So, the day before (Saturday) I did a 100 mile ride with some of the faster group from the Norcal BF group. I was not feeling myself on that ride. I was able to stay ahead for most of the ride, but didn't have that snap/quickness I usually have.... So I had to redeem myself by means of a Tandem Hammerfest on Sunday. Which we (my girlfriend, Ruth, and I) had already planned to do do anyway in preperation for the upcoming Sequoia Century. The Sequoia Century, is actually 112 miles, and around 10,000+ feet of climbing. I have had a couple of riders tell me it wasn't a good choice to ride the tandem on this one, since it would be "hard." I told them... well isn't that the point
So on to this ride. I had wanted to start the ride around 8:30 or 9 AM. But in my regular fashion we hit the road at 11:15
So we were off, with our new wheels, RD, shifters, etc... 3rd big ride on the tandem, 1st with the new gear. What a great way to test it out... on a 81 mile ride with 7400 feet of climbing. However, as I mentioned, I needed to gauge our performance level for the upcoming Sequoia Century 112 mile ride.
First a map:
Here's the profile:
Some climbs on Alameda de las Pulgas and Crystal Springs, and a quick descent down Skyline over to 92 and then Caņada. We stopped at Caņada so Ruth could remove her jacket, and holy crap, the wind was crazy. Luckily it was a tailwind.
We flew down the rolling straight line that is Caņada Rd. hitting 35 mph a couple of times, but the little uphills brought the tank/limo/boat down to more reasonable speeds on several occasions. Down Mountain Home/Portola over to Old La Honda (OLH). We stopped at the base for a quick stretch, and to check our start time for the climb. We made it from my house in San Mateo to the base of OLH in 1:03 (not bad!!).
So time for OLH (the first big hill in the profile). OLH is basically a 3.35 mile sustained climb with an average grade of around 7.3% and a max of 18% for a few of the switchbacks. Most of the grind up the hill was done in the 32/28. Occasionally I hit the 32/24, 32/21 (a couple times) and during hard times the 32/32 (which I managed to stay out of for most of the climb).
Around 3/4 the way up, we spot two riders up ahead (on singles). So, we kick it up a notch (of course). There's nothing better than passing single bikes on the climbs on a tandem. To their somewhat bewilderment, we pass by them (one was riding a really nice Calfee). From that point on, we kept the pace a bit higher, and brought it in hard to the top.
We checked our time... Guess what... 29:34 up OLH on the tandem! (My single bike time is usually around 22:00 flat as part of a longer ride, such as this one). We was pretty happy about that. At that point I checked the time, and thought about cutting the ride short, since we started so late. But we decided to HTFU and press on with the rest of the ride.
We hit 46 mph on Skyline heading over to W84. I managed to get over 40 mph a couple of times on 84, but not that much due to the intense headwind. An older couple was behind us in a truck. They didn't pass us since we were going pretty fast. We got the the one-laner traffic signal further down (traffic alternating via one lane), and they were next to us. They said "You guys were averaging 35 mph back there." They were really cool actually. we told them, all we wanted were some sandwiches in Pescadero. They said the knew the store well (Pescadero Country Store).
I actually really like that traffic light since if you let the cars all pass in the beginning, you find yourself completely devoid of all traffic, since you're going basically the same speed as the cars, the next wave of traffic will never catch you. We made the left on to Pescadero Creek, and stopped for a second to eat a little bit (gel/bar). We checked the time and it was about 1:30. I calculated that we would still be ok to do the the whole ride, if we kept up the pace. We continued on, then made the right to proceed up Haskins Hill (Pescadero). Haskins hill is the 2nd large hill in the profile.
We trudged up the hill, and then made the somewhat tricky descent followed by the flats (rolling) to Pascadero. We made it to town before 2:30, again not bad! We ate 1/2 a sandwich each, saving the other halves in our rack trunk. Got some drinks too. I was just freezing cold at that point. So we went inside and shared a coffee, and let our food settle. We felt much better, and time was pressing. It was just after 3 PM, and we decided to push on. Before leaving, we saw a guy about to leave also, with a Specialized carbon with full SRAM Red, crazy wheels, Garmin, etc. He was going the same way (north on Stage). I said "We'll probably see you passing us on the climbs."
Beginning of Stage was CRAZY windy. Got over the first of the 3 climbs on Stage (see three bumps in a row near the middle of the profile). Then down the 1st technical descent. A jeep that passed us on the climb had pull over and let us by.
On to the 2nd climb. Half way up, I could spot the Specialized guy on our tail. I kept up our steady pace. He finally caught up to us right before the top, he said "you guys have a good pace." I said thanks, we're trying!
I latched on, and was able to keep his wheel up the last part of the climb. Then for the 2nd (very tight) descent. We stayed right on the back of the Specialized guy. The descent favored the small size, and light weight of the single bike, but we stayed right behind. We got to the San Gregorio General Store, and I had to stop for nature.
Ruth commented that she felt good, and was surprised how effective the Endurolytes and Heed were. Last climb up Stage, and to HWY 1. The descent on HWY 1 was VERY VERY windy, yet we still got up to 47.1 MPH.
Right turn onto Tunitas came in the blink of an eye. Onto Tunitas. First part, easy. Middle part... HARD. Man, those switchbacks are really steep for the tandem. We took turns standing, and stood together as well. It was hard, but we felt good. Got to the easier final part... What a relief. We made it up the full length of Tunitas (7 miles or so) in about an hour. Tunitas is basically 7 miles of climbing, and almost always comes towards the end of a ride. It has 3 sections: First part is not too bad, then it gets into the 10%+ grades for over 3 miles in the middle, then it goes back down to 5-6% for the last part.
Now time for KINGS MTN. Ruth is a real good sport because I was going really fast down kings. (Thanks sweetie ) In the beginning where it is a little bumpy. I told Ruth, "This part is a little bumpy." She said, "Well you could go slower!" I said "Nah, then I have to use my brakes too much!" I caught a car who pulled over to let us by, and then the car in front of him did the same thing. The car behind us never caught up enough to want to pass. Once again, I am thoroughly impressed with the stopping ability of the standard Shimano cantilever with Kool Stop pads. It hauled over 330 lb of human and steel down from 35 mph in the closing feet before every hairpin without a hitch. I touched the rims at the bottom and they were barely lukewarm.
Both of us still felt good, we joked about going up and down Kings again really quick before heading home
Great thing was once we hit Woodside, it was really warm, which was nice since the coastal/ridge areas were damn cold. The temps at the top vs. the bottom of kings must have been at least 10 degrees different. Anyway, onto Canada. BRUTAL CRAZY HORRIBLE headwind. But we powered through it. I felt some food deprivation 3/4 through, so at the end I stopped just before 92 to eat some energy bar.
Climb up to Bunker Hill seemed so easy after doing Tunitas. Hit 45 mph again on Skyline, and 46 mph on Crystal Springs. After climbing up the steep little climb on Alameda, I hit 46 again just before turning into my neighborhood.
We ate some good food, had a bath/shower, and went to bed.
My legs are still sore from my 180 miles of hammering this weekend.
So, I think we will be ready for Sequoia.
Distance: 81.2 miles
Climbing: apx. 7400 feet
Ride time: 5:51 mins (got home just after 6 PM, not bad for an 11:15 start!)
Average Speed: 14 mph
OLH time: 29:34 -- This will improve.
Max speed: 47.1 mph (hit 45 and 46 several times)