enjoying the views and also cheering the cyclists
as they inched slowly up the climb.
I felt real good on the climb and was looking forward to make it to lunch shortly after noon.
However, Geysers is where i started to have some bad luck. I dropped my chain twice.
Then i got a flat on my rear tire. There were many parts of the road which
were gravel and dirt in addition to the numerous potholes that perhaps contributed to the flat.
I was on my own after fixing the flat and proceeded to the Lunch stop (which i made a little after 12:30).
I found Donald there and he didn't look very happy.
He was feeling nausous and was suffering from stomach issues which prevented him from eating.
Shortly after arriving at the lunch stop, Metin showed up.
Initially, I was planning on having short lunch stop, but the prospect of riding the rest of the
ride with Metin and Donald sounded good. Plus more rest would do me good.
So all three of us left the lunch stop 10-15 minutes before it closed.
As we started the first part of the 7% grade up Skaggs, Donald decided to SAG it in.
No wonder Skaggs is known as the "killing fields", i experienced and witnessed so much suffering on this climb.
I recall riding past someone who was stopped and leaning on his handlebars and giving
motivational speeches to himself. Many riders were walking up the double digit steep pitches on Skaggs.
Not only is the climb steep, but all those false summits start taking a huge mental toll. The climb
just seemed to never end.
Skaggs was also where i noticed the thermometer above 100 degrees.
Finally, i reached a rest stop and I gladly accepted the offer to have ice cold water poured on
my back and helmet and it felt quite refreshing. Again, those are the great touches which SRCC are so well known
From the Skaggs rest stop, Metin and myself proceeded to the dreaded Rancheria Wall that
i've heard horror stories about. And i must say that this notorious reputation is well deserved.
Many riders were walking up the climb and resting under the shade.
It was the first climb of the day where i was forced to climb out of the saddle.
It could be best described as a series of ramps of anywhere from 15-20% grades interrupted by
very short 8-10% sections.
It climbs 900ft in 1.3 miles, so luckily it's short. The rest stop at the top could not have come any sooner.
As with most the Terrible Two climbs, there was another steep second climb right after the Rancheria wall.
Once we climbed that, it was time to turn left on Highway 1 at Stewart's point and head to the last major
climb of the day, the much feared Ft Ross Rd.
We were hoping for some tailwinds on Hwy 1, but we weren't very lucky in that regard.
The views of the Sonoma coast were magnificent, and the weather was perfect. Sometimes i wished
i could've stopped and taken a few pictures. But making that 10pm cutoff was the only thing on my mind at this point.
I tried to push pretty hard on this part of the course. This part of the course can be best described
as endless rollers. These were not trivial rollers by any stretch of the imagination, i've frequently
seen my Garmin indicating 6-10% grades on some of those rollers. According to one of the riders we met
at a rest stop, this section of highway 1 climbs 1000 ft.
We picked up a few riders on our way to Ft Ross Rd. But they must've been totally spent since
they refused to do any work in our mini-paceline.
We finally reached the Ft Ross rest stop. We made it a quick stop, grabbed some food, filled water bottles and
we took advantage of the extra salty chicken noodle soup. Which really felt good at this point of the ride.
The Fort Ross climb is a steep 2.4 miles climb which averages a little less than 12%.
I found it a little amusing that one of the workers was telling one of the riders than Ft Ross
averages 15% with steep pitches of 18%.
We both thought that Ft Ross wasn't too bad, this could be perhaps because of the realization
that it was the last major climb. Ofcourse, as with all the TT climbs we descended only to face another
difficult and steep second climb. The climb of Ft Ross was very scenic with the road surrounded
by majestic redwoods.
What followed next was typical of the TT descents (with the exception of parts of Skaggs were the road
is in great condition), a technical, twisty and pothole ridden descent.
We made short work of what came next, as we powered on to the next rest stop at Monte Rio.
The last rest stop of the ride was also a quick stop. Metin and Matt put on their knee warmers,
I grabbed a coke (and that really hit the spot). Then we moved quickly to the last part of the ride.
At this point i was getting worried about missing the 10pm cutoff point so i kept pushing hard.
Since i've been suffering from several chain drops during this ride, i didn't want to shift into the smaller
chainring for fear of dropping my chain again and wasting any time.
So i was stuck with the large chainring.
I lost track of our group and i proceeded by myself during the last few minutes of daylight. I was paranoid
from missing any of the TT marking on the road, but was comforted when i spotted a few blinking lights in the distance.
I caught up to that small group of riders. And we rode together through many turns back to the Analy school.
As we entered the school we were greeted by the workers, a very nice touch.
We made it with half an hour to spare. Metin came in a couple of minutes later.
We dropped the bikes at the car, Ramon was also waiting in his car having
finished the ride a couple of hours earlier.
I changed to some street clothes and we proceeded to get some of the delicious after ride meal
Which consisted of Poleneta, Lasanga, grilled chicken, garlic bread, salad.
I definently went for seconds for the grilled chicken.
Desert was carrot and vanilla cakes, icecream, fruit salad, M&Ms and the usual cookies that were stocked
in the rest stops.
They also had big coolers of chocolate and citrus Recoverite.
I then grabbed my "i did it" t-shirt which i've been coveting for months,
purchased the new and old Terrible Two jersies. Then we headed back to the Motel 6.
The Terrible Two was a very memorable ride for me, one that i will cherish for many years to come.
Finally, if i had to compare the DMD to the TT, i would have to say that the TT was
a lot more difficult. This very topic was discussed by several riders who finished both events,
during the after ride dinner. Everyone agreed that the TT was quite a bit more challenging.
While the DMD has more climbing (about 4000 feet more), the TT has much steeper
climbs (ofcourse Sierra Rd is the exception on the DMD). The TT also has more difficult cutoff times.
I also found that the descents on the TT were much more challenging both in terms of the twisty and technical nature
but also because the majority of them were pothole ridden in addition to
several gravel and dirt sections. This makes it difficult to try to take the optimal line since
you're constantly having to change your line on the fly.
The DMD on the other hand has some screaming descents like Diablo, parts of Mt Hamilton, the plunge etc..
The heat is also a factor and even though the temperature that day was relatively mild, the Skaggs climb was
quite hot with temperatures in the 100s on my Garmin.